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Both Canada and New York recognized the need to protect St. Lawrence River and its coastal properties as early as 1890. New York began buying properties bordering the river and purchased the section that would later become Burnham Point State Park in 1898. Canada and New York jointly agreed to create an international park, which would be called St. Lawrence Reservation. However, due to new United States federal laws that went into effect in the 1920s, this plan was abandoned. These properties, Burnham Point, were granted state park status, which afforded them some protection from development, mining, and pollution.
The closest town to Burnham Point State Park is Cape Vincent, NY, which is about five miles to the west. Cape Vincent has a grocery store, a handful of shops and restaurants, and a small medical center. However, for more variety in retail shopping, Watertown, NY, is about 25 miles southeast. Watertown also has museums, art galleries, and a zoo for visitors to explore. Book an RV in Jefferson County, NY, and prepare to embark on a memorable RV camping vacation.
Although Burnham Point State Park is one of the smaller parks in New York, encompassing only 12 acres, there’s plenty of room for recreational fun. Watch barges and fishing boats sail back and forth all day on the river or launch a boat. Though the water frontage along Burnham Point State Park is a no-wake zone, faster speeds are allowed deeper in the river channel. Zip up and down the river toward an unseen finish line in spontaneous games of races or tow water-skiers in high-powered jaunts. Sailboats, too, are common on the river. Thanks to a nonstop prevailing wind, light, fleet sailboats and catamarans glide across the surface effortlessly.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers will enjoy watching long-legged birds mince about in the shallows, intently searching for minnows and other small fish to gobble up. Egrets and herons are among the most common. Migratory waterfowl frequently visit this stretch of the river, and in autumn, hunting them is permitted, provided that hunters have the appropriate licenses and permits. Anglers stand on the banks of the river or embark on small boats in an effort to catch fish for supper. Common fish include bass, northern pike, walleye, and muskellunge
Neighboring parks like French Creek Wildlife Management Area and Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area offer several miles of hiking fun. French Creek is lightly forested, home to dozens of wildlife like white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, and songbirds. A small river runs through the park, feeding a wide, short waterfall that is sheltered by tall second-growth trees. These trees’ leaves transform from a lush green to blazing red and orange in autumns, making for a photogenic spot at which to picnic or photograph. Ashland Flats primarily consists of small groves of trees and open meadows. Here, visitors are treated to the sight of various grassland wildlife like pheasants, rabbits, foxes, and turkeys.
Skip the long drive from a noisy hotel by renting a trailer. At Burnham Point State Park RV campground, wake up to the sound of waves lapping at the shore and birdsong in the tree. The campground has 47 sites, most of which are shaded by a tree or two. Nineteen sites have electric, while the rest are primitive. There are a dump station and restrooms with showers, should a guest require it. Each site comes with a fire pit, which is wonderful for grilling fish or roasting s’mores. The boat launch is also close by, and there are dock slips available (for an additional fee), also. The campground is open only between May and early September.
For extra flexibility in the camping schedule, there are several other campgrounds and RV parks in the area. Camp in an RV near Clayton, at Merry Knoll Campground. A family-friendly campground, it has several fun amenities like a swimming pool, planned activities, and a game room. Most sites have full hookups, and the few that are not, do have electric hookups. Guests also have access to a laundry room and restrooms with showers.
Slip into an Airstream rental and follow the contours of St. Lawrence River, which merges with Lake Ontario. Along the way, there are several historic lighthouses dating back to the early 1800s. The Tibbetts Lighthouse outside Cape Vincent has stood sentinel since 1827, towering some 69 feet above the lake. It is the only lighthouse with an original, still-working Fresnel lens on Lake Ontario. The facility is open to visitors daily between May and October.
In spite of the bitterly cold winters, grapevines thrive in this part of New York, in part due to the rich, nutritious soil. There are several wineries in the area, and embarking on a wine tour is a popular activity for many visitors. Near Alexandria Bay, NY, is Thousands Island Winery, an award-winning producer. The tasting room looks out upon acres upon acres of grapevines laid out in neat rows. In the distant hills are crumbling ruins of stone structures that resemble castles found in Scotland. The vineyard is open to tours, too.
Fish, boat, or explore the tranquil shores of St. Lawrence as you find your perfect RV camping adventure in New York.