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The smallest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Ontario covers around 7,300 square miles and has over 700 miles of shoreline (half of which is on Canada’s side of the border). The lake was carved by the Great Glacier during the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago. As the glacier retreated northward, it etched great gouges in the earth and deposited massive boulders, as well. An important fishery and ecological habitat, there are over 300 miles of shorelines for adventurers to explore along with ten lighthouses, dozens of islands, and hiking trails.
The closest large town depends on one’s location on the lake. Rochester, NY, is one of the largest, with a population of around 200,000 residents and around a million more living in the suburban towns surrounding the city. The town was one of the United States’ first boomtowns. The city is possibly best known for being the birthplace of Kodak, a once-major film camera company. Downtown Rochester is about seven miles from the shores of Lake Ontario. Start planning your Lake Ontario RV camping adventure when you search for an RV in Monroe County, NY.
Discover the beauty and outdoor fun of Lake Ontario. Once heavily polluted and fished around the turn of the century, New York has made great strides at improving the water quality, revitalizing the habitats. Though it will take decades before Lake Ontario returns to the state before mankind polluted it, various wildlife and fish have returned to the waters of Lake Ontario. There are bass, northern pike, trout, panfish, and many other species in almost every cove, inlet, and estuaries. At certain times of a year, steelhead, chinook salmon and coho salmon leave the open water, heading upstream to their spawning grounds. A note for fishermen: lake sturgeon is an endangered fish, and if caught, they must be released. Nearly 100 public boat launches and ramps are available all along the shores of the lake. There are dozens of boat-rental and charter boat services, as well.
Though the lake rarely freezes over completely, the calmer areas along the shores frequently do ice up, allowing for winter recreational fun. Locals and visitors alike hit the ice for skating, sailing, games of hockey and races, and more. Lake Ontario is famous for its fierce ice storms that often encases the lakefront cities in sheets of ice.
There’s plenty of things to do along the Lake Ontario shores. Trails wind through Chimney Bluffs State Park, ascending to sheer clifftops that are pummeled by the offshore winds. The dramatic landscape with unique earthen spires is sure to delight a landscape photographer. Hamlin Beach State Park is well-known for its clear, clean waters and the wide sandy beaches are reminiscent of east-coast beaches. In wintertime, the beach and the trails are open to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The marshy area at the far end of the state park is home to dozens of turtles that can be found sunning themselves on logs. Several other state parks line the shores of Lake Ontario, all with different highlights and features to explore. Though the parks near urban areas like Rochester do not allow camping, there are a few state parks with RV campgrounds farther out.
With over 300 miles of shoreline to explore, there’s plenty of public and private campgrounds to choose from. RV camp at Hamlin Beach State Park, Hamlin, NY. The campground packs in around 265 RV sites, most of which have 30 amp hookups. Restrooms with hot showers are a short walk from most sites, and many sites have waterfront views.
Lakeside Beach State Park, close to Carlton, NY, is a roomy campground with around 270 sites. Although swimming isn’t allowed, the clifftop views may make up for that restriction. There are several miles of multi-use trails nearby.
Also, consider camping at Letchworth State Park, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the East. A few miles inland, attractions at the park-like stunning waterfalls and interesting hiking trails may make up for the distance. With over 300 RV sites to choose from, some of which are close to waterfalls and rivers, there’s plenty of options to choose from.
Within the comforts of a motorhome rental, explore the small towns along Lake Ontario. The Seaway Trail, a scenic byway, follows the entire 300 miles of shorelines, passing through historic towns with quaint shops, sidewalk cafes, museums, and art galleries. The byway also swings close to the shore where dozens of historic lighthouses stand guard, some still being used today to guide freighters and boats along their treacherous journeys.
In spite of the harsh winters that ravage upstate New York, grapevines thrive. The scenic byway also closely follows the wine-tasting tour route. Hop into a rental RV and find a favorite vintage. Or transfer from a rental RV to a hot-air balloon and get a birds-eye view of the Genesee countryside, gouged by the Finger Lakes. When autumn rolls around, head into the Appalachian mountains for a breathtaking view of the brilliant fall foliage blazing gold.