Free camping, fully stocked campsites and even a how-to for New York’s first-time campers

New York state will provide free First-Time Camper weekends throughout the summer in 2017.

Families that have never camped before will have the opportunity to learn if they enjoy sleeping under the stars before investing in their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select state campground from July 7-Aug. 25.

New campers will be provided with a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, camp stove, lantern, and even firewood. A camping ambassador will meet families at the campsite and help them get set up with a camping 101 lesson, and campers will have an opportunity to learn from experts on how to fish, hike, bird watch, paddle and more.

Reservations are required and will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis starting May 17 by calling 518-474-6718.

Information on the eight participating campgrounds follows:

1. North South Lake Campground

County Route 18
Haines Falls, NY 12436
North South Lake information

July 7-9, 2017
219 Campsites

North-South Lake is the largest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve, offering extraordinary, scenic beauty and historical sites such as Alligator Rock, Kaaterskill Falls, and the former site of the Catskill Mountain House. An abrupt change in elevation occurs from about 540 feet above sea level at the base of the escarpment to approximately 2,250 feet at the site of the former Catskill Mountain House. It is said that on a clear day, five states can be viewed from the escarpment. Everyone will enjoy the pavilion and boat rentals as well as the playground, volleyball and horseshoe areas.

2. Wellesley Island State Park

44927 Cross Island Road
Fineview, NY 13640
Wellesley Island State Park information

July 14-16, 2017
429 Campsites

Wellesley Island State Park has the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region. Secluded wilderness sites nestled along the banks of the St. Lawrence River are accessible only by foot or boat. Within this rustic paradise, fishing is excellent. To accommodate boaters, the park has a full service marina and four boat launches. A sandy beach on the river offers great swimming and sunbathing and there is a recreation barn and 9-hole golf course on the Island. One of the main attractions of the park is the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, which includes a museum, varied habitats such as wooded wetlands, 3 miles of shoreline and open granite outcrops, and miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and nature education. The Nature Center provides educational and recreational programs for all ages.

3. Paradox Lake Campground

897 NYS Route 74
Paradox, NY 12858
Paradox Lake Campground information

July 21-23, 2017
58 Campsites

Paradox Lake Campground is nestled on rolling hills of hardwood and creates the impression of being miles from the real world. With canoes and rowboats available for rent and abundant fish in the lake, this facility provides for camping at its finest. Paradox Lake Campground is a comparatively small campground located on the shore of Dark Bay, which is on Paradox Lake. The lake itself is approximately 4-3/4 miles long.

4. Schodack Island State Park

1 Schodack Island Way
Schodack Landing, NY 12156
Schodack Island State Park information

July 28-30, 2017
67 Campsites

Schodack Island State Park sits off the eastern shore of the Hudson River just south of Albany. Approximately seven miles of Hudson River and Schodack Creek shoreline bound the 1,052-acre site. The park has been designated a State Estuary, and a portion of the park shelters a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) that is home to bald eagles, cerulean warblers and blue herons that nest in the cottonwood trees. Eight miles of multi-use trails wind through a variety of ecological communities. In addition, the park has an improved bike trail, volleyball nets, horseshoe and a kayak/canoe launch site.

5. Kenneth L. Wilson Campground

859 Wittenberg Road
Mt. Tremper, NY 12457
Kenneth L. Wilson Campground information

August 4-6, 2017
76 Campsites

Completely surrounded by beautiful mountains with panoramic views creating a picturesque setting, Kenneth L. Wilson Campground is located in north central Ulster County, five miles southwest of the Village of Woodstock. The campsites are secluded, large, and wooded, and patrons may enjoy pavilion and boat rentals.

6. Green Lake State Park

7900 Green Lake Rd
Fayettville, NY 13066
Green Lake State Park information

August 11-13, 2017
Take the Virtual Tour — GREEN LAKES STATE PARK
117 Campsites

Green Lakes State Park’s outstanding features are its two glacial lakes surrounded by upland forest. Both Round and Green Lakes are meromictic lakes, which means that there is no fall and spring mixing of surface and bottom waters. Such lakes have a high potential for evidence of ancient plant and animal life. Another special feature of the park is an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, where visitors can snowshoe in winter, and there are 10 miles of trails that cross-country skiers can use.

7. Hearthstone Point Campground

3298 Lake Shore Drive
Lake George, NY 12845
Hearthstone Point Campground information

August 18-20, 2017
251 Campsites

Located on picturesque Lake George just two miles north of the Village of Lake George, this has become a very popular vacation location. The Lake George region offers some of the most diverse recreation opportunities in New York State. A Junior Naturalist Program is also offered at Hearthstone, and the successful camper can earn a naturalist patch for their efforts.

8. Hamlin Beach State Park

1 Camp Road
Hamlin, NY 14464
Hamlin Beach State Park information

August 25-27, 2017
Take the Virtual Tour — HAMLIN BEACH STATE PARK
264 Campsites

Hamlin Beach State Park’s clear water, sandy beaches and 264 tent and trailer campsites bring thousands of visitors to the park each year. The Yanty Creek Marsh area at the east end of the park has a mile long self-guided trail. In addition, there are 6 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as snowmobile and cross-country skiing. Visitors can launch car-top boats, fish for salmon and trout and enjoy the picnic facilities.

— New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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