Get out of the CITY with our camping quiz 

click to enlarge PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JACOB WALSH

May is the month for getting serious about planning that summer glamping, er, camping trip.

Whether you’re new to sleeping under the stars, or just tired of the same old spot, our quiz will pair you with the perfect place to pitch a tent — or roll up in your RV — within a short drive from Rochester.

How are you getting to your campsite?
A. In my version of the Griswold’s Family Truckster with Goldfish crumbs interior.
B. In style behind the wheel of a blinged out RV.
C. Hoofing it on my own two feet with a backpack in tow.

How secluded do you want your campsite to be?
A. I like quiet. But it would be weird if Bigfoot were the only other living thing I saw walking upright.
B. The more the merrier. Sing it with me: “This land is your land, and this land is my land.”
C. Three words: Off. The. Grid.

How do you want to prepare your food?
A. I’ll settle for something between a Weber and a rusty wrought iron grate. They don’t call me “Grill Master” for nothing.
B. Prepare food? I thought this was a vacation. The closest Dairy Queen with a drive-thru will do.
C. Over an open flame. A potato wrapped in tinfoil in a fire is my idea of haute cuisine.

How do you prefer to go No. 1 and No. 2?
A. An outhouse with a crescent moon carved in the door is privacy enough.
B. I like things that go “flush” in the night with Poo-Pourri and two-ply tissue paper within reach.
C. All I need to pop a squat is a trowel and a huggable tree.

How do you like to spend your days?
A. Like John Denver: Singing songs around a campfire.
B. Like a weekend warrior: A little hiking. A little biking. A little paddling. A little fishing.
C. Like a Michigan militiaman: Aimlessly wandering the woods.

If you mostly answered A, you’re a camper who wants a site that’s chill and comfortable and close to home. Here are the best campsites for you:

Hamlin Beach State Park, Monroe County
Drive time from Rochester: 30 mins
click to enlarge Hamlin Beach State Park.
  • Hamlin Beach State Park.
Drift off to sleep to the sound of water lapping against the shore of Lake Ontario. Clear water, sandy beaches, and 264 tent and trailer campsites bring thousands of visitors to Hamlin Beach State Park each year.

Amenities: Five pavilions are perfect for entertaining or watching the sunset over the water. Got a family dog? Bring her along. This park is pet-friendly. If jumping in the lake to get the grime off you is too outdoorsy, there are showers.

Activities: Besides swimming, fishing, and picnicking, there are six miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through the park. The Yanty Creek Marsh has a mile-long self-guided trail ideal for spotting migrating waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds. For a closer look, paddle into the marsh from one of the boat launches on the lake.

Keuka Lake State Park, Yates County
Drive time from Rochester: 70 mins
click to enlarge Keuka Lake State Park.
  • Keuka Lake State Park.
Located on 620 acres in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country on the north end of the west branch of Keuka Lake, this park’s gentle charm is enhanced by vistas of vineyard-covered slopes and glimmering, glasslike water.

Amenities: The campgrounds have 150 tent and trailer sites, about a third of which have electricity. A boat launch, showers, and picnic shelters heighten the comfort.

Activities: Hike the trails, fish the waters, tour the wineries. If you’re looking for adventure in the park, wait until sundown and check out the Beddoe-Rose Family Cemetery, a settlement-era burial ground on the National Register of Historic Places. There hasn’t been a report of a haunting yet, but there’s a first time for everything.

Webster Park, Monroe County
Drive time from Rochester: 20 mins
click to enlarge Webster Park.
  • Webster Park.
Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, Webster Park spans 550 acres of cool green valleys, wooded slopes, and lakeshore breakers. It is the only public park in the Monroe County Parks system that welcomes camping, and it has sites to accommodate everything from tents to small campers to RVs.

Amenities: The park has four lodges for large parties of between 36 and 100 people, including two with a full kitchens and refrigerators. All offer picnic tables, wood-burning stoves, and grills. Six open-air shelters have grills, seating, and bathrooms.

Activities: Anglers can drop a line right off the pier. Not into fishing? Get out on the water in a canoe or kayak, or pick up a racquet and hit the tennis and pickleball courts. Going for a run or a hike? Five color-coded hiking trails ranging from a half-mile in length to 1.6 miles keep you on the right track.

If you mostly answered B, you’re a glamper who likes plush and peopled campgrounds that maximize your fun. Here are the best campsites for you:

Conesus Lake Campground, Livingston County
Drive time from Rochester: 40 mins
click to enlarge Conesus Lake Campground.
  • Conesus Lake Campground.
These private campgrounds on Conesus Lake offer 140 sites, half of which have “full hookup,” meaning you will have access to fresh water, sewers, and electricity.

Amenities: This place is glamping heaven. There is free WiFi all around, a recreation building, a laundromat, a camp store, and restrooms that are advertised as being “super clean” and consistently receive excellent ratings.

Activities: Rent a boat. Mine for “gems” in a nearby stream. Let the children hit the playground. Launch yourself off the jump pad into the lake. Water too cold? There’s a heated pool on the grounds.

Genesee Country Campground, Livingston County
Drive time from Rochester:
30 mins
click to enlarge Genesee Country Campground.
  • Genesee Country Campground.
Whether you’re cruising in a full-sized RV or looking to crash in a cabin, Genesee Country Campground in Caledonia is a great option for campers who like creature comforts. It also offers tent camping, if you’re into that “outdoorsy” thing.

Amenities: The grounds have pull-through buddy sites with electricity and water. No buddy? Make a new friend. Cabins are basic, but have electricity and sleep up to four people comfortably. Each site is outfitted with fire pits, picnic tables, and even outdoor chairs. With onsite laundry, restrooms with showers, and a playground, you’ll feel like you’re at home — but not really.

Activities: Easy hiking trails wind through the resort, which has basketball courts, volleyball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, cornhole, a video game arcade, and a par-3 golf course. Certain weekends have planned activities, like pancake breakfasts and vendor fairs.

Watkins Glen State Park, Schuyler County
Drive time from Rochester:
90 mins
click to enlarge Watkins Glen State Park.
  • Watkins Glen State Park.
This “gorge”-ous state park at the southern end of Seneca Lake has a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Carving a winding path of two miles through the park, the glen’s stream descends some 400 feet over 19 breathtaking waterfalls.

Amenities: The park offers 305 campsites with a healthy mix of spots for RVs, campers, and tents. Facilities with toilets and hot showers are conveniently located on the grounds, and firewood is for sale. Gift shops, pavilions, and picnic tables abound. Every campsite has a grill. But if you don’t feel like cooking, restaurants and bars in the Village of Watkins Glen are waiting for you.

Activities: Hiking the gorge path over and under waterfalls and the through the spray of Cavern Cascade is the thing to do. But other options include swimming in the Olympic-sized pool, biking the west side of Seneca Lake on Route 14, and fishing the lake or nearby Catherine Creek, which is renowned for its rainbow trout.

If you mostly answered C, you’re a camper who wants a rustic and remote setting that really lets you get back to nature. Here are the best campsites for you:

Italy Hill State Forest, Yates County
Drive time from Rochester:
70 mins
click to enlarge Italy Hill State Forest.
  • Italy Hill State Forest.
This huge state forest about an hour drive from Rochester is a remote escape for anyone craving peace and quiet in the wilderness.

Amenities: There are almost none, which is part of the charm. This state forest is open for what the state Department of Environmental Conservation calls “primitive camping” — settling into a lean-to or a tent away from running water, electricity, and restrooms.

Activities: The Bristol Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail offers good access to the northerly and central portions of the forest, which spans nearly 1,900 acres. Be careful accessing stream corridors, though. Gentle streams become steep gullies very quickly and the shale bedrock can be slippery.

Ossian State Forest, Livingston County
Drive time from Rochester:
65 mins
click to enlarge Ossian State Forest.
  • Ossian State Forest.
This 1,300-acre state forest at the southern tip of Livingston County offers a rustic experience with just a touch of helpful conveniences that still leave you feel like you’re roughing it.

Amenities: There is a lightly developed camping area with picnic tables and fire rings around Evergreen Pond, but no running water or restrooms.

Activities: Adventure abounds at Ossian State Forest. Paddling and fishing are permitted on Evergreen Pond, and there is a hand boat launch to help get your craft into the water. The forest shares a boundary with Rattlesnake Hill State Wildlife Management Area, which has hiking trails and streams stocked with trout.

Sonyea State Forest, Livingston County
Drive time from Rochester:
50 mins
click to enlarge Sonyea State Forest.
  • Sonyea State Forest.
The 922 acres of largely untouched leafy woodlands, cool streams, hiking trails, and fishing holes make Sonyea State Forest an excellent place to spend the night off the grid.

Amenities: There are three designated campsites along the Shaker Access Road and two along Keshequa Creek, but they are primitive. Some have a fire ring and a semi-flat spot to pitch a tent, but not all of them do.

Activities: There is easy access to the Genesee Valley Greenway for hiking, the Keshequa Creek Gorge for fishing, and two abandoned spurs of the Pennsylvania Railroad for exploration. The forest abuts the Groveland Correctional Facility, which only enhances those spooky campfire stories about killers on the loose.
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