Watkins Glen State Park
This park is located in the western part of the US State of New York in the Finger Lakes region. Adjacent to Watkins Glen State Park (776 acres) are Queen Catharine Marsh (890 acres) and the Catharine Valley Trail (12 miles long), that commences in the park.
The glen was formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Great continental glaciers from the north had excavated an immense trough in an ancient river valley, leaving 35-mile long Seneca Lake, the deepest of the Finger Lakes.
Glen Creek has poured down the glacially steepened valley side ever since, slowly eroding the gorge.
The gorge, with nineteen waterfalls, was opened to the public in 1863 by Morvalden Ells, a journalist from Elmira. It was privately owned and operated as a tourist resort until it was purchased by New York State in 1906.
Since 1924, it has been managed by the Finger Lakes Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
The Queen Catharine Marsh is the sole remaining headwater marsh in the Finger Lakes region, although it has also suffered from infringement by development, re-routing of natural feeder streams, and siltation.
Historically, water levels were lower within the Queen Catharine Marsh area. Large areas were farmed for crops that did well in the high water table and wet soils. Current lake level management maintains the area as an important regional wetland.
The marsh is not a part of the state park.
See maps of the park.
NOTE: The Flora and Fauna list represents Watkins Glen State Park only. It does not represent the whole of Schuyler County, in which the park is located. References used were brochures obtained from the park and may not be complete.
For up-to-date lists of the fauna and flora of the county, the reader should check the site provided by John and Sue Gregoire, of Kestrel Haven Avian Migration Observatory, where the official county lists are maintained.
We would like to thank Kristine Kusevich, Parks and Recreation Aide, of Watkins Glen State Park, for providing the brochures used for this page.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)