If you love camping, put Wellesley Island State Park in New York’s 1000 Islands Region on your campground list. Located on St. Lawrence River across the border from the province of Ontario in Canada, the park offers over 400 sites, with 69 of them directly on the water. The main activity there is simply enjoying outstanding nature at your campsite, fishing, boating, and more. To accommodate boaters, the park has a full-service marina and four boat launches. Fishing is excellent, particularly for perch, smallmouth bass, pike, and muskie. Add to it, the spectacular beauty of the region, and you got yourself a wonderful and inexpensive vacation. In this post, you will learn all need to know about visiting Wellesley Island State Park.
After my recent camping trip to the amazing Kring Point State Park, also located in the 1000 Islands Region, I was asking myself if I liked it better than Wellesley Island. Through a close evaluation, I came up with the conclusion that Wellesley Island State Park still remains my favorite place to camp in the Northeast.
My opinion may be influenced by many wonderful memories I have from there, but there is more to it. Each time I arrive at the park and see the beauty around me, I am saying to myself, this is it! I will have fun here.
WELLESLEY ISLAND STATE PARK IN 1000 ISLAND, NY – CAMPING AT ITS BEST
THE 1000 ISLANDS, NY
The region is popular with those looking for an authentic outdoor destination – a paradise for water activities and sightseeing. Located along the border between northern New York State and southeastern Ontario in Canada, the 1000 Islands area features endless shorelines, rich history, and unique culture.
To truly enjoy it, you must see it from the water! Check out these 16 reasons to visit the 1000 Islands.
Wellesley Island State Park Location
Wellesley Island State Park is a 2,636-acre state park located on Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River in the Town of Orleans in Jefferson County, New York. It can easily be reached from highway I-81. Nearby towns include Clayton and Alexandria Bay.
From I-81, take exit 51, cross the toll bridge and follow the signs to the to park entrance.
Wellesley Island State Park
44927 Cross Island Road
Fineview, NY 13640
Facilities at Wellesly Island State Park
The park offers a beach, a marina, boat launch sites, boat dockage, cabins, campsites, dumping stations, showers, food concessions, a golf course, a nature trail, a museum and visitor center, picnic tables, a playground, and playing fields.
If roughing it is not your style, twelve fully outfitted cottages are available for rent but due to their popularity extremely hard to book. Laundry facilities are also available at the camp store. The park also has facilities for group camping,
Activities at Wellesly Island State Park
The main reason for the park’s popularity is outstanding camping. Fishing is also excellent, particularly for muskies in autumn. For boaters, the park offers a full-service marina and four boat launches. A sandy beach on the river is popular with families. You can also enjoy a recreation barn and a 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.
Camping at Wellesly Island State Park
If you are planning a camping trip to the park, take action early. Primary waterfront sites, cabins, and cottages are booked on the first day when dates open for booking. Check out the campground map and make your reservation here.
I do not know how these cabins look inside, but their location is so scenic I tried to reserve them for years but with no success. Located on small peninsular, they deliver stunning water views. They offer 2 rooms, a refrigerator, table with chairs, 2 sets (4) of bunk beds, a microwave, propane heat, an outdoor grill & a picnic table.
There is NO water in the cabin. Toilet & showers are located in central comfort stations. Campers must bring their own bed/bath linens and kitchen utensils.
Full-Service Cottages – Eel Bay Section
You can choose a two-or three-bedroom cottage with all the comforts of home, but the location is just Ok. Technically, they are facing the river but with no access to the water. These cottages include a dining room table with 4 chairs, couch, double bed, bunk beds, dressers, mirrors in each bedroom, full bath with shower, propane fired stove (heat source), full-size cooking stove, full-size refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and a coffee pot.
The screened-in porch is equipped with Adirondack style chairs, outside ground grill, and a picnic table. The cottage also includes pots and pans, cookware, silverware, and linens (towels, washcloths, bath towels, dish towels, pillows, sheets, blankets bedspreads, etc.)
Fool hook up sites for RV and trailers – Fox Area F.
This area of the park is definitely not my favorite. Occupied by RVs, it is practically a large grassy parking lot with absolutely no charm or shade. But I guess, if you have a comfortable RV you can still make your stay enjoyable.
Tent Camping at Wellesley Island State Park
My favorite are Deer Area – D, and Blue Jey area B. The sites are right on the water and some dotted with interesting boulders. They offer more privacy than other areas of the park. Acorn Area – A may look like it is on the water, but in reality, the campsites sit on the cliff, so no real access there.
Still, I like site A21 for easy access to water and beautiful views. I am not familiar with the Eagle Area (no services), but it has positive reviews.
Site A21 at Wellesley Island State Park.
Hiking at Wellesley Island State Park
The park is not particularly popular as a hiking destination, but the numerous hiking trails allow for loop hikes starting from the Nature Center. Among them, Wellesley Island State Park Loop Hike draws the most interest. Overall, the area has nearly ten miles of walking paths.
Canoeing at Wellesley Island State Park
In July and August, a 16 passenger Voyageur Canoe program leaves the docks of the nature center, touring Eel Bay. If you bring your own canoe or kayak, keep in mind that St. Lawrence is a large body of water and, therefore, challenging to navigate with just the power of your arms. Frequent boat traffic makes it even more difficult.
Minna Anthony Common Nature Center
One of the main attractions of Wellesley Island State Park is the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center. The Nature Center includes a museum, varied habitats such as wooded wetlands, 3 miles of St Lawrence River shoreline, and open granite outcrops.
One unique feature at the nature center is the 1/4 mile handicapped trail that includes access to picnic tables and the seasonal butterfly house. The Nature Center provides educational and recreational programs for all ages.
A maximum of two pets is allowed in campsites and day-use areas unless prohibited by sign or directive. Pets are to be supervised at all times and either be crated or on a leash not more than 6-feet in length.
Proof of rabies inoculation shall be produced if requested by staff. Pets are not permitted in playgrounds, buildings, golf courses, boardwalks, pools, and spray-grounds or guarded beaches (this does not apply to service animals).
Inside the park
Reservations for boat rentals at the park must be made through the marina office at (315)482-6503, starting when the marina opens, the first Friday in May.