Eye Witness    Letchworth State Park is known as the "Grand Canyon of the East" - it is the largest canyon east of the Mississippi. This is was our first trip to Letchworth, a spot that we've been hearing about for years. It's only a couple hours drive for us and proved well worth the visit.  A panorama of the Big Bend hilights the kind of views that we were treated to during our two day visit. Google Earth    A satelite view of the southern/up-stream part of the park pinpoints most of the locations that we visited Press F1 anytime for this aid to gallery navigation.  And consider using the interactive access features (Facebook and Comments) at the bottom of each page. Our first stop, Saturday, after setting up camp and having some lunch, was the Upper Falls at the south end of the park.  We later climbed up to the underbelly of the (retired and rusting) railway trestle. Wendy beat me to the first picture . . . . . . but Henry was soon at it . . . . . .and Wendy was soon subject.
There are stairs everywhere in this park, all made of from local stone by fine masons. After our first climb above the Upper Falls, Wendy was dying for a nap, and took advantage of one of the many stone picnic tables scattered around the park. Back down, past the parking lot is the Middle Falls, which drops 107' (Niagara Falls is 165') Not quite Niagara Falls, but more intimate and just as enjoyable. Can't say that there's a Canadian and American side to this lovely curtain of water Grasses and wildflowers on the edge
Overlooking the Middle Falls is Glen Iris Inn, formerly the country home of William Pryor Letchworth, who donated his entire, 1,000 acre estate to New York in 1906. The view from Glen Iris. You can see the railway trestle in the distance. At Inspiration Point, Wendy  (keeping her eyes down to look for large fallen leaves) discovered a forked Tulip Tree. The view from Inspiration Point is inspiring. Looking up-river here, you can still see in the distance a sliver of the Middle Falls. Walking around the bend brought the Middle Falls more clearly into view.
Talk about contrasts! The afternoon was waning and we still needed to buy some things that we forgot to pack, so we headed into Castile. The tilting structure across from the store caught my eye. It needs work and I was glad that it wouldn't be me doing it. Back at our campsite in Highbanks, our hot supper at six on a cold day tasted good By seven it was dark, and we huddled down for some reading by the fire. We went to bed less than two hours later (won't say how much less). I wonder how many more copies of the National Post were being perused in New York State that day. The next morning we were touring again by 9:00, after going out for (a big) breakfast at Brian's USA Diner. This is the Mt. Morris dam at the north end of the park. The river downstream from the dam is controlled by the dam, so as it winds its way north to Rochester and into Lake Ontario, it is reliable and no longer dangerous During spring flood or very bad weather the water upstream (right side in this view) of the dam can reach the top of the spillway.
From afar, we witnessed a visit by a dam person, perhaps in anticipation of the scheduled 11:00 a.m. tour Most of the time, the river upstream from the dam is as small as this, but during Hurricane Agnes in 1972 this valley was filled to the brim of the dam. This temporary hold-back prevented billions of dollars of damage below the dam.  Here too you can see the boom stretching across the gorge which catches floating debris when the water rises. Even without tropical storms this valley bottom is regularly covered with water By 11:00 a.m. we had to be cleared off of our campsite at Highbanks We had a spot within a short walk of the washrooms This is the first time I've ever had a campsite with its own utility pole. It was little good to us.
After the dam, we headed back towards the falls to see what we had quickly passed by the previous day. This is Wolf Creek before its first waterfall This creek could be anywhere . . . . . .  until it very distinctly plunges over the edge in its quest to reach the Genesee river There are several stages in this precipitous drop. This is the first. A bridge over Wolf Creek connects with a path that leads to a lookout over the gorge The first stairs along this path, like some other places in the park, could easily have been used as sets for Rivendell/Middle Earth
A promontory beside Wolf Creek gave us another great view of the Letchworth gorge W. Arwen de Jong surveying her kingdom A river bed for autumn leaves Parked at an overlook along side of the Big Bend A ribbon of asphalt through a garland of leaves Looking down
A tree that's barely hanging on Wendy trying to be as brave as the tree Here the  vally widens out with  river flats that had been home to settlements up to the park's formation. The river begins its bend around the Lower Falls peninsula Henry and Wendy try the popular 'reverse-hand-held-self-portrait' At the tip of the Big Bend an unmarked stretch of lawn beside the road provides the most spectacular view of the plateau within the Bend
Looking north Looking south The warm, breezy air above the valley carried many turkey vultures and hawks aloft Our descent to the Lower Falls began with a stone staircase The Lower Falls seem, like many other rocks here, to be geometrically hewn Two friends escape the crowds (probably illegally) by climbing down a ways
Friends between flowers and the flow One stands on the outcrop . . . . . . while the other sits The heroic strength of trees on the brink of disaster Down from the Lower Falls, the water flumes between high cliffs Vertical rock faces seem sliced by a careful hand
A rock cut The only bridge beween the railway trestle and the dam - a view straight out of the Lord of the Rings. The Table Rock The Cathedral Rock Between the rocks, the river pools before moving on The stairs go ever on and on
Our last view of the river before heading home at 4:00, thirty hours after arriving in Letchworth