State parks campgrounds have opened across New York and New Yorkers and others who enjoy the great outdoors are encouraged to explore the state’s magnificent camping facilities, the North Country Gazette reported.

“State Park camping is an ideal way to explore the great outdoors with friends and family,” Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) said. “From tent sites nestled in the woods to charming cottages, state parks offer comfortable accommodations for everyone. What’s more, they remain close by and affordable for families pinched by the economy and rising gas prices.”

Harvey noted the park system continues to see strong demand for its campsites and cabins. Through April, 283,000 nights were reserved at OPRHP campgrounds statewide for the 2011 season – about 4,000 nights more than the same point in 2010 – and 78% of campsites were booked for the Memorial Day weekend.

Several state park campgrounds offer new features this summer:

  • Bowman Lake and Oquaga Creek in Central New York are offering summer-long camping at a limited number of campsites. Seasonal campers can make one reservation for several weeks, allowing them to leave a trailer or RV on one site for the entire summer. Reservations must be made directly with the parks.
  • Ten new sites were added at Rensselaer County’s Cherry Plain State Park, a cozy campground that features waterfront sites, a sandy beach on Black River Pond and nature trails.
  • Online reservations are being accepted for a four-person cottage at Long Point State Park in the Finger Lakes, which features a boat dock and patio overlooking Cayuga Lake.

“If gas prices or the tough economy have you down, it may be time to plan a summer getaway,” Harvey said. “Make a reservation at one of our beautiful campgrounds, or simply plan a day-trip to do something you love at a nearby state park.”

OPRHP operates 65 campgrounds with 8,400 campsites, 750 cabins and 50 vacation rentals. Camping reservations are available through ReserveAmerica, which provides online and phone reservations for campsites throughout New York. Reservations are accepted for campsites and cabins, from one day to nine months in advance of the planned arrival date by calling toll free (800) 456-CAMP or online, www.ReserveAmerica.com.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites.