Park visitors' favorites: waterfalls, tunnels
WATKINS GLEN--Visitors packed the trails at the Watkins Glen State Park for Memorial Day weekend to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Starting with a flag unfurling ceremony, the park officially welcomed hikers and campers for the 2016 operating season. The REVIEW&EXPRESS talked to several visitors at the park Sunday, May 29, about their favorite attractions, with the waterfalls and tunnels standing out as the highlights for many.
Patrick Sotomayor expressed how refreshing it is to interact with nature, noting he is visiting the area from Linden, New Jersey.
"Every time you interact with nature, it is really, really refreshing," Sotomayor said. "The vibes and the energy that nature helps provide, I don't have any bad vibes right now."
He also highlighted how clean and friendly the village of Watkins Glen is compared to New York City, where he recently worked for five months. Sotomayor said this was his first time visiting the Watkins Glen State Park.
"Sometimes the city is overwhelming with the traffic, and people are very rude over there," Sotomayor said. "[...] The environment is very nice over here with the people and the nature."
Sotomayor's mother Mirai Yetpez was also visiting the area from Ecuador with other relatives on vacation. She said they had also visited Niagara Falls and wanted to see the ones in Watkins Glen as well.
"It is very beautiful, Yetpez said. "I am really excited."
Sunil Kamat, his wife Mamata and daughter Maya were visiting the area from Washington, D.C. for a graduation and wanted to walk the gorge path while in town. They took the shuttle to the top of the gorge and walked the length of the trail to the bottom, with Maya noting she liked the dark tunnels on the path.
"We saw the falls and the bridges, it was absolutely beautiful," Sunil said. "[...] I would recommend it to anybody. When you look up from here (the main entrance) you don't think there is so much to it, but it is great."
Frank Cantatore of Long Island was also visiting the area to celebrate a family member's graduation from Cornell University. He noted he heard about the park and decided to visit on a whim while staying over for the holiday weekend. Cantatore added he is "a sucker for waterfalls," and wanted to see the ones Watkins Glen's gorge had to offer.
Kevin Hunter of Syracuse was also a first time visitor to the park, noting he has driven by it many times for work, but had never stopped to see it until Sunday. He said he does printing for Watkins Glen International, which brings him by the park, adding he heard it was one of the highest rated state parks in the country.
"We just had to check it out," Hunter said.
Chris Kolodziejski of Farmington said while the favorite part of his journey along the gorge trail was the pretty views, he also appreciated what it took nature to create the gorge over the years.
"The fact that this was carved over 12,000 years was even better," Kolodziejski. "Long before I was here and will be here long after I am gone. It is super stuff."
Derek Lee and Rachel Piccarreto of Hilton also mentioned their favorite parts of the gorge were staying overnight in the area and decided to visit the park while they were here.
"The waterfalls were really cool," Lee said. "That was really cool," Piccarreto added.
Donald James Winston-Day visited the park from Brooklyn with a group of his friends from the New York City Area. They arrived to the area Friday, May 27, and had also visited some of the area's wineries. The group set aside Sunday to visit the state park, with the goal to make it the entire way through the gorge trail. Winston-Day noted one of the group members was into nature and wanted to show some of the "city-folk" what it is all about, adding he has enjoyed outdoor activities in his past.
"I am an Eagle Scout and have not done any form of scouting activity since finishing," Winston-Day said.