I hear from people all the time about how wonderful Watkins Glen State Park and Letchworth State Park are. I agree; they are great parks, and they are well worth a visit. I rarely hear about Allegany State Park, and that is a marvelous curiosity. ASP is a very large state park that sits in the far southwestern area of New York State, virtually on the Pennsylvania border. When I found myself with a three-day weekend with my wife away at a special event, I decided on ASP as my destination. I really could have gone anywhere. Here are the major factors that went into my decision: (1) it’s not too far from home but not really too close either (2.5 hour drive), (2) it has great hiking trails, with a high likelihood of seeing wildlife, (3) it has lakes for kayaking and fishing, (4) it has dark skies for stargazing, (4) there are many campsites at two different campgrounds, so no reservations would be needed.
I arrived at the park shortly after noon on Saturday. The weather was spectacular, so you would expect a good-sized fall weekend crowd at the park. It was evident that there were a lot of people out enjoying the day at the park, but it is such a large park that there were no places that were crowded at all.
I selected a campsite in a large, open, grassy field so that I would be able to enjoy stargazing at night. I did not want a site with electricity, because I wanted to put my new solar setup to the test. However, all the sites that would provide me with good stargazing were electric sites. That meant I would be paying the premium price for an electric site (50 amp!) but not using it. Oh well. You can’t always get what you want. There were only about six or seven other parties camping in this loop, and there are a total of 42 sites in the loop. (The campground map indicates that there are a total of 164 sites in all the loops of the Cain Hollow Campground.)
After setting up camp I spent a couple hours fishing and kayaking at Quaker Lake, which is less than a mile from the Cain Hollow Campground. There were several other kayakers out on the lake on this beautiful fall day, but the lake is so large that they were seen mostly off in the distance.
I had brought a little bit of kiln-dried firewood with me, but I knew that I would need more. I spent some time gathering, cutting, and splitting some downed trees that I found in the woods next to the campground. When a neighbor saw me splitting he came over and offered the use of his sledge hammer to help with the job. I really appreciated the thought, but I didn’t need the tool. We introduced ourselves to each other, and I invited Jeff and his group over to see stars and planets through the telescope later at night.
The stargazing was good but not great. My telescope has a lot of electronic, navigational features that are not working properly. I was able to manually find Saturn and Mars, but not much else of interest. Further, I couldn’t get it to focus completely. I don’t know what’s wrong with the darn thing. I was thankful that Jeff and his folks did not come over.
I ran the furnace a lot at night because the temperatures were well down into the lower 40’s or upper 30’s. I wanted to operate all the electrical things in the camper without exercising any conservation efforts, because I wanted to see how quickly the battery got discharged and how quickly my 100-watt solar panel would be able to recharge it. I did not use a meter to measure my voltage, but the solar control panel indicated a “partially” discharged battery in the morning. I was very pleasantly surprised when I noticed at 9:00AM (in bright sunlight) the charge was back up to full. So a full night of keeping the furnace running (on and off as needed to keep the temperature in the mid 50’s) used only enough electricity to enable full recharging with about 2 hours of sunlight. Amazing.