Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Rock City + Camping in Salamanca, NY

Last month, we took a long weekend trip to Salamanca, NY

It's about an hour (and a little more) away from where we live, and also where my Grandpa on my Dad's side was born and raised. When my Dad suggested we camp there this year, I was mostly excited to go back and see the hills where my Grandpa used to have a hunting cabin. We spent many weekends of my childhood there - roughing it without a bathroom and looking for crayfish under rocks in the nearby creek.

The whole trip was great, and if you're looking for somewhere nice to camp (in a cabin or an RV), an amazing place to hike, and small towns to explore in Western New York - keep reading!

We arrived at Elkdale RV resort on a Thursday evening, and were surprised by how calm and quiet the whole place was. This was our first time at an "RV resort" vs a campground - which I've come to understand has less amenities and activities and more quiet, calm atmosphere. I honestly think I like both for different reasons, but it depends on your trip and what your camping style is!

One interesting aspect of this place that I hadn't run into before, is that many of the people staying at this resort are long-term temporary guests. Unlike seasonal campsite renters, those guests are contracted construction workers who are in the area for a while and need a home base. Some of them even bring their families or keep veggie plants on their cabin porches. I just thought that lifestyle sounded so interesting!


My family and I rented a cabin, and my Dad and step-mom parked their camper in our cabin's backyard. This gave us a big area for meals and fires and letting the kids run around. The cabin was really spacious, in great shape, and fully stocked. We really only had to bring our own food and clothes - everything else was there! Which is not how most cabins are. We usually have to bring our own linens, toilet paper, hand soap, cooking utensils - everything. So this is a great place to go if you're looking for a lot less packing!

The cabin had a full kitchen, full bathroom, separate bedroom, living space, and a nice porch we spent most of our mornings on. There was plenty of room for 5 people, but the place could have easily accommodated even more!


The main attraction of our trip was hiking at Rock City State Park. My Dad used to take me there all the time when we'd stay at my Grandpa's cabin, and I was really excited to go back there and show it to my kids. 

Pictures don't do it justice - it is breathtakingly beautiful on the hiking trails! There are so many unique trees-growing-on-cliffside situations, mysterious alleyways between boulders, and intricate nature-y details to soak in as you move along the trails. We packed a lunch and made a little picnic on the tailgate of my Dad's truck, buf if you're lucky you can nab a picnic table at one of the first-come-first-served camping spots. 

  knotted tree roots

My kids loved Rock City as much as I always have, and there are many varied length/difficulty trails to choose from so you could spend a few hours or all day (or even night!) here if you wanted to. The gravely stone roads that lead you to the peak of the park are a little intimidating (and feel surprisingly long on the way up), so expect that - but it's worth it! I looked into the history and geology of the structures there, and it's so interesting! It started 290 million years ago when North America and Africa collided! If you want to learn more about it, scroll down to "Geology" here.


Another highlight for us was going into the town of Salamanca. I think my family probably appreciated this a little more than the average people because of our shared history, but it's still a really cool, old-school small town to check out. 


We made a special point to check out the Veterans park because my Grandpa (as well has some of his family members) has a dedicated brick in their memorial wall. We loved finding his name and feeling connected to him there, but there's also some really cool war memorabilia to check out. My kids especially liked the huge tank and the warplane propeller. There's an impressive anchor, too. Super cool info for any history buff.


There's a really great little lunch and ice cream place right across the street from the veteran's park called Tony's Tastee Freeze that we highly recommend! We only got ice cream, but the servings were impressive and more affordable than any ice cream place we've ever gone to! They only accept cash, though, so if you visit be prepared for that.

I don't have any pictures of it, but we stopped at a really cool pet store/aquarium that the kids loved. It's called Ellicottville Aquatics, and they have so many petable little creatures and fish tanks to explore. My kids loved it there!


Speaking of Ellicottville, it's very nearby if you want to take a trip there! If you've never been, it's a gorgeous little ski town full of shops, restaurants, and the locally well-known Ellicottville Brewing. We stopped in and just walked up and down the streets for a little bit - it was the weekend and very crowded and we had all our kids with us so we didn't stop in anywhere, but it was a nice walk. As of our June trip, most places were still limiting capacity so just take that into consideration if you visit.


Back at the resort, there are a couple of "extras" to fill your time with if campfire cooking and taking it easy on your porch isn't enough. There is a huge pond on the property where you can fish to your heart's content - my kids caught a whole bunch! They weren't successful until we picked up bait in town, though, which we did at Ellicottville Aquatics, so I recommend grabbing some wherever you can find it if you plan to fish! There's also a driving range (which you can walk to from the pond), and Elkdale Country Club is right next door if you'd like to golf. In fact, a couple of the holes overlook the RV resort.

We really loved our time in Salamanca, and if you're in search of a not-too-far-from-Buffalo family destination with some outdoorsiness and gorgeous mountains, I recommend the trip!

Fun fact: the man who wrote the famous Christmas song "Silver Bells" was born and raised in Salamanca, NY! His name was Ray Evans. Super cool!

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