The Genesee River and You

Genesee RiverWatch is devoted to creating “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations.” In so doing, we work to both protect the river and promote its use as a physical, intellectual, and emotional resource. For us to continue this work, we need your support. Please visit our website and invest $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.

In our various communications during the year, we tell you about the issues confronting the Genesee River and the actions that Genesee RiverWatch is taking – with your help – to address those issues and to protect, preserve and enhance the river.    As the New Year approaches, we think it is time to take stock of the ways in which all of us, and our loved ones, can take advantage of this community asset to enrich our lives and get a real payback on the support that we provide to Genesee RiverWatch and its partner organizations.


If you prefer active sports, the Genesee is a wonderful river to paddle in a kayak or canoe. Upstream of Letchworth State Park the river flows through forest and farmland with occasional white water stretches in reasonable water levels that most novices can navigate. Since the river in this area rises and falls rapidly with snow melt and rainstorms, it is best to keep an eye on the USGS gauges at Wellsville and Portageville when deciding on a trip. Having others with you will make the trip more fun as well as safer. Below the Mt. Morris dam, the river is slower and less subject to fluctuations in depth, yet equally lovely and relaxing. The river below Lower Falls in Rochester surprises paddlers with its feeling of wilderness in the midst of the city. If you don’t have access to a kayak or need a starter lesson, watch for our announcement of the 2023 public paddling program and join us next summer. If you have your own boat, you can find both printable and interactive maps of the river’s access sites on our website at Genesee RiverWatch – Publications.

Fishing the Genesee is another great way to enjoy the river. Seasonal salmon runs on the lower river offer the opportunity to catch very large fish practically in your own back yard with no more investment than a rod and lure. Near the southern end of the river, the Wellsville Trout Derby will be held on April 21-23, 2023. The 2022 edition of the Derby saw a 10-year-old boy win the grand prize of nearly $3,400! River access sites between these points provide opportunities to catch Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Catfish.

Letchworth State Park

If you have not spent time in Letchworth Park, you are missing one of the great park experiences in the East. Hiking and camping opportunities abound and cover a range of difficulty from easy to strenuous. Opportunities for serious nature study and guided walks abound. In addition, seasonal white water rafting and hot air balloon rides over the river are unique in this region. If you go to Letchworth to hike, be sure to get down to river level at Lees Landing or St. Helena and don’t ignore the little-used trails on the east side of the Genesee, accessed via the Parade Grounds Entrance off Route 436.  

A Better Understanding of Our World

All along the river, from Gold, Pennsylvania to the lighthouse in Rochester Harbor, the Genesee offers opportunities to see history, geology, botany, and environmental sciences at first hand.   If history is your interest, you can look up such topics as the Genesee River Canal (mentioned above), Mary Jemison, Seth Green, the Port of Rochester, Kelsey’s Landing, and the Underground Railroad. Read their chronicles, then walk or paddle the river to see the actual sites where these events happened.   For a visual record of many of these subjects, the Stone Collection of photographs available on the Rochester Public Library’s website (Monroe County Library System), provide a wonderful record of what many of the sites looked like in the early 20th Century.  

For those interested in geology and the impacts of glaciers, the river’s banks, the cliffs in Rochester and Letchworth, and the Genesee’s magnificent falls offer dramatic, first-hand demonstrations of the processes that have formed our earth.   To better understand the botany of the Genesee Region, check out the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth and the Seneca Park Zoo for their programs and summer camp experiences focused on botany and environment.  

These are just a few of the more obvious ways in which we can take advantage of the amazing resource that is our Genesee River.  Perhaps you and your friends have additional ideas and experiences that you would like to share. If so, let us know so that we can add them to future communications and to the Genesee RiverWatch website.   If you have not yet done so, please make a donation to RiverWatch so that we can continue our valuable work.

We wish you a happy, healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2023!

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