Campground Review: Schodack Island State Park Campground in NY

The RV Atlas Podcast
Campground Review: Schodack Island State Park Campground in NY

Schodack Island State Park Campground (located near Albany, NY) is a hidden gem in a state park system that is filled with them. On this week’s episode of The RV Atlas podcast we welcome Olivia Karis on to the show for the very first time to review this relatively unknown campground. She is a native New Yorker that loves camping in the state and knows the Albany area incredibly well.

On this week’s episode she gives us a terrific review of the campground and offers up tons of suggestions for activities, attractions, and food in the area around. To listen to Jeremy’s interview with Olivia, click on the media play above or subscribe to the RV Atlas wherever you get your favorite shows. Or read on just below for Olivia’s answers to all of our questions about Schodack Island State Park Campground and the area around it.

Q: Where is Schodack Island State Park Campground Located?

A: Schodack Island State Park Campground is located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, about 15-20 minutes south of Albany. This area, known as the Capital Region, generally encompasses the cities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs as well as the surrounding suburbs. We have the Adirondack Mountains to the north, the Catskill Mountains to the south, and the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts to the east. It’s a pretty ideal location with Montreal 3.5 hours north, NYC 2.5 hours south, and Boston/Cape Cod 3 hours east.

Q: Tell us a bit more about this state park…

A: The campground is located within Schodack Island State Park, which was opened in 2002 and is an approx 1,000 acre park with seven miles of shoreline along the Hudson River and the Schodack Creek. (The area occupied by the park used to be a series of islands but it became a continuous peninsula in the early 1900s when they were dredging the Hudson River to make a deep-water channel to Albany, and the sediment was deposited here.) The park is designated a state estuary, which is a place where freshwater mixes with saltwater, because this part of the Hudson River is tidal. (It is deeper than the body of water into which it flows, and as far north as Troy, the flow of the river changes direction with the tides.) The park also encompasses a bird conservation area that is home to bald eagles, cerulean warblers, and blue herons, which nest in the park’s cottonwood trees. 

Q: Tell us a little bit more about the history of this campground?

A:  It has a cool history because it was opened relatively recently, in 2016, and at that time it was the first new campground to be built in a New York State park in 35 years!

Q: What does the campground look like?

A: The campground is wooded, but it has unique vegetation for the northeast because it is at sea level, so you see cottonwood trees and vines which form a dense foliage.

Q: How big is Schodack Island State Park Campground?

A: There are two loops, Creekside and Riverside, with a total of 66 sites. The sites are generally spacious, level, and private, with a mix of sun and shade. 

Q: Tell us more about the individual campsites…

 A: There are 43 sites with 50-amp electric, and the remaining sites in the tenting area do not have any hookups (on Creekside). There is no water or sewer at any of the sites. (NYS park campgrounds tend to be pretty rustic.) Each loop does have a bathhouse with free showers and there are multiple water stations within the loops. The sites are a mix of back-in and pull-through.

Q: Where are your favorite sites at this campground?

A: At the southern end of the Riverside Loop, sites 22-24 are the closest to the playground (a short walk from there). Creekside Loop has a cute playground for very young children, centrally located near the bathhouse.

Q: What is the price range for sites here and how easy are they to book?

Sites are $15-19 per night for non-electric and $23-27 with electric, with an additional $5 per night surcharge for out-of-state residents. There is a $6 per car entrance fee to the park on weekends and holidays (May-October) — however, this does not apply to campers. Reservations are through Reserve America and sites can be booked up to 9 months in advance. Funny enough, the two camping loops have two different seasons. This year, the Riverside Loop is open May 3-October 13 while the Creekside Loop is open April 19-November 17. (This is because the Creekside bathrooms are heated and the Riverside bathrooms are not.)

Q: What kind of amenities can be found within Schodack Island State Park?

A: The park itself is open year round and includes 8 miles of multi-use trails. There are pavilions for rent as well as numerous activities available within the park including hunting, fishing, boating, geocaching, hiking, biking, playgrounds, and picnicking. In the winter they offer cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing, with ice skates and snowshoes available for rent.

Q: Are there options for food within Schodack Island State Park?

A: All summer long, the nearby Schodack Landing Firehouse puts on Firehouse Fridays under one of the park pavilions, so you can walk over from your campsite and enjoy burgers, dogs, sausage and peppers, chicken sandwiches, meatball subs and more. There are also vendors and live music.

Q: Are there any activities within the park?

A: In partnership with the public library down the road, the Castleton Public Library, there are sometimes events at the park during the summer like outdoor movie nights and story times. The park also puts on a fall festival in October and they do an event called Lights in Our Park at Christmas, where people decorate the campsites and win prizes.

Q: Any insider details that campers should know before booking?

A: Bring your boat — motorized boats are permitted on the Hudson and there is a kayak launch on the creek as well. You do need to be aware of the tides. The creek turns into mud flats at low tide, and tidal changes in the river can make navigating more challenging so be aware. The park information booth can help you with this. Be aware of ticks, and hunters during hunting season (end of camping season). There have been a few bear sightings. There is a highway bridge nearby that crosses over the Hudson so you will be able to hear some distant, steady traffic — it’s not dead silent here. On the plus side, you can see some incredibly huge cargo ships going by on the river from time to time, which is fun for the kids.

Q: What could be improved at Schodack Island State Park Campground?

A: As long as you understand that you are in a NYS park and the hookups are minimal, there really isn’t anything lacking! 

Q: What is the best time of year to visit?

A: Spring, summer, and fall are all wonderful times to visit, but the northeast is especially well known as a fall destination and the camping is wonderful that time of year — warm days for hiking and exploring, cool nights for campfires.

Q: What are some of the best things to do in the area?

A: The immediate area surrounding the park is rural. There is a library up the road in the village of Castleton, which has free Wi-Fi if you need it and a regular schedule of activities — good for kids on a rainy day. Castleton also has a couple of restaurants and a farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons in the summer. About 20 minutes away is Golden Harvest Farms, a great choice in the fall for apple picking, cider donuts, pies, etc.

Q: How about hiking or natural activities?

A: The Empire State Trail is a recently completed 750-mile trail for biking and walking across New York State. The section in this area is called the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail and there are parking areas for the trail within 15-20 minutes from the campground.

A bit further out is John Boyd Thacher State Park, about a 40-minute drive from the campground, which is an incredible spot for hiking and beautiful views. It is situated on the Helderberg Escarpment, which is a series of limestone cliffs that are one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. There are panoramic views of the Hudson Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. A highlight is the Indian Ladder Trail which has waterfalls, caves, and you can even find fossils right on the trail. There are staircases to traverse so it definitely has some fun challenges. This trail is considered one of the best in the region and it’s great for both kids and adults. There is also a really fun aerial adventure course at this park called Wild Play which offers zip lines, high ropes, and a jump off of a 40-foot tower. This park also has a beautiful and educational visitor’s center, and even a campground.

Q: How about attractions near Schodack Island State Park Campground?

A: You can really get a taste of everything in this area because there is so much to do — not only all of the nature to explore nearby, but city life as well. In Albany you can take a tour of the USS Slater, a WWII destroyer escort. You can also visit the Empire State Museum, a free museum dedicated to the history and culture of New York State. (I am biased because my husband works there as the head of exhibit graphic design.) This is another good rainy-day destination for families and there are things for the kids to do, including a vintage carousel. The museum is part of the Empire State Plaza, which is the seat of New York State government and includes the State Capitol, where you can take a guided tour. (I recently took a haunted tour of the Capitol at Halloween!)

There are other museums in the downtown Albany area and shopping and dining along Albany’s Lark Street, which you can follow up with a walk through Washington Park. There is an outdoor theater in the park called the Park Playhouse that offers free musicals and plays during the summer, and there are other theaters in Albany where you can take in plays and concerts. Moving a little further north up the Hudson you have the city of Troy, about half an hour from the campground, which has been called the “Brooklyn of the north” and has some great shopping and dining options. They filmed the HBO show The Gilded Age in Troy, as well as the Scorsese film The Age of Innocence, and it has a very walkable downtown with beautiful architecture. (When we talk about food I will mention Troy’s farmer’s market.)

In under an hour you can make it to Saratoga Springs, the location of the famous Saratoga Race Course, America’s oldest sports venue, where you can see horse racing 6 days a week in the summer. Saratoga also has the National Museum of Racing with its Racing Hall of Fame, Saratoga Performing Arts Center where you can see major touring acts, and you can even relax in the natural mineral springs from which the city takes its name at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa. It’s almost too much to mention at this point but the city of Hudson is half an hour to the south of the campground and that’s a whole world of incredible dining, shopping, galleries and antiquing, particularly on Warren Street.

Q: How about options for great food in the area?

A: Where to begin!! This is my favorite subject! Considering that over a million people live in the Capital Region, you are not going to be short on food options. Let me start with breweries, as I know RVers are often big on breweries! About 25 minutes east of the campground you will find S&S Farm Brewery. I have never been here but it’s really popular. It is a working farm and brewery open on Friday and Saturday nights, and they welcome families with kids, as they have a big outdoor area with a playground. They have food trucks and live music. There is also kind of a brewery district in north Albany with Druthers, Fort Orange, and Fidens Breweries, among others, in that area. For breakfast, Schodack Diner and Skyline Diner are both solid nearby options, typical diner fare.

The Crisp Cannoli does excellent sandwiches and baked goods. If you are in this area on a Saturday morning, you have to get to the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, which is a gigantic farmers market in this area, open year round (it moves indoors for winter) — tons of farm fresh produce as well as baked goods, cheeses, specialty coffee, hot food, crafts, plenty to see and do. Speaking of coffee, Gipfel Coffee is my favorite and it’s located inside a very cute shop called Sand Lake Merchant. Alias Coffee, Jacob Alejandro, and Stacks Espresso Bar each have a couple of locations in this area and are very good.

For lunch and dinner, I am a big fan of Ala Shanghai just north of Albany for their delicious soup dumplings, Ted’s Fish Fry which has multiple locations in this area, DeFazio’s Pizza in Troy which is arguably the best pizza around, Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, Indian Flame in Wynantskill for their excellent Indian buffet, and head to Lickety Split in East Greenbush or Kurver Kreme in Albany for great ice cream. This is barely scratching the surface!

Correspondent Bio: Olivia Karis lives with her husband Ben and their 12-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and two dogs in the Albany, New York area. She grew up as a summer camp kid but never went camping until adulthood, when her family was invited to try out a pop-up camper alongside some friends. It was on that very first camping trip that their then-toddler daughter took her first steps, and from then on, Olivia and Ben were hooked.

Olivia has been a dedicated RV Atlas listener since 2016 and after absorbing all she could from the podcast, she bought her first camper, a vintage 1963 Shasta Astrodome named Daisy. Daisy certainly turned heads but after a few years it was time for something more practical with modern amenities. Still loving the vintage look, Olivia and Ben then purchased a 2020 Riverside Retro 190BH named Zelda, which is still part of the family today.

The RV Atlas Podcast
Campground Review: Schodack Island State Park Campground in NY

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