Wellesley Island Camping Great Lakes Seaway Trail


After leaving in my RV from the Rochester, New York area, where I ran errands for about three days, I continued on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, destined to do some Wellesley Island camping along the Saint Lawrence River.

Wellesley Island CampingAs I passed through more farm lands, old barns, and scenes around the lake, I headed to the historic Thousand Islands to stay at Wellesley Island State Park.

I made a reservation for two days which cost $65 including the online reservation fee of $9 to do some Wellesley Island camping in the RV and just relax. I took time off from work and set out to really enjoy the beauty of this area, do some bicycling, and maybe even rent a boat.

Before I get to Wellesley Island State Park though, there's a lighthouse that I want to stop by and visit that's along the way.

I can't get enough of lighthouses. There's almost something magical about these structures with the glass, mirrors, lights, and the feel when you're around it and the water.

Sodus Bay Lighthouse 

Sodus Bay Lighthouse is in Sodus Point, New York and right off of Lake Ontario with a gorgeous view of the water and surrounded by lush gardens.

The day I visited the lighthouse it was a cooler morning in July which was a gift considering how humid and hot it was when I was touring Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York just 120 miles away the week before.

To look at Sodus Bay lighthouse, it’s not an impressive looking lighthouse by some standards, but it plays a part in history that’s worth visiting and viewing the surrounding area.

Sodus Point Lighthouse 2

Sodus Bay Lighthouse Flowers

As I had mentioned in my Fort Niagara video and post, the War of 1812 surrounded this area in order to control the water ways. Whoever controlled the waterways had direct access to the East and Midwest areas of the United States and Canada.

Map of Great Lakes Waterways

At various points along the lake, the government kept supplies for the military in storehouses. One of those was here in Sodus Bay Lighthouse.

In 1813 the British were headed for Sodus Point to confiscate the provisions in these storehouses.

One afternoon, the British squadron was spotted coming from the east. Two men, the local versions of Paul Revere, rode on horseback, one to the west and one to the south calling, “The British are landing! Turn out!”, in an attempt to recall the militia that had retreated earlier and to arise the citizens.

Approximately 60 ordinary, untrained men of farmers, millers, and merchants, dropped their tools and grabbed their weapons and headed to the Point.

Around midnight, the British made landfall with 100-150 men where shots were fired and a battle ensued.

Later, the British burned Sodus Bay and took whatever provisions and goods they could find.

There are memorials here to remember the fallen who fought for this country.

Sodus Bay Lighthouse Gardens

I really love the history on the East Coast and how humbling it is to visit these historic areas and learn how these key, specific areas played a part in history, but aren’t magnified in history textbooks.

Continuing on east along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail I traveled through numerous small towns, farms, and beautiful landscape.

It’s time to head to Wellesley Island State Park in the historic Thousand Islands, but first I have to cross the Thousand Island toll bridge. Let’s just say, it’s beautiful, but nerve-racking in an RV.

Related Blog Posts for the Entire Great Lakes Seaway Trails Quest:

Thousand Island International Bridge to Wellesley Island Camping

In order to travel to Wellesley Island by an automobile or RV you’ll need to pass over the massive, Thousand Island International Bridge. The suspension bridge is also the direct connection between the United States and Canada crossing the Saint Lawrence River,  Wellesley Island, and Hill Island.

Thousand Island Toll Bridge

Built between 1937-1938, the Thousand Island Bridge is 8.5 miles long and 800 feet tall at the main span of the bridge. It’s quite an impressive structure for only taking 16 months to build.

Thousand Islands International Bridge
Photo courtesy of Ad Meskens

Cost to Travel on Thousand Island International Bridge

There are several cost tiers based on what type of vehicle you are driving and also which countries toll booth you are entering.

As of this post, the Unites States toll booth is $2.75 – $6.50 depending on if you’re driving an automobile, motorcycle, RV, trailer or bus. Since I’m in an RV, I paid $4.25 to cross the Thousand Island bridge.

Now if you were at the Canadian toll booth, the cost is $3.75 – $8.25 for the same types of vehicles. If I were to cross at the Canadian toll booth, I would have paid $5.50 for my RV.

I think those prices seem pretty reasonable considering that you have the convenience of crossing into Canada or the United States instead of traveling around to areas where the land connects each country.

Southern Accents and Batman While Driving RV On Thousand Island Bridge

So if you watched my video, then you saw how much I talked to myself as I drove over the bridge like I did when I was driving around the Lake Tahoe loop without any guard rails.

For some reason I also bring out my southern accent from my childhood – though I don’t recall ever having that strong of an accent – when I get nervous.

YouTube player

I was quite amused at myself when I was editing the video and I was also making references to Batman. Huh??

I don’t know what that was about. I’m not even a Batman fan, but I was saying something like, “Holy smokes Batman – look at this bridge!” or “Where’s my batmobile for this bridge?”; of course in my southern accent.

Sidebar – Where does the phrase “holy smokes” even come from??

Oh, and I spared you the annoying references to Batman in the video and probably some embarrassment on my part. I’m just embarrassed admitting it.

The nerve-racking part isn’t necessarily that it’s a bridge or that it’s tall, it’s that it’s a 2-lane bridge with oncoming traffic very close to my RV and I was concerned about side winds.

When you’re passing by another RV or semi that’s coming towards you, and both of you are wide, that’s when I get nervous and because we’re both so close the lane lines on each side.

One wrong move to the right and you're hitting the bridge. One wrong move to the left and you can hit an oncoming car – or be hit by one. I can’t tell you how many times I see people not paying attention and texting and driving.

Good news! I made it in one piece and lost the southern accent – and Batman references – as I existed the other side.

Also, I only paid the toll once. I paid when I first went over the bridge on to Wellesley Island where I did some Wellesley Island camping at the state park in my RV for a couple of days. When I headed back onto the bridge to get back onto the mainland, there was no toll.

Wellesley Island Camping

Once I made it safely over the bridge, I quickly found Wellesley Island State Park camping check-in and headed for my reserved spot.

I had booked my reservation online and used a site that shows you a preview of the camp site prior to reserving. This is a great resource that you can use for spots all over North America.

Wellesley Island Camping Hookups

Depending on which area you stay while Wellesley Island camping at the state park, you can either have no hookups, electric only, or full hookups with water, sewer, and electric. The full hookups area is “Fox Area” which you’ll pay the higher rate for (around $36 as of this posting) and it’s also very open with minimal trees.

I stayed in the “Coyote Area” which was electric only and full of trees. It’s a little cheaper at $28 a night as of this posting. I think next time I’ll stay in Fox area though only because I like that it’s more open and would have liked the full hookups. Plus the sites seem to be a little more spacious with more light.

The trees really made it seem dark in that area and when it rained, the ground was pretty soggy.

As you can see from the Wellesley Island campground map, the park is very large with quite a few options based on your RV or camping needs.

Wellesley Island Campgournd map

Since I opted for the electric only site, I dumped my tanks at the front entrance before parking and getting set-up. Also the potable water was dotted throughout the camp area so I found one about 15 sites away from mine and filled up the fresh water tank.

I didn’t care for this layout since you had to fill-up while in the entrance to our area and it blocks anybody else from being able to get around you. Seems like a poor design, but thankfully when I arrived there was nobody camped in the spots where I was getting water and nobody tried to get past me.

Wellesley Island Camping Activities

The Wellesley Island camping area is such a beautiful area with lots of trees, sandy beaches, boating, tours, hiking, and bicycling.

I was going to rent a boat to travel around the lake, because Lily can't go on the tours and it was too hot for me to leave her by herself in the RV.

However, in NY you need a boat safety class prior to operating a boat so I couldn't rent the boat after all. Great idea though for boat safety classes. It worked out though that it rained the whole next day, so Lily and I snuck out between rain showers to bicycle and walk around the park.

On my first night Wellesley Island camping, I walked down to the edge of the water with Lily so we could watch the sun go down over the water.

I was not disappointed!

I'm not sure I've ever seen sunsets as beautiful as this on this night. The glow of yellow, oranges, and almost red across the sky and the water took my breath away.

Well, and the kayakers made the shot even more impressive to see them skim across the waters as they watched the sunset as well.

Wellesley SP Beach Sundown with Kayacker

The pops of oranges and the kayakers in the background couldn't have been more perfect for a photo opportunity. Lily and I sat and talked with other campers and hung by the beach as we watched the sun fall behind the clouds and disappear for the night.

Alarm Issues in the RV

Unfortunately on the second day, I had some issues with my alarm that detects toxic gasses; like propane. The alarm kept going off, but there was no gas leak. In fact I had the propane off for two days since I was hooked into shore power.

Then I looked at my EMS Progressive Industries surge protector and noticed a flashing error. Shore power had dropped to a low voltage and, thankfully, cut the power to my RV when it happened. This must have been the reason the propane alarm off went off except my batteries should have kicked in and each batter was 100% charged.

Literally within 30 minutes of fixing that, the smoke detector goes off in the dinette area.

My head was reeling from the alarms – now what? There was no smoke. I thought maybe it was from all the smoke from campfires, which by the way, was really bad under all the trees and the sites being so close together.

No – it was a bad battery. I changed the battery and all was well.

I couldn't wait to leave at that point. That's the second time my propane alarm went off when I was plugged into shore power. I'm so glad I have that surge protector though to protect my electronics in the RV.

Finishing The Great Lakes Seaway Trail

The next day I finished up the Great Lakes Seaway Trail as I continued east to Massena, New York. Only 71 more miles until I’ve finished the 520 mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail and number 13 on my quest to complete all of National Geographic’s 300 scenic highways and byways.

Land and topography was changing with each mile as it became more hilly, increased boulder rocks, and also warmer.

Thousand Island

My last Walmart dry camping on this scenic route ended with meeting a fellow RVer who was also headed to Maine in her shiny new Roadtrek with all the luxuries one needs.

Traveling along the Great Lakes for the last 10 days, seeing the abundant history and beauty, and also meeting new friends along the way, has been spectacular and life changing.

I am so happy to be following my dreams and doing this grand adventure around North America. It’s taken me years to get to this point, but all the while I was creating that dream and taking small action steps through research and working remotely to achieve my dream.

I didn’t always know when it would happen, but I wanted to be prepared for when the time was right for me to take that leap.

Life is good. Really good.

Have you made this trip before? What other road trip trails have you discovered? If you're traveling to New York, then make sure to check out Wellesley Island camping at Wellesley Island State Park. There are other RV parks in the Thousand Trails area, but this one was pretty great.

Related Blog Posts for the Entire Great Lakes Seaway Trails Quest:

Overnights & Places Visited


Places Visited/Cost:

  • Sodus Bay Lighthouse / $0
  • Wellesley Island State Park / Per night fee (above) and $4.50 on the Thousand Island Toll Bridge

RV Accessibility:  Any length

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  1-2 bars sporadic while Wellesley Island camping

Park Pass:  N/A

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

Water Filter –  Filter is for your RV hose when filling up your fresh water tank. Helps to keep the tank clean and the water filtered for consumption or showers. Even brushing your teeth and rinsing.

Lead-free Water Pressure Regulator – I use this every time I fill up my fresh water tank to protect the plumbing. You never know when filling up at all of these random locations what the pressure is and you want to make sure its a lower pressure so that it doesn't damage pipes.

EMS Progressive Industries surge protector– An absolute must when RVing and connecting to shore power. It protects your RV and trailer electrical system if there is a power failure, low power surges, and any surges. I rarely connect to shore power because I have solar panels, but on several occasions there has been a low voltage at the park or a surge where this surge protector has absolutely saved my electrical system and prevented me from incurring high repair bills. It's worth every penny and highly rated in the industry.

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