Sandy Island Beach State Park is part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland System, a 17 mile stretch which extends from the Town of Richland, Oswego County, north along Lake Ontario to Jefferson County. The Dunes were formed by wind and wave motion of a giant inland sea that preceded Lake Ontario. The area is the only significant freshwater dune site in the northeastern United States. The Eastern Lake Ontario Dune system offers many opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers, canoeists and kayakers. Walkovers and viewing platforms have been built to protect the fragile dune environment.
Current Water Quality - Beach Results
Hours of Operation
- Open year round from 8 a.m. to sunset.
- 2016 Beach/Swimming Season:
5/28/16 - 6/12/16, weekends and holidays, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
6/18/16 - 9/5/16, daily, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Park Office: Staff available 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. After hours contact Selkirk Shores office at (315) 298-5737.
- Shelter Rentals:
Available Mid May to Columbus Day. Call park to reserve.
Open Shelter, capacity 60
Community Room, capacity 50
Fees & Rates
Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.
Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.
- Included in day use/vehicle entry fee
- Shelter Rentals
- Community Room (capacity 50):
- Weekdays: $75
- Weekends/Holidays: $125
Open Shelter (capacity 60):
- Weekdays: $50
- Weekends/Holidays: $75
- Vehicle Entrance Fee
Highlights of Sandy Island Beach State Park:
- Sandy Island Beach State Park encompasses part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland System, an irreplaceable natural area consisting of beaches, dunes, wetlands, wetlands and embayments. These areas form a coastal barrier protecting inland areas, both natural habitats and human structures, from the direct effect of Lake Ontario’s waves, currents, and high water. The coastal barrier is especially important to maintaining the natural productivity of the coastal environment and in providing habitats for fish and wildlife.
- The freshwater barrier-beach formation on Eastern Lake Ontario is an important place for migratory birds, like the endangered piping plover, and the state-endangered black tern. For this reason, the Sandy Pond Beach Bird Sanctuary was established adjacent to the park.
- Walkovers and platforms offer opportunities for hikers and birdwatchers while protecting fragile dune environment.
- In 2000, a beach park development and dune restoration project commenced which involved restoration and stabilization of the dunes.
- The bays, coves and wetlands along Eastern Lake Ontario are important nurseries for spawning fish and unusual reptiles and amphibians.
- Such as the dune willow, a rare shrub which stabilizes and protects sand dunes.
- The area represents what was once the largest inland dune system in the eastern great lakes and contains some of the highest quality freshwater marshes in New York State. In addition to its other names, the entire Eastern Lake Ontario Wetland complex has been deemed a “significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat” but the Department of State, an Audubon “Important Bird Area,” a New York State “Bird Conservation Area,” and a “National Natural Landmark.”
What will you see? Plan your visit today!
Look and listen for these birds at our Park:
Everyone is a Steward: Be a Sandy Island Beach State Park Hero!
Know the rules and concerns for the area you’ll be visiting.
Respect other visitors and their experience. Avoid excessive noise.
Respect wildlife and observe from a distance.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Respect string fences and other barriers, and don’t climb on the dunes.
For more information, please read our Trail Tips!
When you enter or leave the water:
Clean and remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from your boat, trailer and other equipment and dispose of it in a suitable trash container or on dry land.
Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks and any other locations with water before leaving the launch. Disinfect when possible.
Dry your boat, trailer and all equipment completely. At least 5 days of drying time is recommended. Drying times vary depending on weather and material.
Ask a Naturalist!
Q: Why can’t we climb on the dunes?
A: The dunes are fragile and are easily eroded because the sand can be moved with very little effort.
Q: Why are there houses on the dunes?
A: The houses were built before it was realized how fragile the dunes are and how important they are to the area.
Q: Why are there fences around the dunes?
A: Some of the dunes are surrounded by snow fences in order to reduce wind erosion and to prevent people from climbing the dunes.
Q: Are there tidal changes on the Lake?
A: The actual Lake tide is very small. What is noticeable is the rise and fall of the Lake due to wind. This can be seen in the stream between the North and South Ponds. It flows both directions depending upon lake conditions, giving the illusion of a strong tide change.
DID YOU KNOW?
The dune behind the northern end of the beach is the result of a restoration project. 44,000 cubic yards of sand were moved for part of the rebuild. The rest of the rebuild included fencing and plantings of Champlain dune grass. Dune grass helps to hold sand in place and prevent erosion from both wind and water.
Dunes are held together by plants such as beachgrass and cottonwood trees, disrupting these plants contributes to the erosion of the dunes. • Sandy Island Beach State Park not only takes in the land but a portion of the Sandy Pond marsh area. There is a nature trail along the edge of some of this area.
The area is currently affected by invasive plant species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), pale swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum rossicum), garlic mustard (Allitaria petiolata), water chestnut (Trapa natans), Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and Phragmites sp. Invasive species expansions may eventually cause local extinctions of native flora and fauna, especially those that are rare and have limited ranges.