DISCOVER AND EXPLORE THE CATSKILLS
The Catskill Mountains, commonly known as the Catskills are a large region in southeastern New York state. The name is said to be derived from the many bobcats that were once present near the Catskill Creek. The Catskills region is easily recognizable with its dramatic, rising mountains weaving through the Hudson Valley. Visitors and locals alike love the Catskills natural beauty, with a plethora of rivers, hiking trails, and waterfalls.
With so much natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the Catskills is home to some of the best outdoor recreation in the country. Tubing, rafting, fishing, bicycling, camping, hiking, and skiing are all possible through the seasons. This region also hosts a strong cultural history, as it was the home of the infamous Woodstock music festival in 1969.
Spanning across seven counties in the state, the Catskills are comprised of more than 6,000 square miles of forests, farmlands, and rivers. The highest mountain in the region, Slide Mountain, is over 4,000 feet high. This region is also, surprisingly, home to the largest limestone cave in the Northeast. Clearly, this beautiful region is a far cry from the hustle of New York City. However, it remains to be a top destination for adventurists and nature enthusiasts year after year.
The key to making the most of your stay in the region is finding the perfect vacation rental! There are different vacation rentals for all budgets and itineraries, so be sure to do the right research to find the ultimate vacation rental in the Catskills!
Since this region is so large, it is comprised of many popular cities and villages. These cities are all unique hubs, each bridging the gap between nature and culture.
- Woodstock - Located in Ulster County, Woodstock is known for its 1969 music festival which attracted over 400,000 people over three days. Today, Woodstock maintains small-town charm, offering both outdoor activities and museums. Visitors can explore the dairy farm that once housed the Woodstock Music Festival or hike Overlook Mountain.
- Saugerties - This small town packs big history, with settlements dating back to the 1650s and continuing today. Located on the Hudson River, visitors are attracted to this town's many outdoor activities as well as historical landmarks.
- Roxbury - Did you know this was the birthplace of the naturalist John Burroughs as well as the railroad financier Jay Gould? Today, Roxbury boasts a stunning historic district featuring the Jay Gould Memorial Church and several other sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Kingston - Named the state's first capital in 1777, Kingston was a valuable transportation hub in the 19th century. Though no longer the state capital, this city draws visitors to its revitalized downtown. Kingston boasts a strong artists community, and it was recently named America’s best place for artists.
- Windham - Otherwise affectionately known as the state’s winter wonderland. One of the main attractions in this region is the Windham Mountain ski resort, which draws New York City locals to its slopes annually. Windham hosts many different sporting events throughout the year, it's a great place to vacation no matter what time of year.
- Hunter Mountain - Made popular in the 1950s, Hunter Mountain attracts skiers and outdoor enthusiasts to its 4,040 feet peak! This is the second highest peak in the region, and one of the highest in the state! This area is particularly busy during the wintertime, but it is a great place to explore year round. It's many trails and overlooks are well-worth a visit!
- Phoenicia - Phoenicia was one of the first villages in the region to be reached by railroad, giving it a long history of tourism. Today, visitors visit Phoenicia to explore the nature preserves and to participate in the abundance of river recreation! There is also a budding downtown with eclectic vintage shops and old-timey general stores.
Things to do:
There are endless things to do in this region for those looking for adventure and history. Here are the top things to do in and around the Catskills!
- Minnewaska State Park - Great park with stunning views! Definitely the perfect day trip for hikers looking to see the best of the region. Many trails to hike (for all levels) with picturesque views of the Lakes, waterfalls, mountain views of either the Catskill Mountains or Hudson Valley, and rich foliage, this is one of the best state parks in the Northeast.
- Pratt Rock-The famous Ripley's Believe it or Not named Pratt Rock as New York's very own Mt. Rushmore! This can be a great hike for the experienced hiker, the terrain can be too steep for smaller children. However, these unique rock sculptures features should not to be missed!
- Opus 40 - Located in Saugerties, NY, Opus 40 is a massive environmental sculpture created by Harvey Fite. This 6.5-acre bluestone quarry is a maze of ramps, pedestals, and platforms that continue to impress.
- Thomas Cole National Historic Site- Thomas Cole was one of America’s most influential landscape painters in the 19th century, and his home is now open to the public.
- Shawangunk Mountains - Located a short drive from Woodstock, NY, these mountains are for more advanced adventurers. They are a great place for a challenging hike or climb up the steep slopes.
- Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Once home to the great 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, this space now serves as a concert venue and museum. The museum and grounds offer artifacts and interactive exhibits.
- Hunter Mountain This is the popular ski resort of the region, perfect for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.
- Howe Caverns After Niagara Falls, the Howe Caverns is the top destination for tourists in the state. Daily tours allow visitors to explore caves over 150 ft below ground which formed several million years ago.
- Kaaterskill Falls This two-stage waterfall is located in the eastern mountains of the state near the town of Hunter. Kaaterskill Falls has been considered one of the top waterfalls in the Northeast!
- Olana State Historic Site This beautiful building was once home to Frederic Edwin Church, one of the most notable figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. This impressive estate offers tours of the interior and the grounds daily.
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Navigating the region isn’t as easy as other regions in the northeast, and it might require more prior planning.
Getting to the Catskills:
- Train: Both Amtrak and Metro-North trains are available to explore to the Hudson River Valley. However, you’ll need to rent a car or take a taxi to get to a more specific destination since there are no stops any closer to the Catskills.
- Bus: The Adirondack/Pine Hill Trailway bus service travels the eastern region the Catskills and is the best way to see to the region without renting a personal car or taking a taxi.
- Car: The fastest way to explore to the Catskills is by car, as both route I-87 and I-84 directly lead to this region.
Travel within the Catskills:
- Bus: The Adirondack/Pine Hill Trailway bus service connects many major cities within the Catskill region.
- Car: Car is the best way to travel this region, as there are very few public transportation options.
The Catskills region is a popular outdoor destination year-round, despite experiencing rather humid summers and freezing winters. During the summer, activities like hiking and rafting are common as the Hudson river warms. During the winter, this region becomes a popular ski destination, attracting a large crowd from the nearby cities.
The main peak season in the Catskills is when skiing is in session, from November to March. During off months, there are fewer crowds in popular ski resort towns and on many of the popular trails. The ideal time to visit this region is during fall since this is when the foliage takes on its beautiful red color made famous by the Hudson River Valley painters of the 19th century. Regardless, the Catskills are a great place to visit year round.
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