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Located on the East Coast United States, the Catskill Mountains are one of the largest and most naturally diverse regions of the East Coast United States. These scenic mountains are nestled in the 705,500 acres of Catskill Park and have winding valleys, forested mountains, rivers, tributaries, rushing streams, and a rocky and sparse vegetation landscape. In the Catskill Mountains, there are many recreational activities that visitors to indulge in and things to see.

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Why The Catskill Mountains Are So Famous

The Catskill Mountains are famous for the sprawling 98 peaks over 3000 feet in altitude. The diverse landscape and terrains make the Catskill Mountains and the surrounding Catskill Park the choice destination for outdoor lovers. There are activities suited for families and other epic and adrenaline-inducing adventures, and all can fit on a single itinerary. Dubbed 'America's First Wilderness, ' Catskill Park yearly attracts up to an estimated 2.7 million visitors keen to vacation in this natural paradise less than three hours away from the bustling and concrete jungle that is New York City.

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The History Of The Catskill Park

A State Legislature's act led to the creation of Catskill Park on April 5, 1904, accorded recognition and protection of this New York mountain region. In that period, Catskill Park included 92,708 acres of State Forest Preserve land within a 576,120-acre region that touched Delaware, Greene, Ulster, and Sullivan counties. Eventually, more acres of State Forest Preserve land were added to the current acreage.

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Catskill Mountains visitors will be spoilt for a choice of things to do and places and sites to explore. These include:

Skyrides

To experience the best views of the Catskill Mountains and surrounding scenery, visitors ride the six-passenger elevated and detachable chairlift. The spectacular sky ride takes 11 minutes to get to the 3200 feet high Hunter Mountain peak. On a clear day, scenic views of the Northern Catskill Mountains, Vermont's Green Mountains, and the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts while sky-riding are visible. From July 1 to September 5, the rides are on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, from 10 am to 4 pm. From September 10 to October 16, the rides are on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. The Hunter Mountain Company operating these sky rides has a lodge where visitors can book here and stay.

Cost (Sky Rides)

  • Adult (13-64 Years) $17
  • Child (3-12 Years) $13
  • Seniors (Over 65 Years)$13

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Hikes

Catskills Hiking trails number into thousands. They are beautiful, and their diverse terrains cut across Catskill Park's green paradise. They range from short, family-friendly, to challenging trails reaching an altitude above 3500 feet. The 13 best trails for visitors to hike in the Catskill Mountains are.

  • Giant Ledge-3.75 Miles
  • Sam's Point-7.5 Miles
  • Ashokan Rail Trail-11.5 Miles
  • Kaaterskill Falls-1 Mile
  • Hunter Mountain Fire Tower-8.2 Miles
  • Frick Pond Loop-2.2 Miles
  • Neversink River Unique Area-8.4 miles
  • Bramley Mountain Trail-4 Miles
  • Catskill Scenic Trail-26 miles
  • Mount Tremper- 6 miles
  • Overlook Mountain-5 miles
  • North Point-3 miles
  • Balsam Lake Fire Tower-6 miles

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Mountain Bike

Catskills biking trails have varied terrains that make the experience challenging and exciting. The trails crisscross the backcountry, mountains, and small towns like Margaretville, Windham, Catskill, New Paltz, Woodstock, Bethel, Roscoe, and Roxbury. Catskill biking trails include:

  • Lippman Park
  • Catskill Scenic Trail
  • Parksville Rail Trail
  • Huckleberry Trail
  • Windham Mountain Bike Park
  • Pearson Park-Walnut Mountain
  • Kingston Point BMX
  • Plattekill Mountain

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Fish

Catskill Park is laden with ponds, creeks, lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs that teem with trouts, shad, bass, pickerel pike, and other fish species. That's why it's historically considered one of America's premier angling destinations. Among the water spots where visitors can cast their lines are:

  • Wilson Lake
  • Alder Lake
  • Cannonsville Reservoir
  • Big Pond
  • Lake Superior
  • Crystal Lake
  • North-South Lake
  • Green Lake

Visitors interested in fly fishing can do it on the following water spots:

  • Delaware River
  • Roscoe
  • Neversink River
  • Batavia Kill
  • Esopus Creek

Visitors need to refer to New York fishing guidelines before going on fishing outings.

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Aquatic Recreation

The many water spots dotting Catskill Park have water recreational activities offered by service providers there, like white water rafting.

White Water Rafting: Catskills Park has fast-moving rivers flowing, ideal for white water rafting. Aquatic thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies will have the time of their lives paddling their inflatable rafts through the rough rapids. The best white water rafting spots at Catskill Park are:

  • Sullivan County: This white water rafting spot here at Southern Catskills borders the Delaware River. Since the river is fed by multiple reservoirs, there is lots of water suited for white water rafting.
  • Ulster County: This location at Esopus Creek, a Hudson River tributary, has rough waters with 1 to 3 feet waves. There also are rocks and trees along this course that starts at Phoenicia. White Water rafting lasts for 1 to 2 hours here, and participants need to be at least 12 years old and be good swimmers.
  • Greene County: This county has Zoom Flume Water Park in East Durham, which is suited for novice white water rafters. On the lazy rivers here, visitors can go on tube rides or swim in pools there in summer.

The service providers below provide the white water rafting equipment needed. Visitors can contact for their white water rafting costs and more details.

Visitors can also boat, kayak, canoe, or paddleboard at water spots like Pepacton and Cannonsville Reservoirs, Susan's Pleasant Pheasant Farm, and North-South Lake Campground, all located in Catskill Park.

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The Thomas Cole National Historic Site

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site near the Hudson River chronicles the New York art movement's early beginnings. An English man Thomas Cole founded the Hudson River School of Painting in the mid-19th century. His pictures, poems, letters, essays are exhibited here, plus works of artists like Kiki Smith, Sanford R. Gifford, Mark Swanson, Jason Middlebrook, Albert Bierstadt, and Stanley Maltzman, Louis Rémy Mignot, and others. Admission tickets cost from $16 to $20 but are free for children 15 years and under.

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Other Activities To Do At Catskill Mountain