The Catskill Mountains are located in upstate New York, about 90 miles from New York City. The region is about the same size as the state of Connecticut. The Catskills are famous for being a great family vacation area because they offer year-round activities.
The Catskill Region was settled in the 17th century by the Dutch. The area became very popular in the 1900s when visitors, mostly Jewish, began vacationing in the area's many family resorts. The movie "Dirty Dancing" was based on one of these resorts.
Between 1905 and 1965, a large network of reservoirs was constructed to ensure a ready water supply for those who live in the region. Unfortunately, 5,500 people from 26 communities had to relocate to accommodate these reservoirs.
The Catskills have almost 100 mountain peaks that are over 3,000 feet in elevation. Thirty-five of these are over 3,500 feet high. There is a hiking club called The 35 Club, for people who have climbed to the top of all of them. The highest mountain peak is 4,180 feet and is called Slide Mountain.
Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County are the tallest waterfalls in the state of New York.
In order to protect and recognize the region, the state legislature created the Catskill Park in 1904. That park has grown to encompass 287,514 acres of State Forest Preserve lands today.
There are between 1,500 and 2,000 black bears in the Catskills. It is safe to visit the region, but prior to your visit it is a good idea to read up on what to do if you encounter a black bear.
There are more than 400,000 acres of cultivated farmland in the Catskills. More than 2,000 farmers work in this region to provide fresh produce to one of the first green markets in the nation, located in New York City.
In 1851, a Catskill farmer named Mark Carr used two ox sleds to bring his evergreens to New York City. He set up the first retail Christmas tree lot and sold every one. Less than 50 years later, 1 in 5 families displayed Christmas trees in their homes at the holidays.
Howe Caverns is the largest cave open to the public in the Northeast.
The world's largest kaleidoscope is located at Catskill Corners in Ulster County. It is 37 feet tall.
If You Visit
In Winter, the Catskill Region offers several places to ski, snowboard and go tubing. Some of the most popular mountains for winter sports are Hunter, Wyndham, Plattekill and Belleayre.
Hunter Mountain, one of the many ski areas located in the Catskills, offers the longest and highest zipline canopy tour in North America, featuring more than five miles of ziplines, some reaching heights of nearly 600 feet above the ground.