Taking a drive through upstate New York gives you a reason to go get lost – and doing so will lead you to many wonderful places and unique Catskills art and cultural finds along the way. So zoom by blurred beauty on a riverside byway or classic Catskills route, stop to grab a bite at a farm-to-table restaurant or hipster diner hotspot, and travel over the area's waterways by covered bridges just a few hours north of New York City.
Top Scenic Drives through the Catskills
No matter what time of year you're visiting, a scenic drive across the varying terrain of the Catskills is one of the best ways to see all the Catskills region has to offer. Roll down the windows on a warm summer's day, or drive through the changing colors of fall on one of these scenic routes:
Route 55: Neversink to Liberty
Start in the kitschy, charming town of Liberty and travel Route 55 along the deep blue waters of the Neversink Reservoir before reaching the town of Neversink. Passing through the town is the Neversink River – the waterway thought to be the birthplace of American fly fishing.
Old Route 28 to 212: Phoenicia to Woodstock
Explore the charms of Phoenicia and grab some grub at the Phoenicia Diner, then mosey on down to the artistic haven of Woodstock. Along the way, stop in Mt Tremper to visit the Catskill Interpretive Center and Bearsville on the way back to catch a live music at Bearsville Theater. Download a free Route 28 Audio Driving Guide at drive28.com to listen and learn about history, landscape, food, attractions and more during your drive.
Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway: 82 Miles
Travel through the Shawangunk Mountains, one of New York State’s most famous rock climbing destinations, offering hiking trails, historic sites and boutique shopping. Highly regarded as an enclave for artists and artisans, this scenic route travels 82 miles from New Paltz to connect with rural New York State routes: 208, 52, 209, 44, 55, 209 and 213.
Noted by the Nature Conservancy as one of “Earth’s Last Great Places,” the Shawangunks span 94,000 acres which include the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the Mohonk Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve. Enjoy scenic views from your car, or get outside and explore 250 miles of hiking trails, 100 miles of mountain biking, 150 miles of cross-country skiing and epic rock climbing. Find scenic pull-offs, recreational areas, historic districts and unique lodging options.
- Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge
- Mohonk Mountain House
- Hugenot Street National Historic Landmark
The Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway: 41 Miles
The Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway travels through the Northern Catskill Mountains, traversing the picturesque roads that brought centuries of artists, authors and visitors to this romantic landscape. Discover the stunning vistas and verdant valleys that inspired the birth of the Hudson River School of Art, and Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, and enjoy a variety of historic sites and natural wonders. Travel along routes 23A, 214, and county routes 18, 23C and 25. From these roads, enjoy hiking to Kaaterskill Falls, the highest cascading waterfall in New York State, the former site of the Catskill Mountain House and Sunset Rock. Visit Hunter Mountain, offering an array of family-friendly extreme adventure activities including the longest, highest and fastest zipline canopy tour in North America (and the second largest in the world).
- Mountain Top Arboretum
- New York Zipline Adventure Tours
- North-South Lake
The Durham Valley Scenic Byway: 21 Miles
The Durham Valley Scenic Byway travels 21 miles through the valleys of the Great Northern Catskills, passing by the Five State Lookout offering glimpses of the Hudson River Valley, Berkshires, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and the Adirondacks. This route is an interconnected network of historic roadways traversing the Durham Valley on routes 20, 10, and 208. Highlights along this route include Hull-O Farms, a working farm offering farm stays, the historic district of Cornwallville, Catskill Creek for fishing, and access to the region’s incredible biking and events.
- Catskills Irish Arts Week
- Irish Feis
- Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural Center
Catskills Covered Bridges
During a scenic drive across the Catskills, you're likely to come across one of the region's numerous historic covered bridges from the 1800s. While the reasoning for why these bridges were covered is up for debate, their charm and the intrigue they generate can't be disputed.
From the Fitches Bridge in East Delhi and the Downsville Bridge in Downsville, to the 103-foot-long bridge in Livingston Manor Covered Bridge Park near the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, explore these unique and historic features of the Catskills landscape, most of which are over 100 years old.