5 Super Cool Things to Check Out in the Catskills

We bring you the hideout of renegades, the birthplace of American Art, and one man’s ode to self. We bring you the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County.

Highest cascading waterfall in New York State, check. The place where America's first artistic expression was invented, check. Epic views, double check. Crusty old Dutch dudes, yep. Read on to discover the Catskills coolest places to visit this fall.

Pratt Rock - One Man's Monument to Himself

Zadock Pratt was an accomplished personage of the 1800s. He was a tanner, a banker, a soldier and a member of the House of Representatives. He was a man about town, a titan among men, a bastion of culture amid a great wilderness. And he wanted the generations that followed him to know it. Along with establishing his own bank that printed its own bills, the value of which was comparable to that of a U.S. dollar, Pratt commissioned stone workers to immortalize his life’s achievements by carving them into a rocky ledge near his home in Prattsville, where they can still be seen today.

It may be a leap, but we could probably credit Pratt with inspiring Gutzon Borglum, the carver of Mount Rushmore fame. Then again, probably not. However the comparison remains and Pratt’s Rock is often referred to as “New York’s Mount Rushmore.” Located on Route 23 outside of Prattsville, the trail to the rock ledge is steep and shaded, but well worth the trek. 

Kaaterskill Falls - The Most Epically Cascading Waterfall in New York

That’s right; we just relegated Niagara Falls to a close second behind Kaaterskill Falls. The highest cascading waterfall in New York State, Kaaterskill Falls was considered by Native Americans to be the resting place of the creator, a sacred place for the Mohican people who called the Catskills home. In one of his most celebrated paintings, Thomas Cole placed a lone warrior watching over the falls, a testament to the wild beauty of the place. Cole wasn’t the only artist to take inspiration from the falls. William Cullen Bryant and Asher Durand felt the pull of the primal in the presence of the falls, creating masterworks of literature and canvas. Durand depicted the relationship between art and literary circles by painting himself and Bryant into Kindred Spirits, one of his most well-known works of art. Experience your own spiritual awakening at the falls, located off of Route 23A in Haines Falls. The trail is short at 1.4 miles roundtrip, and hikers are strongly encouraged to stick to the marked path due to the treacherously slippery rocks located at the top of the falls. 

American Art - Invented in the Catskills

That’s right. Thomas Cole, a Brit expat and soon-to-be artistic revolutionary, changed the course of human history when he sailed up the Hudson River, saw the unspoiled landscape of the Catskill Mountains and marched straight home, brush in hand, to create paintings that would become the cornerstones for the Hudson River School. Cole’s home, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, is located in the town of Catskill, and is open to visitors. You can even follow his footsteps – which are now popular hiking trails – to some of the most iconic views depicted in his paintings via the Hudson River School of Art Trail.

Catskill Mountain House Site

As far as lookouts go, the view from the rocky ledge that was once crowned by the sprawling Catskill Mountain House Site is pretty hard to beat. For as far as the eye can see and the imagination can stretch, the view includes the glittering Hudson River, the far away hills of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the lush valleys of the Catskills. The Catskill Mountain House was once one of the premier hotels in United States, offering a luxuriously elevated experience for travelers – literally elevated as guests could take a funicular to the hotel from Otis Junction. The funicular traveled 7,000 feet up a rise of 1,630 feet – seemingly straight up the Wall of Manitou to deposit guests at their destination. Access the site from numerous paths, including from North-South Lake, which provides a short path to the lookout, an ideal route for an early morning sun salutation. Continue hiking to see Sunset Rock, Alligator Rock – which is super cool – and Boulder Rock. 

Rip Van Winkle, The Old Dog Himself

Who hasn’t heard of this little Dutch curmudgeon? He’s fictional of course, but who doesn’t admire his work ethic? I mean, the man got to bond with some historically accurate ghosts over what we’re sure was delicious mead, take a 20-year nap, and awaken to find he missed a particularly brutal war. Genius.  And, Henry Hudson was a king at nine pins, or so we’re led to believe, so Rip probably had quite a bit of fun watching the ghostly game. Anyway, you can visit the place where Rip laid his fictional head. It’s called the Kaaterskill Clove, and it’s quite a breathtaking sight. Maybe he was so overwhelmed by the beauty surrounding him, he passed out. Maybe the legend of Rip Van Winkle is nothing more than a sheepish attempt to disguise Rip’s romantic tendency toward fainting at the sight of evergreen landscapes? It’s a mystery.  Check out the Kaaterskill Clove Experience to see where Rip RIP-ed – if only semi-permanently – and a whole host of top notch attractions and hiking spots.

Discover
Explore the Kaaterskill Clove Experience and create your own self-guided tour or choose from one of four itinerary options.
Map your Journey
Follow the Kaaterskill Clove Experience where you’ll find information about each attraction as well as other things to do along the way.
About the Experience
Learn more about the writers, naturalists, artists and others whose love for Greene County lives on through their works, as well as their choice of traveling to America’s First Vacationland.
Palenville The Hamlet
Hunter Foundation
Town of Hunter
Village of Tannersville
NY-NJ Trail Conference
Mountain Clove Scenic Byway
Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District
I Love NY
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Greene County Tourism
700 Rte 23B, Leeds, NY 12451
800-355-CATS | 518-943-3223
The Kaaterskill Clove Experience is comprised of several attractions, each require varying levels of physical exertion. Please follow all safety rules posted at each location and mentioned on this site.