I may be a city girl, but I love any opportunity to disconnect. So, we decided to go camping in the Hudson Valley on a whim.
We had no idea what to expect, but the weather forecast was good, and we only had a few glorious weeks of summer left, so we decided to take the plunge and go on a camping adventure.
Last weekend we booked a site at Mills Norrie. We have wanted to do it for some time, but the weather this past summer has not been in our favor.
The Ultimate Weekend Guide to Camping in the Hudson Valley
I've talked about how I am a weekend warrior, so I am always looking for trips that can be done on the weekend. I have to say I think we really nailed it this time. We fit in so much in so little time and at no point felt tired or overwhelmed. I am already thinking about our next weekend getaway as I am writing this.
Only a two-hour drive north of the city, the Hudson Valley makes the perfect weekend getaway. It is just close enough that you will not lose precious time sitting in the car. However, it is far enough to feel like you are anywhere but in New York.
Why Go Camping?
As a city girl, the idea of disconnecting and being off the grid is fantastic.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I wasn't entirely off the grid; however, it really did feel like it. We talked, we laughed, we listened to 90s hip hop.
It really is a great way to connect without the outside distraction of everyday life. Not to get all mushy, but every time we go camping, we come back with a better appreciation of each other, which really does bring us together.
But enough with all the mush. Let's talk about what we did.
Did you know you can go glamping on the beach right in NYC? Check out our guide to Camp Rockaway.
Where can I camp in the Hudson Valley?
Located just a couple of hours outside of NYC, camping in the Hudson Valley is a real treat. There are several campgrounds to choose from, depending on your camping style.
Waterfront camping in the Hudson Valley
North-South Lake Camp
North-South Lake is located in the Catskill Forest Preserve and is one of the most popular state campgrounds in the Hudson Valley.
The surrounding hills offer a variety of hiking routes that lead to spectacular vistas, waterfalls, and historical sights such as Alligator Rock, Kaaterskill Falls, and the Catskill Mountain House's former location. From some vantage points, you can see five states from clear skies.
The campsites at North-South Lake are somewhat rustic, with trees surrounding them. There are two lakeside swimming beaches and two picnic areas, each with tables and fireplaces or barbecues.
The campsite has showers, a boat launch, and even boat rentals.
This site is perfect for those that enjoy tent camping as there are over 200 sites, with several that are waterfront.
Located in Harriman State Park, Beaver Pond is a great camping destination not too far outside of New York City. Park activities here include swimming, picnicking as well as walking trails.
In the summer campers can enjoy the swimming beach located on Lake Welch. There are over 100 tent sites, each featuring a fire ring and picnic table, and there are also bathrooms and hot showers.
Lake Taghkanic State Park
Lake Taghkanic State Park, located in Columbia County's rolling hills and lush woods, offers a wide range of recreational activities. There are tent and trailer campsites and cabin and cottage camping sites at the park, along with two beaches, picnic areas, and a boat ramp. The park also has hiking trails mountain bike paths and offers winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails.
The park has a private beach that offers rowboat, paddleboat, and kayak rentals in the summer.
There are also cabin rentals for those not interested in a tent camping site.
Can you camp along the Hudson River?
Yes, you can! And that was one of the top reasons we picked Mills Norrie State Park. While there is no actual access to the Hudson River at Mill Norrie, you can book a cabin with views of the river.
Croton Point Park
Located directly on the Hudson River, this 500-acre park is very popular with visitors from Westchester County and the lower Hudson valley. The park offers cabins and sites for tents as well as RVs.
There is a beach where you swim in the Hudson River during the summer and other activities such as hiking trails, picnic areas, a boat launch, and fishing.
Highland Falls RV Park
Highland Park is an excellent option if you are looking for an RV Park located on the Hudson River. This private campground features amenities such as full hookups and free wi-fi. Highland Falls is an excellent choice if you are looking for an RV campground as it is the only RV park right on the Hudson River.
Camping Spots near Hiking trails in the Hudson Valley
If you are looking for a little bit more adventure and an abundance of hiking and biking trails, then check out Peekamoose Valley and Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campgrounds.
Located in the Sundown Wild Forest, Peekamoose Valley offers primitive hikes in campsites during the summer season.
Visitors to Peekamoose can visit the Peekamoose Blue Hole. However, permits are required. This Hudson Valley campground is unique in that it is located in the Sundown Wild Forest, where you will find miles of trails ready for your to explore
Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground
Located in the Mohonk preserve, Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground is a treat for the outdoor enthusiast. The Preserve's rock climbing and bouldering, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and nature exploration are best in New York State.
The campground has a pavilion and cooking area, bathhouse and toilet facilities, and circulation paths. There are 24 drive-in sites (one car per site) and 26 walk-in sites. Each site can accommodate up to two tents (four people).
Where to go Glamping in the Hudson Valley
Malouf's Mountain Sunset Campground
Ok. This might not exactly be camping; however, check out Malouf's Mountain Sunset Campground if you want the rustic camping experience with the car and gear. Located in Beacon, NY, this campsite is near the train station, making it an excellent location for those looking for a car-free camping experience.
The campground is located in a remote region and has no access to automobiles. Campers may enter the campground via one of three entryways. There are two methods for reaching an access point: hiking in on your own or taking a provided shuttle. You can also bike into the administration building then hike in from there.
The campground has both primitive sites and platform sites, depending on the level of glamping you're looking for.
And the bathrooms feature hot showers, flush toilets, and even laundry facilities.
Sebago Cabin Camp
The Sebago Cabin camp is located on Lake Sebago and has 38 rustic cabins and two cottages for rent. During the summer, guests may swim at the beach, cycle, go boating, fish, or hike one of the many trails available in Harriman State Park. In the winter, you can take advantage of cross-country skiing.
The campground has tennis courts, a beach, a playground, and plenty of things for a family fun weekend in the Hudson Valley.
Dog-Friendly Camping in the Hudson Valley
Kenneth L. Wilson Campground
If you are looking for a campground that is dog friendly, then check out Kenneth L. Wilson Campground.
Kenneth L. Wilson Campground is located in the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by picturesque vistas that provide a lovely backdrop for camping.
Hikers can go on one of the nature paths or ride on the mountain bike trail.
For those who prefer a different experience, nearby villages offer numerous stores and restaurants.
In addition, in the summer, you can rent an innertube and go inner-tubing along the river.
Where can you camp for free in New York?
Most campgrounds in New York State are state parks, national parks, or family-owned. Therefore, you will most likely be paying a fee.
However, there are some opportunities for free camping at dispersed sites in the New York State Forests. Hickok Brook has a limited amount of sites that are first-come, first-serve. However, keep in mind that amenities and facilities are limited. You are not going to find things like picnic tables, a fire pit, or restrooms here, so these sites are best for those looking for a primitive experience.
What is the most popular campground in New York?
The most popular of all the Hudson valley campgrounds is North-South Lake, and its location in Haines Falls makes it one of the most convenient to NYC that still offers nature trails and fantastic mountain views. And don't forget the Catskill Mountain House.
While the campsites do not have electric hookups, it is very popular with RV camping due to access to waterfront sites.
Where to Camp in the Hudson Valley?
We decided to pick Mills Norrie as our home away from home for the weekend. To be honest, we booked last minute, so we did not have many options to choose from. However, the close proximity to the river and the places we wanted to visit made it the ideal choice.
After I booked our site, I made the mistake of reading the reviews. Don't do this. There were a few common complaints that I would like to address based on my experience.
Just keep in mind. It is up to you to have a good experience when it comes to camping. Yes, some things can really ruin a trip (Jason got 71 mosquito bites. NOT FROM CAMPING., Actually from Hiking).
But at the end of the day, the way you choose to deal with things will really dictate whether you have a good experience or not. It really is like a “Choose Your Adventure” book.
Check-In Mills Norrie
Check-in was relatively smooth. Check-in for the campgrounds begins at 3pm, and staff is on-site until about 10pm. When I called to confirm, they did advise me that it is ok to check in as early as 11am.
We didn't arrive until 6:30pm. It was still daylight, so we had plenty of time to set up our campsite.
Site size at Mills Norrie
One of the biggest complaints you will see about Mills Norrie is the site size. Everyone says the sites are small. And I have to agree. However, not all sites are created equal.
We were in Site 2, and while it was small for more than 2 people, we had plenty of space. What I liked about this site was the privacy. We were surrounded by trees, so although we could hear our neighbors, we couldn't see them.
Keep in mind several sites seem to be on top of each other and have no trees or shrubbery to provide privacy.
I was a bit nervous about this because I wasn't excited about the idea of having to listen to loud music all night; however, we lucked out with our neighbors.
Also, around 11pm, we actually had the park police yell at us because we were watching a movie on our iPad, and apparently, you can hear that. In honesty, I was a bit put off by how they spoke to us; however, I could appreciate that they were enforcing quiet hours.
That being said, the only thing we heard after 10pm each night was crickets, and it was absolutely glorious.
Ok. The bathrooms are small. I can't speak to the Men's room, but there are only three ladies' showers, two sinks, and about four stalls. I would say this is very small for a campground of that size.
The bathroom was nothing to phone home about, and they served the purpose. Some complaints have mentioned that the bathroom was not clean. I would say you are in a State Campground.
Was the bathroom pristine? No. Was it maintained? Absolutely. I observed park staff mopping the floors and refilling the toilet paper on several occasions, and I greatly appreciated this.
3 Days Camping in the Hudson Valley
As you can see, camping Hudson valley style can look different depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. If you are looking for a family campground, there is something for that. If you're not interested in it, bring the whole family along, and there are campsites perfect for that as well.
We decided to spend a few days in the Hudson Vally, and this is however we did it.
After getting our campsite set up, we put dinner on the grill, opened a bottle of wine, and began to settle in.
I have to say getting a campsite set up can be a lot of hard work; however, some things I have learned over the last several years.
(1) Be as organized as possible. If you know where everything is, you won't waste time looking for things like stakes to set up your tent buried under the seat in the car, and you have no idea how they got there.
(2) Get an instant tent. Yes. They cost a bit more money. But they are so worth it. We have this one, and it takes about five minutes to set up. Also, there is plenty of room to move around. I highly recommend it.
(3) Don't stress. You're on vacation and take it easy. Open a bottle of wine (Or whatever your beverage of choice is). Relax. You got this.
Because we were hoping to get up early for our adventures the next day, we put on a movie, watched about 10 minutes of it before we got in trouble by park police, and fell asleep under the stars.
Day 1 in the Hudson Valley
We started Day 2 with breakfast at our campsite. I love brunch. So we made sure to have bacon, eggs, avocado, and Mimosas. I definitely would not advise drinking before hiking, so use your discretion.
Peekamoose Blue Hole
Our first stop was Peekamoose Blue Hole, located in the Sundown Forest. It was about an hour's drive from our campsite and sounds long, but it is was a relatively scenic drive.
This swimming hole is definitely worth the drive. Crystal clear water in the Catskills. Upon arriving, you feel like you are anywhere but in New York. But guess what! New York has crystal clear water too.
I shared my videos on social media, and everyone assumed I must not be outside of the country, let alone New York. This is why I am a huge advocate of exploring your backyard, and you will be amazed at what you can find.
Because of its popularity and the fact that people do not know how to clean up after themselves, the Blue Hole is now only accessible by permit on the weekends in the summer.
If you google Peekamoose Blue Hole, you will see articles about all the garbage people have left behind. Now that it is regulated, we did not see any of the garbage discussed. There were a total of 20 people in the area. And everything was absolutely pristine.
After exploring the area for a bit, we sat down to have lunch near a waterfall. After lunch, we did a bit more exploring and then headed to our next destination.
I found this place by accident while messing around on the Google Maps “Around Me” feature. When I found out they had a Sunflower field, I knew I had to visit. If you didn't know, Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower.
The Sunflowers were stunning; however, I loved this place because they have so many things that you can pick yourself. Everything from blueberries to corn to broccoli. This city girl was so impressed. Not sure how I didn't come home with bags and bags of produce.
In the fall, you can also take advantage of the hayrides.
After our day at the campsite, we were pretty spent, so after a quick stop at the store (where I managed to grab a couple of pairs of earrings), we headed back to our campsite for dinner and wine by the fire.
Day 2 in the Hudson Valley
We opted to have Sunday Brunch on the campsite, complete with bacon, eggs, avocado toast, and mimosas. When it comes to camping, don't overthink it, and there is no need to have an extravagant recipe.
Most state and national-run campgrounds do not have a dining hall, so bringing your own cooking gear to make your meals is essential.
We just used a cast iron pan and quickly whipped up the bacon and eggs. I say we, and my husband is the one that makes breakfast.
Hiking Mills Norrie
After breakfast, we headed out on our hike. Our original plan was to head up to Kaaterskill Falls; however, we were a bit lazy, so we opted to explore Mills Norrie instead.
We decided to hike the Blue Trail, which was approximately 3.6 miles. It is an easy trail so suitable for anyone. There are a few historic buildings along the way, such as a few old barns and the Hoyt House, which is currently being restored.
If you decide to venture off to other trails, there are a lot of other exciting finds hidden in the forest, including a cemetery that dates back to 1700.
Also, do not forget the Mills Mansion. The mansion has been restored, and if you have time, tours are available. We did not go on a tour, but I would like to on our next visit.
We had intentions of continuing our hike and checking out another trail after we were done; however, as the day started to warm up, we soon realized it was time to go.
After stopping for a quick lunch of pizza in New Paltz, we headed to one of our favorite spots. Nostrano. This is an own family vineyard located in Milton, NY. I have been coming here for several months now, and we make it a point to visit every time we are in the area.
They have great wines; however, one of my favorites is the Ava Rose. It is soo yummy. It is an excellent dry Rose with notes of Watermelon. Great for a summer afternoon. I love it so much we ended up buying a case to take home. It's going to be a great winter.
Not only is the wine tremendous, but the family is fantastic. Every time we visit, it feels l like we are visiting our friends and family. We also always order a bottle of wine and sit outside overlooking the vineyards and the view of the mountains.
It really is a great way to end a fantastic weekend. I would recommend visiting for a tasting and considering staying for a bottle of wine and their fantastic cheese plate, and it is out of this world.
They now also have a Farm House. If you prefer to skip camping, just hang out in Hudson Valley Wine Country instead.
Where to stay in the Hudson Valley
If you are not into going camping, here are a few recommendations of places to stay in the area. I almost always use TripAdvisor when researching options, and you can definitely do AirBnb or check out some of these excellent properties from TripAdvisor.
Camping in the Hudson Valley
With several campgrounds across Dutchess County, Orange County, and Colombia County, there are many opportunities to find the perfect campsite in the Hudson Valley.
For those looking for RV Sites, check out Interlake RV park. If you are looking for something beachfront, Sylvan Lake Beach Park is a great choice.
Camping in the Hudson Valley is a great way to experience all that this beautiful area has to offer. There is something for everyone in this picturesque region, from stunning sunflower fields to hiking trails and vineyards. You can camp right by the river or up in the mountains, and there are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby. So pack your tent and head on out for a weekend of adventure! Whether you're camping with family or friends, camping alone, camping with kids-everybody should try it at least once! So where will you be camping this summer?