Getting to the mountainous area of The Catskills northwest of New York is possible by driving there or using public transportation. The train there is $35 with the Metro Line or an Amtrak ticket for $70. Buses are also a possibility with Greyline from $50.
The Catskills Key Information
Looking for a place for hiking, skiing and beautiful landscapes only a few hours away from Manhattan? The Catskills are a mountainous area northwest of the Big Apple right next to the Hudson Valley region. A landscape seen in several paintings of the golden American History, popular due to its distance to the metropolitan area yet rich in misty forests and mossy peaks.
The Catskills have become a great destination for outdoor activities, skiing in winter, hiking, peaceful retreats in the mountains. The area encompasses a significant amount of protected forests and several cities to choose as your basecamp to visit the Catskills. The cities of Kingston, Monticello, Windham, Woodstock are great options.
The small town charm across the Catskills deeply contrast with the modern, stressful and rushing lifestyle of the city, a great spot for short or long vacations within the same state of New York.
The tricky part
If you are planning to rent a car, given the topography and landscape of the region, it is recommended to choose an SUV type vehicle rather than a sedan car.
Some travelers may choose to venture into the woodland roads or reach certain spots for hiking up in the hills, for this cases we recommend using a vehicle suited for all sorts of terrain.
Also most of the roads in the area are used by farmers and local transportation rather than visitors. Sometimes there might be turns and slopes in the roads uphill. This region is mostly woodland and farms, so if an accident occurs, it might take time for assistance to arrive.
Note cellphone coverage may not be available everywhere in the Catskills or in the middle of the road.
Getting to The Catskills
For passengers who prefer driving, car rentals offer a wide range of prices and car options. Most rented cars will include a GPS, which is vital to navigate the zone if you are not familiar with the area.
The Frugal Option
There are two types of public transport available:
- One is the trains departing from the Grand Central.
You can reach Poughkeepsie in the East area of the Catskills, closer to the Hudson Valley. The will take you to this city. The price for one ticket one way is about $35 per passenger. This ride takes 3 hours and 30 minutes.
- There is also the option from Penn Station which ends in Hudson. This ride takes about 2 hours and has a cost of $70 per passenger one way.
Buses are also available for the route. There are two options offering similar services. The Adirondack-Pine Hill Trailways bus and the line, both depart from the New York Port Authority and ends it's way in New Paltz. The bus ride ticket is $50 per passenger one way and the ride takes 2 hours.
Driving to the location is also an option preferred by many.
The roads do not require an experienced driver, but not all travelers are comfortable with driving in a foreign country.
The drive from Midtown Manhattan takes about 2 hour 20 minutes, but given the traffic and events in the city, the main avenues and streets may be blocked and reorganized by the police.
Driving in New York might result stressful for people who are not used to heavy traffic in big cities. But this situation only lasts until exiting the Metropolitan Area. Once you enter the routes, the whole traffic changes, becoming quite peaceful and enjoyable. There are two main routes available. The Interstate 87 road or the NY 17 West road. Both will take you to the Catskill Mountains and are equally long.
Please note the NY 17 West has tolls.
The Car rentals in New York for SUV vehicles starts around $70 per day depending on the model, with taxes included.
Private Transfer Options
The ride takes about 2h 30minutes, and saves you the stress of driving across New York City.
UberX and Lyft offer a price between $262 to $321 for a 3 passenger vehicle, one way from Midtown Manhattan.
For a larger Lyft car, up to 5 passengers, the price ranges between $344-421 one way from Midtown Manhattan.
If you are traveling with a group of 10 passengers, Mozio offers a final price of $1571 for a private vehicle from Midtown Manhattan. This is about $157 per passenger one way. But this is your group's van scheduled privately with the assistance of a local and experienced driver.
The Mozio Recommendation
Moving AROUND The Catskills
There are multiple ways to move around the Catskills area.
Mountain bikes are allowed in the area, and the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has authorized these types of bikes in some of the dirt roads in the preserved woodland.
There is a special trail called the "Catskill Scenic Trail" or commonly known as the "Rail Trail" by locals which is meant for all sorts of outdoor activities. Hikers, bikers, even horses or skiing during winter are allowed. It connects several villages and hamlets across the area, such as Hobart, Stamford, and Bloomville where access can be found.
If you rented a car in New York or in any of the nearby towns, it is important to keep in mind the access to the Catskill area.
If you're going to the Ashokan Reservoir, NY State Route 213 from Kingston is a great option and reaches deep into the woods where the road is closed to cars, but it is possible to explore the area by foot.
Given the Catskills is a zone for outdoor activities, moving around by foot is a viable option. Hiking trails across the region. The Finger Lakes Trail is a popular one which starts at the Slide Mountain Wilderness.
Private transportation is also available in the area.
The Frugal Option
As the Catskills are a large area, different bus services operate depending on the County you're in. The county of Ulster takes most part of the region.
The fares for this service are:
- Within Ulster County in $1.50 one ticket one way per adult.
- Outside of Ulster County is $2.00 one ticket one way per adult.
- Seniors, ADA recipients, Medicare card holders pay half of the fare between 9AM - 3PM.
- Free ride for Veterans (Must have valid ID).
Are Rideshare & TaxiApps Readily Available In The Catskills?
Car Rental Options
If you decide to rent a car within the Catskill area prices start at $84 approximately for a SUV and $74 for a smaller sedan car.
It is very possible to reach the Catskills by bus and then rent a car so as to avoid driving through the Interstate route and exiting New York City itself.
However, if you prefer driving from New York, prices for SUVs can be a bit cheaper and you will have a wide range of cars, several more options than what you can find in the car rentals in each of the cities of the Catskills.
Day Trips Around The Catskills
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
Located in the State of New York and being really close to New Jersey, there is a great destination about one and a half hour from the Catskills. The Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is a small 'village' made only of the best fashion brands, shoes, jewelry, bags and at great prices. A one way ride is about $173 with Uber or Lyft, for up to two passengers. If you're travelling in a group of 8, you can book a professional driver with starting at $120 per passenger.
The city of Albany is 1h 45 minutes from the Catskill area. it is the capital of the Albany County. Founded as a Dutch settlement in 1614, it is a historical city that once was home to the Iroquois, a native American tribe. The price using Uber or Lyft, one way, is about $182. If you would like to go a bit further, the Poconos in Pennsylvania are a smaller set of mountains with beautiful sights and waterfalls. The ride takes approximately two hours and fourty minbutes from the Catskills. An Uber or Lyft to this area starts at $260.