The Catskills region is a two- to three-hour drive north of New York City, spilling over Ulster, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, Orange, and Delaware counties. This crooked arm of the Appalachians holds dense forests; mountains almost 4,200 feet tall; twisting rivers; rock-walled gorges; and lush, wide valleys. Small towns and one-store crossroad hamlets abound. Much of the terrain is protected land within the 700,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve.
Most travelers first glimpse the Catskills from Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway), which links New York City and Albany. About 10 mi west of Interstate 87 the mountains rise abruptly from the valley floor in a ragged blue wall some 20 mi long. In the northern Catskills, the Hudson River towns of Kingston and Catskill (New York State Thruway Exits 19 and 21) are jumping-off points for Routes 23, 23A, and 28, all of which climb the mountainous wall and snake through Greene and upper Ulster counties. From the west, Routes 23, 28, and 30 are the principal access routes running through the mountains of Delaware County, which separate the watersheds of the Hudson and Delaware rivers. Sullivan County and the Upper Delaware River region can most easily be accessed via Route 17—also Interstate 86—which runs from the Thruway westward through the Catskills.