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 get their first glimpse the Catskills from Interstate 87, the New York State Thruway, which links New York City and Albany. About 10 miles west of the interstate, the mountains rise abruptly from the valley floor in a ragged blue wall some 20 miles long. You'll first reach the Route 17 turnoff for the southern Catskills, which is the most convenient way to reach villages like Livingston Manor, Roscoe, Bethel, Narrowsburg, and Barryville. A bit farther north is Route 28, which most people take to Woodstock and Phoenicia.