Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

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Minnewaska's Main Entrance Project

Minnewaska's main entrance will be closed until further notice for construction effective Friday June 9th. All visitors can enter and exit the park via the Awosting parking lot entrance. Please follow the posted signage which will direct visitors through the construction zone. 

Minnewaska's main entrance is undergoing a major capital improvement, starting Monday April 4, 2016, and will continue into the Fall season. Access detours and trail closures may be in place, at times, during the project. Please check here for updates to this project, or contact the park office with questions. For the duration of the project, equestrian use will only be permitted on non-holiday weekdays. Bus groups will also be limited to non-holiday weekday visitation. BUSES AND HORSE TRAILERS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED ON WEEKENDS.  

Current Park Notices:

A 2000 acre wildfire forced the closure of the Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The Sam's Point Area will reopen to the public effective Saturday May 28th, with the following RESTRICTIONS:

  • The following trails will be OPEN: The Loop Road, Ice Cave Road and the Ice Caves Trail
  • The following trails will remain CLOSED until further notice: High Point Carriage Road, Verkeederkill Falls Trail, High Point Trail, Blueberry Pickers Trail, Indian Rock Trail
  • The following trails connecting the Minnewaska area to the Sam's Point Area will remain CLOSED until further notice. Those trails are: Lower Mine Hole Trail, Mine Hole Road/Long Path, Scenic Trail, Smiley Carriage Road, Stony Kill Carriage Road and South Gully Trail.

These restrictions are in place for your safety and the protection of sensitive resources; please adhere to all posted trail closures. Thank you for your cooperation Park Management

For a map of these closures see the Map of Closures
Educational Info related to fire see link

 

Active Carriage Road Restoration Projects:

Restoration of the Smiley Carriage Road has begun and it will be CLOSED to all users, from Lake Awosting to the Fly Brook, for the duration of the project. Future closures, of additional sections of the Smiley Carriage Road, will be announced as required during the remainder of the restoration project. Lower Awosting Carriage Road and short section of Lake Awosting Carriage Road from Dam to Ranger Cabin are the access routes for this project. Please yield to construction equipment in these areas.

Located in Ulster County, NY Minnewaska State Park Preserve is situated on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by rugged, rocky terrain. The park features numerous waterfalls, three crystalline sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, incising sheer cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views, clear streams cut into valleys, 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike and simply enjoy. And, all this within an hour and a half drive from New York City.

Visitors can also enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking, scuba-diving, rock-climbing, bouldering, boating and marveling at the scenery. Horseback riding and cross-country ski trails are available as well. Technical Rock Climbing permitted.  

Minnewaska State Park Preserve: Sam's Point Area: Sam’s Point Preserve is located on the highest section of the Shawangunk Mountains, is the most southerly section of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. To further explore Sam's Point, visit their calendar of events.

NEW - Campground Opening at Minnewaska State Park May 15, 2015

The new Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground provides a high quality, minimalist camping experience for visitors to the breathtaking Shawangunk Mountains. The tent-only campground includes a pavilion and cooking area, bathhouse and restroom facilities, and circulation trails. There are 24 drive-in spots (one vehicle per site) and 26 walk-in spots. All sites accommodate up to two tents (and four people) per pad. Recreational vehicles are not permitted. Camping will be open May 15, 2015 through mid-November 2015, weather permitting. 

The campground, managed cooperatively by the American Alpine Club and Mohonk Preserve, is located on Route 299 within a five minute drive of the main entrances of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For additional information, please contact the campground at: (845) 255-0032, or visit www.gunkscampground.com

For more information and to register for programs, please call the Park Preserve Office at 845-255-0752. The Park Preserve opens daily at 9:00 AM and closing times vary throughout the year. The fee for parking at Minnewaska is $10 per car. There are no additional fees for public programs, unless noted otherwise. Minnewaska State Park Preserve consists of more than 23,000 acres of wild and scenic land located on Route 44/55, five miles west of the intersection with Route 299 in Gardiner, New York.

Water Quality - Beach Results

 

Dogs only, must be on a leash not more than 6 feet. Not allowed in buildings, camping, picnic or bathing areas or on walkways. PLEASE NOTE: Pets are NOT permitted on the cross-country ski trails when they are groomed and open for cross-country skiing only.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 893 New Paltz, NY 12561

Hours of Operation

  • Park Preserve Hours, as of -

    3/13/16: 9 am to 7 pm
    4/4/16: 9 am to 8 pm
    6/6/16: 9 am to 9 pm
    8/1/16: 9 am to 8 pm
    9/12/16: 9 am to 7 pm
    10/11/16: 9 am to 6 pm
    11/6/16: 9 am to 5 pm

    Office Hours:
    9 am - 4:30 pm

  • Minnewaska Nature Center Hours:
    1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day until Columbus Day;
    Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays: 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

    Staff will be either at the Nature Center or out in the Park leading public programs during these time slots. When the building is closed, an information center will be available on the porch to assist patrons with questions about the Park Preserve.
  • 2016 Swimming Season: Open 6/18 - 9/5, daily 11:15am - 6:45pm

    Lake Awosting swimming area:
    6/25 -9/5, daily 11:00am - 5:30pm

  • Deer hunting is allowed in specific sections of the park during season. Please contact the park directly or visit Minnewaska's hunting page for permit information.

Fees & Rates

Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.

Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.

  • Vehicle Entry Fee
  • $10 per vehicle

    Collected Beginning:

    3/13/16: 9 am to 7 pm
    4/4/16: 9 am to 8 pm
    6/6/16: 9 am to 9 pm
    8/1/16: 9 am to 8 pm
    9/12/16: 9 am to 7 pm
    10/11/16: 9 am to 6 pm
    11/6/16: 9 am to 5 pm
  • Boat Permits
  • Seasonal Boat Permit:  $30
    Daily Boat Permit: $5
  • Bus Permits
  • Bus permits (non-profit):  $60
    Bus permits (commercial):  $100
  • Horseback Riding
  • Horseback Riding Day Permit:  $5
    Horseback Riding Season Permit:  $20
  • Picnicking
  • Tent Rental: $200
    Site Fee: $200
  • Rock Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Day Pass:  $10
    Rock Climbing Season Pass:  $90
  • Scuba Diving Permit
  • Scuba Diving Season Permit:  $20
  • Tent Rental
  • 20x20 Tent Rental:  $200
  • Winter Fees
  • Ski fees:
    $10 - Adult, $9 - Senior, $7 - Junior (17 and under)

    Snowshoe rental:
    $15/day - Adult, $14/day - 17 and under

Highlights of Minnewaska State Park Preserve:

  • All along the trails and cliff edges of Minnewaska, visitors may encounter a globally rare forest of pitch pines. These evergreen trees, most often found in sand dunes along coastal areas, are uniquely adapted to survive and thrive from forest fires. Mountain laurel bushes, whose gorgeous pink and white flowers are abundant along trails in mid-June are often found in these same forests.
  • The Shawangunk Ridge, a 500 foot tall, prominent cliff that rises from the Hudson Valley, west of New Paltz, is comprised of extremely hard quartz rock. This white rock, which survived the erosive forces of glaciation, is covered with clues to that past. Look for numerous parallel scratches called glacial striations, patches of glossy, smooth rock called glacial polish, half-circle gouges called chatter marks and oddly-placed boulders called glacial erratics.
  • Minnewaska’s striking geological formations also make it a world-class rock climbing site.
  • Minnewaska State Park Preserve is home to three sky lakes, with life guarded swimming areas in Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting during the summer swimming season. A sky lake is a pristine and often unusually clear lake that is fed only from rain water.
  • The Shawangunk Ridge is an important corridor for migrating raptors. A well-timed fall visit to Minnewaska may yield sightings of kettles of raptors, which are large congregations of these predacious birds travelling south together. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is home to a Bird Conservation Area (BCA). Bring your binoculars and see what you can find!
  • The Education Department at Minnewaska offers environmental education and recreation programming for all ages, year-round. We will gladly design and lead an education program specifically to fit the needs of your club, school group or other organization and you pay only the parking fee. Call or write today at 845-255-0752 or laura.conner@parks.ny.gov.

Look and listen for these birds at our Park:

What will you see? Plan your visit today!

Everyone is a Steward: Be a Minnewaska State Park Hero!

  • Know the rules and concerns for the area you’ll be visiting.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Respect other visitors and their experience. Avoid excessive noise.
  • Share the trail. Keep to the right except to pass. When in doubt, give the other user the right of way. Warn people when you are planning to pass.
  • Respect wildlife and observe from a distance
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Use extra caution when using headphones. You may not be able to hear warnings.
  • Don't litter.
  • Hike and camp on established, durable trails and campsites.
  • Do not throw rocks over the edge.
  • Be careful with your fire.
  • Do not move firewood between parks or transport it over large distances

For more information, please read our Trail Tips!

When you enter or leave Lake Minnewaska or Lake Awosting:

  • Clean and remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from your boat, trailer and other equipment and dispose of it in a suitable trash container or on dry land.
  • Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks and any other locations with water before leaving the launch. Disinfect when possible.
  • Dry your boat, trailer and all equipment completely. At least 5 days of drying time is recommended. Drying times vary depending on weather and material.

Ask a Naturalist!

Q: What should I do if there is moss on my climbing route?

A: Leave it alone! Lichens, ferns and mosses are slow-growing. A palm-sized patch of smooth rock tripe, one of the largest lichen species, can be up to seventy-five years old.

Q: What kind of common snakes are found in the Park Preserve?

A: The northern water snake, often seen along the lake edge, and the black rat snake are the two most common, non-venomous snakes found at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The timber rattlesnake (listed in New York as a threatened species) and the northern copperhead are the only venomous snakes here, but they are rarely seen. Like all snakes, they are unlikely to attack unless provoked. Please do not harass snakes and always keep your distance and respect any wildlife you may come across.

Q: I haven't been to Minnewaska State Park Preserve in 10 years or more and I noticed that Lake Minnewaska looks different. What has changed?

A: The pH of the lake has increased, making it less acidic and allowing the survival of an introduced bait fish, the golden shiner. These fish eat zooplankton (tiny aquatic animals), who in turn eat phytoplankton (microscopic aquatic plants). As the population of zooplankton has decreased, there has been an increase in the abundance of algae, which greatly reduces water clarity. NYS Parks staff have been working in coordination with SUNY New Paltz, DEC, and Mohonk Preserve scientists to study these changes and propose management activities to restore the quality of the lake. To see a scientific poster on Lake Minnewaska’s trophic changes, click here.

Please help us take care of the lake: don't dump fish or other animals in the lake and clean your boat prior to putting it in the water.

Q: I just saw a black bear on the trail, what should I do?

A: Be cautious when encountering any wildlife; do not harass wildlife and give them lots of space. Most bears will run away when they encounter a person. Be especially cautious if you come across a female bear with cubs, as she is more likely to be aggressive to protect her young. A general rule of thumb for bear encounters is to quietly back away, do not make eye contact and do not get between cubs and their mother. You can help to avoid potential contact with bears by carrying-out your empty food and beverage containers. Litter can attract bears and increase the likelihood of a negative interaction.

Q: How do I prepare for a visit to Minnewaska?

A: Minnewaska is essentially a wild land with few amenities for park visitors. A food vendor is here on weekends from May through October. The only public bathrooms with potable water are in the Peter’s Kill Climbing Area, one mile east of the main park entrance. Please come prepared with enough food and water to sustain yourself for your visit and wear good walking shoes. Also, to avoid getting lost, plan out your route using a trail map, allowing enough time to complete your outing. Bring the trail map, a compass, a flashlight and a first aid kit along with you.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Minnewaska was originally built as a resort by Alfred Smiley in the 1870s, complete with two hotels and many amenities. However, Minnewaska was also designed to be a nature preserve. Its carriage roads and trails offered visitors the chance to enjoy and appreciate nature, setting the stage for its current incarnation as New York’s largest state Park Preserve at 22,000 acres.
  • Rock climbing on the Shawangunk Mountains began in 1935, when Fritz Wiessner established the "Old Route," the first rock-climbing route on the Ridge on Millbrook Mountain.
  • Lake Minnewaska historically supported a population of sphagnum moss that lived underwater. The moss was estimated to grow as deep as 36 feet.
  • The forests of Minnewaska have been intentionally burned by humans for hundreds of years, dating back to the Native Americans. Fire eliminates forest understory plants, such as shrubs and low growing trees, creating a more open forest which is better for hunting and travelling. More recently, up until the 1960s, fires were set by local residents referred to as the huckleberry pickers, in order to promote the growth of blueberry bushes, which were then harvested and sold in markets as far away as New York City.
  • A five foot tall pitch pine tree can be over 300 years old!

Key BCA Criteria:

- Migratory concentration site

- Diverse species concentration site

- Species at risk site

- Bird research site

The Minnewaska BCA is located within the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The Preserve is located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The Minnewaska BCA has many spectacular rock formations, soaring precipices, windswept ledges with pine barrens, fast-flowing mountain streams, mountain lakes and several scenic waterfalls. The BCA is especially important for its unfragmented forest, which supports a high diversity of forest-dwelling bird species, and for its partnership with researches studying birds and their habitats. The Nature Conservancy has designated the entire ridge as one of the "Last Great Places." The Shawangunks, including Minnewaska, are one of the highest priority areas for biodiversity conservation in the northeastern United States. The Minnewaska BCA is part of the Northern Shawangunk Mountains Important Bird Area.

Minnewaska is part of a migratory corridor that exists along the entire upland plateau of the Northern Shawangunks. It is an exceptional example of a characteristic higher elevation forest community with a high diversity of forest dwelling species. The BCA includes birds of forest habitat including breeding Northern Saw-whet Owl, Black-and-white Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Canada Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Northern Flicker and Scarlet Tanager; and breeding shrub/scrub species Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Indigo Bunting and Prairie Warbler. Species at risk include a pair of Peregrine Falcons (Endangered) that nest on the cliff face.

Download a copy of the BCA map.

Deer hunting is allowed in specific sections of the park during season. Minnewaska's hunting dates coincide with the NYS DEC hunting dates. Bow, rifle/shotgun/pistol and muzzleloader hunting is permitted. Anyone interested in hunting on Minnewaska State Park Preserve lands must get a free hunting permit, which can be obtained by either calling (845-255-0752) or by stopping by the park preserve office (between 9:00am and 4:30pm, 7 days a week) and completing the application. All hunters must have purchased their hunting licenses first because back tag numbers will be needed for the permit application. After hunting season ends, all hunters will be sent a questionnaire to complete and send back to the park by the 15th of January.

Tue 28 Jun
Early Morning Birders
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 07:00 AM
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
(845) 255-0752

Designed for birding enthusiasts or those just looking to learn the basics, this series will offer various outings led by experienced birding volunteers and park naturalists. Participants will meet at the Minnewaska main entrance and should come prepared with binoculars. Outing destinations will be determined the day of the program.

Registration: Required
Sat 02 Jul
Volunteer Trail Work with the New York New Jersey Trail Conference
Saturday, July 2, 2016 09:30 AM - 03:30 AM
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
(845) 255-0752

Do you enjoy hiking the more remote footpaths at Minnewaska? Do you like to give back to your community? You'll find yourself right at home then when you join the Nor'Westers trail crew as they clip a section of the Blueberry Run Footpath. These experienced volunteers will provide tools, training and good times. Please wear weather-and work-appropriate clothing and bring gloves, plenty of water, and lunch.

Registration: Required
Sat 02 Jul
Birding Basics: Bird Songs
Saturday, July 2, 2016 09:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
(845) 255-0752

Are you interested in birds or curious about getting into birding? Then this birding basics program, which will focus on methods for learning bird songs and calls, is for you. Join Park Educator, Nick Martin, on this introductory program to discuss methods of learning songs. Afterwards, we will take an approximately two mile walk to listen and see what we can find. Participants who have their own binoculars and field guides are encouraged to bring them. A few pairs of binoculars will be available for participants who do not have their own.

Registration: Required
Sun 03 Jul
Morning Multiple Scenic Views Hike
Sunday, July 3, 2016 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
(845) 255-0752

Join Laura Conner, Environmental Educator, on a guided hike to see all the stunning views from the numerous scenic vistas along the East side of Lake Minnewaska. Our first stop will be the last remaining historic summerhouse gazebo, which sits perched above the Lake. From here, we'll continue our walk to reach the site of the former historic Cliffhouse hotel. Marvel at the spectacular views that former guests would have had out across Lake Minnewaska to the distant Catskill Mountains. Next, we'll drop down to the Beacon Hill Footpath, which offers a broad vista of the Wallkill Valley including distant views of Storm King and Break Neck Mountains, as well as the iconic stone fire tower, Skytop, to the North. The last leg of our journey includes another cliff edge viewpoint that offers scenic vistas of the Catskill Mountains and the Trapps area. This modest hike, which follows along a combination of carriage roads and a footpath, is approximately two-and-a- half miles long and does include some hills and rocky sections of footpath. Your guide stays with the group the entire trip, offering answers to your questions about the cultural and natural history of this special Park Preserve.

Registration: Required
Mon 04 Jul
Beautiful Butterflies for Children
Monday, July 4, 2016 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
(845) 255-0752

Bring the family to the Minnewaska Nature Center to learn about butterflies and what makes them so unique. We'll search for evidence of their activity, including eggs, caterpillars, leaf chewing and actual butterflies, as we walk the trails near the Nature Center. We'll also make a simple butterfly craft that your children can take home. This program is recommended for children between the ages of six to ten years old, accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. Siblings of any age are welcome; however, younger siblings may need parental assistance.

Registration: Required

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Did You Know? Minnewaska State Park has four sky lakes, with swimming in Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting.

Amenities, Activities & Information