Hudson River Valley

Scenic Driving
Hudson Valley

Almost any time of the year of the year is a great time to drive the scenic roads of the Hudson Valley. Visibility is best in winter, when the trees are bare. However, spring, when the trees leaf out and wildflowers bloom, is by far the most uplifting time. On a crisp spring day, drive the Palisades Interstate Parkway along the west side of the river, in New Jersey. For inspiration, stop at one of the many overlooks. Under an azure sky, the river gleams and Manhattan glimmers in the southern distance.In fall, the foliage colors are stunning, and a irresistible excuse for another day trip out of town.

The Palisades Parkway will take you to Route 9W and many of the Hudson Valley's highlights. The United States Military Academy at West Point and Storm King Arts Center at Mountainville are just off 9W. Further north, the same road leads to state parks and to entry points into the Catskills Park. Nearly every mile of Route 9W is scenic, with cliff-top views of the Hudson interspersed with rugged and rocky terrain, the road twisting around precarious turns.

Route 9W is not the quietest or least-traveled road in New York, so explore more tranquil country lanes. For a tour of orchards and vineyards, head for the region north of Newburgh. Start in the town of Highland, and drive along Route 9W and County Road 11. Further north, the Shawangunks region has great views. From New Paltz, drive along County Road 7 past horse farms and the Gunks themselves. As for the Catskills, nearly every route is scenic. Try beginning in Woodstock and driving around nearby Ashokan Reservoir.

And on the east side of the Hudson, Route 9W's sibling, Route 9, offers scenic driving and access to nearly all the historic mansions. If you don't have time to visit them all, go directly to the Vanderbilt Mansion and FDR's home at Hyde Park, and Mills-Norrie State Park at Staatsburg, five miles to the north. Not to be missed are the villages of Rhinebeck, Hudson and Tivoli. Each is chock-a-block with antique shops, cafes and restaurants. The towns easily can be included in a tour of several of the mansions.

For contact information, see Practicalities.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »