This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links. All opinions are my own.
We stayed in the Catskill Mountains in southern New York state for exactly 4 months. Here’s what to do and see in the mountains and surrounding area.
As I said in my previous post about our summer, we never meant to spend so long in this area. But we did, and it was our longest stop anywhere since we became full-time nomads in May 2016.
Delaware County, New York
We stayed at my mom’s place in Roxbury, which is in Delaware County. So named after the Delaware River that runs through the county, which also forms the entire border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Although the county is nearly 1500 square miles, the population at last census was less than 50,000.
Roxbury is a town or township (not a city) and houses about 2500 people. According to Wikipedia, in the 1820 census Roxbury had about the same amount of residents! Over all the population remained steady for about 100 years. There isn’t much to it, but what exists is very cute.
As with many of the towns, villages and hamlets in the area, there is a Main street that has historic buildings and lots of charm.
Most of the main roads in the Catskill Mountains are State Routes, not highways/interstates (or thruways, as they call them in this area). These are usually a single lane in each direction with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour. Most of them look like this:
As you get close to a town or village, the speed usually drops down to 30 miles per hour, and the State Route becomes Main Street.
Among other things, Roxbury has a few small restaurants, a gas station, and a library. The library has no municipal funding, so it runs a thrift shop to support itself. We found a lot of great books to re-sell on Amazon at their thrift shop! If you’re in the area, definitely stop by and check them out.
Roxbury also has its own fire department, run primarily by volunteers and proudly served by many members of my family for decades. Roxbury Central School houses grades kindergarten through high school under one roof.
Things to do in Roxbury
If you need a place to stay and you don’t have an RV, I think your two best bets are the Roxbury Bed and Breakfast or The Roxbury Motel. The Bed and Breakfast has a dollhouse museum, with free entry included with your stay. Meanwhile The Roxbury Motel is an interesting blend I’d call country contemporary. It won awards and was even featured on HGTV. The rooms have themes and the on-site spa wins its own awards.
If you have an RV, the only campground in town is Stratton Falls. They have tent camping, RV spots and mobile homes. We didn’t stay there, but we dumped our tanks there every week because it’s just a few miles away from mom’s place. Since it’s the only option in town, it doesn’t come cheap–use of the dump station is $25, full-hook-up sites are $40 per night and sites are $750 per month. Since you can rent an apartment for around $500 per month and it’s probably better insulated from snow and heat, I don’t think it’s a great deal. But the place is well-groomed and we didn’t notice any rowdy neighbors during our weekly visits.
Maple products are big business in this area. A must-visit is the Roxbury Mountain Maple company. Besides pure maple syrup, they have maple cream, maple sugar, maple candies…mmm. Maple candies. I got some of those for me and some for mom. I don’t see how you can visit the Catskill Mountains without tasting local maple syrup. But if you can’t make it over, don’t worry–they have an online shop on their website and they even sell on Amazon.
Other places in Delaware County
Our favorite grocery store (Roxbury doesn’t have one), Freshtown, is in the village of Margaretville. It’s about 30 minutes away.
Nearby Arkville is the primary hub for the Delaware & Ulster Railroad, which offers scenic railroad tours. They also host special events such as live music while you ride, dinner trains and “light-hearted train robberies.”
The hamlet of Halcotsville is so small that if you blink, you’ll miss it. But they do have kayak rentals there for use along the Delaware River.
The village of Stamford also boasts a grocery store, Tops Market. In my opinion they have one of the cutest main streets in the county.
But the neatest thing for me about Roxbury is all the nature surrounding you. Staying at mom’s place was like living on a nature preserve.
Some people even have their own private waterfalls!
Surrounding counties in the Catskill Mountains
To the northwest of Delaware County lies Otsego County. Its population is slightly larger than Delaware County, but it does have a larger city: Oneonta.
Oneonta is over an hour away from Roxbury, but it’s one of two places to go for all the big box stores: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, department stores like JC Penney and larger supermarket chains. Due to its distance, a shopping trip was usually a family affair for us, and meant trip that took all day. Oneonta has a cute downtown historic district, 2 colleges and 2 decent restaurants. Fiesta Mexican Grill & Cantina has a veggie fajitas platter, basically the only thing vegan on the menu (minus the rice). Across the street from it is Simply Thai, which has very good food and several vegan options. They claim their entire menu is gluten-free, but I got sick after eating there, and when I went back next time I discovered a dish I was told did not have soy sauce had it listed as an ingredient in the menu description. Oh, well.
Ulster County is southeast of Delaware County, and has over 180,000 residents at last census. It’s southeast of Delaware County.
Techinically, this county is part of the Hudson Valley region, not the Catskill Mountains. But part of county is in the foothills of the Catskills, if not in the mountains themselves. This was my favorite county to visit for a few reasons. First of all, the city of Kingston is there. It’s about as far away from Roxbury as Oneonta, but has more options for stores. There’s also a Camping World if you need RV supplies not found at Wal-Mart.
Second, there’s the Hamlet of Boiceville. There’s a medical practice there called Health Quest, and a Nurse Practitioner named Brian Callahan. He was my health care provider while we stayed in the area, and is completely awesome. They got me in quickly for appointments, he is very knowledgeable and helped me work some kinks out with my chronic conditions. When all the other practices in the area that accepted our insurance were either not accepting new patients or booked out for several months, this place was a lifesaver.
Right by Boiceville is Woodstock. Yes, that Woodstock–as in the Woodstock Festival of the 60s. Fun fact–the real location of the festival was held 60 miles away, and they never even planned on having the festival in Woodstock.
Nonetheless, Woodstock continues to have a thriving art community and a very earthy, hippy vibe. A head shop advertising the sale of “420” (marijuana) sits next to the Town Hall building, with the police department in the next building over. There are galleries, tourist shops and plenty of eateries. My favorite is the Garden Cafe on the Green, an all-vegan restaurant. Pictured below are some of their delicious eats:
Woodstock also has a pharmacy which does compounding and sells several natural products and supplements. The one thing that was underwhelming was a little place called Waterfall Park. There is a waterfall, which was pretty, but the “park” is only a sidewalk across from the waterfall where you can look at it.
Albany County, which includes the capital of New York (Albany), is also not in the Catskill Mountains. It’s about 2 hours from Roxbury in a northeasterly direction. It’s an area we became well-familiar with, because of Ryan’s health issues occurring while we stayed there. Since he went to the ER there, and needed care from a specialist while we were still in town, he received all his care in the Albany area, which meant several trips there. But I didn’t mind too much, because they have good hospitals and physicians there so I felt comfortable with the quality of care he received.
Albany has a Whole Foods, which of course is a mecca for specialty food when you’re on a special diet. Their hot food bar is amazing, and we ate breakfast there a few times after having to leave for the hospital at 5am for a doctor’s appointment. Our favorite lunchtime restaurant in the area quickly became Shalimar Restaurant of Clifton Park. They have a reasonably priced lunchtime buffet, and the best vegetable biryani we’ve ever tasted.
Unfortunately, each time we went Ryan was not feeling well enough to do any fun activities. But if we had the chance, we would have visited the New York State Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany Pine Bush Preserve and Cohoes Falls.
If you want to visit the Albany area in an RV, choices are limited. There is a Wal-Mart that allows overnight parking, and a few campgrounds (but none in Albany itself). The closest one to Troy, NY (where Ryan received all his medical care) is ALPS Family Campground in Averill Park. Even then it’s 30 minutes away from Troy and most of Albany. Rates there are $30/32 per night, $180/192 per week or $425/475 per month for partial/full hook-ups .
Leaving the Catskill Mountains
Our time in the Catskills is at an end. It’s a bittersweet parting, because things are still uncertain about what will happen with my mom. I tried to set her up as best as I could before I left, including getting other family members involved in watching out for her.
But for many reasons, including the possibility of impending snowfall, we needed to move on. And we’re heading back west at a fast clip. At the time of this post we’re already ~500 miles away from Roxbury. By the end of the day we won’t be in New York state anymore.
I don’t know how long I’ll be away from the Catskill Mountains, or even if I’ll ever return. But this summer, it became home.