New York State is famous all over the world for its eponymous city. New York City is arguably the most important city in the world, and it’s full of things to do and see. But New York State is more than just New York City, and those who choose to explore the entirety of New York will find that the state famous for its urban center is also the home of breathtaking natural scenery and incredible outdoor opportunities.
Regions of Upstate New York
New York City and its immediate environs are host to the bulk of the state’s population. To most of those Downstate residents, “Upstate” New York is the entire rest of the state: Upstate New York is commonly considered to include everything north of Rockland and Westchester Counties, though the borders of the region are much debated by Upstaters and Downstaters alike.
It’s easy to see the reason for debate. Upstate New York is too big and diverse to be a term that’s useful for much other than collectively referring to the parts of the state that aren’t in the New York City metro area. A better way to look at Upstate New York is to look at its regions. You should visit all of them, from the Capital Region to Western New York (which may or may not actually be a part of Upstate New York — locals insist Western New York is separate). But for nature, your best bet is to head to one of Upstate New York’s wilderness areas. The Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Finger Lakes are not to be missed. Before you go, the mobile professionals at AT&T stores in New York say downloading community, park and trail information or maps will help make the most of your visit. Give them a call or stop by if you need help with your smartphone while you are in the area.
The Adirondacks and Adirondack Park
The Adirondacks are New York State’s largest mountains. They rise as much as 5,000 feet in the air — no mean feat in a state that borders the ocean. New York State has done a remarkable job of preserving its natural beauty in this area. Adirondack Park, comprising public and private land, is the largest protected park in the contiguous United States. It’s roughly the size of the entire state of Vermont! Within its massive environs, you can find all kinds of places to camp, hike, rock-climb, canoe, and more.
The High Peaks area of Adirondack Park is of particular interest to outdoor adventurers. Peak-baggers will want to seek out the 46 High Peaks, a traditional collection of mountains reputed to be over 4,000 feet tall. Modern measurement has revealed a few mistakes (some of the peaks are under 4,000 feet tall, and at least one mountain over 4,000 feet tall is omitted), but the 46er tradition is so rich that most peak-baggers elect to hike the original list.
The Catskills aren’t as large as the Adirondacks, but these mountains are beautiful and are far easier to access for downstate visitors. There’s lots of great hiking to be had here, including some great trails to fire tower overlooks. The Catskills are also full of beautiful small towns, including plenty of towns with thriving arts communities.
The Catskills are also a great place for winter sports. Skiers and snowboarders who find Whiteface and Gore Mountain (both in the Adirondacks) too far away will want to head to Windham, a great mountain that is easy to reach from some of New York’s most populous areas.
The Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes region is full of beautiful natural sights. In addition to the elegant long lakes, you’ll find stunning natural gorges in the Finger Lakes area. Watkins Glen State Park is a beautiful place to take in the scenery, and there are also plenty of places to hike, bike, and rock climb. Water sports are a staple of the area, too, of course: whether you want to go tubing behind a speedboat or quietly paddle a canoe, you’ll find the perfect place to do so here.
The Finger Lakes area is also home to some of Upstate New York’s most beautiful towns. Ithaca, home of Cornell University and Ithaca College, is an artsy small town with lots of things to do. Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and (erroneously) credited as the birthplace of the sport, is a great place to shop and stroll, recommend experts who run AT&T stores in New York.
Upstate New York is huge. No matter where you draw its borders, you’ll find plenty of incredible natural spaces within the region.