TRAVEL


I Visited the Hudson River Skywalk

5 things you need to know about this exhilarating new experience in the Hudson Valley

May 1, 2019 11:30 am

Hudson River Skywalk Region

Hudson River Skywalk Region

It’s something we all have to admit to ourselves at one time or another: you only have so many vacation days and there are only so many weekends in a year. You need to maximize your time, live your best life, treat yourself – you get the picture. So I’m here to tell you that the new Hudson River Skywalk Region in the Hudson Valley is your one-stop destination for a have-it-all getaway with friends and family. It’s all here. Let me walk you through the highlights of why the Hudson River Skywalk, a new scenic walkway over the Hudson River at the place where American art was born, is the place for you.


  1. Views for Days

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Frederic Church’s Olana

Frederic Church’s Olana

The number one thing you need to know: this place is beautiful. The Hudson River Skywalk Region is located just two hours north of New York City by car or AMTRAK and includes the neighboring communities of Hudson and Catskill connected by the Rip Van Winkle Bridge over the Hudson River. It’s the kind of place that still takes my breath away even after living here for over two years. The kind of place that launched America’s first major art movement, now known as the Hudson River School. You’ve seen these landscapes in museums, now come see them for real. The Catskill Mountains frame every view, stretching out as far as the eye can see. The majestic Hudson River rushes through lush green hills and you really start to feel as though you’ve stepped into a painting. You can’t fight the urge to pull out your phone and capture the moment. These landscapes are remarkably unchanged in the last 200 years due to extensive preservation efforts. Don’t forget to just take in the beauty of nature sans-screen too.


2. You’re doing something cultural

Thomas Cole,  View on Catskill Creek - Early Autumn , 1836-7, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thomas Cole, View on Catskill Creek - Early Autumn, 1836-7, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Frederic Church,  Clouds Over Olana , 1872, Collection Olana State Histroic Site, NYS OPRHP

Frederic Church, Clouds Over Olana, 1872, Collection Olana State Histroic Site, NYS OPRHP

Frederic Church’s Olana

Frederic Church’s Olana

That’s right; this beautiful place is steeped in history and filled with art. The new walkway connects the historic homes and studios of 19th century art stars Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. They were the ones who put this beautiful place on the map, or on the canvas rather, and you’ve probably seen their paintings at The Met or the National Gallery, or scrolling your phone. These views are iconic American pictures that taught this nation to value its natural landscapes. Visit the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Frederic Church’s Olana to see special exhibitions of American art masterpieces and immerse yourself in the artists’ worlds. Thomas Cole and Frederic Church met as teacher and student here in the Hudson River Skywalk Region nearly 200 years ago and became fast friends. They were leading international artists of the 19th century who traveled and exhibited around the world, but chose to make their homes here in the Hudson Valley. So don’t just take my word, take there’s. This place is worth a visit.


3. Exercise, but optional

Hudson River Skywalk at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Hudson River Skywalk at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

If you’re the kind of person that needs to get outside and get moving this is the place for you. The complete walkway from Frederic Church’s Olana to the Thomas Cole Historic Site is 3 miles one way. Round trip is 6 miles if you’re keen on making a full day of it and working for that farm-to table dinner (don’t worry I’m getting to food). Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? The walkway over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is about the same length at 1 mile across.  

For those of you who would prefer to skip the exercise – never fear! Along the walking route there are no less than four parking areas ensuring easy access to the views and the historic sites. 


4. The thrill

Hudson River Skywalk at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Hudson River Skywalk at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

OK, I said exhilarating and yes, to some people looking at art can be truly exhilarating – I know because I’m one of those people - but I also know it’s not for everyone. So, let me cut to the chase. The Skywalk walkway over the Hudson River along the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is a thrill. You are walking hundreds of feet in the air. The views can be downright picturesque, but the experience touches on the sublime. The grandiose landscape is all-encompassing. You start to feel small. The power of nature is real.


5. Good food and good sleep

Hudson River Skywalk Region

Hudson River Skywalk Region

If you’re the kind of person that can’t plan a trip without a good restaurant – like me – you need to get yourself to the Hudson River Skywalk Region. The downtowns of Hudson and Catskill are chockablock full of cafes and restaurants serving local fare in impeccably designed spaces. Start your day off in Catskill grabbing a coffee at HiLo Café and primo sandwiches at the new Circle W Market. Hudson is brimming with dinner spots that will make you wonder – where am I? Is this that hot new restaurant in NYC everyone is talking about? From Fish & Game and The Maker to Backbar, Food Studio, and Grazin there are lots of options to choose from. And don’t forget the double hitters River Town Lodge and Wm. Farmers and Sons with restaurants downstairs and your accommodations right upstairs. Both downtowns offer boutique bed and breakfasts and the new hotel by the Hudson Amtrak Station, The Wick, has lots of rooms.

So there you have it: beauty, nature, culture, food and places you want to stay the night, if not longer. It’s the new Hudson River Skywalk Region. We hope to see you soon.

Jennifer Greim lives and works in the Hudson Valley. She is Director of External Relations at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and previously worked at Vogue Magazine and Annie Leibovitz Studio. 

Photography by Zio & Sons

Illustration by Reintz Map

In This Story: Martin Katzoff, Hannah Kahn, The Folklore House, Hartland on Hudson, Eve Aaron and Adam Grimes