Just north of Manhattan, up the Hudson River from West Point Military Academy, New Paltz sits in rebellion. It’s a refreshing ’60s throwback where everything is cool, nothing is a problem, and Birkenstocks and tie-dye are de rigueur. Indeed, the place is a great escape especially in the autumn, when psychedelic foliage casts a dizzying spell and outdoor sports options compete with classic fall diversions.
New Paltz nestles at the foot of the Shawangunk Mountains, known to devotees as the Gunks. The perfect base camp, it’s situated on the fringe of a 21,000-acre natural area that comprises a state park, private preserves and a massive resort. The two primary focal points, Mohonk Nature Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, face each other on a ridge less than 10 miles out of town. Along with biking, hiking and water sports, you’ll find some of the best rock climbing in the country here.