Discover the Cozy Charm of Winter in the Catskills

The Catskill Mountains have long been known as a summer spot, but this region in southeastern New York state is equally fantastic for a cozy, cold-weather vacation, even if you aren’t huge on winter sports.

Whether your idea of a perfect winter adventure involves long days snowshoeing through the forest or you’d rather spend the cooler months snuggled up in a glamping cabin with a good book, the Catskills will provide. Here are a few of the very best winter activities to help you make the most of your Catskills winter getaway.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kath Fudurich

1. Traipse through a winter wonderland

The Catskills Mountains make for some fantastic winter hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, all set about a 2-hour drive from New York City. Here you’ll find miles of well-maintained Catskill trails that weave through gorgeous landscapes—they appear to have been plucked right out of a snow globe.

Some of the best beginner treks are in the Willowemoc Wild Forest, which offers 15 miles of designated hiking trails. The 5-mile-long Overlook Mountain hike near Woodstock is an equally good option for novice hikers, while the Windham High Peak (via Burnt Knob) hike offers a bit more difficult terrain for those keen on something more challenging. If you’d rather make your way through the snow on a pair of snowshoes or Nordic skis, you’ll find plenty of options across the region, from Hunter Mountain to the Catskill Scenic Trail in Bloomville.

Photo courtesy of AutoCamp Catskills

2. Opt for cozy Airstream glamping at AutoCamp Catskills

If you want to experience the wonder of a winter vacation out in the woods, without sacrificing the type of creature comforts found in hotels and mountain resorts, AutoCamp Catskills is the place for you. This gorgeous, 10-acre property outside of Saugerties (and a short drive from the region’s famous Kaaterskill Falls) offers everything from airy pine cabins to plush glamping tents. However, it’s their 31-foot converted Airstreams that steal the show, featuring Tempur-Pedic mattresses, flat-screen TVs, and compact but snazzy semi-tiled bathrooms fit for a boutique hotel. Best of all, campers don’t have to worry about shivering through the night, as all Airstreams are heated.

Each Airstream comes with a private fire pit with a barbecue grill, while those who’d rather stay inside can take advantage of their private kitchenette, complete with a mini-fridge and a microwave for heating meals. Feel like mingling with other guests? Head to the Hudson Valley-inspired Clubhouse, where AutoCamp hosts regular fireside chats, yoga classes, and food-and-beverage tastings.

The AutoCamp Catskills Clubhouse, where live music is hosted

3. Listen to live music in the mountains

While most people equate winter fun to skiing and sledding, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the cozy season without having to don your fluffiest snowsuits. The Catskills are an ideal setting for live music performances, and while you certainly can catch shows at local pubs, few things are more enchanting than listening to live music surrounded by forest trees. AutoCamp’s Music in the Mountains offers just that experience, inviting guests to gather around the camp’s communal campfire to hear local artists croon their tunes.

Photo by Hipcamper Photographer David Waugh

4. Ski or snowboard down powdery slopes

The Catskill Mountains have been celebrated for skiing for generations, offering ample opportunities for snow sports enthusiasts of all levels to hit the slopes. Ski resorts abound in the region. Families and beginners can find plenty of options at Plattekill Mountain and Windham Mountain, both of which also offer snow tubing. More experienced skiers and snowboarders might want to head to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center to tackle the highest slope in the Catskills region.

Photo by Jennifer McCabe

5. Go ice skating

Not into the idea of skiing or snowboarding but still want to play outside? Consider ice skating. Many of the Catskills’ small towns have seasonal ice rinks, from the Pepacton Park Ice Rink in Downsville to the Sheldon Park rink in Delhi. In Livingston Manor, closer west toward the Delaware River, the annual Rotary Ice Carnival is another fantastic option for those wanting to get out and skate in the great outdoors, featuring an ice rink with open skating hours as well as figure skating performances and ice sculpture displays.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kat Wagner

6. Grab a pint at a craft brewery

The Catskills are home to some of the best breweries in Upstate New York, many of which rely on fresh mountain water and locally grown ingredients. Crossroads Brewing Company in Greene County is among the best known, with a brewpub in Athens and a taproom in Catskill where thirsty guests can indulge in hoppy IPAs, refreshing pilsners, and even barleywine. Livingston Manor’s Catskill Brewery is another great option, offering tasty beers brewed using sustainable practices in a Gold LEED-certified facility with a covered, heated patio and Adirondack chairs.

Photo by Sofo Ts

Book your winter Catskills adventure in Upstate NY

Ready to get out there? Book your AutoCamp stay for a winter trip to remember.

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Margot Bigg is a freelance writer and editor specializing in travel and culture. Her stories have appeared in publications around the world, including Travel + Leisure, Sunset, Afar, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Traveller. She’s the author of three India guidebooks for MoonGuides and has co-authored Fodor’s guides to India and the Pacific Northwest. When not traveling or writing, she enjoys reading, studying languages, discovering new music, and daydreaming about her next destination.

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