Hudson River Valley, NY: Along America's Rhine River

Text: James T. Parks • Photography: James T. Parks, Jeff Arpin

“Some folks like to get away. Take a holiday from 
the neighborhood. Hop a flight to Miami Beach 
or to Hollywood. But I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line. I’m in a New York state of mind.” From the song “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel

The Hudson River Valley is a place of lush natural beauty, scenic inspiration, and a depository of iconic American history.

Warwick to Woodstock

Our summer sojourn through the Hudson River Valley begins several miles north of the New Jersey border in the rural village of Warwick, NY. Jeff Arpin is riding his silver Honda ST1300 and I’m on a red 2012 Honda Gold Wing. Route 17A twists across a rumpled landscape of forest-covered foothills until it spits us out in Harriman State Park. With its 31 lakes, numerous streams, and sweeping vistas, Harriman is a picturesque palate of natural beauty. Seven Lakes Drive leads us to neighboring Bear Mountain State Park, where Perkins Memorial Drive ascends to a breathtaking panorama of the Hudson River Valley.

Our next stop is at the United States Military Academy at West Point. America’s Continental Army first occupied the strategic high ground above the narrow S curve in the river during the Revolutionary War. It was here that Benedict Arnold committed his infamous act of treason, attempting to transfer possession of the fort to the British. The United States Military Academy was established here in 1802. The visitors center and West Point Museum are open to the public, but the historic academy grounds can be entered only as part of a guided tour.

Heading north from West Point, we follow the tortuous path of Route 218 as it climbs Storm King Mountain. The narrow, two-laner was blasted out of solid granite. Many workers had to be suspended down to the intended roadway by ropes. After years of dangerous work, the highway opened in 1922. We stop at a small rock-walled turnout to soak up the Hudson’s unobstructed scenic splendor.

After crossing the Hudson on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, we follow a series of secondary roads north and stop for a late lunch at Aurelia Restaurant in the tree-lined village of Millbrook. This charming country municipality is home to a number of New York–based celebrities, who are sometimes seen along the town’s bountifully shaded walkways.

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2013 back issue.