Local Massachusetts lore says the origin of the name, Bash Bish Falls, comes from a story that occurred hundreds of years ago. A Mohican Native American was accused of committing adultery, for which the punishment was to be tied up inside a canoe and pushed over a waterfall. It’s unknown whether this event actually occurred, however.
Home to the highest waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bish Falls State Park is considered one of the most scenic - and dangerous - locations in the state. The top of Bash Bish Falls is extremely slippery, and there have been over 25 deaths since the 1970s from people attempting to jump from rock to rock. A handful of deaths were from drowning, also. As a result of this, AOL Travel listed this park as one of the top 10 “most dangerous tourist attractions” in the United States in 2010.
Situated in far western Massachusetts, the closest town is Copake, NY, across the Massachusett-New York state border. The town is about four miles west of Bash Bish Falls State Park. Copake, which has around 4,000 residents, has a grocery store, a few restaurants, and retail shops lining its main street.
Book an RV in Berkshire County, MA, and embark on an RV camping adventure of a lifetime.
Bash Bish Falls is the highest waterfall in the state, though it’s a series of cascades, rather than one long, continuous drop. Totaling 280 feet, the tallest cascading drop is about 80 feet high, split in half by a massive boulder. There are two main trails in Bash Bish Falls State Park. One leads to the top of the falls, which is nicknamed the Summit. This trail is especially steep and may be challenging for young children and unfit people. Hikers who successfully reach the top are rewarded with an impressive panoramic view of New York. The other trail leads to the bottom of the falls, at which hikers can enjoy wading in the shallow pool and the scenic waterfall views.
Although Bash Bish Falls State Park is a small park, encompassing only 424 acres, neighboring Mount Washington State Forest and Taconic State Park cumulatively add over 9,000 acres of sheer, rugged wilderness. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails that are shared with horseback riders and bikers. A 30-mile section of the mighty Appalachian Trail, which yawns 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, passes through Mt. Washington State Forest. Mt. Washington also harbors one of the few groves of old-growth trees that are well over 300 years old.
In autumn, the woods open to hunters. All hikers should take care to wear blaze orange. Horseback riders should, similarly, add blaze orange accouterments to their horses’ tack in addition to themselves. Fishing on one of the many creeks and rivers that runs through all three parks is enjoyed by many. Skilled anglers can expect to catch a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, chain pickerel, and yellow perch.
Deep in Massachusetts’ wilderness, photographers and nature lovers will enjoy a bounty of wildlife that roam the woods. White-tailed deer are commonly sighted, swiftly bounding in between the dense trees. Shy black bears, though rarely seen, make their presence known by leaving scat and massive pawprints. Once nearly extinct, bald eagles have made a return to the state. In clearings, hikers frequently can spot eagles accompanied by ospreys and other raptor birds soaring in lazy circles as they scour the rugged mountainside for easy prey.
Camping at Bash Bish Falls State Park
Skip the long drive from a hotel by renting a camper instead. RV camping at state parks means quicker, more convenient access to a nearby hiking trail or fishing hole. Although Bash Bish Falls State Park lacks a campground, there are several options in the area suitable for Airstream camping. Taconic State Park RV campground has 26 sites for adventurers to choose from. Though the facility is light on amenities, it has bathrooms with hot showers, and each site has a fire ring and a picnic table.
Should space runs out, which can happen during the summer months, consider camping in a trailer near Copake, NY. Copake Camping Resort is an award-winning campground that offers several amenities to its guests, like a heated swimming pool, an arcade, a dog park, and a laundry room. It also has weekend planned activities for both children and adults. Campers can choose from one of its 126 sites, all of which have full hookups, WiFi, and cable TV.
Do you fancy RV camping in the Berkshires? The Prospect Lake Park near Great Barrington, MA, has over 1250 sites, all with full hookups, and beautiful lake views. It also includes restrooms with hot showers, laundry, an onsite camp store, and an old-fashioned waterslide.
Exploring the Area
In a remote part of Massachusetts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s nothing to do but RV camp and hike. In fact, there are several small towns with a variety of attractions and interesting flairs to entice travelers into stopping for a visit. Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA is the home of a famed artist who produced thousands of drawings, paintings, and other artwork. Many of his original works are on display.
Hop into a rental motorhome and join the other adventurers on one of Massachusetts’ scenic byways or go waterfall-hunting. There are several waterfalls in the area that gurgle and gush year-round, and several are a short walk from the road. Great Falls near Canaan, CT, is a wide, but low scenic waterfall topped by an ancient mill that is somehow still standing. Don a bathing suit and experience what it’s like to stand right underneath the waterfall, too.