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Harriman State Park, just one hour north of Manhattan, is New York’s second-largest park and a welcome reprieve from city life. Inside this vast 47,500-acre park you'll find over 200 miles of hiking trails, beautiful vistas, and 31 lakes, the largest of which is over 300 acres. Harriman State Park makes up a much larger complex of protected land; the 5,200-acre Bear Mountain State Park borders the northeastern side, and 21,000-acre Sterling Forest borders the southwest. The park is so large that it splits two counties. If you're arriving from the north, try searching for an RV in Orange County. Otherwise, rent an RV in Rockland County.
The land that makes up Harriman State Park today was originally part of the Harriman Family Estate. Around the turn of the 20th century, New York wanted part of this land for a large prison complex. The Harriman family wanted to donate much of this land to the state, but only for the purposes of establishing a park, and the state obliged. The Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the park during the Great Depression. The group camps constructed at Harriman State Park served as the model for group camps that many other state parks use today.
Harriman State Park is home to a significant ecosystem. It contains the largest tidal wetland along the Hudson River, and this critical bird conservation area was designated as a National Natural Landmark. Birders spend hours upon hours watching bald eagles, warblers, and osprey. Many species of fish also live in the wetland waters.
Anglers will also find a similar variety of fish throughout the park’s many lakes and creeks. With a New York fishing license, you can fish for a few different species of trout, small and largemouth bass, perch, and catfish. Certain lakes are suitable for ice fishing in the winter, and some lakes also have wheelchair-accessible fishing piers. You may launch your own private boat on Lake Welch with an appropriate permit.
Lake Harriman State Park is also a backpacker's paradise, so much so that 20 miles of the acclaimed Appalachian Trail runs through the park. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference maintains over 200 miles of trails within the park. These hiking trails cover everything from easy two-mile trails to more difficult seven-mile trails. Some of these trails are also maintained in the winter for cross-country skiing.
The Harriman State Park campground is typically open from April until October. There are numerous camping areas within the park, but the only RV camping at Harriman State Park is at the Beaver Pond Campground. This campground contains seven sites suitable for smaller RVs up to 30 feet. There are no hookups at any of the sites.
Harriman State Park's RV campground is in a shaded, wooded area, but the sites are close together and don’t offer much privacy. Each site comes with a fire ring and picnic table. Other campground amenities include a dump station, showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities, and a camp store. The campground also features a small swimming beach open when lifeguards are on duty, a boat launch, and volleyball courts.
There are a few things that you should be aware of before camping at Harriman State Park. First, pets aren't permitted in the RV campground. Second, alcohol is prohibited, and this rule is strictly enforced. Firewood must be purchased from the camp store to prevent the spread of invasive species. This is also bear country, so please practice responsible food storage and safety.
Harriman State Park’s central location makes it ideal for exploring many of America’s historic and culturally-rich cities. Broadway and the famous food scene in New York City are only an hour south, and historic Philadelphia is two hours in the same direction. Or, if your RV exploration is taking you east, you’ll eventually get to Boston in just over three hours. Treat the kids to a fun outing at New England Aquarium, or explore the city’s history along the self-guided Freedom Trail.
The quaint city of Peekskill is just across the Hudson if you’re looking for something closer. This revitalized downtown area has an active art community, and the Peekskill Arts Alliance hosts numerous events throughout the year, including the annual Peekskill Open Studios event which showcases the work of local artists. You'll also find both summer and winter farmers markets, music festivals in the summer, and multiple live music venues throughout town. There are numerous artisan restaurants, cafes, and pubs all within a few blocks.
When it comes time to restock your rental RV with food, fuel, and camping supplies, you'll find numerous opportunities along I-87 on the west and south side of the park. To the northeast, your best bet is in Peekskill.