state park near me

I Discovered a Gorgeous State Park Near Me and the UFO Capital in New York

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Take a break. Let’s go upstate

The Lake!

Those wonderful lyrics from the broadway show turned Disney + movie Hamilton inspired my wife and I to take a weekend trip to a few different locations outside of the city during Columbus day weekend. 

I have long been an advocate for the beauty and peacefulness of upstate New York, a place that many NYC and NJ residents never take the time to visit. 

So when my wife said she wanted to plan a trip to the Pine Bush/Kerhonson area, towns that are just west of the infamous Woodbury Commons shopping outlets, I was game.

I had never been to this part of the state and upon arrival, I couldn’t help but admire the craftsmanship of the homes and how much land these people have. I immediately started scanning Zillow for home prices and found that you could snag a 4 bedroom home on 2500 square ft of land for close to $300,000. That’s a far cry from the overpriced, over-crammed real-estate market of NYC.

We arrived around dinner time and checked into the Harvest Inn Hotel where we would spend the next 3 days. The Harvest Inn was newly renovated and provided a nice clean room with a good selection of cable channels. 

The hotel must be owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses since they exclusively sell their literature and the rooms have their translation of the scriptures in the bedside drawer instead of the classic Gideon Bible. Despite the strong presence of JH, we didn’t hear a word about it from any of the workers. They were all really nice and helpful. 

We hadn’t eaten dinner so we saw a classic looking Diner across the street and decided to go there. The place was named Cup and Saucer diner which I originally thought was a saucer you put at the bottom of your cup. However, the true meaning of the name got revealed to me when we were leaving the restaurant.

Alien Mannequin at Diner Entrance

After finishing my delicious open-face turkey sandwich we paid the bill and noticed alien masks and decor all over the front register. We also saw posters for alien themed events. We decided to inquire about all the alien paraphernalia and the waitress told us that Pine Bush is a hub for alien and UFO enthusiasts. 

Upon doing some research, I discovered that Pine Bush became the UFO capital of the world after some unusual sightings were reported during the mid-1980s. Each year they host a UFO festival when people come from all over to celebrate. 

Front Counter at the Diner

Due to Covid-19, unfortunately, no festivities were happening during our trip so we weren’t able to experience the UFO enthusiasm first hand. 

After discussing the UFO/alien culture in Pine Bush we went to bed and prepared for our hike in the breath-taking Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

We woke up the following morning and took a 30 min drive to the park. The car line to get into the entrance was long, but when we finally got there we didn’t have to hassle over anything else. 

We had a few hiking destinations for the park including the lake and waterfall. From the park entrance to the waterfall, the hike was around 30 minutes. 

Along the walk to the waterfall we saw a high rock formation that reminded me of the Skull Mountain ride at Six Flags Great Adventure. There were also other little streams leading up to the waterfall and empty rock formations that we were able to walk through. We snapped a few pics in those areas and kept working towards the waterfall. 

Rock/River Formations

The waterfall wasn’t enormous, but was beautiful and soothing. The rocks around the fall really stole the show. A large crowd stood around the fall and creeped into different areas to snap pictures. The place was a one of nature’s celebrities. 

The Waterfall

We decided to head to the lake next which was another 30 minutes out. I had never hiked before and I was grossly unprepared. However, I still managed to hold my own and got all the way to the lake before passing out from uphill walking. 

The lake was majestic and large and the cliffs where we got our view were the perfect place to get some great pictures. There were a good amount of locals walking their dogs and doing their best to keep them away from the edges. The view was wonderful and made the hour long hike all worth it. 

Our next task was to get back to the car which was going to be another hour hike. The walk back was pretty calm and mostly downhill. However, one exciting/scary thing happened. 

I walked by what looked like a stick but it started slithering. That was when a group in front of us yelled “snake.” 

Snake!!

This indeed was a snake and it was pretty large and black which made it unnoticeable. I quickly dodged it after I realized what it was. Luckily, I was able to snap a pic before he slithered away. 

In the next part I’ll discuss roadside bbq, a super chill winery and Angry Orchard brewery. 

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