Bear Mountain Activities: How to Have an Amazing Day

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Due to the continued concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, building and activities at the Bear Mountain State Park (Trailside Museums & Zoo, Merry-Go-Round & Bear Mountain Inn) are currently closed to the public. Check the website for updated information.

On this warm July day, the kids and I decided to do some exploring. I suggested that we check out the local state park because I knew Bear Mountain activities were abundant.

Needless to say that agreeing on something is never easy with two teenagers. More so when one is a boy and one is a girl.

They enjoy being outside but are not keen on strenuous activities.

Is it just me or does this generation prefer it easy???

Bear Mountain Activities are abundant at this Hudson Valley State Park

Getting out the door went rather smoothly and we headed to Bear Mountain State Park to check out the activities there.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK:
> Open year-round, the most popular time for visitors is during warmer months, especially on the weekends.

> Be aware that school trips to the state park are very common, during weekdays, in June.

> Access to the State Park can be found off of Route 9W/Palisades Parkway.

> Although the state park is free to explore, there is a parking fee charged (see below)

> For your convenience, the website offers several PDF maps for you to download prior to your visit.

A view from the parking lot at the bear mountain state park

Visiting Bear Mountain State Park:

VISITING HOURS:
Open year-round
Hours: 8 am – sunset
PARKING FEE: (as of the date of this published post)
$10 parking only fee
COLLECTED:
> Apr through mid-Jun: weekends & holidays (8 am – 4 pm)
> Mid-Jun through the beginning of Sep: weekends & holidays (8 am – 5 pm)
Weekdays (8 am – 4 pm)
> Sep through the end of Mar: weekend & holidays (8 am – 5 pm)
ADDITIONAL FEES:
Pool and other activities have an additional fee (see below)
WEBSITE:
Parks.ny.gov/parks/bearmountain

Where is Bear Mountain State Park?

Located on over 5,000 between Rockland and Orange counties, Bear Mountain State Park is probably the best known state park in New York.

With so much history in this one area of the Hudson Valley, it’s no wonder that this state park is a favorite for thousands of visitors each year.

Rising from the west side of the Hudson River, this location is a favorite for hikers and general sight-seers who marvel at the views of the nearby Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River Valley.

Bear Mountain Directions

Here are some simple Bear Mountain directions to follow. Located off of Route 9W and the Palisades Parkway, Bear Mountain State Park and the Bear Mountain activities are easily accessible by car.

The main entrance to Bear Mountain State Park is from Seven Lakes Drive, off of Route 9W. It is also a short distance from the Bear Mountain State Circle.

Lake Hessian at Bear Mountain State Park

How far is Bear Mountain State Park from NYC?

The driving distance from Manhattan to Bear Mountain State Park is approximately 40-50 miles and can take approximately 1 hour.

What are the Bear Mountain Activities?

With so many activities at Bear Mountain, it may be difficult to choose just a few. You may need to plan accordingly if you’d like to do and see more than one or two things.

A few visits to the park in order to experience many of the Bear Mountain activities may be in order.

Below is a list of popular activities:

Bear Mountain Carousel

Enjoy a spin on the famous Merry-Go-Round.

It is a beautiful display of 42 hand-carved seats, each depicting an animal native to the area. The scenes are hand-painted and are a true work of art.

Bear Mountain Carousel with guests riding it.

The Bear Mountain Carousel is a favorite for many visitors to the state park.

HOURS:
Wed through Sun (during summer months)
Weekends & Holidays (remainder of year)
ADMISSION:
$1 per person

Bear Mountain Ice Rink

The Bear Mountain outdoor ice skating rink is generally open from late October through March (weather permitting).

Ice Rink at Bear Mountain State Park

The ice rink holds public skating sessions several times a week. At the time of this post, skating days were: Mon & Tues (morning and afternoon), Fri (evening), Sat & Sun (most of the day). Check their website or exact information.

You can bring your own skates or rent some.

An admission fee is charged whether you skate or not. The rink is outdoors and is not covered, so please dress warmly.

ADMISSION FEES:
Adult Skaters (12 yrs and up): $5 Skating fee, $5 skate rental
Child Skaters: (4 yrs – 11 yrs): $4 Skating fee, $5 skate rental
Non-skaters: $2
Children ages 4 yrs and under: Free

Perkins Memorial Drive & Tower

Perkins Memorial Drive & Tower are open from April through late November (weather permitting).

This has to be one of the highlights of a visit to Bear Mountain State Park. You can either hike to the top (which I only recommend to the experienced hiker) or drive up.

Whichever way you choose to get to the Perkins Memorial Tower, make sure to have your camera ready and/or your phone charged because the views are amazing.

As one of the favorite Bear Mountain activities, the parking lot will get full on the weekends.

So, if you can, take a drive up during the week and enjoy views of the Hudson Valley, Hudson River, & Bear Mountain Bridge, as well as, the NYC Skyline and four states in total.

Trailside Museums & Zoo

The Trailside Zoo is open year-round. For a suggested donation of $1, you can stroll this small yet very educational zoo.

Entrance of Trailside Museums and zoo

First, this zoo houses animals that have been injured and are being rehabilitated. It was so interesting to see the nice variety of animals being helped here.

Some animals included: bears, coyotes, owls, bald eagles, beavers, etc.

The most popular attraction, though, at the zoo is the bear den. Crowds stand in front of the exhibit and admire these impressive creatures.

Interesting fact: The Appalachian hiking trail runs through the Trailside Zoo. At any given point, you can see hikers making their way along the Appalachian. This is the reason that “Trailside” got its name.

Walt Whitman statue at the Bear Mountain Zoo

My son happily pointed out a few young hikers during our visit. He was impressed by their packs but also noted that it looked like they hadn’t bathed in some time. lol

There are also four museums at Trailside Museums and Zoo.

  • Herpetology Museum – Home to turtles, fish, frogs, snakes and more.
  • Nature Study Museum – Home to specimens originally from the Museum of Natural History
  • Geology Museum – Offers information on local geology and the Hudson Highlands.
  • History Museum – Information about colonial and Native American history.

There is also a statue of Walt Whitman at the Trailside Museums & Zoo.

HOURS:
Daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm; Bears leave exhibit at 4 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
ADMISSION:
Suggested donation $1 p/p

Bear Mountain Swimming Pool

The Bear Mountain swimming pool season from late June through the beginning of September.

Hundreds enjoy swimming and splashing at the Bear Mountain Swimming Pool. Open during the summer season, this is a popular destination for many looking to cool off.

HOURS:
Weekdays: 10 am – 5:30 pm
Weekends & Holidays: 11 am – 6:30 pm
ADMISSION:
$2 per person

Various Hiking & Walking Trails

The Bear Mountain hiking region is extensive and impressive. Wit over 50 trails covering more than 200 acres, you are sure to find one that you can enjoy.

Trails at bear mountain zoo

For your convenience, you can download the Bear Mountain trail map and plan your hike before your visit.

Their website also offers some information on Bear Mountain suggested hikes in the state park with descriptions and highlights.

Hiking at the Bear Mountain Zoo

Visit the Bear Mountain Inn

Whether it’s for an overnight stay, a quick bite at the hiker’s cafe, dinner at Restaurant 1915 or Sunday brunch, a visit to the Bear Mountain Inn is in order.

Restaurant 1915 & the Blue Roof Bar are open to the public every day of the week. With spectacular views of the park and lake, this dining experience is unique in every way.

Hiker’s Cafe is located on the first floor of the Bear Mountain Inn and is a great place for a quick snack, soda, water, hot cocoa or ice cream.

Entrance to Bear Mountain Inn

If you’re interested in staying at Bear Mountain overnight, your choices include:

  • The Inn – 15 guestrooms ready to accommodate guests
  • Overlook Lodge – 24 guestrooms with some available guests with pets
  • Stone Cottages – a series of 4 cottages, each with 6 individual rooms and a common area.

Recently, the Bear Mountain Inn was used to film a Stephen King series. How cool is that?!?

Enjoy Summer Activities

With the abundance of outdoor space, there is no shortage of warm weather activities to enjoy.

Paddleboats on Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain State Park
  • Row Boat rentals – 11 am – 5 pm (weekdays) 11 am – 6 pm (weekends). Inquire at the Bear Mountain Inn
  • Paddleboat rentals – $10 per person/hour on Hessian Lake.
  • Biking
  • Playing Fields, including volleyball
  • Fishing (river & lake)
  • Playground Fun
  • Shaded Picnic Groves
  • Enjoy lake views

Visit the Iona Island/Doodletown Bird Conservation Area

See a bald eagle at the Iona Island National Estuary.

Located within the Bear Mountain State Parks and Harriman State Park, this area is important because it is home to endangered species and serves as a protected area where they can thrive.

Attend a Festival at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area

Popular events that take place at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area include the yearly Oktoberfest and Native American Pow-Wow.

Can you drive to the top of Bear Mountain?

A visit to the Perkins Tower by taking the Perkins Memorial Drive is the only way to drive to the summit.

It’s approximately 1,300 feet above sea level and is also approximately two miles up from the beginning of the drive.

I’ve heard that the views from the top are outstanding. I haven’t personally gone up yet, but plan to do so very soon, so stay tuned!

Swans at the bear mountain state park

TIPS FOR AN AMAZING VISIT TO BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK:
> There is plenty of space to explore at the Bear Mountain State Park, so plan to spend a few hours there during your visit.

> Bear Mountain State Park sees more visitors on the weekends than during the week.

> Although open during the week, many activities are not offered during the week during colder months.

> There is a parking fee regardless of the activity(ies) you plan to do that day. (See above for specific days of parking fee)

> Come prepared for anything. The weather may change quickly and you may be parked far from your location.

Read More:

10+ Must-See Things in Rockland County, NY

A visit to the Palisades Center Mall

Visiting West Point Museum & Visitor’s Center

Sharing is Caring!
When visiting local attractions, be sure to tell them that you found them on Hudson Valley Exposed!

Where to Next?

Now that you have information regarding activities to do at Bear Mountain State Park, let’s see where you should go next…

Be sure to zoom in and/or out in order to see all the locations.

Map Key for the Hudson Valley Exploring Map

Until the Next Adventure…

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