From Rip Van Winkle to the Hudson Valley Art Trail - Enriching Experiences Await in the Catskills Greene County, N.Y. - The Great Northern Catskills of Greene County are home to some of America's most recognizable landscapes, beloved literary characters and richest cultural enclaves - all within two hours north of New York City. Go hiking in the Catskill Park and discover the views that made the Hudson River School artists famous, journey through history with Rip Van Winkle and drive to the "Painted Village in the Sky" for an afternoon of arts and entertainment. Hiking the Hudson River School of Art Trail Greene County is home to the Hudson River School of Art, an artistic movement that began in the early 1800s, blossoming into the nation's first distinctive artistic style - and it all started in the small village of Catskill thanks to a visionary Brit named Thomas Cole. Cole and his contemporaries captivated audiences with their idealized depictions of nature, earning fame, and in some cases fortune, for their paintings of the Catskills' vast wilderness. Today, the school's legacy continues at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and along the Hudson River Art Trail. Tour Cole's studio and home, and explore the unchanged vistas captured by painters nearly two centuries ago along the Hudson River School Art Trail, a series of 17 hiking trails that wind through the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains. Along the first nine trails, plaques have been installed with information about the artist who made the spot famous, allowing visitors to experience a unique and immersive outdoor arts adventure. Greene County's Literary Legacy - Washington Irving's Lovable Lush Since the early 1800s, the Catskills have been the honorary home to a lazy figment of famed author Washington Irving's imagination - Rip Van Winkle. Written in 1819, Irving penned the tale without ever having visited the Catskills. However, his research and descriptions of the area's mountains and cloves - deep gorges or valleys carved into the mountains - was spot on thanks to diligent research. Today, Rip lives on in festivals, landscapes and arts programs, including:
- The 8th Annual Rip Van Winkle Wine Festival - Slated for May 10 at the Historic Catskill Point on the Hudson River, enjoy yummy treats and wine tastings featuring a variety of wineries, distilleries, treats, crafts and goods. Tickets are $20.
- The Rip Van Winkle History Trail - Explore the Catskills' historic attractions and literary legacy, from the Bronck Museum, home to the Hudson Valley's oldest home and a 13-sided barn, to the Pratt Museum, offering a treasure trove of historical exhibits. Don't miss the short hike to Pratt's Rock, "America's First Mount Rushmore," to follow in the footsteps of Rip's legacy and journey into the past.
- Hunter Mountain SkyRide Tour - Rip can also be found at the summit of Hunter Mountain, where a larger-than-life stone carving of the slumbering man greets visitors after a scenic trip on the Kaatskill Flier chairlift. Available May through October.