Perkins Memorial Drive, in Bear Mountain State Park, is a scenic road, pretty to drive in its own right, slowly revealing the views as you climb the mountainside. It also will take you to a place that will take your breath away, the summit of Bear Mountain. In fact, the views of the Hudson River and the Hudson Valley need to be on your bucket list. So pack a picnic for this worthy daytrip destination!
Folks flocked to the drive since the 1930s, when the euphoria of a newly mobile society valued anything that could be gotten to or seen via the automobile. In just 2 months in 1935, nearly 10,000 cars from 26 states and 2 Canadian provinces visited the drive. And it was worth the driving. At the top, they would picnic in the shade of the trees whipped by the winds that blew along the ridge. They would climb the 40-foot tower. And they would sit on the rocks and enjoy the million-dollar views of the world below the 1305-foot summit.
Today, beautiful wooden benches invite you to sit a while, contemplating the beautiful view. There are a lot of people around, even on a weekday afternoon in early spring, but it felt as if we were alone, lost in our thoughts.
The Tower at Bear Mountain State Park
In the center of it all, is Perkins Memorial Tower, from which you can see four states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. And what a view! On a clear day, you can see forever — or at least the skyline of Manhattan, 40 miles to the south. Both the road and tower were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1932 and 1934.
Inside, the tiled walls share vintage photographs and factoids that tell the history of Bear Mountain State Park. The tiles also present a puzzle of sorts, asking questions that can be answered through the photos displayed throughout the tower.
Know Before You Go
Getting there: major GPS apps will recognize Perkins Memorial Drive, Highlands, NY
Hours: The tour is open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., daily.
Website: State Park