The Catskill Mountains are made up of about 100 mountain peaks that are over 3000 feet high. Also known as the Catskills, the mountains are located within the periphery of the Catskill Park. The Catskills were formed by sediments deposited during the Devonian and Mississippian period. The mountains stretch to a length of 179 km and a width of 164 km. They cover an estimated area of 15,259 sq km and are within the coordinates 41°59′55″N 74°23′11″W. Among the 100 Catskill Mountain peaks, 35 have peaks that soar above 3,500 feet high. The highest peak is called Slide Mountain. It is located in Ulster County and is 4,180 feet above the sea level.
Unique Features of the Catskill Mountains
The Catskill Mountains are a dissected plateau rather than a chain of mountain ranges. Some of its unique features include the following:
1. The Largest Zip Line in North America
The Catskill Mountains possess the largest zip line in North America. Located on Hunter Mountain, the New York Zipline is 650 feet long. Visitors can enjoy night zipping as part of the fun activities at the Catskills.
2. The Unique Bluestone
The landscape of the Catskill Mountains includes a unique stone known as the Bluestone. The Bluestone is a fine, distinctive, durable, and hard stone which is blue in color. It has been instrumental in the construction of the Big Apple icons such as Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
3. Varied Animal Species
The Catskill Mountains contains a large forest area which has proven to be an excellent habitat for many animals. Such animals include the porcupines, cougars, snakes, coyotes, black bears, foxes, and white-tailed deer. In fact, the Catskill Mountains are famous for having the highest black bear population in New York State. Furthermore, they also contain a large population of snakes that inhabit Ulster County and the Overlook Mountain Summit.
4. The Five Fire Towers
Twenty-three fire towers were built in the mountains between 1908 and 1950 to help spot and prevent forest fires. However, in 1970’s, airplanes were introduced to replace the towers. Consequently, the towers were demolished except for five that were upgraded and are now used as observation towers. These towers include Red Hill Fire Tower (2,990 ft), Overlook Mountain Tower (3,140 ft), Hunter Mountain Fire Tower (4,042 ft), Balsam Lake Mountain Tower (3,723 ft), and Tremper Mountain Fire Tower (2,740 ft).
5. Magnificent Waterfalls
The Catskill Mountains possesses the tallest two-tiered waterfall in New York State called the Kaaterskill Falls. The falls are located in Greene County. One tier is 180 feet high while the other tier is 80 feet high. The Kaaterskill Falls cascades 260 feet downwards resulting in a mesmerizing view.
Tourism to the Catskills
The unique features and landscape of the Catskill Mountains draw many tourists annually. Those who manage to climb the 35 mountain peaks that are above 3500 feet high become members of the prestigious Catskill 3500 Club. Some recreational and sports activities that one can enjoy at the Catskills Park include tubing, swimming, river canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, skiing and fly fishing.