The Catskill Mountains lie in southeastern New York State. The area is known for the Catskill Forest Preserve, with its rich wildlife and hiking trails, and ski resorts including Hunter Mountain and Belleayre Mountain. The Catskills are located approximately 100 miles north-northwest of New York City and 40 miles southwest of Albany, starting west of the Hudson River.
- The Catskills occupy much or all of five counties: (Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster), with some areas falling into the boundaries of southwestern Albany, eastern Broome, northwestern Orange, and southern Otsego counties. Foothills are also found in southeastern Chenango, southern Montgomery, northern Otsego, and western Schenectady counties.
- Geologically, the Catskills are a mature dissected plateau, a once-flat region subsequently uplifted and eroded into sharp relief by watercourses.
- The mountains were made famous through Washington Irving’s short stories about the legendary Rip Van Winkle, who supposedly took his long nap near the town of Catskill, on the Hudson River at the eastern entrance to the park.
- Although the Catskills are sometimes compared with the Adirondack Mountains farther north, the two mountain ranges are not geologically related, as the Adirondacks are a continuation of the Canadian Shield. Similarly, the Shawangunk Ridge, which forms the southeastern edge of the Catskills, is part of the geologically distinct Ridge-and-Valley province and is a continuation of the same ridge known as Kittatinny Mountain in New Jersey and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania.
- Tourism and outdoor recreation are popular in Catskill Park (1,100 square miles), which includes the state-owned Catskill Forest Preserve (450 square miles), and in the more accessible, privately owned parts of the mountains.