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Home » News » DEC encourages visitors to the Catskills to ‘love our New York lands’ and practice safe, sustainable recreation

DEC encourages visitors to the Catskills to ‘love our New York lands’ and practice safe, sustainable recreation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding visitors to the Peekamoose Blue Hole, and other popular areas including Kaaterskill Clove, to safely and responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without endangering public safety or negatively impacting natural resources. This season, increased visitation to these popular areas is resulting in unsafe parking and hiking, and increased rescues, trash, and other environmental damage. DEC is encouraging all New Yorkers to practice safe and responsible recreation to protect themselves and others.

“The Catskills offer beautiful natural treasures that attract people from across the state and country, and DEC wants to continue to share these experiences,” said Commissioner Seggos. “That’s why we’re continuing to work with our partners to promote sustainable use and ensure we protect this special place. Being prepared, following the local and state requirements for public lands, and preventing damage to our trails and waterways are among the steps visitors can take to help protect themselves and the Catskills for generations to come.”

DEC is observing a continued increase in visitation to Peekamoose Blue Hole by users without the required permit, as well as unsafe parking and trash. Last year, DEC updated regulations as part of an ongoing effort to improve public safety and reduce environmental impacts in the area. A permit is required for all visitors to the Peekamoose Blue Hole and the nearby corridor along the Rondout Creek, including campers, picnickers, hikers, and anglers. Visitors need a permit seven days a week including holidays from May 15 through Sept. 15. Current regulations include:

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

  • Visitors are required to obtain a permit for a $10 fee through Reserve America, consistent with fees for other DEC recreation-oriented Day Use Areas in the Forest Preserve;
  • The permit must be displayed when on site;
  • Parking in designated parking areas only. Parking along the shoulder of the road is prohibited by the town and is a tow away zone;
  • Permits must list the names of all members of the visiting party when making the reservation. Names can be changed up to one day in advance;
  • Prohibit alcohol and coolers larger than 12 inches in any dimension at the Blue Hole. Limited use will be allowed at nearby designated camping areas only; and
  • Camping permits are now required to reserve primitive tent sites in the Lower, Middle, and Upper fields. Visit Reserve America’s website to make a reservation.

The Blue Hole is open to permit holders from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset, except for designated camp sites nearby. Users are required to use portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste. In addition, the following activities and items are prohibited (with limited use allowed at the nearby designated camping area only):

  • Camping;
  • All fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves or other portable stoves);
  • Use of portable generators;
  • Glass containers; and
  • Radios and other audio devices.

DEC continues its expanded outreach to connect with visitors before they plan and prepare their visit, including:

  • Real-time alerts on twitter via @NYSDECAlerts for the Peekamoose Blue Hole and Peekamoose camping sites;
  • Posting the DEC Catskill Outdoor Bulletin on the backcountry information website.
  • Offering the DEC webpage in Spanish, English, and other languages;
  • Providing outreach on the permit system to websites that highlight the Blue Hole;
  • Coordinating with New York State Department of Transportation to place variable message boards on both roads that lead into the Blue Hole with information about permit requirements; and
  • Developing signs in both English and Spanish at the parking area and at the Peekamoose Blue Hole trailhead.

DEC continues to work with many partners including the Catskill Visitor Center, which provides the public with valuable information about the permit system and how to obtain a permit before their visit. The Center also produced a radio ad airing in the area to help explain the permit system. To complement the DEC Forest Rangers and Assistant Forest Rangers that patrol and are posted at the Blue Hole, the Catskill Center has two stewards at the location five days a week, including weekends and holidays. Stewards work to check permits, provide information about the special regulations, and educate visitors who arrive at these sites without a permit on how to obtain one for their next visit.

“Educating visitors about responsible recreation in the Catskills is what we do at the Catskills Visitor Center and through our Catskill Stewards Program at high-use areas in the Catskill Park, including the Peekamoose Blue Hole. We have heard directly from our staff about how challenging this year is given an increasing number of visitors, especially those visitors unaware of the permit system,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. “We look forward to strengthening our partnership and collaboration with the DEC to better educate and direct visitors both before they arrive in the Catskills, and once they are here. We urge all visitors to the Catskill Park to make the Catskills Visitor Center in Mount Tremper their first stop. Once there, they will find helpful staff, informative exhibits, and free information that will help them responsibly recreate across the Catskill Park.”

The requirements specific to the Peekamoose Blue Hole are part of a comprehensive effort DEC launched to encourage safe, sustainable use in the Catskills and Adirondacks earlier this summer. This includes DEC’s Love Our New York Lands campaign with information for visitors to do their part to protect State lands by encouraging sustainable use and inspiring the shared sense of responsibility and ownership of these resources. In addition, the campaign interprets the seven Leave No Trace™ principles, which provide a framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors, particularly unfamiliar audiences who may be new to hiking.

If there are no Peekamoose Blue Hole permits available for a particular day, DEC encourages visitors to develop a list of alternate locations for their outdoor adventure. Examples of opportunities for recreation within 75 miles of Blue Hole include:

Belleayre Beach  

Kenneth L. Wilson Campground

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Mongaup Pond Campground

Bear Spring Mountain Campground

Little Pond Campground

Lake Superior State Park

Visitors are encouraged to get the latest information about these and other destinations in the Catskills by visiting the DEC and New York State Parks websites and the Catskills Visitor Center at 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, NY; (845) 688 -3369;