A premiere recreational destination
Just an hour-and-a-half drive from the heart of Manhattan, Minnewaska’s stunning geological features and abundant natural beauty have long attracted diverse users to its gates. With its dramatic cliffs, renowned carriage roads and devoted visitors, it’s easy to forget that Minnewaska State Park is less than 40 years old.
Over the past 30 years, by way of 40 transactions, OSI has added more than 13,000 acres to the park, more than doubling its size and making it the state’s third-largest park. Then in 2020, we fundraised over $3 million toward the Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center. Read more about our work on the Visitor Center here.
All told, our transactions have included key conservation areas such as:
- Sam’s Point, an area identified as one of the state’s Open Space Plan priority projects and one of the highest summits in the range
- The stunning and dramatic 100-ft Stony Kill Falls
- The Witch’s Hole Conservation Area, a deep ravine, stream and waterfalls
Creating a network
Over the past several years, we have fundraised and completed restoration of more than 12 miles of the 35-mile network of Victorian-era carriage roads at the park, including the crushed bluestone paths of the Hamilton Point Carriage Road, the Castle Point Carriage Road, the High Point Carriage Road, and a portion of the Old Smiley Carriage Road.
In 2018, we opened the River-to-Ridge Trail, a six-mile loop that connects the Village of New Paltz to the Shawangunk Ridge, with local partners. Owned and managed by OSI, the trail is providing hikers, walkers, cyclists and others direct access to 85 miles of historic carriage roads and trails at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Restoring Minnewaska’s Smiley Carriage Road
Now that OSI has completed the $1.9 million restoration of the Smiley Carriage Road at Minnewaska State Park, visitors are able to enjoy this part of the park like never before. Check out this video for a preview of the breathtaking views before heading to the park to experience it for yourself!
Building a legacy
In 2015, we launched a partnership with New York State that will grow on our work at Minnewaska and make the park even more accessible to new visitors.
When Governor Andrew launched a plan to create a much-needed gateway experience at Minnewaska, we pledged to raise private funds towards a new visitor center that will help accommodate the growing number of visitors to the stunning park.
OSI fundraised more than $3 million, leveraging the support of private donors, local community leaders, and champions of conservation to match the State’s commitment to the new visitor center.
The Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center debuted in 2020, with OSI playing a major role in the design of the striking building and inspiring interior space. In addition to supporting the visitor center’s construction, OSI also created exhibits that match the splendor of Minnewaska and will elevate the public's overall experience of this beloved park.
Capturing the park’s role
We also commissioned a visitor survey that revealed Minnewaska’s huge role as a regional tourism destination, with 52 percent of visitors originating from counties immediately outside the park, mainly from New York City.
The report demonstrates conclusively that Minnewaska’s dramatic cliffs and gorges and spectacular carriage roads attract diverse visitor groups, and serve as an invaluable place to unwind.
Read The Pulse of Parks – Minnewaska State Park Preserve to learn more about the park’s unique role as a regional outdoors destination and important economic driver for local businesses.