camping catskill mountains

7 Best Places For Camping in The Catskill Mountains (RV Too)

There are countless places for camping in the Catskill Mountains (including for RV vehicles as well), but I want to share 7 specific places with you that are well worth staying at for numerous reasons and here are some:

  • They are close to one or more amazing mountains/hiking trails.
  • This list is a mix of free/paid campgrounds.
  • Some of these places are RV friendly (others require hiking into so if you don’t like RV areas, you have many choices here).

Here are the 7 best places for camping in the Catskill Mountains (RV sites too):

  1. North South Lake campgrounds.
  2. Sleepy Hollow campground.
  3. Woodland Valley Campground.
  4. Phoenicia Black Bear campground.
  5. Mink Hollow campground.
  6. Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds.
  7. Hunter West Kill Wilderness campgrounds.

Now it is important to note that camping in the Catskill Mountains is vast and there are over 1,000 available spots in the region. These 7 are mentioned because of their location, popularity and high ratings overall.

North South Lake campgrounds:

north south lake catskill mountains campground 09

  • Name: North South Lake Campgrounds.
  • Location: North South Lake NY.
  • Free campgrounds? No, up to $27 per night.
  • RV camping friendly? Yes.
  • Amenities? Yes: Showers, bathrooms and more.
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (or higher) by most users.

The North South Lake campgrounds are arguably the most popular in the entire Catskill Mountain region and this is one of the reasons why if you wish to stay there, you may have to reserve a spot months ahead of time (I’m talking 6+ months). There are dozens of camp sites here, with amenities included that I mentioned above.

A big reason why these campgrounds are so popular is because they are close to the actual North South Lakes, the famous Kaaterskill Falls and you also have access to the best hikes in the Catskills nearby. We’re talking Boulder Rock, Kaaterskill Falls trail, Sunset Rock, North Point and much more.

Side note: The main image for this article showcasing a beautiful sunset in the Catskill Mountains is close to North South Lake on a trail called the Escarpment trail (further south). I believe the name of the overlook is called Sunset Rock.

Sleepy Hollow campground:

sleepy hollow catskill mountains campground 02

  • Name: Sleepy Hollow campground.
  • Location: Near Phoenicia, Catskills.
  • Free campgrounds? No, up to $50 per night.
  • RV camping friendly? Yes.
  • Amenities? Yes, showers, RV hookups and more.
  • Rating: 4.4 out of 5 according to Google.

Sleepy Hollow campground is likely in the top 3 most popular campgrounds in the Catskills and aside from the name being recognizable, the reasons why this place is so popular is because of a few things:

  • It’s RV friendly.
  • It’s near a beautiful river and it’s mostly peaceful.
  • There’s a lot of attractions nearby and mountain hikes.
  • You get great “ground floor” views of the mountains around you.
  • And much more of course.

Woodland Valley campground:

woodland Valley catskill mountains campground

  • Name: Woodland Valley Campground.
  • Location: Near Ulster County Catskills.
  • Free campgrounds? No, up to $25 a night.
  • RV camping friendly? Yes.
  • Amenities? Only picnic tables.
  • Rating: 4.3 out of 5.

Woodland Valley Campground gets a lot of positive reviews from Catskill visitors and has a lot to offer in terms of it’s location. There are many popular hikes and great views in the area. Some of the hikes in particular include Giant Ledge trail and Slide Mountain Trail.

In my opinion both those trails are OK, but nothing amazing. The good news though is that each of them actually connects to other mountains and the same trails you take to reach each location further continues to the other mountains. With Giant Ledge, the next option is Panther Mountain while with Slide Mountain Trail, the next one is Cornell, then Wittenburg Mountains.

Phoenicia Black Bear campground:

Phoenicia Black Bear catskill mountains campground

  • Name: Phoenicia Black Bear campground.
  • Location: Near the town of Phoenicia.
  • Free campgrounds? No, up to $60+ a night.
  • RV camping friendly? Yes.
  • Amenities? Yes some.
  • Rating: 4+ out of 5.

I’ve become a big fan of visiting the small town of Phoenicia for it’s comfort and amenities and it just so happens that there is a popular/nice campground right by it. This one is right by Esopus creek which is more like a river on most days (also depends on the season and if it actually rains). You will get the same types of benefits from this campground as you would from Sleepy Hollow Campground (although that one is more popular). Now for a campground that is a bit deeper into the Catskill Mountains:

Mink Hollow campground:

mink hollow campground catskill mountains 01

  • Name: Mink Hollow Campground.
  • Location: In between Sugarloaf and Plateau Mountain.
  • Free campgrounds? Yes.
  • RV camping friendly? No.
  • Amenities? No, just a shelter and campground.
  • Rating: Mixed.

The reason I am adding this specific campground to this list is because it is less crowded (in most circumstances) and that’s because reaching Mink Hollow campground requires you hike to it. The closest parking lot which is the Mink Hollow trailhead from which you will need to hike about a mile to reach the campground itself.

This campground is also very close to the famous Devils Path trail, and some people who do that trail overnight stop at this campground. Be aware that even though you can hike here, that there are still important rules to follow. There have been numerous cases of people on this campground and others like it in the Catskills who violated these rules and were fined up to $250.

Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds:

rip van winkle catskill mountains campground

  • Name: Rip Van Winkle campground.
  • Location: Near Saugerties.
  • Free campgrounds? No, up to $98 per night depending on amenities. 
  • RV camping friendly? Yes.
  • Amenities? Yes.
  • Rating: 4.3 out of 5.

Rip Van Winkle campground is officially outside the Catskill Mountains, but it also is one of the few campgrounds that has a lot of amenities, beautiful views of the actual Catskills from a distance (but at sea level) and much more and this is why it is a bit more expensive to stay there than the other campgrounds on this list.

I’ve crossed this place a few times, but honestly didn’t realize it was a campground because I was actually do distracted by how awesome the views of the mountains were from the road. That itself is a reason why you may want to stay here, but do keep in mind that you may see a lot of other people too.

Hunter West Kill Wilderness campgrounds:

west kill mountain catskill mountains campground

The last campground on this list is also deep into what is one of the biggest mountains in the Catskills, that being West Kill Mountain. Now this campground is also in between that and Hunter Mountain and also a popular spot for people who hike the Devils Path trail.

Like the Mink Hollow campground which you had to hike to, so too do you need to do the same thing here. The closest road to park on is Spruceton Road from which you are allowed to do primitive camping, and there are sights on the main trails which show you where it’s possible to do that, but you still have to adhere to the main rules (150 feet from the trail for instance). One other thing about this campground is that it’s close to several beautiful trails, and one of the best Catskills waterfalls called Diamond Notch Falls.

Note: Be aware of ticks when camping out in the Catskills. There are simple ways to avoid tick bites.

Questions about camping in the Catskill Mountains:

Can you camp anywhere in Catskills?

You can camp almost anywhere in the Catskill Mountains (follow regulations), but it’s better to do in more established campgrounds for safety.

Where can I camp for free in the Catskills?

Just about anywhere 150 feet away from main areas like roads and trails in the Catskill Mountains.

Do you need a permit to camp in the Catskills?

Only if you plan to stay in any area of the Catskills for 3 nights or more, and, or if you have a large group of at least 10 people.

Have questions about camping in the Catskills or suggestions on which campgrounds are best?

I’d love to hear which places you recommend staying at if you’ve camped here!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *