Croton Gorge Unique Area Recreation Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to Croton Gorge Unique Area? Here are our top recommendations.

The Croton Gorge Unique Area, located in the town of Cortlandt, N.Y., has traditionally offered opportunities for visitors to connect with the outdoors in a spot offering scenic views of the Croton River.

In Summer 2020, the Trail Conference established a presence of Stewards at the Croton Gorge Unique Area during weekends and holidays to inform visitors about the current conditions and to provide them with appropriate alternative resources. In 2020, the Area was temporarily closed in response to COVID. 

In 2021, now that the Area is open, the Stewards will engage with and educate the visitors about the regulations that are designed to make the Area safe for all, including the prohibition of fires, playing loud music, restriction of hours from sunrise to sunset and the use of alcohol as well as cautionary information about the risks of swimming in an unsupervised area that is known for hidden swift currents. In addition, they will monitor the attendance at the riverside in order to ensure that the Area does not become dangerously overcrowded. 

When that happens, they will provide community members with appropriate alternatives to Croton Gorge Unique Area so that they can enjoy the benefits of being in nature that they are seeking. 

Here is some of that information: 

Best All-Around Alternative: Picnicking, Swimming, and Great Views

  • Bear Mountain State Park, Orange County, N.Y.
    • Bear Mountain State Park is a destination for many families. Bear Mountain offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, swimming, and much more!  Amenities include the Bear Mountain Inn, the Trailside Museums and Zoo, a merry-go-round, boating on Hessian Lake, pedestrian walkways, an outdoor pool, open playing fields, a bike path, accessible nature trails, seasonal festivals, Perkins Tower, and nearby Fort Montgomery State Historic Site. There are several large parking areas, but they can quickly fill on weekends and days when special events are scheduled.
    • Find directions to Bear Mountain State Park.
    • Fees: $10 per vehicle. Pool admission is $2 per person.
    • Download the Avenza Maps app map.

Picnic Alternatives

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, Westchester County, N.Y.
    • With a wide variety of scenic and spacious spots to picnic, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) State Park is a great local alternative with a lot to offer. FDR State Park offers opportunities for fishing, playing basketball, disc golf, or volleyball, boating (rentals available), and more! Bonus: The park's pool will be opening in early July.
    • Find directions to FDR State Park.
    • Fees: $10 per vehicle. Pool admission is $3 per person.
    • Download the Avenza Maps app map.
    • View free PDF map.
  • Kensico Dam Plaza, Westchester County, N.Y.
    • As a part of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Kensico Dam Plaza is a picturesque place for picnicking, walking, and enjoying nature. Parking is available, but please be advised that due to COVID-19, lots may intermittently close on high-volume days.
    • Find directions to Kensico Dam Plaza.
    • Fees: No fees.
    • Swimming is prohibited at Kensico Dam Plaza.
  • Lasdon Park, Arboretum, and Veterans Memorial County Park, Westchester County, N.Y.
    • Of all the lovely parks in Westchester County, Lasdon Park may be the most beautiful. To decide for yourself, visit this well-manicured park in the spring when trees and ornamental plants are in bloom and the place is ablaze with color. Truly a perfect place for a picnic, the park contains special collections of trees, including an azalea garden, magnolia grove, and dwarf conifer collection, as well as memorials to the armed forces. 
    • Find directions to Lasdon Park.
    • Fees: No fees.
    • Picnicking is only allowed in designated areas.

    Swimming Alternatives

    • Lake Tiorati Beach, Harriman State Park, Orange County, N.Y.

      • Located in Harriman State Park, Lake Tiorati Beach is a great option for scenic swimming. This lake is surrounded by meadows and rolling, wooded hills. Harriman State Park offers excellent swimming, fishing, boating, and picnicking.

      • Find directions to Lake Tiorati Beach.

      • Fees: $6 per vehicle applied on the following dates:

        • June 13 through June 21: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., weekends only.

        • June 22 through Aug. 23: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays.

        • Aug. 24 through Sept. 7, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends and holidays only.

      • Download the Avenza Maps app map.
    • Croton Point Park, Westchester County, N.Y.
      • Swimming is available to Westchester County residents only Wednesday through Sunday.
      • Mondays and Tuesdays the park is open to the general public, but no swimming is available.
      • Fees: $10 per vehicle.

    Scenic Alternatives

    • Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing, Westchester County, N.Y.
      • The Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing is located on the beautiful Hudson River and is accessible by train. With opportunities to picnic, walk, bike, fish, kayak, and enjoy nature, this park is an excellent alternative to Croton Gorge. With downtown Peekskill nearby, you'll have endless options for restaurants, breweries, and shops to choose from before heading home.
      • Find directions to Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing.
      • Fees: No fees.
    • Croton Gorge Park, Westchester County, N.Y.
      • Croton Gorge Park by the Croton Dam is open seven days a week.
      • Please be aware that the parking lot has limited capacity and may have to turn away additional visitors if it becomes full. 
      • Fees: $10 per vehicle.

    Photo credit: Jonathan Nettelfield.