Boasting the greatest vertical drop on the East Coast, Whiteface Mountain is a must-visit for daredevil travelers. A hub for a variety of sports (the mountain has twice hosted the Winter Olympics), this Lake Placid location features 27 diverse trails ranging in experience level and used for everything from skiing to hiking. With its steep drops and tight turns, Whiteface Mountain is particularly popular with downhill mountain bikers. Expert riders can board the Cloudsplitter Gondola to reach the summit of Little Whiteface before taking the 2,500-foot (762-meter) verticle plunge.
While Mount Marcy isn’t technically challenging, you won’t want to underestimate this massive mountain in the Adirondack Park. At 5,344 feet (1,629 meters) tall, Marcy is the tallest mountain in all of New York. You’ll need stamina for this one: even the most experienced of hikers can expect a six- to seven-hour journey to summit—and the mountain isn’t recommended at all for amateur or young hikers. Still, the stunning vistas at the top of this rock as well as its rare, endangered vegetation make the trek worthwhile.
Just a stone’s throw from extravagant outdoor glamping sites is an opportunity for adventure. Backcountry camping, or camping with little to no amenities, is all the rage in New York’s Catskills, home to numerous diverse campgrounds. Set up shop at Devil’s Tombstone Campground, one of the oldest in the Catskill Forest Preserve, for access to the 21-mile (33.7-kilometer) Devil’s Path Trail. Or hold your horses—literally—at Bear Spring Mountain Campground, a 41-tent site offering accommodations for animals. Wherever you choose to rough it, be sure to follow the rules that the Department of Environmental Conservation put in place to protect backcountry campers.
Whitewater rivers, or rivers where rapids naturally occur, are abundant in New York State. Categorized by five different classes, with Class I being the least challenging and Class V being the most, these rivers allow adventurers to choose their difficulty level. Both the Moose River, one of the most difficult in the Adirondacks, and the Black River offer whitewater rafting and tubing from Class IV to Class V, while the Hudson River ranges from Class III to Class V. For the fastest and most challenging whitewater experience, time your trip for April, when the rapids are at their most turbulent.
Some of the top freshwater diving sites in the Northeast can be found in—or below—New York State. Visitors can experience wreck, deep, and historical scuba diving along the Seaway Trail, a 518-mile (833-kilometer) National Scenic Byway in America’s northeast. Dive deep into 18th-century American history as you explore the wreckage of hundreds of ships dating back to the 1700s, relics of the shipping industry’s heyday.
Home to three major mountain ranges, New York is a rock climber’s paradise. There’s no shortage of climbing sites in the Adirondack, Catskill, and Appalachian Mountains, all of which host rocks with varying difficulty levels, characteristics, and views.