New York State is more than just the bustling streets of New York City; it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who crave the thrill of overlanding and the serenity of camping. Whether you’re a seasoned overlander or a novice camper, New York offers an array of landscapes, from the rugged Adirondack Mountains to the scenic Catskills, ensuring an unforgettable adventure. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best spots and tips for overlanding and camping in New York.

The Allure of Overlanding in New York

Overlanding is the art of self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is just as important as the destination. Unlike traditional road trips, overlanding involves off-road driving and camping, requiring a blend of driving skills, survival techniques, and a spirit of adventure.

What Makes New York Ideal for Overlanding?

Diverse Landscapes: New York’s varied topography includes mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers, providing a dynamic playground for overlanders.

Rich History and Culture: As you traverse the state, you can explore historical landmarks, small towns with unique charm, and cultural sites.

Seasonal Variety: Each season brings its own beauty and challenges, from vibrant fall foliage to serene winter landscapes.

Top Overlanding Routes in New York

The Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondacks are a premier destination for overlanding, offering hundreds of miles of trails and roads. Key spots include:

  • Moose River Plains: Known for its expansive trail system, Moose River Plains offers 65 miles of dirt roads perfect for overlanding. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Piseco-Powley Road: This scenic route provides a mix of rugged terrain and beautiful vistas, ideal for overlanders seeking both challenge and beauty.

The Catskill Mountains

The Catskills, closer to New York City, are another excellent location for overlanders. Highlights include:

  • Rondout Reservoir Loop: This route offers stunning views of the reservoir and surrounding forests. The loop can be navigated by most off-road vehicles and offers several spots for primitive camping.
  • Catskill Scenic Byway: While more accessible, this byway provides a picturesque drive with opportunities to venture off the beaten path.

Essential Gear for Overlanding in New York

Vehicle and Equipment

  • 4WD Vehicle: A reliable 4WD vehicle is essential for tackling the rugged terrain of New York’s backcountry.
  • Recovery Gear: Items such as a winch, tow straps, and a high-lift jack are crucial for self-recovery in case you get stuck.
  • Navigation Tools: GPS devices, maps, and a compass are vital for navigating remote areas where cell service may be unreliable.

Camping Gear

  • Tent or Roof Top Tent: Choose a durable tent that can withstand various weather conditions. Roof top tents offer convenience and safety.
  • Sleeping Bag and Pad: Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag rated for the temperatures you’ll encounter, and a comfortable sleeping pad.
  • Cooking Supplies: A portable stove, cookware, and utensils are essential for preparing meals. Don’t forget to pack enough food and water.

Tips for a Successful Overlanding and Camping Trip

Planning and Preparation

  • Research Your Route: Study maps and resources to plan your route and identify potential camping spots. 4WDTalk Jeep Forum is excellent for gathering insights and advice from experienced overlanders.
  • Check the Weather: Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in mountainous regions. Always check the forecast and prepare for unexpected changes.
  • Pack Smart: Bring only what you need to avoid overloading your vehicle. Prioritize safety, comfort, and practicality.

On the Trail

  • Respect the Environment: Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Pack out all trash and avoid disturbing wildlife.
  • Stay on Designated Trails: Straying off marked trails can damage sensitive ecosystems and lead to getting lost.
  • Drive Carefully: Off-road driving requires patience and skill. Take your time, navigate obstacles carefully, and know your vehicle’s limits.

Camping Etiquette

  • Choose Established Campsites: Whenever possible, use existing campsites to reduce your impact on the environment.
  • Quiet Hours: Respect fellow campers by keeping noise levels down, especially at night.
  • Campfire Safety: If campfires are allowed, always follow local regulations and ensure your fire is fully extinguished before leaving.

Top Camping Spots in New York

State Parks and Campgrounds

  • Letchworth State Park: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth offers spectacular views, hiking trails, and well-maintained campgrounds.
  • Allegany State Park: This park features a variety of camping options, from tent sites to cabins, and is ideal for both novice and experienced campers.

Backcountry Camping

For those seeking a more remote experience, backcountry camping in the Adirondacks or Catskills offers solitude and a closer connection to nature.

  • High Peaks Wilderness Area: This area in the Adirondacks is perfect for backcountry enthusiasts, offering rugged terrain and stunning mountain views.
  • Slide Mountain Wilderness: Located in the Catskills, this area offers challenging hikes and remote campsites.

Safety Considerations

  • Emergency Preparedness: Always carry a first-aid kit, emergency supplies, and a reliable means of communication.
  • Wildlife Awareness: Be aware of wildlife in the area, such as bears. Store food securely and follow local guidelines for wildlife encounters.
  • Health and Hygiene: Bring enough water for drinking and cleaning, and pack biodegradable soap and a portable toilet if necessary.


Overlanding and camping in New York offer an unparalleled adventure, combining the thrill of off-road driving with the tranquility of nature. Whether you’re exploring the majestic Adirondacks, the picturesque Catskills, or any of the state’s other stunning regions, New York has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. Remember to prepare thoroughly, respect the environment, and embrace the journey. Happy overlanding!

Join the conversation and share your experiences on the 4WDTalk Jeep Forum, where you can connect with fellow overlanders and campers to exchange tips, routes, and stories.