The Gunks (short for Shawangunks) is one of America’s premier rock climbing areas. It’s just minutes from the towns of Kerhonkson, to the West and New Paltz, to the East that are 100 and 85 miles respectively from New York City. With it’s close proximity to the big city the area is a popular spot on the weekends, but much quieter during the week.
The climbing season runs from spring through fall and even as late as early December if the weather allows. Most of the Gunks are part of the Mohonk Preserve, a land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting the northern Shawangunk Ridge. 50,000 climbers visit each year and this figure shows how good the climbing is here for all skill levels.
There is a daily entry fee of $17 to climb but a season pass costs only $95 per adult and $50 per child (13-18). Additional adults from the same household pay $70 for a season pass. Prices, rules and membership details can be found at Mohonk Preserve.
The Mohonk Preserve also offers other activities apart from climbing with hiking, biking, horse riding, trail running, snowshoeing and cross country skiing making it a 365 days a year destination for active types.
For those climbers looking for climbing instruction we recommend using the services of the premier climbing instruction outfitter in the area, Alpine Endeavors owned and run by local climber Marty Molitoris. They also offer some great ice climbing instruction further north in the Catskill Mountains, a 40-minute drive from Kerhonkson. Information about their excellent services can be found at Alpine Endeavors.
Accommodation is pretty limited in Kerhonkson and New Paltz so we recommend staying at the Gunks Mountain Cabin based in Kerhonkson, about a 15-minute drive to the park entrance. This large cabin can sleep up to 6 people and is available all year round from weekend stays to full weekly rentals. The accommodation resembles the mountain refuge huts of Europe and leans heavily towards alpinism and rock climbing with its decor. The cabin features a 24 foot high indoor climbing wall for those unexpected rainy days and is a perfect venue to make your Gunks Base Camp.
More information and photos will be posted soon. The Gunks Mountain Cabin is expected to open Spring 2019.