Shawangunk Kill access at Hudson Valley River Camp
Best waterfront camping in the Catskills
Find the best camping by streams, lakes and swimming holes in the Catskills

We at Hudson Valley River Camp are constantly on the search for places in the Catskills where you can both camp and swim, and we share our discoveries here and in our related post Best waterfront campsites in the Hudson Valley.

(You'll see a few places on both lists since there is some ambiguity around where the Hudson Valley ends and the Catskills begin.)

Our priorities here were as follows: The water has to be clean. You have to be allowed to actually go in the water. And swimming pools don't count.

We're dividing our list between secluded small campsites, larger state parks, and family/resort style campsites so you can find the best campsite to fit your needs. We'll continue to add more campsites and campgrounds as we find them.

Secluded and/or primitive natural Catskills campsites with waterfront camping

Most campsites in this category are privately owned, although there are a few state campsites that also qualify as secluded properties. The advantage of privately owned small campsites is availability - state campgrounds tend to fill up quickly - and seclusion in most cases. You won't be packed into a crowded campsite like you will at most state parks. Private secluded campsites also offer some unique options - like camping on a farm or in an apple orchard. Cost is about the same or sometimes more than a state site. The disadvantage is dealing with the unknowns - running a small private campsite has a low threshold of entry, so pretty much anybody can list their land as a campground.

Hudson Valley riverfront campsite
Shawangunk Kill at Hudson Valley River Camp

Hudson Valley River Camp

Wallkill, New York

OK. So it says Hudson Valley River Camp, and this is a Catskills listing. This Ulster County campground is technically in both - either the mid-Hudson Valley or the Eastern Catskills, depending on your point of view. Either way, this is a beautiful area that is closer to New York City than much of the Catskills.

This secluded bird sanctuary features three dispersed campsites along the Shawangunk Kill and Dwaar Kill. These are minimal impact campsites, so you get the back country camping experience without driving half a day to get there. And it only takes about 20 minutes to hike in. With 80 acres to roam and only three sites, you will have plenty of space to yourself.

Sites are $50 a night and you receive a starter supply of firewood, firepits and portable camp toilets. Your fee helps to sustain the bird sanctuary from development and logging. You can hike, swim or birdwatch (Bald eagles nest here.) Nearby attractions include Angry Orchard, Minnewaska State Park, Sam's Point, and Mohonk Preserve.

Credit: Taino Woods

Taino Woods Sanctuary

Harris, New York

You can primitive tent camp right along the East Mongaup River at two dispersed campsites. For $95 a night, you also have access to showers and toilets. They also have two bell tent sites for $135 to $185 a night. Seclusion and nature are the features of these campsites. Book on Hipcamp.

Credit: Neversink Hideaway

Neversink Hideaway

Fallsburg, New York

This Catskills property offers a single campsite on 20 acres with access to the always beautiful Neversink River. Currently, the introductory pricing is $10. As with many campsites, there are no amenities, just a firepit and a lot of lovely nature. Book on Hipcamp.

Credit: Upper Esopus Creekside Camp

Upper Esopus Creekside Camp

Big Indian, New York

This 100-acre property with a view of the Catskills Mountains has one RV or tent campsite for up to 14 people. The camp has several tent sites with individual fire rings, as well as a bunkhouse and a lean-to for day use. Around $130 a night for six guests. Book on Hipcamp or Tentrr.

Credit: The Sanctuary at Blossom Dell

The Sanctuary At Blossom Dell

Bloomingburg, NY

This campground offers five sites on 75 acres with most being along the Shawangunk Kill. More sites are being added but the owners say that sites are at least 100 feet apart. If you don't mind plastic chairs, you'll enjoy the clean waters of the Shawangunk Kill. Book on Hipcamp.

Credit: Little Pond Campground from Trip Advisor contributor

Little Pond Campground

Andes, NY

Little Pond is going to get two mentions in our listing. That's because it has a big well-equipped standard campground but it is also the rare state campground that has some primitive camping. Little Pond has eight secluded campsites on the far side of the 13-acre pond that you can hike or boat to. Sites are about $25. Book on Reserve America.

Credit: Devil's Tombstone from Discover Upstate New York

Devil's Tombstone

This creepily named state park on Notch Lake is actually stunning, and you can camp here for only $15-$20. It's a little unfair to list this one since you're on the water but you technically can't swim here. (Swimming is allowed at nearby North-South Lake.)  This is a small primitive campground with wooded sites and shallow Notch Lake. The campground is an ideal base camp for serious mountain hikers. Book on Reserve America.

Catskill region state parks with waterfront camping

State-run campsites with waterfront or water access camping abound in the Catskills. And they are affordable - most sites will only run you about $25 a night. You'll have quick access to amazing hiking and in most cases, swimming and boating. The main disadvantage is that these campgrounds are big and crowded. You just can't get the full nature experience when you share space with a hundred other campers.

Credit: Beaverkill Campground from See/Swim

Beaverkill Campground

Roscoe, NY

The campground is located along the Beaverkill Stream, which is famous for trout fishing. The sites run $20-$25 and includes more than 80 tent and trailer sites (20 sites along the river). So solitude is not an option here. Amenities include a picnic area with tables and grills, flush toilets, hot showers, pay phone, trailer dump station, recycling center, firewood sales, mobility impaired accessibility, and a historic covered bridge. Book on Reserve America.

Credit: Little Pond Campground Trip Advisor contributor

Little Pond Campground

Andes, NY

The camping fee is about $25 and includes 67 tent and trailer sites and 8 remote tent sites. The 13-acre pond has apicnic area with tables, grills, or fireplaces; pavilion rental; playground; volleyball; horseshoes; soccer; basketball; ice sales; firewood sales; flush toilets; hot showers; trailer dump station; recycling center; sand beach; boat launch; rowboat, paddle boat, kayak and canoe rentals. Book on Reserve America.

Credit: Mongaup Pond from I Love NY

Mongaup Pond

Livingston, NY

Mongaup is the largest body of water in the Catskill park (if you don't count reservoirs).  It features dense forest, large wooded campsites, and a lake with swimming, picnic area, and boat rentals. There are more than 160 tent and trailer sites, picnic area with tables and grills, picnic pavilion rental, pay phones, flush toilets, hot showers, trailer dump station, recycling center, wheelchair accessible, sand beach, and boat launch. You definitely won't have the place to yourself. Sites run about $25 a night. Book at Reserve America.

Credit: Woodland Valley Campground from Discover Upstate New York

Woodland Valley Campground

Phoenicia, NY

This state campground offers 70 tent and RV sites for $20 to $25. Some sites are along Woodland Stream. Amenities include a picnic area with tables and grills, flush toilets, hot showers, trailer dump station, recycling center, and pay phone. Book on Reserve America.

Large resort-style campsites and campgrounds in the Catskills with waterfront camping

Credit: Neversink River Resort

Neversink River Resort

This campground features a variety of cabins, tiny homes, RV sites and tent campsites with various amenities. A riverfront tent site with electric is $65. With 167 sites, this campground is hardly secluded, but we can vouch for the beauty of the Neversink River.

Credit: Butternut Grove Campsites

Butternut Grove Campsites

Roscoe, NY

This tent and RV campground sits along the Beaverkill creek, which is famous for trout fishing. Tent spots run about $40 a night and waterfront RV sites are around $70 a night. Amenities include hot showers, laundry, fire rings and picnic tables. Firewood and ice are available for sale.

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park

Gardiner, New York, Ulster County

It's a bit of a stretch to include this popular campground. The featured river is a lazy river ride connected to a swimming pool, so not exactly a natural experience. However, this campground and waterpark is loads of outdoor fun for kids and it offers some activities on the Wallkill River like fishing. They also offer rustic campsites along the Wallkill River with access to restrooms for about $150 a night. No Saturday arrivals, and you have to book at least two nights in the summer.

Thousand Trails Rondout Valley

Accord, NY

This predominately RV campground includes a few tent sites along Millbrook Stream and Rochester Creek and all the amenities of a large campground with more than 100 sites. Tent sites run about $80 a night.

Spring Glen Campground

Spring Glen, New York

This is an RV friendly campground with some tent camping. Some sites are along the Homowack Kill.

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