America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Mohonk Mountain House, New York
Only ninety miles north of the hustle and bustle of the metropolis of New York sits a Victorian resort that boggles the modern mind. Reminiscent of the San Diego gem Hotel del Coronado, but with a lake south of the Catskills not a beach leading to the Pacific Ocean, Mohonk Mountain House has been accepting visitors since 1869 when the Smiley family saw the potential of the cliffs above Mohonk Lake as a respite from the vagaries of pre-1900 life. Today, you can still stay in those rooms, walk the trails in the surrounding thousands of acres that rise above and below it, and ply the waters of the lake. You might even sing to a loved one on a rowboat. Good voice optional, parasaul recommended. Photo above: Mohonk Mountain House, Northeast View, 1979, Jack E. Boucher, Historic American Buildings Survey. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Mohonk Mountain House
This year, it's the 150th Anniversary of Mohonk Mountain House, one hundred and fifty years since Albert and Alfred Smiley, Quakers by religion, bought a small ten room inn named Stokes Tavern on the lake and three hundred acres in the Hudson Valley for under $30,000. It's grown significantly since then and been visited by five presidents (Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton), hosted Native American conferences as well as Conferences on International Arbitration, and now has two hundred and fifty-nine rooms on over one thousand acres. Yes, the rooms are expensive, ... really expensive. Acreage, including the next door Mohonk Preserve, less so, but still a bit recreation pricey.
The hotel is now run by fourth and fifth generation Smileys since their opening for forty guests in June of 1870. The Mohonk Preserve is now part of a trust to permanantly protect the trails and viewsheds surrounding it. Even if you don't want to stay here, there are day fees for all those trails to walk and vistas to peruse.
Photo above: Mohonk Mountain House on Lake Mohonk, 1900-6, Detroit Publishing Company. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Mohonk Mountain House, 2011, Fred Hsu. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Where Is It
Mohonk Mountain House is located in New Paltz, New York, in the Shawungunk Mountains. Somewhat over two hours from New York City up Interstate 87 and 287. From New Paltz itself, it's Route 299, Main Street, west to Springfield Road, then Mountain Rest Road, which morphs into Mohonk Road. Look for signs from here for both Mohonk Mountain House and the Mohonk Preserve.
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What is There Now
Mohonk Mountain House has two hundred and fifty-nine rooms, an outdoor ice skating rink, indoor pools, Barn Museum on Mohonk History, House Tours, and a spa.
How Much to Visit
Yikes!! Accommodations start at $765 per night.
Day Pass for the Mohonk Mountain House and its activities cost from $22-27 for a hiking pass, and other charges for horse back riding, golf, or tennis. Beach swimming and pool only for overnight guests. You can eat here without staying, but reservations are required.
The Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center is free to visit for all, but the grounds are only free for members. Costs for others for a day pass are $15 and up, depending on your activity.
For those who want to see the resort, but are a bit aghast at those prices for a hike, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve may be a better alternative. It has a $10 per vehicle fee as of 2019.
Mohonk Mountain House
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
You're in an area of New York with much recreation and history. From Coopertown to the history of the Erie Canal, as well as the American Revolution and the French and Indian War.