Fall foliage Hudson River near Bear Mountain Bridge
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

The Hudson River begins in upstate New York, just above the state capital city of Albany and flows south to New York City. The river runs 315 miles and along the way there are many beautiful scenic views to enjoy.

Many of the most beautiful sights are located in the southern section of the river in Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. There are many lovely sections in the northern sections too, but since I'm most familiar with the southern portion of New York the focus in this piece will be on the lower Hudson River region.

Here are some top picks of the most beautiful scenic views along the lower section of the Hudson River:

Bear Mountain Bridge Scenic Overlook

Whether you come across the Bear Mountain Bridge from Rockland County or head towards the bridge from Westchester County, the designated lookout area across the river from Bear Mountain State Park has some spectacular views.

Fondly dubbed "the mountain road" by locals, the Bear Mountain Bridge Road is a two-lane road full of s-curves and sharp turns. (This is definitely a road you want to mind speed limits on because it is too risky, especially in wet or icy weather. Large icicles dripping off the rocky mountain and creating wet conditions on this road is very common in the winter).

As you reach up to the northern section of the road, not too far from where the road meets Route 9D and the Bear Mountain Bridge itself, you'll come to a look-out point. It is a small parking lot, but a popular one. No matter the season you're bound to see some incredible views from this look-out point.

View of Hudson River (looking west)
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Taken while standing at the scenic overlook located on Bear Mountain Bridge Road

West Point

The United States Military Academy is located on the western side of the river and also possesses some of the best views of the Hudson. Across the Hudson you are able to gaze upon the villages of Cold Spring and Garrison; at the latter is where the lovely Boscobel Mansion resides. Cold Spring is a pretty picturesque village. Lots of antiquing and history to be found there, along with a reputation for being an artistic location.

Boscobel House and Gardens

Boscobel House and Gardens, which rests on the eastern side of the Hudson River, is the home to the former estate of States Dykeman, a former loyalist during the Revolutionary War era. He originally built this majestic home down the river in Westchester County's Montrose, but in the 1950s the United States government slated the historic property for demolition. The property was purchased, dismantled and moved to its current pristine location. The acreage chosen for Boscobel is perfect and, in my opinion, holds some of the finest views of the Hudson River. You can see West Point clearly from this location.  

The property sits high above the riverbank and has a gorgeous rose garden which leads to a trail where you can follow and stand above the Hudson River and gaze out to the fabulous views of the river and surrounding mountains.

Foggy day at Boscobel
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

A foggy view from Boscobel in 2004.  This shot is looking towards the south, you can see some of the mountains in the distance behind the fog. This photo doesn't do the view justice. 


If you are in the City of Yonkers or in northern New York City, the view across the Hudson River overlooking Rockland County is pretty spectacular. From here you can see the beauty of the Palisades in Rockland County. Over time it has gotten a little commercialized due to industry and housing developments, but the views are still very pretty in the parts that have not been developed.

If you have the good fortune to know someone with a boat, viewing the Pallisades from the inside looking out is breathtaking. Usually I'm driving or riding the train when I pass through this area, so do not have any of my own photos. (Some day I'll have to rectify that!) If you want to check out some other areas of the river and don't have access to a private boat you can contact one of the many cruise companies that sail on the Hudson; some companies focus on the northern points, while others sail the southern areas of the Hudson. Any boat opportunity you receive, be sure and bring a camera! I haven't had the opportunity to do this in a while (and do not have my own pictures from on the river itself), but would sure love to do it again someday.

Hudson River near Bear Mountain Bridge
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

View of the Hudson River looking south. I took this photo while standing under the Bear Mountain Bridge on the western side of the river. Taken October 2014.

The Hudson River has a long and historical tie to New York State. Even today some of the original land that existed in the early beginnings of the American colonies are still just as beautiful today as they were centuries ago. And yes, George Washington would have seen it too. In fact, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association has some of Washington's Hudson River paintings hanging in the formal dining room at Mount Vernon today as Washington himself had placed them in the 18th century.

As I mentioned above these are, in my opinion, some of the best places to view the lower Hudson River Valley, but upstate also has its own charm. I haven't had the ability to explore these all just yet much beyond Hyde Park, but the bits I have seen as a child along the river I remember to be beautiful as well (and if you're in the area, the Catskill Mountains are definitely worth visiting).

New York State's Hudson Valley is known for many things, such as its rich history, but its natural landscape is another one of the draws to this region. The ride from Poughkeepsie down to New York City is a wonderful way to spend a day (and you can do this by train). Despite all of the commercialism in this area of New York, many of its towns truly maintain natural beauty.

[ Related Reading: Planning a Vacation to New York ]

Hudson River Valley
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved
The Hudson River: A Great American Treasure
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View from FDR property
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

This is the view President Franklin D. Rooselvelt had from his home in Hyde Park. The Hudson River is just beyond the grassy field and first tree line. Taken in July 2014.

 Various points of interest along the river

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Boscobel House and Gardens, 1601 New York 9D, Garrison, NY 10524, USA
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West Point, NY, USA
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Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 4097 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538, USA
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Bear Mountain Bridge, New York, USA
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Palisades, NY, USA