"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
Delaware County native son John Burroughs wrote those words more than a hundred years ago, but they're every bit as appropriate for this stretch of the western Catskills now as they were back then.
A mere three hours north of midtown Manhattan, this is the place where you can truly get away from big-city hustle and bustle. Some like to call it the land of "DIY vacations"—because depending on what you're in the mood for, Delaware County can be a sleepy getaway from all the hassles of modern living, it can be an outdoor-lover's paradise, and it can offer a mixture of traditional and funky small-town pleasures that you're not likely to find side-by-side in too many other places. Your options are open!
An area larger than Rhode Island, the county consists of 1,460 square miles of gently undulating wooded hillsides and lush green valleys bisected by the East and West Branches of the Delaware River (which meet near the town of Hancock, and flow south into Pennsylvania, to form the Delaware River proper). Deer are practically ubiquitous here, but bobcats, weasels, harriers, and red-tailed hawks are native to the area too÷as are coyotes and even the occasional bear! Bald eagles, meanwhile, continue to make a heartening comeback along the West Branch.
Delaware's human inhabitants exhibit just as much variety. More than 300 working farms remain in business today—down from a high of 3,000 in the last century, but still preserving the county's intensely rural character. More recently, a steady trickle of transplants and weekenders has injected new character into the surroundings, while respecting the area's traditional laid-back, live-and-let-live ethos. Visit once and you may be tempted to become one of them!