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Second time going to The Gunks - Help me plan a few trip details please
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Nov 13, 2015
In late September of 2012 I went to The Gunks for a 5-day (Monday-Friday) climbing trip.

I flew into La Guardia, took a taxi to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, took an Adirondack Trailways bus straight to the New Paltz Hostel where I stayed for the entire trip, and I hitch hiked to and from the crags each day.

As I expected I had a GREAT time climbing in The Gunks and staying in New Paltz!

I just booked a flight to New York for another climbing trip to The Gunks.

This one will be a longer trip. I will be arriving at JFK early in the morning (red eye flight) of Wednesday, June 1, 2016, and departing from JFK on the evening of Friday, June 10, 2016.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the New Paltz Hostel, I think this time I will give this climber communal home nearby a shot.

I think I should rent a car this time around, as I will probably want to avoid The Gunks during the weekend - I hear it can be quite the shitshow...

Should I rent a car right at the airport or should I make my way into NYC and rent a car from there?

For example, whenever I head down to L.A. I fly into LAX and take the Flyaway bus to Van Nuys, and then call Enterprise Car Rental. They pick me up and I rent from them, as it is cheaper to rent a car in The Valley than at the airport.

Is there a similar way for me to save money renting a car in NYC?

Any suggestions for rest day activities? I'd be especially interested in doing some hiking. The last time there I got rained out on Wednesday (perfect timing - right in the middle of my trip) so I spent the day exploring New Paltz and hanging out in the library.

Oh, and I haven't secured any climbing partners for this trip yet, so if anyone wants to climb on those days.....
Khoi
From Vancouver, BC
Joined Oct 12, 2009
29 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Rumney
If you have a credit card I would recommend booking your rental online, possibly even direct, from the rental company. I know Alamo (my rental agency of choice) offers discounts if you register with them online. I often beat Alamo pricing on 'discount' websites. Start checking prices 3-4 months in advance, if they start going up BOOK. If not, wait a bit and see if they actually go down in price.

As far as renting near the airport, I would imagine getting out of the city would be better in that regards as you explained with your LAX example. But I find the volume of rentals being moved at the airports is usually enough to keep the costs down to the point the hassle of heading out of town just isn't worth it. Additionally, you might be able to land in NYC, takes the subway/train/bus as you had previously to say Newburg, Poughkeepsie, or Kingston and pickup your rental from there. Then tell them you'll drop it off at La Guardia (?). I would imagine the cost of the train/bus offsets any benefit of cheaper rental costs though.

There's hiking in the Mohonk Preserve, and I would assume for the amount of days you're staying you'll be buying a pass which will allow you full access to all trails/areas in the preserve for one year. If you don't end up getting the pass, then heading north/northwest will land you in the Catskills where there's tons of free, scenic hiking. To the East and Northeast are the Taconics, more free scenic hiking but not as tall as the Catskills but IMO just as good if you're looking for someplace to get exercise/spend time outdoors.
Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Joined Jul 10, 2010
1,639 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Tetons
If you're going to be in the Northeast for that long with a rental car and want a bit of variety, it may be worth your while to spend a few days in the North Conway area. Cathedral ledge, Whitehorse, and Cannon mountain are home to many classic climbs of a different flavor than the Gunks. ChrisN
From Morro Bay, CA
Joined Oct 14, 2014
39 points
Nov 13, 2015
What about flying into Albany or Newburgh? Either might make your travel more convenient, rather than dealing with NYC travel logistics and driving up from the City (though, a little more expensive).
BrianKostelnik57
Joined May 30, 2012
3 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: profile
Car rental prices will be high anywhere in the city, whether close to the airport or not. It's a problem because no one in the city has a car so the rental companies can get away with it. If I recall correctly, an economy car runs about $80-100 a day + additional fees. Rates drop dramatically if get out of the city (I know they're a lot cheaper in NJ, but not sure about upstate NY).

If you're set on renting a car within the city, you might want to check out RelayRides (now called Turo). It's like AirBnB for cars. Good luck!
john l.
From Westchester, NY
Joined May 1, 2012
433 points
Nov 13, 2015
The weekends aren't that bad unless you are a real curmudgeon.
I'm from nearby and ideally I climb one week day to do the stuff I want, and one weekend to enjoy the weekend and climbing culture. While the classics are crowded, most people there are really nice and worth chatting with. And there is always some other route to get on. Same for in town, our local dinner spots were JAMMED in the crazy fall season, so we went to 2 other places that I'm now in love with.
If you are a curmudgeon, you can go to the Nears which is less crowded, or Lost City or Bontique if you absolutely have to be alone.

gtluke
Joined May 29, 2012
10 points
Nov 13, 2015
Luke is right. The "Gunks Crowds" are a a bit of myth. Yes, the place gets busy, and if you want to climb High E or Bonnie's Roof on Saturday at 10am, you should plan on waiting in line...for a while. In other words, people wait in line for the same dozen or so classics, but there are ~450 climbs in the Trapps alone.

If you are more open to walking 50 yards in either direction, you can find a route of similar quality with no one on it. If you lead 5.10, you will have your pick, as long as you get away from the gangbang top ropers at the Mac Wall. Generally, anything with 1 or more stars in the Dick Williams guides is well worth your time. Don't be picky, and you will climb a ton on Saturday and Sunday.

Also, climbing on double ropes can speed things up significantly. You can link pitches that would normally be rope drag nightmares on a single, and you can do most rappels in one shot from the top of the cliff, when they would take 2 or 3 raps with a single 60m.

If you want any specific beta, please feel free to PM. I'm happy to share.
BrianKostelnik57
Joined May 30, 2012
3 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Great exposure!
I'll try to answer the question you asked about transportation logistics:

JFK has a train called AirTrain It gets you from the airport to a subway station in Jamaica and costs $5/person each way. Use Google Maps on your iPhone to navigate to Grand Central Station via subway. If you are a slick traveler you will only need to enter a subway turnstile (thus paying) once. Make sure to put about $20 on your MTA card when you pay for the AirTrain in Jamaica though. It stinks to be a quarter short when you swipe, especially on a Wednesday morning in rush hour traffic (remember your a tourist, everybody knows it, and therefore your a JERK - nothing personal, just the way it is).

From Grand Central Station (might be 2 train changes depending on current work on the rails), you will want to buy a ticket to Beacon on Metro-North Rail Use the schedule to figure out which train you need. Eat at Grand Central. You'll be hungry. DON'T EAT BEFORE GRAND CENTRAL!!!

Get off the train at Beacon. Enterprise is a 2.2 mile walk, or call them and it is a 6 minute drive to the train station. I'd recommend reserving the car in advance as other people have said. New Paltz is 25 minute drive from Beacon.

I've done this trip (less the car rental) several times. I HATE driving in the city. Remember that if you rent a car at JFK you will need to pay the tolls to get out of the city and get back in the city. Tolls will run you about $50 round trip. Yes, $50.


If you wanted to avoid the rental car, you could add water travel to the package. As described above, take the Metro-North train to Beacon. There is a New York Waterway water taxi within a 3 minute walk from the train station that crosses the Hudson to Newburgh. It runs every 30 minutes. From there, walk 4 blocks to the Leprechaun Lines Bus Station? at Broadway and Liberty. Be careful - if you take a wrong turn the neighborhood can get sketchy within a few blocks, especially at night (but police station is right there along your direct route, so that's good). Take the bus to Newburgh main hub and pick up the Trailways NY Bus to New Paltz.

Hope this answers your question. Everybody else is covering all other aspects of your trip pretty well.
Gunks Jesse
From Shawangunk Township, NY
Joined May 18, 2014
262 points
Nov 13, 2015
It could be hot in June, or rainy, or perfect. If you are flexible I'm sure it will be great.

If it is hot you may want to aim to climb early, take a break during peak sun/heat, then resume and climb late after the cliff moves back into the shade mid-afternoon. During that break could take a lunch over to split rock and hop in the cold water. You could hike there from a trail near the West Trapps lot, or walk across the street if you parked for Lost City at the Coxing lot.

Another non-climbing option is renting bikes from Bicycle Depot in New Paltz. There is a lot to see touring the carriage roads or picking up the Wallkill Valley River Trail right outside the shop. Here is an option with more elevation than the river trail. It climbs up to Lake Awosting and connects back to the Trapps and Mountain House. Lots of options to add on too.

You might want to check out Sam's Point Preserve and the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves.

As for the crowds, even on busy weekends I don't find it difficult to get on something great. Yes, you will wait if you want one of the destination climbs. Though I have not had problems getting visiting friends on the popular climbs by getting up early and heading straight to it while others have breakfast or chat in the parking lot.
MojoMonkey
Joined Jan 29, 2009
85 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
I highly recommend flying into Albany. Getting in and out is a breeze since it's a small airport and it's quicker to the Gunks or the Daks. If you get in late you can a motel cheap too. On your off day, you might go to Rhinebeck. It's a nice little touristy town. Not exactly an exercise day, but pleasant. frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Nov 13, 2015
I'd definitely suggest checking out Tuthilltown (the Gristmill) distillery. I understand that with a Gunks membership you get some percent off, and a free tour. I've been meaning to go there myself sometime.

tuthilltown.com/

GO
GabeO
From New Haven, CT
Joined May 13, 2006
395 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Great exposure!
GabeO wrote:
I understand that with a Gunks membership you get some percent off, and a free tour.


Correct - free tour and 10% off purchase. Details
Gunks Jesse
From Shawangunk Township, NY
Joined May 18, 2014
262 points
Administrator
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: JSH @ home  photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker
I'll third the recommendation for flying into Albany. When I lived in CA and flew back to climb, that's what I did. Even Hartford would be preferable over JFK. JSH
Joined Apr 3, 2007
1,132 points
Nov 13, 2015
Gunks Jesse wrote:
I'll try to answer the question you asked about transportation logistics: JFK has a train called AirTrain It gets you from the airport to a subway station in Jamaica and costs $5/person each way. Use Google Maps on your iPhone to navigate to Grand Central Station via subway. If you are a slick traveler you will only need to enter a subway turnstile (thus paying) once. Make sure to put about $20 on your MTA card when you pay for the AirTrain in Jamaica though. It stinks to be a quarter short when you swipe, especially on a Wednesday morning in rush hour traffic (remember your a tourist, everybody knows it, and therefore your a JERK - nothing personal, just the way it is). From Grand Central Station (might be 2 train changes depending on current work on the rails), you will want to buy a ticket to Beacon on Metro-North Rail Use the schedule to figure out which train you need. Eat at Grand Central. You'll be hungry. DON'T EAT BEFORE GRAND CENTRAL!!! Get off the train at Beacon. Enterprise is a 2.2 mile walk, or call them and it is a 6 minute drive to the train station. I'd recommend reserving the car in advance as other people have said. New Paltz is 25 minute drive from Beacon. I've done this trip (less the car rental) several times. I HATE driving in the city. Remember that if you rent a car at JFK you will need to pay the tolls to get out of the city and get back in the city. Tolls will run you about $50 round trip. Yes, $50. If you wanted to avoid the rental car, you could add water travel to the package. As described above, take the Metro-North train to Beacon. There is a New York Waterway water taxi within a 3 minute walk from the train station that crosses the Hudson to Newburgh. It runs every 30 minutes. From there, walk 4 blocks to the Leprechaun Lines Bus Station? at Broadway and Liberty. Be careful - if you take a wrong turn the neighborhood can get sketchy within a few blocks, especially at night (but police station is right there along your direct route, so that's good). Take the bus to Newburgh main hub and pick up the Trailways NY Bus to New Paltz. Hope this answers your question. Everybody else is covering all other aspects of your trip pretty well.


What a royal pain in the ass to save a few bucks on a trip that includes airfare.
Marc801
From Sandy, Utah
Joined Feb 25, 2014
64 points
Nov 13, 2015
Chris NH wrote:
If you're going to be in the Northeast for that long with a rental car and want a bit of variety, it may be worth your while to spend a few days in the North Conway area. Cathedral ledge, Whitehorse, and Cannon mountain are home to many classic climbs of a different flavor than the Gunks.

So for a 10 day trip (which with travel logistics is really about 8 - 8.5 days of climbing) you're suggesting he burn most of 2 other days traveling to/from NH?
Marc801
From Sandy, Utah
Joined Feb 25, 2014
64 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Although hiking on the Preserve has been mentioned for non-climbing activities, I think the most beautiful hikes (see, for example, alltrails.com/parks/us/new-yor... in the region are at Minnewaska State Park. parks.ny.gov/parks/127/details... (Also good biking opportunities.) It's right up the road from the Trapps. The admission fee is by car, not by person: $10. If you have someone old like me with you, admission is free during the week.

Near the end of your stay, the laurel's might be blooming, which makes several of the Minnewaska walks even more exceptional, eg


Pink Laurel


White Laurel
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
544 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Chuck in the final mellow section of Te Dum at the...
Bring DEET. Lots of DEET. Bathe in the stuff.

First time I went to the Gunks was in late May and early June. Didn't know what black flies were. Learned the hard way.
Chuck Parks
From Atlanta, GA
Joined Jan 30, 2008
1,763 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Hey there!
Marc801 wrote:
So for a 10 day trip (which with travel logistics is really about 8 - 8.5 days of climbing) you're suggesting he burn most of 2 other days traveling to/from NH?



Shit I would. It's not that far and if he's not from the Northeast it'd be worth checking out. I've taken 10 day trips where I've flown into Vegas, spent a day or two there, then drove to Moab or Yosemite then back to Vegas to fly home. Those were two of the best trips of my life. Plus the climbing style in North Conway is way different than that of the Gunks so he'd get more bang for his proverbial buck. Don't get me wrong he'd have plenty of fun spending the whole time in the Gunks but I don't think the suggestion to travel around is all that silly.
Seth Derr
From harrisburg, pa
Joined Apr 19, 2010
2,016 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Rumney
If we're making suggestions for other NE climbing, then the Adirondacks may actually be a shorter drive from New Paltz. If looking for variety, there's Farley in Mass and stuff in CT that are even closer. But for someone travelling from out of town looking for and liking the Gunks experience... not sure what I would say. It depends on the style of climbing they have back at their home crag. They may have lots of cracks and slab at home, but not a lot of trad jug climbs. Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Joined Jul 10, 2010
1,639 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogsti...
Khoi's from Vancouver. He's climbed on granite a lot. A six hour drive to North Conway makes zero sense to me on a eight-day visit. It would be much more interesting to go up to the Adirondacks, which are withing 3.5 hours driving and have a rock type different from the Gunks and granite.

But I wouldn't do either. He's going to be here during prime black fly season in the Dacks and NH. Black flies in the Gunks are only occasionally a minor annoyance, but up North is a whole other story. We're talkin' headnets and head-to-toe clothing coverage (watch out for those bare ankles sticking out of your climbing shoes). If the black flies happen to be at their worst, a swarm of 'em might just carry you away. Be very afraid.
rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined Feb 15, 2008
544 points
Nov 13, 2015
rgold wrote:
Khoi's from Vancouver. He's climbed on granite a lot. A six hour drive to North Conway makes zero sense to me on a eight-day visit....He's going to be here during prime black fly season in the Dacks and NH. Black flies in the Gunks are only occasionally a minor annoyance, but up North is a whole other story.


Once again, it seems the NH suggestion is just someone pimping their home area. I'm still half expecting someone to suggest that he go to the NRG or the Red for a couple of days on his Gunks trip.
Marc801
From Sandy, Utah
Joined Feb 25, 2014
64 points
Nov 13, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
If the OP thinks about driving north I wanted to add my experiences with black flies climbing in the Adirondacks in June.

We had little to no problems at Cascade Pass, Roger's Rock, Deadwater and Chapel Pond.

Poko Moonshine and Barkeater were kinda bad.

Crane Mountain.. We were rocking headnets long sleeves and pants but still cut our day short!

I'm not sue if this interests you but I got points for taking my wife to President Roosevelt's home, Hyde Park on a rest day.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
439 points
Nov 13, 2015
Gunks Jesse wrote:
I'll try to answer the question you asked about transportation logistics: I've done this trip (less the car rental) several times. I HATE driving in the city. Remember that if you rent a car at JFK you will need to pay the tolls to get out of the city and get back in the city. Tolls will run you about $50 round trip. Yes, $50.

Unless the Op wants to avoid driving in the city (no big deal to get from JFk to NP) or the rental deal is much cheaper in beacon, I think this is bad advice.
I live in Queens not far from JFK and the tolls to Beacon (no EZ-Pass) are $16 from beacon the tolls are the same to NP.
You will spend more than the tolls in transit fare to get to Beacon, much more.
RichBeBe
From New York City, NY
Joined Oct 26, 2013
1 points
Nov 14, 2015
THANK YOU for all the tips and advice guys! The beta you guys have given me on car rentals, tolls, taking transit, hikes, realities of a typical Gunks weekend, and rest day options are all much appreciated!

The flight is booked. Done. No changes. The JFK airport is not my first choice but the seat sale was for YVR to JFK, so that's that.

I will most definitely be buying an annual pass.

I'm totally fine with walking farther and heading out to less popular spots to climb. I have absolutely no delusions about getting the classics all to myself on the weekend. I learned my lesson long ago, and as a result, I now almost always only climb on weekdays and I don't bother doing climbing trips on holiday long weekends.

I'm saving the popular classics for the weekdays!

Though the mention of the weekend atmosphere and climbing culture has me intrigued. I hope it's better than some of the crap I've seen in Squamish, especially in the Smoke Bluffs, on the weekends. Rock climbing has a way of attracting certain personalities and behaviours that I do not enjoy....

Weather-wise, I'm hoping that I won't be too hot in the first 10 days of June... All the weather charts I've looked at so far point to nice temperatures historically.

Thanks for the heads up on the black flies!

UGH!!!

I attract bugs far far far more than the average person, so I better load up on deet. Argh. I hate using deet, but I have yet to find anything that works as well.

It never occurred to me to rent a bike instead of a car. I can do what I did last time: take a taxi to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, then hop on a bus to New Paltz, and then rent a bike for the next 9 days.

What do you guys think of that idea?

I do recall the last bit of road to get to the Carriage trail involved some uphill.... I'll be wearing a pack full of my rack, rope, an all the food/water/misc. stuff I'll need for the day.....

However, I'll be staying at the climber's communal home in Kerhonkson, so will that mean more hills or fewer hills?

If that idea isn't recommended then I guess I'll make my way out to one of the towns near New Paltz in order to rent a car for a lower price. Renting a sub-compact car in the suburbs of L.A. cost me well under $200 for a little over a week.

Am I naive to hope that I can get a similar or better rate around New Paltz?
Khoi
From Vancouver, BC
Joined Oct 12, 2009
29 points
Nov 14, 2015
Oh, and thanks for the suggestions of checking out the Dacks and North Conway. I have the guidebooks for both areas (I kinda collect rock climbing guidebooks....)


The different rock in the Dacks sounds intriguing...

BUT

Even if the 3.5 and 6 hours drives didn't turn me off enough (nothing against long drives - I *LOVE* the drive from Vancouver to Smith Rock!!!) the black fly situation is the deal breaker. Especially for a bug attractant extraordinaire like myself!

Those places will have to wait for some other time.
Khoi
From Vancouver, BC
Joined Oct 12, 2009
29 points
Nov 14, 2015
Do not take the advice of those preaching gloom and doom concerning Black Flies as absolute. Every year is different. In 2015 Black Flies were not a factor in the North Conway area. Other years it has been brutal. Keep an open mind and watch the forums for updates on this. NEClimbs puts out a weekly update on the Black Fly or bugs in general. If you can wait on making a decision until after you arrive at The Gunks you will be better informed on where to go or not go. Cheers and have a great trip! DavidLG
Joined Jul 4, 2011
15 points


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