New York State map & highlights

New York State geography

Most people won't believe you when you say there are mountains and lakes in New York. They find it hard to imagine anything beyond the skyscrapers and shopping, Broadway and Brooklyn. But New York City's zipcode is NY NY meaning it is part of New York State, which consists of 55 000 square miles of so very much more. The state borders five U.S. states: Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the south, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east.
New York City is actually at the southern tip of New York State, and it takes about five hours to drive to one of its northern most points up on the Canadian border at Lake Champlain. Long Island, to the immediate east of New York City, is also a part of the state stretching for 118 miles into the Atlantic Ocean on the south side and Long Island Sound on the north.

There are two main arteries cutting through New York State. First, running north to south is the Hudson River, a stunning valley with its own highlands and highlights, leading up to the state's original settlement and now capital city, Albany. And second, the Erie Canal which runs from Albany to Buffalo in the west, creating a once industrial corridor, but now a tourism trail for many with Central New York at the heart of it.

West of the Hudson River are the splendid Catskill Mountains, with hiking and biking opportunities in summer, and winter sports just an hour and a half out of the city in winter. Head north east of the Hudson and Albany to The Adirondacks for even more serious mountaineering with 46 peaks, Mount Marcy being the highest at 5,344 feet.

Traveling north from the Adirondacks, the land falls back down to the shores of the St Lawrence River and the border with Canada. This is the 1000 Islands Seaway region, an archipelago which lies at the top of the state like a crown full of jewels scattered across the crystal clear waters of the St Lawrence.

New York State map. Illustration by Lisa Joanes

Lake Placid, Long Beach and Niagara Falls, New York State. Photos from New York State Tourist Board

Niagara Falls is the most famous place in New York outside of New York City, located up in the north west of the state, again on the Canadian border. The Niagara River which tumbles into the Falls drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, and both these Great Lakes are also in New York State, the former in the Chautauqua Allegany Region and the latter in the 1000 Islands region.

There are also thirteen beautiful long lakes to be found in the Finger Lakes region, spread out like ribbons which ripple their way across the map, just south of the Erie Canal. And just to put this into perspective, the 563-mile Finger Lakes Trail lets hikers trek from the Catskills to the Allegany Mountains, making this the longest hiking trail in New York.

With this wide variety of land and waterscapes there is something for everyone to love in New York and when you take in all its wilderness and natural wonders, you will see that it has an extremely green and gorgeous heart.

Find more information on the history and culture in New York State.
Responsible Travel would like to thank the New York State Tourist Board for their sponsorship of this guide
Written by Catherine Mack
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