Sun showed its face last Thursday. I felt like a prisoner awakening to discover the door to my cell unlocked. Staring at a window of opportunity with sunlight pouring through, I would not let it go to waste. I desperately needed to be somewhere else. Storm King Highway resides in my personal pantheon of nearby roads that no matter how many times I drive there, it feels like I am “somewhere else.”
Storm King Highway
Clinging to the craggy eastern face of New York’s Storm King Mountain, Storm King Highway delivers majestic views of the southernmost fjord in the Northern hemisphere better known as the Hudson Valley.
Tee up your favorite driving music because even the roads leading to Storm King Highway will put a smile on your windblown face. From the south, you cruise up the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Heading east from Rt. 17 in Rockland County takes you through the serpentine roadways of the densely forested Harriman State Park.
Whatever your point of departure for Storm King Highway all roads lead to Route 9W. Heading north from the Bear Mountain Circle, one experiences a palpable sense of not only traveling through towns but traveling back through time. Old structures from the early days of motoring mingle with landmarks recalling the early days of the nation.
Just north of the circle stands Fort Montgomery which witnessed fierce fighting during the Revolutionary War. Further up the road one encounters the plateau overlooking the Hudson River that served as General George Washington’s headquarters and later would become home for the most famous Military Academy in the world, West Point.
Leaving 9W for Route 218 North in Highlands Falls, Storm King Mountain looms above to the west. The section of Route 218 between Lee Rd. in the town of Highlands to the South and Cornwall-On-Hudson to the North demarks the section of breathtaking two-lane that merited Storm King Highway’s inclusion in the National Historic Register of Places.
Envision a short version of “Tail of the Dragon” with spectacular views from high above the Hudson River. This smoothly paved, narrow two line squeezes on a man-made ledge flush against a towering wall of stone to the west and a shear 420 Ft. dive to the Hudson River to the East.
Be aware that you may not be the only motoring enthusiast attracted by the allure of Storm King Highway’s charms that day. Don’t meander over the double yellow. Best to assume someone around the next bend will be whipping a juiced M3 coupe or WRX to within an inch of your life.
Located at the peak of the highway’s elevation, a small pullover big enough for three cars is worth the stop. It offers spectacular vistas.
If your intent is to run the Storm King Highway back and forth, consider taking a half time break by visiting Cornwall-On-Hudson at the northern terminus. Offering plenty of small town charm, a cup of coffee and a table outside can be had at Chez Ana. For more hearty fare Painter’s Tavern and Pepettini will not disappoint. Another mile will bring you into the heart of Cornwall with its many shops, attractions and restaurants.
For kayakers or those who always wanted to kayak but never did, Cornwall-On-Hudson is home to Mountain Valley Guides. They offer a full calendar of guided kayaking experiences for seasoned paddlers and newcomers alike.
Close enough for anyone in the metropolitan area to visit for an afternoon escape, Storm King Highway is eminently capable of transporting you to that wonderful destination “someplace else” no matter how many times you go.