Location Scout Spotlight: Harriman State Park NY Spring – Yes, folks, it seems “Spring has sprung” 😉 in the lower Hudson Valley of New York State and New Jersey – the trees are budding, many trees / plants have leaves and / or blooms at this point – heck, the Forsythia flowers are going to start getting old and dropping off soon!
Harriman State Park is a local wilderness gem for outdoors-loving urbanites and suburbanites as well as filmmakers and photographers (…and of course, a location scout! 😉
At 46,613 acres (186.4 km²), Harriman State Park is one of the largest state parks in New York. Located in Rockland and Orange counties 30 miles (48 km) north of New York City, it is a haven for hikers with over 200 miles (320 km) of hiking trails. The park is also known for its 31 lakes, multiple streams, public camping area, and great vistas. The park’s hiking trails are currently maintained by volunteers from the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. On its northeastern edge, Harriman State Park borders the smaller Bear Mountain State Park.
The center of Harriman State Park is, “41.5 mi – about 1 hour 2 mins – up to 1 hour 30 mins in traffic” (per Google Maps) – which is, indeed, outside the 25 mile New York City film zone, but for some just-slightly less travel-distance-minded shoots – it may well be a moot point anyway?
Film / photo permit applications are obtained from the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) at the Bear Mountain Ranger Station in Bear Mountain State Park, which borders Harriman State Park’s northeast corner. You should contact PIPC with details of your shoot and they will determine applicable permit fees, which may include fees to have park staff supervise your shoot. I have always found the Harriman State Park photo/ film permit fees to be very reasonable and affordable and PIPC and park staff very knowledgeable and helpful. Depending on the scope of your production, you’ll have to work with PIPC to make sure they will be able to accommodate you with regard to their ability to schedule their limited staff for possible additional duty. Time must also be allowed for processing your permit application. I have always been amazed at PIPC’s efficiency and expedience processing my permit applications, but as much lead time as possible should be allowed for PIPC to do their jobs to process your permit application.
Filming is generally restricted to areas accessible to the general public and careful consideration should be given toward not only vigilantly protecting the park’s natural environment but also the impact your production may have on the enjoyment of the park’s resources by the general public. That said, there may also be restrictions on shoot times and dates, particularly with regard to weekends, major holidays and possible existing scheduled public events.
The absolute *best* course of action would be to hire a professional location scout / location manager to take care of all the details for you!
Since the park is close to New York City and adjacent to thriving business areas outside the city itself, there are plentiful options for overnight accommodations if needed, including a hotel at Bear Mountain. This hotel I am talking about at Bear Mountain State Park is nothing fancy from what I remember but there are definitely “corporate level” hotel chains represented in the area too.
Bear Mountain is also home to the historic Bear Mountain Inn, which, however, is currently closed for renovations. Contact the park office at the Bear Mountain Ranger Station for further details.
A little further north, the Thayer Hotel at West Point, NY (home of the United States Military Academy) is distinctive and elegant.
For more accommodations ideas go Googling or “let your fingers do the walking“.
The small towns along the banks of the Hudson River near Harriman State Park and other small towns that dot the rest of the perimeter of the park represent a diverse demographic range, so there are catering and dining options available to suit many culinary or budgetary parameters.
General shopping is available in the area locally along main thoroughfares and there are two major shopping malls in the area, Palisades Center in West Nyack, NY and the Woodbury Common shopping area off New York Thruway Exit 16. If you take Route 17 into New Jersey to the Paramus area, the Paramus, NJ shopping corridor, one of the largest shopping districts in the nation, is available about 30 minutes away. There is shopping all along Route 17 down to Paramus to its major crossroad at Route 4. Route 4 east or west of Route 17 is a major thoroughfare and Route 17 continues south to its terminus in Lyndhurst, NJ.