Many times during the mid to late '60's my parents would wake up my brother and I early and next thing I knew we were working our way through various still-sleeping towns in NJ on our way to the GS Parkway and eventually to the NY Thruway to spend the day at the Lake. Typical of many kids on a long trip we used to complain, crying "When are we gonna get there?" For me I knew we were getting close when we'd see what we'd call the Indian Head rock formation, which was visible from the Thruway as you approached New Paltz. Then driving through the town and up that windy road to the resort.
Anyhow we were always day guests back in the days before the beach was created for them. We'd have lunch at the snack bar and dinner at the Wildmere dining room and spend the day swimming at the dock, hiking, canoeing, etc. My brother and I used to get yelled at for playing in the elevator but mostly just really fond memories. It was such a beautiful place. We never actually stayed as overnight guests so to see some of the guest room pictures on this site is great. But we did otherwise have the run of the hotel and I used to love to sink my adolescent butt into the leather chairs of the reading rooms. Sometimes we'd try and add a piece or two to the jigsaw puzzle in the lobby. In the dining room my favorite part was having one's pick of the hot dinner rolls that the waiters would bring to your table in a portable warmer they wore over their shoulders.
What can I say about the Lake itself? So clean and so cold, even in August! We used to marvel at the guys who would dare to dive from the cliffs opposite the dock. I recall my dad and friends having to wait awhile for their courage to build before making the leap. Rather than walk all the way around to the cliffs they would swim across but with one arm out of the water to keep their cigarettes dry!
On another occasion when I was a little older, maybe 13, my friend Curt and I rented a Sunfish (or was it a Sailfish?) at Wildmere and proceeded to criss-cross the lake, working our way towards the Cliffhouse end of it. The guy made it very clear not to allow ourselves into the very end of the lake there but we didn't listen and sure enough, we found ourselves capsized due to all the crosswinds at that end. We righted it several times but it was too windy so we dragged it over the the Cliffhouse dock to a non-too-happy boat rental guy!
Lot's of fond memories of the beauty of the trails, summerhouses, cliffs and that gorgeous lake.
Not knowing about the fires I returned to the park in the mid or late 90's and was of course shocked to see what had become of place but pleased that the natural beauty at least will be cared for.
Basic category for information pertaining to Lake Minnewaska's history.
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