Skytop and the Hotel

Mohonk’s Skytop appears as a small castle atop the hills near the hotel, but its reality is a bit more mundane: it was constructed as a watchtower for forest fires in the early twentieth century. Though no longer in use, it adds an extra hint of magic to the whole setting. The hotel (off to the left) sits on the water, and the tower touches the sky.

Skytop and the Hotel

No More Canoes

There are many ways to define the seasons, with varying degrees of usefulness. (Solstices and equinoxes seem to have only the thinnest connection with the weather.) Perhaps the most valuable differentiation between times of the year is when one can reasonably be out on the water: “Spring” is that first moment when an afternoon in a canoe doesn’t sound miserable.

No More Canoes

Hotel Services

Even the grandest of hotels have infrastructure that supports the guest experience. For a grand old hotel like Mohonk Mountain House, that infrastructure is charming enough to be interesting in its own right.

Hotel Services I

Those early-twentieth-century structures—boilers and exhaust stacks and hand-painted signs noting the protocols for refilling the massive fuel oil tanks.

Hotel Services II

Mohonk Reflections (I, II, and III)

Mid-March shift from my most photographically productive time on the West Coast (amazing sunsets, end of the rainy season, etc.) to my least in the East (dirty snow, still-bare trees, sandy roads). I’ve been trying to find more beauty in the pre- and post-winter “stick seasons,” examining the shapes revealed when leaves and snow can’t hide branches. Though I’m not yet convinced to do anything more than grudgingly accept its necessity, but it led to some pretty dramatic reflections at Mohonk Mountain House.

Mohonk Reflections I

Mohonk Reflections II

Mohonk Reflections III

Mohonk: Ready for the Show

Mohonk Mountain House’s parlor is far grander than the name might imply. After dinner, it’s the site of live entertainment. That could be a comedian, or a string quartet, or a band, or an animal trainer. The consistent variety could almost be called old-fashioned—matching the tone of the room.

Mohonk: Ready for the Show

Two Views of Mohonk

Mohonk Mountain House has grown like lichen across its mountaintop, but its oldest core shapes much of the structure’s identity. Tea time happens at 4:00 PM each day, and guests sit in the array of front porch rocking chairs with their tea during the warmer months.

Original Mountain House

Just around the corner, gazebos crusted with snow dot the cliffs.

Cliff Gazebo

Mohonk Flying Castle

Literally on a lake near the top of a mountain, Mohonk Mountain House gave my childhood self the illusion of a flying castle. This particular image is an iconic one for me, but it’s also part of a family of “ubiquitous images” that come from photographing a landmark from one of the only available views: shots like the Yosemite tunnel view, or the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, or the view of Manhattan over the Brooklyn Heights pilings. Any new image is just adding to the canon.

Mohonk Flying Castle

Lake Mohonk Rocking Chairs

Morning sun across the old wood of Mohonk’s porch matches perfectly with the coils of vapor from a hot cup of coffee. I think this photograph effectively captures the ladder-like pattern in the chair shadows and the possibilities of hiking in the hills beyond the lake.

Lake Mohonk Rocking Chairs

American Hogwarts

Mohonk Mountain House is a unique hotel in the hills above New Paltz, New York. Though I visited there during the summer as a youth (while reading Harry Potter, naturally), this was my first visit as an adult and during the winter. None of the magic has been lost during the seasons in between.

American Hogwarts