Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Mongaup Valley WMA

huntingTrappingFishinghikingBoat ramphand launchWildlife watchingsnowshoeingCross-country skiingparking

  • Location: Sullivan and Orange County; Towns of Bethel, Lumberland, Forestburgh, Highland and Deer Park
  • Open: Year-round
  • Fee: None
  • Contact:
    • DEC Region 3 Office 845-256-3098
    • Back Country Emergencies: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
    • State Land Law Enforcement: 845-256-3013
  • Maps: View or download a map of Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area (PDF) (582 kB).
A collage of images including sign, eagle in flight and an eagle watching blind
A collage of images including sign, eagle in flight and an eagle watching blind

Our national symbol, the bald eagle, is the star of this wilderness about 75 miles northwest of New York City. The Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area contains 6,313 acres of land owned by the State of New York and 5,542 acres of land on which the State owns conservation easements. Mongaup has been designated a Bird Conservation Area because of its unique combination of habitats important to bird species, including forests, reservoirs and river habitat, where the majestic birds nest and overwinter.

Featured Activities


White-tailed deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, fox, porcupine, black bear and waterfowl are found at the WMA. See hunting regulations and hunting seasons in New York.



View across the reservoir to a wooded hillside

The Mongaup River between and below the reservoirs is an excellent wild trout fishery. The reservoirs and various other bodies of water on the Area contain as many as forty-two different species of fish including small mouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, pan fish and stocked and wild trout. See the statewide fishing regulations and special fishing regulations for Sullivan and special fishing regulations for Orange Counties.

Wildlife Watching

Wildlife viewing
Eagle viewing blinds are located on County Route 43 where it crosses the north end of Mongaup Falls Reservoir (41.5547981, -74.785202) and Plank Road at Rio Reservoir, allow visitors to watch the eagles without disturbing them. Please stay in the blind or in your vehicle as you watch the birds. Winter is the best time to watch. Wintering eagles arrive in December with concentrations peaking in January and February. Eagles are most active between 7am to 9am and 4 pm to 5 pm. Scan the tree-tops for eagles perched there or watch the sky. Eagles like heavily wooded areas near water with tall trees for nesting and perching. They eat a lot of fish so check ice flows or river islands for eagles enjoying a meal. Visit the Bald Eagle Viewing page for more helpful tips.

Boat ramp

Boat Launch (ramp)

Boat launches are available on Swinging Bridge, Mongaup Falls and Rio Reservoirs. The Rio Reservoir Boat launch is located off of Plank Rd. in Forestburgh (41.521683,-74.760920)

Hand boat launch

Boat Launch (hand)
Canoes and rafts can be launched on the Delaware River from an access site on Route 97 just west of the intersection with County Route 31. There are special regulations for the use of Cliff Lake, where fishing is allowed from a boat, but you must carry your boat approximately one mile to the launch point.

Accessible recreation

There is accessible parking at both viewing blind locations and a wooded access path to the Plank Road blind

Directions to the eagle viewing blinds

The Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in southwestern New York approximately 75 miles northwest of New York City in the Towns of Bethel, Lumberland, Forestburgh, and Highland. The Area is bordered by the Delaware River at its southernmost point and surrounded by State Routes 42 to the east, 17B to the north, and to the west by State Route 55 and Sullivan County Routes 32 and 31.

Take State Highway 42 from Monticello or Port Jervis. In the Town of Forestburgh, turn to the west on Forestburgh Rd. (County Rte. 43). Proceed 0.75 mile to Plank Rd. Turn left onto Plank Road and proceed 2.5 miles to the parking area on the right 41.52305, -74.76117.

To visit the second viewing blind, return north to County Rte. 43, turn left and proceed 1.5 miles to the bridge at the head of the reservoir.


Parking Areas
There are 28 parking areas within the WMA.

Rio Dam Road, southern end of Rio Reservoir, gravel lot, east side of the dam (41.480083,-74.754704)
Rio Dam Road, southern end of Rio Reservoir, gravel lot, west side of the dam (41.478637,-74.75545)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

The following acts are not permitted at the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area:

  • Parking of motor vehicles in other than designated parking areas or beyond the quotas of the parking areas.
  • Operating a motor vehicle on the area except on designated access roads. Off road vehicles are prohibited on the area.
  • Except on Swinging Bridge Reservoir, use of gasoline powered motors on boats, canoes and other watercraft. Electric motors are permitted. There are no restrictions on motors on Swinging Bridge Reservoir.
  • Launching of vessels at other than from designated launches
  • Overnight mooring or storage of boats
  • Discharging of firearms except at wildlife which may be legally hunted
  • Cutting, damaging or removal of any living vegetation or standing dead vegetation
  • Swimming or bathing.
  • Setting or maintaining a fire
  • Camping
  • Littering
  • Coming within 200 feet of any dam
  • Entering onto the surface of the water or ice on the Mongaup River, or Swinging Bridge, Mongaup Falls, or Rio Reservoirs or entering the upland surrounding those waters as designated by posted signs from December 1st through March 31st.

Special Regulations for Cliff Lake:
Cliff Lake, located to the north of Mongaup Falls Reservoir and the surrounding uplands do not belong to the State of New York but are private property. Fishing easements have been granted that allow access for those fishing on the shore or from a boat. Please follow the regulations below for its use.

  • Pedestrian access to Cliff Lake is permitted from May 1 through November 30 for fishing only.
  • Access to and use of Cliff Lake is prohibited from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.
  • Vessels may be launched and retrieved only from the designated boat access site. Shoreline fishing is allowed only from the designated boat access site.

Outdoor Safety Tips

How We Manage the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area

The WMA is managed for the protection and conservation of bald eagles and their habitats. Access to many parts of the property is restricted from December 1 through March 31 each year to minimize disturbances to wintering bald eagles. Please be aware of the bright yellow or pink restricted area signs around the reservoirs and water courses and abide by them.

This WMA also contains the Mongaup Valley Bird Conservation Area.

The public access and wildlife management programs are designed to protect and enhance this unique resource for future generations. Your compliance with the area's regulations is an important step toward this goal.

Nearby State Lands to Visit

Tourism Information

The following links leave DEC's website.