Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area
- Open: Year-round
- Fee: None
- DEC Region 3 Office: 845-256-3098; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Backcountry Emergencies: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
- State Land Law Enforcement: 845-256-3013
- Location: Towns of Forestburgh, Highland and Lumberland in Sullivan County and Town of Deerpark in Orange County
- Maps: Download a map of Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area (PDF) (582 KB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
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 (WMA) 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.
The Mongaup River between and below the reservoirs is an excellent wild trout fishery. The reservoirs and various other bodies of water on the WMA contain as many as 42 different species of fish including smallmouth 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.
Eagle-viewing blinds are located on Mongaup Falls Reservoir and Rio Reservoir, allowing visitors to watch the eagles without disturbing them. 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.
Waterbodies and wetlands add to the diversity of Mongaup's landscape and wildlife. Rare floodplain forest, perched bog, and pitch-pine and oak-hickory woodland habitats are also found at Mongaup, attracting wetland birds and species that prefer sedge meadows.
Wildlife to Watch
- Migrating raptors--bald eagles, goshawks, turkey vultures, red-tailed, red-shouldered and sparrow hawks
- Great-horned, barn, barred and screech owls
- Woodcocks, redhead, ring-necked and canvasback ducks
- White-tailed deer, black bears, porcupines, gray and red foxes, otters, beavers, coyotes
- Eastern timber rattlesnakes, spotted salamanders
Where to Watch
- Two eagle-viewing blinds
- Forested hills, floodplain forest, perched bog
- Pitch pine-oak-heath woodland
Boat Launch (ramp)
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 is also a hand launch on the southern end of the Rio Reservoir. 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.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
Both eagle-viewing blinds are accessible. There is accessible parking at both viewing blind locations and a wooded access path to the Plank Road blind.
The WMA is located in southwestern New York approximately 75 miles northwest of New York City. It's 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.
There are two eagle-viewing blinds on the WMA, both with parking areas. Visitors should view eagles either from their vehicles or the blinds, rather than on foot, to avoid disturbing the eagles.
- Rio Reservoir Blind is located on Plank Road on the northeastern end of the reservoir (41.52305°N, 74.76117°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
- Mongaup Falls Reservoir Blind is located on County Rt. 43 (Forestburgh Road) on the northern end of the reservoir (41.5547981°N, 74.785202°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
Parking Areas and Boat Launches
There are numerous parking areas within the WMA - see map for all locations.
- Rio Reservoir (southern end) parking area and hand boat launch on Rio Dam Road (41.478637°N, 74.75545°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Rio Reservoir trailered boat launch and parking area (41.521579°N, 74.760375°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
- Mongaup Falls Reservoir trailered boat launch and parking area (41.553569°N, 74.779294°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
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 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.
- 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 1st through November 30th 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 Mongaup Valley WMA
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
- Neversink Unique Area and Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area are a short drive to the east. The Neversink Unique Area features a large gorge and many waterfalls.
- Huckleberry Ridge State Forest is just to the south and east and features trails that link to the Shawangunk Ridge trail.
- Hickok Brook Multiple Use Area is a short distance to the west.
The following links leave DEC's website.