As life-long residents of the Hudson Valley, my husband and I both heard of Bannerman Island, but only recently got to visit the castle ruins and hear the history of the infamous site. While many, like myself, refer to it as Bannerman Island, Bannerman Castle actually resides on Pollepel Island. This 6.5 acre piece of land sits amidst the Hudson River. Over 100 years old, the island and castle are only accessible via tours by the Bannerman Castle Trust and the New York State Parks.
Tours depart from either Beacon or Newburgh. We took a tour from Beacon, which departs right near the Beacon train station. Visitors board the Estuary Steward for an approximately thirty-minute boat ride to Bannerman Castle. Once you arrive on the island, your tour guide greets you for a seven stop, 1.5 hour walking tour of the island.
The story of Bannerman Castle is an interesting one. On your tour you will hear the story of how and why Francis, “Frank” Bannerman VI had the Castle built. I’m not posting many photos of the island or writing about the history of the Castle in this post. It is more fun to hear and see the story in person. Although Bannerman Castle is part of the Hudson Highlands State Park, the repairs and upkeep of the Island and structures all come from the Bannerman Trust. They really appreciate visitors coming to take the tour and see the Island.
You get to walking inside the family’s summer residence, which acts as a Visitor Center and also houses a small gift shop. This is a renovation that was recently completed, though the second floor, pictured above, still remains off-limits to visitors.
As you tour the island you will see breathtaking views of the Hudson River and surrounding Hudson Valley.
You will also see beautiful gardens and flowers throughout the island. These gardens are maintained by a team of volunteers who weed, plant and water them.
Unfortunately, you do not get to walk inside the Castle. As you can see, support beams are attached to help protect the remaining structure of the Castle. While this experience is family-friendly and recommended for children ages 11 and up, there were no children on our tour. My husband and I purposely chose to do this tour on a summer day when our children were with their grandparents. However, there are plenty of family-friendly events hosted on Bannerman Island throughout the season including Broadway and Theatre shows, movie nights, musical performances and more. Be sure to check out the calendar of events!
Bannerman Island Walking Tours
From Beacon: Saturdays at 11 AM and 12:30 PM, Sundays at 12:30 PM
From Newburgh: Sundays at 11 AM
Admission: $35/adults, $30/children under 11
Parking: Free parking is available on weekends at the Beacon Train Station
*Make sure to wear sneakers or comfortable walking shoes. You will climb 70 steps from the dock up to the beginning of the tour.
*You can bring your own beverages. Water and drinks are also sold on the boat and at the Visitor’s Center.
*The tour is not wheelchair or stroller-friendly.