Where in the Hudson River valley? It’s a long river.
For simplicity we can divide the Hudson into four regions:
1) Lower Hudson – from Kingston south to New York City.
Here you can spend the rest of your life photographing old money 19th century estates. Start on the east side in Hyde Park with the Roosevelt home, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and Mills Mansion in Staatsburg. Then work your way up the east side of the river through Rhinebeck and Bard College. All beautiful, and lots of money to keep it that way. No California glitz here, these were the original robber barons but they had great Victorian taste.
West Point – Cross the river to the west side and go south for an hour and spend a weekend at West Point. A visit to West Point is life altering. The history, the cadets, the long grey line... (I recommend October through early November, it’s all about grey.).
2) Mid Hudson – from Kingston north to Glens Falls.
If you like city scapes, try Albany and Troy (home of Uncle Sam). Old, old historic cities trying to make in the 21th century. Malls have killed downtown shopping. But there are pockets of hope. Also, while you’re in the area, shoot the Cohoes falls on the Mohawk River during the melt. It’s just up river from where the Mohawk meets the Hudson.
3) Upper Hudson – from Glens Falls north to North Creek.
Beautiful in spots, but mostly slow water, pastoral landscape, and dead mill towns.
4) North Hudson Adirondack Wilderness – from North Creek north to it’s source high in the Marcy range.
Here’s where it gets really interesting and *fun*. Few people know about the Hudson River gorge, 16 miles of nearly continuous class III-IV rapids through pristine Adirondack wilderness surrounded by towering granite walls. Use an experienced outfitter guide (not for first timers or amateurs.) and raft the far north Hudson in early-mid May. If you’d rather see “green and granite” than packed sand, it’s better than the Colorado. At least I think so.