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Explore the Adirondacks

Experience the centuries-old tradition of exploration and adventure in the Adirondacks of Northern New York.

view from summit of Ampersand Mountain in the Adirondacks

The Forever Wild Park - New York's Largest Playground

The Adirondack Region is one of the most diverse destinations on the East Coast, offering unparalleled outdoor recreation throughout its dazzling lakes, wild mountains, and charming towns and villages. Established in 1892 by the State of New York amid concerns for the water and timber resources of the region, the Adirondack Park today covers an area larger in size than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and the Great Smokies National Parks combined, and is the largest park in the lower 48 states.

Encompassing millions of acres of public, constitutionally protected forest preserve, as well as privately owned land, the Adirondack Park is New York's largest playground. Striking a balance between public and private ownership makes the Adirondack Park a unique place to visit. Visitors have ample access to recreation gear through hotel amenities, rental shops, and local guide services. Park residents often enjoy the serene Adirondack experience alongside travelers and share their knowledge of the area.

man stand atop a mountain in the Adirondacks

Things To Explore in The Adirondacks

The Adirondack Region in Northern New York is a protected area spanning over 6 million acres of mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, and wild spaces. Twelve distinct regions come together to create one epic vacation destination. We've traversed the Adirondack Mountains to find the best places to explore on a day trip, long weekend, or week-long vacation.

Views Above the Forest Canopy

Wandering adventurers trekking along wooded Adirondack trails might wonder, "Is there an easier way to see the mountain-laden views without scrambling up these towering peaks?" There sure are.

  • The Wild Center's Wild Walk is inspired by New York City's High Line – a walking park suspended 30 feet above city streets. Located in the town of Tupper Lake, the Wild Walk soars 30 feet above the Adirondack forest floor. Kid-friendly and accessible walkways enable everyone to enjoy the views while learning about this amazing landscape among the treetops.
  • But you don't have to travel to Tupper Lake to see over the leaves. Over a dozen decommissioned Adirondack fire towers dot the mountainous landscape and provide awesome payoffs for mostly short hikes.
  • Another way to see over the tree-tops is to explore the hiking trails that climb to rocky mountain-tops with panoramic views. The appropriately named Bald Mountain lies just outside the town of Blue Mountain Lake and has stellar views above its tree-line. Other exposed summits include The McIntyre Range in the High Peaks, Black Bear Mountain near Old Forge, and Noonmark Mountain in Keene Valley.
  • Mountains not high enough for you? Takeoff from Lake Placid Airport on a scenic plane ride of the High Peaks or depart Inlet's Seventh Lake with Payne's Air Service. The bird's eye view is a truly unique experience.
woman hiking with her dog in the Adirondacks

Unique Water Features

The Adirondacks are filled with a variety of bodies of water comprising over 150,000 acres of open water in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, brooks, and some other distinct types.

  • As water tumbles down the sides of mountains, occasionally there's a rapid drop in elevation where water free-falls through the air before reuniting with land. It's waterfalls like this that are popular among explorers of all ages. Before heading to the trailhead, you'll want to see our list of the best Adirondack waterfalls and trip planning advice.
  • A special and enduring part of the Adirondack waterways are those not carved by glacial activity, but dug by hand. Every summer paddlers glide the water that fills the hand-dug canal network connecting Osgood Pond to Little Church Pond and Church Pond. These waterways were originally created to allow dry passage to and from the historic Saint John's Episcopal Church in Paul Smiths, especially on Sunday mornings. These waterways can now be paddled any day of the week from the Osgood Pond Boat Launch.
  • Other water routes have been organized on naturally occurring bodies of water, some stretching for dozens of miles. Every September, paddlers travel 90 miles over three days during the Adirondack Canoe Classic. More moderate routes include the 9-mile trek from Little Clear Pond to Paul Smiths known as the Seven Carries Route, and the 16-mile Fulton Chain of Lakes which has two carries or as they are known in the Adirondacks, portages.
sailboat yacht on Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks

Adirondack Adventures for Families

  • Hiking: To quickly find a trail that the whole family will enjoy, we've put together a list of easy, moderate, and difficult Adirondack family hikes for you to explore.
  • Museums: For an up-close experience with Adirondack history, museums are the way to go. A visit to The Wild Center in Tupper Lake or Adirondack Experience – The Museum at Blue Mountain Lake will open young minds to nature and history through exhibits outside and indoors – perfect for rainy or cold days!
  • Paddling: To get the whole family paddling in the Adirondacks, look for watersports outfitters like Adirondack Coast Paddle Board Co. in Plattsburgh, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake, Kayak Lake George in Lake George, and Placid Boat Rental in Lake Placid. Rent the boats, paddles and PFDs close to your paddling destination and focus on enjoying the great outdoors with your family.
family having a picnic in the Adirondacks

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does "Adirondack" mean?

    The word ‘Adirondack' originated as a derogatory term given to the Algonquin tribe by neighboring Mohawk, meaning "barkeaters."

  • Where is the Adirondack Region located and how do I get there?

    The Adirondack Region is located in Northern New York, about 4 hours north of Manhattan and two hours south of Montreal. It is a vast wilderness, but it isn't as remote as some might think. Amtrak train service leaves from Penn Station in NYC and travels directly into the Adirondack Park, stopping at historic and scenic depots along the way.

    For Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Canadian residents, it is also a popular one-tank trip destination which offers a balanced blend of outdoor recreation opportunities and attractions, restaurants, shopping, and events.

    If you plan on getting to the Adirondacks by car, there are two major highways that border the Adirondack Region - Interstate 81 to the west and Interstate 87 to the east.

    Two regional airports offer service to the Adirondacks, and major bus lines make traveling from anywhere convenient, affordable and easy.

  • Where's the entrance to the Adirondacks?

    There isn't one - at least in the way you might think. There's no ticket, no toll booth you need to go through, or a gated entrance. When you arrive at the park's boundaries - delineated by a blue line on your map - a brown and yellow sign will welcome you to the Adirondack Park. No fee, no ticket - just continue on your way.