What is the Adirondack Park?
Created in 1892 as one of the first Forever Wild Forest Preserves in the nation, the Adirondack Park is a unique wilderness area. At 6 million acres, it is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. The state of New York owns approximately 2.6 million acres, while the remaining 3.4 million acres are devoted to forestry, agriculture and open space recreation. The Adirondack Park is not a National Park - there's no fee to enter and the park doesn't close at night, nor is it a state park, a common misconception. It's also the largest National Historic Landmark, covering an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and the Great Smokies National Parks combined.
What does "Adirondack" mean?
The word ‘Adirondack' originated as a derogatory term given to the Algonquin tribe by neighboring Mohawk, meaning "barkeaters."
Where is it 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.
Is there a fee to enter?
This question is more common than you might think and the answer is no. There's no fee to enter the park. However, there are fees at public and private New York campgrounds within the park.
Where's the entrance?
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.
Is it just wilderness?
A common misconception is that the Adirondack Park is primarily wilderness, with little infrastructure and entertainment to interest travelers outside of the outdoorsy type. Within the 6 million acre park, 100 towns and villages each offer a distinctive Adirondack flavor. The historic village of Saranac Lake was known as a cure center for tuberculosis patients in the late 1800s through the 1900s. These days, it is known for its thriving arts community. Lake Placid has hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, and is a renowned destination for winter sports, offering some of the best off-hill nightlife in the east. Fort Ticonderoga was an important military outpost during the Seven Years' War, colonial conflicts, and the American Revolutionary War. Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, it is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and open to the public for tours, events, and reenactments. These are just three towns out of 100 - image the possibility for discovery along the wooded shores, scenic byways and mountain peaks.
Where can I eat?
Gastro-pubs, pizzerias, bistros, and cafes - finding a place to eat in the Adirondacks won't be the problem. Putting your fork down? Maybe. Micro-breweries in Lake George and Lake Placid have made a name bottling their own brews and branching out as restaurants. The Farm-to-Fork movement is big in the Adirondacks, and many restaurants proudly source local ingredients to use in seasonal dishes. Family-friendly menus can be found just about anywhere, and you can also enjoy five-star dining.
What can I do there?
What can't you do here? On any given day, visitors can hike a mountain, paddle a lake, watch a Shakespearean performance, dance outdoors during a free summer concert or tour incredible museums and historic sites. Families traveling to the region will find a whole host of activities and attractions to keep everyone busy. Canoe and kayak on the lakes, choose from more than 2,000 miles of the best hiking trails in New York for a multi-day or afternoon excursion, take a hot-air balloon ride over Lake George or learn how to water, cross-country or downhill ski. The Adirondack Park is like a big playground. There are even a few sandy beaches for building sand castles along Lake Champlain.
What are some good hikes outside of the high peaks?
The 46 High Peaks offer an incredibly unique hiking experience, but some of the more popular trails can be crowded during peak summer hiking season. Some of the best hikes in the Adirondacks are nowhere near the high peaks, yet offer incredible views from their summits and an enjoyable hiking experience. Castle Rock in Blue Mountain Lake, Ampersand Mountain in Saranac Lake and Cathead Mountain in Benson are just a few of your options outside of the High Peaks.
Can I bring my dog on the trails?
Yes. Unless specifically posted with a no-dogs sign, most of the Adirondack Park's 2,000 miles of hiking trails are pet-friendly, and require dogs to be on a leash. Dog clean up bags are located at posts along many trails. Many towns and villages, as well as wilderness recreation areas and campsites, have leash laws. In the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requires pets to be leashed at all times.
Are there pet-friendly resorts and campgrounds?
Every member of the family is welcome in the Adirondack Region. Resorts, campgrounds, hotels, and motels throughout the park offer pet-friendly accommodations, including:
- The Copperfield Inn in North Creek
- Rooster Comb Inn in Keene Valley
- Starry Night Cabins in Schroon Lake
- Long Pond Cabins in Willsboro
- Waldron Cottages in Raquette Lake
- Saranac Lake Islands in Saranac Lake
- Schroon River Resort in Diamond Point
- The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid
- Lake George KOA Campground in Lake George
Where can I get a fishing license?
No matter what kind of fishing you do, you must have a NYS Fishing license if you are 16 and older. Most sporting goods stores throughout the Adirondacks sell fishing licenses. You will need your driver's license number or some form of identification when purchasing a fishing license. New York State offers free fishing licenses to active members of the U.S. Armed Forces, resident patients at U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals, members of the Shinnecock or Poospatuck tribes and the Six Nations living on a New York State Reservation. For more information, check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's website.
Can I hunt in the Adirondacks?
Absolutely. This region has some of the finest Adirondack hunting for bear, deer and small game in the country. The New York State DEC requires all small game hunters over the age of 12 to carry a license, and all big game hunters over the age of 16 to carry a license. All trappers must be licensed regardless of age. All first-time hunters must complete a 10-hour hunter safety course. For more information, check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's website.