Nature-Loving Things to Do in New York’s Adirondack Mountains

by Sandra Scott

New York State’s Adirondack Park is the largest state-protected nature area in the United States. It covers nearly one-third of the state, creating a vast playground for those who love to have “wild” experiences.

Here are five sites to see and things to do in this piece of nature.

Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

Old Forge

The quaint village of Old Forge is considered “base camp” for exploring the wilderness and it’s one of the best — and effortless — places for a bird’s-eye view of the area. McCauley Mountain, just outside the village, is an all-season ski area with the chairlift providing a fun ride to the top for a panoramic view. The village is also home to a beach, lake cruises and Enchanted Forest/Water Park, the largest themed water park in New York State.

Blue Mountain Lake

Blue Mountain Lake has one of my favourite museums: the Adirondack Museum, called the best of its kind by the New York Times. Situated on a rise above the beautiful lake, the museum details the geology and history of the area, from the Native Americans to the loggers to when it was the exclusive playground of the wealthy to the present. Just north of the museum is the trailhead for those who want to climb Blue Mountain. It is a relatively easy two-mile, two-hour climb to the 3, 759-foot-high summit.

Wild Center

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is one of the newest attractions in the area. I especially like the panoramic film presentation, A Matter of Degrees, which details climatic changes and how great an impact a few degrees change in temperature has on the environment. The Glacial Ice Wall and animal encounters were some other personal favourites. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits along with nature walks and talks.

Lake Placid

Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, and is considered the birthplace of winter sports in the Americas. The Olympic Museum explores the legacy of the Olympics. I got my thrills from the simulated bobsled ride. At nearby Whiteface Mountain, the Cloudsplitter Gondola takes riders over ski trails and wooded areas with breathtaking views of the Ausable River, the Adirondack High Peaks and the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex.

Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

White Water Rafting

There is fishing, boating and skiing all through the Adirondacks, but for the ultimate thrill try white water rafting. My rafting trip started on the Indian River, which merges with the Hudson. The scenery is majestic, the rapids heart-stopping, and I really enjoyed the relaxing swim in the tranquil section between the rapids. There are rafting trips on the many rivers of the Adirondack Mountain area.