Adirondack Park FAQ

“The Adirondacks” Useful Information

Have you heard of the Adirondacks? Wondering what the hype is? WELL… after one date you’ll be sold on its good looks and what it brings to the table. The beautiful Adirondacks of Northern New York features an overwhelmingly large number of friendly communities, attractions, mountains, lakes, rivers, luscious valleys, and steep cliffs. It pretty much goes without saying that the Adirondack Park is an outdoor enthusiasts dream come true.

Spanning more than six million acres, the Adirondack Mountains are the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 of the United States. It’s huge; the Adirondack Park is ⅕ of the state. It’s equal in size to New York’s neighbor, Vermont, and is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park! Each distinct region within the park offers unique recreational opportunities; discover an area as diverse in geography as it is in activities and events when you visit the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Park Map

Frequently Asked Questions

As a state, New York is seriously underrated and the Adirondack Park plays a huge role in all the many landscapes and experiences that New York has to offer. This is the place for nearly endless Adirondack information based on personal experience… check out the following questions:

Where is the Adirondack Park located?

The Adirondack Park is a vast Wilderness located in Northern New York. Its southernmost boundary is about 4 hours north of New York City and its northernmost boundary is 2 hours south of Montreal. At 9,375 square miles, it would take you days to explore every road! 

The Adirondack Park and COVID-19

Is the Adirondack Park open during COVID-19?

The Adirondack Park is home to many small, remote towns. Many of these towns are at least an hour’s drive from a Hospital; it is incredibly important that you follow all COVID-19 precautions and procedures when visiting the area. For many of these Adirondack towns, tourism is important for the local economy, however, not at the expense of their health and well being.

Please make sure you do not travel to any Adirondack Towns during COVID-19 if you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, are currently COVID-19 positive, or are currently quarantined. Wearing a mask when out in public, and yes this includes on the trails, is also very important. When it comes to hiking or skiing/snowboarding it is important that you have a mask or gaiter at the ready for when you are in close proximity to other people and cannot social distance. The spaces may include, but are not limited to, passing others on trail, sitting in a gondola or waiting in line for the ski lift, at the trailhead, and hanging out on a summit. Please have a face covering available to you at all ties. 

The Adirondacks

What does Adirondack mean?

I’m glad you asked. The Adirondack region has a lot of history… and it isn’t all ‘good media’. Many claim the word ‘Adirondack’ was a derogatory term, meaning ‘bark eaters’, given to the Algonquin tribe by the neighboring Mohawk. This was intended to describe the original inhabitants of the region who struggled to provide adequate fish and game, therefore subsisting on bark. It’s likely that the term was used to describe the most prominent natural creature of the region, the beaver. 

Native History of the Adirondacks is quite complex! The Adirondack region has always been an indigenous homeland for Iroquois and Algonquian people. It was a location of exchange for many tribes. There is evidence that the region was regularly traveled by people of the Algonquian, Abenaki, Mahican and Iroquois nations. The current Adirondack Park was a spiritual location which was also used for hunting, trapping and fishing. 

Adirondack Roads…

How Do I Get to the Adirondacks?

Generally speaking, most people drive themselves to and through the Adirondack Park. If you’re traveling from out of state, I would suggest flying into Albany, Syracuse, or Plattsburgh International Airport. There are a few bus lines that can take you to some major towns in the ADK, however, I would suggest renting a car and driving on your own! 

Where do I Enter the Park and How Much Does it Cost?

Unlike many other state and national parks, the Adirondack Park does not have a set entrance and there is no fee to enter. You will not find a toll booth, fee collector, or long line to enter the ADK Park. What you will find is parking and camping fees at certain locations. The Adirondack Park is massive and houses many communities within its borders; there are numerous roads that lead into and out of the Adirondack Park. 

Friends Should Visit the Adirondack Park to Make Great Memories!

Who Should Travel to the Adirondacks?

The Adirondack Park has a myriad of options for travelers of all kinds, however, I would suggest adventurous individuals who love the outdoors are most likely to enjoy their Adirondack experience. If you like to hike, camp, backpack, paddle, climb, or ski/snowboard, you will love the Adirondack Park.

There are endless recreational opportunities in the ADK, however, there are also beautiful hotels, delicious restaurants, local micro-breweries, museums, and other tourist attractions in the park. Lake Placid is home to the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Saratoga Springs is home to the famous race track, and Lake George & Ticonderoga played an influential role in the Revolutionary war; these four famous Adirondack towns pull tens of thousands of travellers each year. 


Camping in the Adirondack Park

Where Should I Stay in the Adirondacks?

This depends largely on what you’re looking to get out of your stay. There are 102 towns in the Adirondack Park, however, only a handful of those towns are designed with tourism in mind. Regardless of tourism, there are a number of charming towns tucked away in these beautiful mountains. 

Lake Placid, Lake George, and Saratoga Springs are among the most popular Adirondack destinations. Many of these popular spots draw crowds, and for good reason! If you’re looking to experience one of these towns but don’t want to pay tourist prices, I suggest Saranac Lake, Schroon Lake, and Northville. Each of these small Adirondack towns will bring you just close enough to these hot spots while still maintaining that backcountry vibe.

Other beautiful, more-than-mentionable Adirondack towns include Keene, Long Lake, Old Forge, and Tupper Lake. A low-key, outdoor activity-filled family vacation to any one of these towns will leave you refreshed and wishing you didn’t have to leave. 


Indian Head Through the Seasons

When is the Best Time to Visit the Adirondacks?

The answer to this question really depends on what you’re looking to do during your stay! The busiest and most aesthetically pleasing time of year is definitely Autumn. The fall foliage in the ADK is to die for and you can experience gorgeous views from just about anywhere.

The summer months are popular for those who like to spend time on the water and in the woods. The summer provides beautiful weather for exploring local towns, camping and backpacking, and paddling of all sorts. Be sure to pack your sun protection and bug spray if you’re going to be in town from late May until September!

If you’re a big downhill skier or snowboarding enthusiast, the winter months are when you’re going to want to explore the ADK! Late December through February are the snowiest months of the region. There are a number of amazing local mountains and popular ski resorts throughout the Park; if less of a vertical drop is more your style, there are hundreds of miles worth of Cross Country Ski trails for you to explore as well. 

Seasonal Checklist

Please be prepared with the following items for each season that you may visit…

Overall, these generic lists should include the basics for all recreational opportunities.

Winter
Average Temperature 12°-25° F
Proper Layering: base layer, wool/polyester mid layer, insulated jacket, waterproof shell
Appropriate Accessories: waterproof gloves, warm hat, winter socks, winter boots, neck gaiter
Additional Accessories for when your originals get wet!
Micro Spikes
Snowshoes
Trekking Poles
Lip Balm and/or Sunscreen for sunny winter days
Crampons: for mountaineering and steep terrain
High Energy Snacks
2L of Water and Water Purification
“Hot Hands” or similar hand/foot/body warmers
Headlamp with extra batteries
Sealable, insulated bottle for a warm beverage
Avalanche Protection
First Aid Kit (including an emergency blanket!)
Summer
Average Temperature 60°-70° F
Appropriate Clothing
Rain & Wind Protection
Footwear (Know the terrain and the weather)
Headlamp with extra batteries
High Energy Snacks
2L of Water
Water Purification
**Knowledge of water source location**
Hydration/Electrolyte Tabs
Sun Protection
(long sleeves, brimmed hat, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, etc.)
Bug Protection
(long sleeves & pants, bug spray, dryer sheets, bug nets, etc.)
SPRING
Average Temperature 40°-55° F
Proper Layering (always pack warm layers, it will be colder at elevation)
Appropriate Layering (It might feel warm at the trailhead, but bring hats, gloves, and extra socks!)
Sun Protection (sunglasses, brimmed hat, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.)
Footwear (waterproof baby!)
Micro Spikes
Headlamp with extra batteries
High Energy Snacks
2L of Water and Water Purification
Rain Gear Top & Bottom
First Aid Kit (including an emergency blanket!)
Fall
Average Temperature 40°-55° F
Proper Layering (always pack warm layers, it will be colder at elevation)
Appropriate Layering (It might feel warm at the trailhead, but bring hats, gloves, and extra socks!)
Sun Protection (sunglasses, brimmed hat, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.)
Footwear: Check the weather, you may want to bring microspikes for hikes at elevation
Headlamp with extra batteries
High Energy Snacks
2L of Water and Water Purification
Rain &  Wind Protection
First Aid Kit (including an emergency blanket!)
Experience Views Like These…

What is there to Do in the Adirondack Park?

The Adirondack Park is the perfect vacation destination. Whether you’re looking to relax on the lake or scale mountains, you’re in the right place. The Adirondack Park provides ample opportunities for Outdoor Recreation and even boasts a number of more relaxing options.

Hiking & Snowshoeing

Hiking, and snowshoeing in the winter months, are among some of the Adirondack Park’s most popular attractions. There are over 2,000 miles of marked trails in the ADK. These trails can bring you to the summit of New York’s tallest mountains or to some of the most secluded lakes on the East coast. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day backpacking trip, or a quick sunrise jaunt, the Adirondack Park has just the trail for you.

Winter Olympic Sites

The Adirondacks, Lake Placid specifically, was home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Because of this, there are so many awesome places to learn about and experience the winter Olympic Games! There are several Lake Placid Olympic Sites to explore; each space is home to a unique experience. 

Skiing, Snowboarding, & XC Skiing

The Adirondack Park is home to some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding on the East Coast as well. Their small, town local mountains are a great place to learn! Meanwhile, their big-time slopes will challenge any level of skier or snowboarder. If vertical drop isn’t your thing, there are acres of gorgeous xc skiing trails throughout the park as well. Lapland Lake in the Southern Adirondacks is a popular cross country skiing spot, or Ski the VIC on Paul Smith College’s campus. 

Watersports

There are more than 3,000 lakes and ponds and over 6,000 miles of rivers and streams in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park is a paddler’s dream! There are so many gorgeous waterways to explore and amazing little, secluded islands to camp out on. Whether you’re focused on fishing, paddling, or being towed behind a motorboat in a tube, the ADK is full of great opportunities to get out on the water.

Hunting & Fishing

If you’re a hunter, the Adirondacks are home to some of the finest bear, deer, and small game hunting 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. As long as you are properly prepared, you’re bound to have a wonderful time. The Adirondack Park is also known for its fishing. You must have a fishing license if you are 16 years or older. You can obtain an NYS fishing license at most sporting goods stores throughout the park; if you’re driving by a Walmart on your way in, they also sell licenses. 

Climbing

Rock and ice climbing is a topic I am not prepared to speak on. Although this is not a recreational opportunity that I seek out when visiting the Adirondacks, I do know that there are plenty of popular spots for those who love this sport!

Maybe climbing for you starts as an adventurous day in the treetops. The Adirondacks are home to a few different aerial adventure courses, including zip lines rope swings, cargo nets, rock walls, and more. Visit Adirondack Extreme in Bolton Landing for a memorable day learning the ropes!

Photo Credit: Adirondack Extreme

Museums & History

If you’re a museum go-er or a history buff, there are a number of different attractions for you to visit while you’re in town. The Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, and a handful of battlegrounds and historical sites are among the region’s most popular happenings. Whether you plan your trip around these or save them for a rainy day, these options are great to have in your back pocket. 

What Kind of Gear do You Need to Recreate Safely?

Where Can I Rent Equipment in the Adirondacks?

Where you can rent equipment for different types of recreational experiences is going to vary based on what region you are visiting. I’m going to break it down by major towns for you.

Sign in at the Trail Register

What Should I Hike in the Adirondacks?

The golden question because there are just so many options! I would base my answer on where you’re visiting; you might have a handful of hikes right in your backyard.

Personally, I would plan the location of my vacation based on the hikes I want to complete. If I’m looking to work on some High Peaks, I would stay in the Lake Placid, Keene, or Newcomb area. If I wanted to work on the Fulton Chain Trifecta, I would stay in Old Forge. It all depends on what you’re looking to accomplish and enjoy during your stay.

How Can I Find Local ADK Hikes?


If you’re planning your vacation based on a specific town or region of the Adirondacks, that’s great too! You’re likely in close proximity to a number of beautiful hiking opportunities. There are  a few ways you could find local hikes for your vacation:

1. Buy a Map! There are endless trails in the Adirondacks and a map will show you the vast majority of them.

2. Use AllTrails as a tool to scout hikes in the area you’re visiting.

3. Google hikes in the area – blogs, like mine, can provide you with a lot of answers. 

4. Ask the locals. Ask the owner of your Airbnb or the waiter at your restaurant what their favorite local hike is. Someone is bound to have a gem waiting for you!

There are also a number of Adirondack Hiking Challenges available for you to try your hand at. Some of these challenges can be easily completed in a weekend while others might require more time. 

So many Hiking Challenges within the Adirondack Park! Which will you try?

Which Adirondack Hiking Challenge Should I Try?

I would base my choice of Adirondack Hiking Challenge on ability level, location, and the amount of time I have to complete the challenge. There is a fun hiking challenge for outdoorists of all ability levels! 

Each Challenge’s individual post goes in-depth on location, difficulty level, and timeframe. I suggest checking out each hike’s post for more Adirondacks information. The Fulton Chain Trifecta and Tupper Lake Triad are the easiest of the challenges; the Adirondack 46er is the most difficult. The Saranac Lake 6er, Lake Placid 9er, and Lake George 12ster all fall somewhere in the middle of the two. 

Follow LNT in the ADK

What is Proper Etiquette When Exploring the Adirondack Park?

If you are traveling to the Adirondacks to experience some of its natural, raw, and forever wild beauty, you need to make sure your following Leave No Trace Principles. Leave No Trace, or LNT, is a set of principles designed to help preserve the natural beauty and sustain the wild health of our favorite outdoor spaces. 

The 7 LNT Principles include:

  1. Planning and Preparing Ahead of Time
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

You can find more information on the specifics of LNT at the Center For Outdoor Ethics. 

Always do your research and prepare!

How Should I Prepare for Recreating in the Adirondacks?

If you’re traveling to the Adirondacks with a specific form of recreation in mind (hiking, paddling, climbing, snowmobiling, skiing/snowboarding, etc.) you need to do your research! What are the rules and regulations for that activity? It’s very important that you know. Rules and regulations aside, you should really know just what you might be getting yourself into.

All too often people see beautiful views and don’t necessarily know quite what it takes to get there. Don’t get yourself in over your head! Do your research and be prepared. There are still absolutely gorgeous ways to experience the Adirondacks, even if you’re a newbie! If you’re new to downhill skiing, you don’t need to take the chairlift(s) to the summit of Whiteface for a good ride… you don’t have to scale a 46er for a stunning view if you’re new to hiking… if you’re new to paddling, you don’t have to find the whitewater to have fun… Do your research and find the mountain, hike, or river that suits your ability level best! 

The Adirondack Park is *Largely* Dog Friendly

Can my Dog Join me on my Adirondack Adventures?

Absolutely! Unless otherwise specified, the Adirondack Park is dog-friendly. The only requirement on  many of these trails is that your dog is leashed at all times. If your dog cannot join in on your fun, there is usually a specific sign that will let you know. With a little bit of research, you will know if your pet can join you. 

The trail.

Where Can I Find Updated ADK Trail Conditions?

It’s really important to have some idea of what you’re going to experience on the trail. Using a number of different sources to come to a conclusion on your desired trail’s conditions is a good choice! Here are a few resources you should consider utilizing:

Adirondack Almanac

Facebook Group

Mountain Forecast

NYS DEC

Ski Trail Conditions

Examining Instagram posts and speaking to their owners has also helped me to learn more about a specific trail and what to expect. Always be sure to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into out there. 


Adirondack Park Articles A-Z

Every article I’ve ever written on the Adirondack Park is included in the list below. There is an in-depth article on just about every topic mentioned above and more! Be sure to share and save/pin anything you might want to save for later. As always, reach out if you have any specific Adirondack Park questions. 

A dirondack BreweriesN
B eginner Hikers Start Here O ld Forge, Old Forge Hiking
CP
D ownhil Skiing & SnowboardingQ
ER estaurants in Lake Placid
F ulton Chain Trifecta
Free Camping in the ADK
S aranac Lake 6er
Solo Hiking Tips
GT upper Lake Triad
H igh Peaks Region (coming soon!),
Hotels in Lake Placid (coming soon!)
U
IV
JW inter Hikes
Winter Hiking Tips
KX
L ake Placid 9er
Lake George 12ster
Y
MZ

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Published by expeditioneducation

Hi there, I'm Kati! I'm an outdoor recreation loving public school teacher who plans epic adventures on her school breaks. If you like to explore and experience beautiful new places on a budget, then let me help you plan your next trip!

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