New York City and Adirondacks are just five hours away from each other but different as day and night. One is best explored by a subway and the other, by boots and boats. As I drove down the winding road, the wilderness stretched out like a dreamscape — scenic mountain valleys hugged crystal-clear lakes. I was the lone driver on the spectacular but sleepy highway. The five-hour drive from New York to Adirondacks was no ordinary journey.
It was here in Adirondacks on the damp night of September 14, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt made his legendary night ride from the Adirondack Mountains to the Presidency of the United States of America. The word ‘vacation’ was invented in Adirondacks when the richest and most powerful men in the US started ‘vacating’ their homes in summers to spend time in the clean and soothing environs of Adirondacks. From Emerson, Thoreau, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Morgans, DuPonts to Mark Twain — everyone got gripped by the spell of Adirondacks.
The big daddy of parks
Historically the most important but least known park in the US, at 6 million acres, Adirondacks is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Everglades National Parks combined. The park is incredibly wild with 2.6 million acres of forest reserve land, 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of water bodies, 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 46 peaks above 4,000 feet, 55 species of mammals and 218 species of birds. Unlike other parks there is no entrance fee, no gates, just endless natural preserve and the promise of adventure in every part. It remains the only constitutionally protected ‘Forever Wild’ forest in America. And the locals here take full advantage of the wilderness they are gifted with.
Boot up to hike
Usually, if you meet someone for the first time, you invite them for coffee or a meal. But in Adirondacks, you invite them for a hike. And that’s how I met my host. The hike wasn’t arduous but the rewards were priceless — pure air, grand scenery and a bird’s view of the region that no photoshopped catalogue can match. There is no shortage of choice of hiking trails in the Adirondacks — from easy to advance, from an hour to several days!
Surf the scenic waters
When you have 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of waterways, you can’t stay away from cruising the crystal-clear waters. In Adirondacks, you don’t rent a boat you own it. Boating goes on irrespective of rain or shine.
Being an adrenaline junkie, I couldn’t say no to the scenic but wild Hudson Gorge white-water rafting. The historic and exhilarating 15 miles of torrential rafting action through dozens of breathtaking class IV and V rapids was something I had never experienced before.
Adirondacks is a region where you’ll find scenic beauty and friendly folks in all four seasons — from summer days kayaking on picture-perfect mirror lakes, hiking 46 peaks ablaze with autumn foliage, cross country skiing on powdery mountain slopes to fly-fishing in spring. And no matter what type of adventure you crave, Adirondacks will satiate it.
After experiencing the unspoilt beauty of Adirondacks firsthand, all I can say is ‘Get a taste of the life and wildlife of the wild east and rest assured, you’ll come back for more!’ That’s the spell ‘Forever Wild’ Adirondacks casts on you.
(Archana Singh is a travel writer and a public speaker, and shares her travel experiences on
Hike the 46 Adirondack high peaks
Kayak the Saranac Lake chain of three lakes
White Water Rafting over Hudson River
Visit the Winters Olympic Museum
Chase the waterfalls at High Falls Gorge
Food & Drinks
-The Breakfast Club at Lake Placid for their signature Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
-Blue Moon Cafe at Saranac Lake for their seasonal specials
Adirondack Growl and Grub at Long Lake for draft beer and fresh deli
-The Cottage Cafe at Mirror Lake Inn for spectacular lake view and delicious food.
-Bitters and Bones at Saranac Lake for local brews and Chilli Maple Wings