A recent tweet was talking about how its possible to fall in love with a person at first sight but not only that, a place too!
Well I have to admit I am a certainly ‘love struck’ after a recent trip to New York State, a place that was never on my travel radar for a second, but isn’t that how falling in love with person is in real life…in the first place? Setting the scene, you casually bump into a person in a hotel bar, library or museum and that’s it… love at first sight!
It came as I drove around the park called the Adirondacks, it was not a blonde, brunette or redhead, for me it was the park itself!
I had been invited to join in a whitewater-rafting event on the Indian and Hudson Rivers with the Governor of the State, it was like turning up to a friend’s party and across a crowded room spotting the partner of your dreams, in this case the Adirondacks…thank you Governor Cuomo!
Coming from the UK we have the Lake District an area of some great beauty recognised in the 18th century by a real romantic, the poet William Wordsworth, but being the USA they just had to go that one step further.
More lakes, more mountains and more rivers, as if just to emphasize the beauty of the place, and those crafty Americans have been keeping this beauty to themselves for far too long.
The Adirondacks has been a playground to millions living in the surrounding area of the North Eastern US, however State Governor Cuomo was really keen to put this amazing park on the wider world tourist map.
Not only for it’s looks but some record-breaking vital statistics as well. Its bigger than Yosemite, The Grand Canyon National parks, it has some 70,000 miles of waterways and it’s 10 times the size of the UK’s Lake District.
ADIRONDACKS LIKE THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT BUT ON STEROIDS !
Whenever people have asked me about where I have just been on my travels I have had to explain to them, as nobody ever seems to have heard of the park before. Their first question is “What’s it like then?” and I reply “Well it’s like the Lake District but on steroids, with about the tenth of the traffic!”
How the US tourism authorities managed to keep this beauty such a secret is beyond me. Perhaps President Obama should give their top national secrets to the tourism board as they will be pretty well safe forever with them!
Organising a whitewater raft race against the Mayor of New York was one of the first steps the Governor did in getting the Adirondacks publicised to a wider audience and raising the profile of the ‘Wild Forever’ area that the Governor himself has been using for years as a giant outdoor play park.
In the summer the park is a playground for kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing, camping and hiking, the extensive lakes provide wonderful places for sailing. Who would think that you can sail halfway up a mountain range or indeed take a ride on a Mississippi style steam powered paddle boat on a 30 mile long lake up there too?
From autumn to spring it becomes a skiing and winter sports destination based around the village of Lake Placid, as surprisingly it is a village! In its time it was the host location for the 1980’s winter Olympic games. Here the US team has winter training facilities, the giant ski jumps tower over the small township.
The area of The Adirondacks uses a portaged canoe as part of the logo as it was for many years the best way to access the whole area using its network of many rivers and lakes. Good tarmacked roads were late to come and then that was back at the end of the 1920’s.
Winter or summer Lake Placid is a great central location for a touring base, there is a good range of hotels from the brand Hamptons Hilton to the long established family run charming and ‘Green’ Golden Arrow, they are situated on different sides of Mirror Lake but offer stunning views of it and the surrounding mountains.
On a sporting front, calling in at the High Peaks Mountain Adventures store in Main Street, Lake Placid where you can hire a kayak for a few days and/or they will take you on a escorted tour to a river or lake depending on the standard of your paddling abilities.
Perhaps you may want to try whitewater-rafting yourself and they can get you afloat with an experienced guide for that water adventure, which is great wet and wild fun for all the family.
A little tamer and a chance to step back in time on the ‘Minne Ha Ha’ for a cruise on a steam powered paddleboat on Lake George setting off from the town lakeside quay. This one-hour cruise on the crystal clear waters of the lake as it explores the southern half where many large historic mansions line the shores below scenic mountains. Returning back to Lake George village and as you disembark from the vessel you are likely to be serenaded by the Minne’s authentic steam whistle calliope.
Longer cruises are possible on one of their other vessels such as ‘The Mohican’ built around 1908 it is the longest continuously operated cruise ship in the US and it offers a leisurely extended trip around the many beautiful islands of the Narrows, regarded by many as the most picturesque area of the entire 32 mile long lake.
There is an excellent cycling option operated by the Lake George Steam Boat Company with two possiblities. You can ride on the boat to the northern most landing at Ticonderoga and cycle back down Route 9N to Lake George Village. Or cycle the other way around to Ticonderoga in the morning and then relax as you travel back in style back on the Mohican.
Opposite the town quay in Lake George is home to a reconstructed British Colonial style Fort William Henry this stunning replica of the time when the British ‘Red Coats’ marched across this frontier land is well worth a visit. I caught up on some British history whilst there that I was unaware of. If with children they will find the dressing up, military drilling and the period dressed fort guides very entertaining and educational too. With canon and musket firing plus even the odd grenade being thrown, all your senses will enjoy the time spent there.
If you want a really peaceful and remote place to stay, do try to book in at Elk Lake Lodge and their stunning 8 timber lakeside cabins. This private lake surrounded by mountains and 12,000 acres is a wildlife haven where beavers abound with even more bizarre visitors that I never expected to see so far north, beautiful humming birds!
A moose or bear would have made my stay but alas none in the two days I was there. The odd sunbathing harmless garter snakes did take a little getting use to. Elk Lake is perfect for kayaking plus with the chance for any amount of walks on their many marked out trails where you can get really away on your own in this wild and forested private lodge and is a ‘guests only’ estate.
STEAMBOATS RIVERS LAKES AND FORESTS OF THE ADIRONDACKS
A chance to understand even more background about the Adirondack area itself, then a trip to the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain is great way to spend a morning, afternoon or indeed the whole day. The extensive grounds and the many varied historic buildings hold a huge amount of artifacts including trains, stage coaches, forestry machinery plus even sail boats, once designed particularly for the lakes and raced by the leading entrepreneurs of the 19th century like the Vanderbilt’s, who built holiday homes and camps in this wild natural landscape.
The symbol of the area, the canoe being portaged feature of course, it was those that helped make it possible to open up the whole area in the first place so it has a special place. Fashion, food and every aspect of Adirondack life can be looked at here plus some amazing views of Blue Mountain Lake from the café at the rear of the complex.
The Ausable river runs through Lake Placid but some 36 miles away is the Ausable Chasm a 150 foot high narrow gorge with an aerial adventure course and the chance to ride the waters again in a raft or float part of the route in a tyre or tire, as its spelt in the US.
A ride with some alternative and amazing views can be seen from the Saratoga to North Creek railroad this great train ride in the heart of the Adirondacks over 50 miles long is through the first wilderness heritage corridor that follows the snaking Hudson River. Staying at The Copperfield Hotel in North Creek you can watch the trains coming and going from your room! This would make perfect Autumn or Fall experience as the leaves change colour or a Polar Express experience in the winter time. With onboard dining and seated in their historic observation car it is such a great way to get a mobile viewpoint of the area in any season.
I suppose the secret is now out about ‘The Adirondacks’.
This perfect alternative US holiday destination 4 hours drive away from major cities like that of New York and Boston-I know great cities to visit! Believe me you would be crazy not to build in some time to visit this fabulous family friendly but also extreme outdoor adventure playground.
A truly lovely place, that like me, I am sure you will fall in love with too! X