Lake George is nicknamed “The Queen of American Lakes” and for good reason!
There are about 3,000 beautiful clean lakes in the Adirondack region. All are surrounded by lush forests and dozens of small charming towns to visit.
Lake George is one of our favorites, with plenty to do in the surrounding area.
While not as large as Lake Champlain, Lake George is 30 miles long, 2 miles wide, and 200 feet deep. It’s also so clean and clear that you can drink the water out of it! It’s classified as a Class AA-Special water body in New York State, which is the highest rating that exists.
Here is a video of our experience RVing through the Southern Adirondacks, including a wonderful visit to Lake George.
Things to Do Near Lake George
From mines to museums to cruises, there's lots of fun things to do around Lake George.
Explore the Mines
There are quite a few mines in the Lake George area, and they're really interesting to tour. Jennifer and I particularly enjoyed the Barton Garnet Mines and Hooper Mine.
The Barton Garnet Mines were first established in 1878. The location is one of the world's largest garnet deposits. Today the mines are a major world supplier of garnets for technical industrial abrasives.
At the mine, you can take the garnet mine tour and learn about the history, geology, and present-day operations of the garnet mines and how to find your own gemstones.
There are also gem cutting demonstrations and you can search for your own garnet in one of the large pits!
The tours leave hourly and are available from the Gore Mountain Mineral Shop (1126 Barton Mines Rd, North River, NY 12856).
The mines are open seven days a week from June 24th – Sept 2nd, Mon-Sat, 9:30 am-5 pm and Sun 11 am-5 pm.
Admission cost is $14.95/person.
If you’re up for more of an adventure, close by to the Barton Mine is the abandoned Hooper Mine.
It’s about a half-mile (1 mile round-trip) walk back to the mine where you can explore the abandoned open-pit garnet mine and buildings.
The path backcrosses the nordic ski center at Garnet Hill Lodge (39 Garnet Hill Rd North River, NY 12856) so if you’re going, check in there first to let them know you’d like to walk across their property to the mine site.
Thanks for visiting and spreading the word. https://t.co/zRgilrsR0y
— Natural Stone Bridge (@Stonebridgecave) August 16, 2020
From the shores of Lake George, you can head up to Pottersville, NY to see the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park, which hosts the largest marble cave entrance in the eastern US.
Here, marked paths and trail signs guide you through a secluded glen beside the cascades of Trout Brook as you explore caves, grottos, waterfalls, and glacial potholes.
There is a self-guided, 20-stop trail that travels from cave to cave over 3⁄4 of a mile ($15.50/person). For those more adventurous, there is a guided 3-4 hour spelunking cave crawl ($100/person) that goes from cavern to cavern through these natural underground caves!
Get on the Water of Lake George
When we visited we were lucky enough that a kind local couple (followers on the blog) took us out on their boat. But there are other ways to get on the lake, too.
For the Shoreline Cruises you’ll board the 115-foot Adirondac or the 85-foot Horicon and take the Historic Sightseeing cruise or the Lake George Bay cruise to relive the history of Lake George.
They also offer sunset cruises, happy hour cruises, and dinner cruises.
Tickets range from $19-28/person. Book online or call (518) 668-4644 to reserve.
With the Steamboat Cruises, you can board the Mohican for the 2-hour Paradise Bay or the Islands of the Narrows Cruises.
On Tuesdays, during the summer you can go for a Full Lake Cruise. Sunday brunch, daily lunch, and dinner cruises are also available.
If you don’t have a lot of time, try the Minne Ha Ha for a one-hour paddle wheel cruise (offered several times per day).
Tickets range from $17-28/person. Book online or call (518) 668-5777 ext. 4 to reserve.
If you’re interested in the history of this region, there’s no better place to check out than the Fort William Henry Museum.
You see, Lake George (and all the waterways on the Hudson River, stretching from New York City to the St. Lawrence River) were strategic highways and trade routes back in the 1700s when roads didn’t stretch the entirety of the state.
This lead to a number of conflicts between the colonial empires of Great Britain and France, most notably the French and Indian War.
In 1755, the French traveled to the southern end of Lake Champlain and began work on Fort Carillon (now Fort Ticonderoga).
In response, to protect their colonies, the English sent William Johnson to the south end of Lac du Saint Sacrement, which he renamed Lake George. He began to work on a fortification to be named Fort William Henry after two royal grandsons.
Fort William Henry would serve as a staging ground for attacks against French entrenchments and to protect the important inland waterways from New York City to Montreal.
In July 1757 the French attacked, cutting off reinforcements from the south and the British surrendered on August 9, 1757.
The museum today explores what it was like to be at the outpost in the wilderness in 1757. What did it feel like being the front line in defense of the British colonies from the French?
There are guided tours presented by guides dressed in 18th-century military uniform who will explain life in a British fort, weapons and warfare including live firing demonstrations of musket and cannon.
There are also self-guided tours where you can roam the exhibits in the museum halls, parade ground, and ramparts. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Last of the Mohicans, it captures the mood of the events that happened here.
Tickets are $19.50/person.
If you want a similar history without paying, look no further than the Lake George Battlefield State Campground.
In 1755, the Battle of Lake George was fought here and Battlefield Park hosts a self-guided historical interpretive path with educational information.
And yes, you can camp here! The campground offers 68 RV sites with a 45-foot max RV length. There are no hookups but there are picnic tables, grills, potable water, flush toilets, hot showers, and a dump station.
For More Great Campgrounds and Adventures…
Check out our 7-Day Adventure Guide to the Adirondacks! We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way.
Looking for Even More Expert RV Travel suggestions?
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In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.
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