Why you need to visit the Adirondacks

 Why you need to visit the Adirondacks

We just completed almost three weeks of travel, mostly in and around the Adirondack Park region of upstate New York, with a couple of days in the Finger Lakes district and then down to what has been voted the best state park in America – Letchworth State Park south of Buffalo (I was one of the travel writer judges for the USA contest that so designated Letchworth, by the way).

Much of our travels and discoveries will be fully detailed in a soon-coming Seven Day Adventure Guide to the Adirondacks but I just had to share a few highlights and lots of photos.

The view from a hiking trail in the High Peaks area

For the first week or ten days, we spent most of our time in the High Peaks region. That's the name given to 46 mountain peaks in the Adirondack Mountains originally thought to be higher than 4,000 feet. However, later surveying showed that four of the peaks in the group are actually slightly under this elevation, and one additional peak that is close to this elevation had been overlooked. Nevertheless, due to tradition, no mountains were removed from or added to the group as a result of the revised elevation estimates.

Hiking the 46 Adirondack High Peaks is recognized as one of the greatest challenges in the Adirondack Park. People come from all around to tackle these impressive mountains, and there is a select group that has climbed all 46 – the Adirondack 46ers.

Trout fishermen on the Ausable River in the Adirondacks

We were blown away with how remote and wild this area is. It's dotted by dozens of beautiful alpine lakes and meadows, wetlands, streams, and forests. The Eastern High Peaks Wilderness area is the most regulated area. Fires are not permitted; dogs must be leashed; overnight groups are limited to eight people and day groups to 15; and bear-resistant food canisters are required from April through November.

We always keep Bo on a leash and we found the park to be very dog friendly. Bo hiked with us every day.

The view from atop Whiteface Mountain

The park itself is immense, bigger in size than greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.,  It was was created in 1892 by the State of New York to protect the land from too much lumbering and clear cutting. It is a constitutionally protected Forever Wild area. Of the Adirondack Park's 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State. The remaining 3.4 million acres are privately owned.

As such, the Adirondack Region is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. It is also home to 105 towns and villages. There is often a misperception that the Adirondack Park is a national or state park, yet the region's mix of public and private land allows for conservation and civilization to thrive.

We loved exploring the small towns, walking the streets, visiting the shops and discovering awesome little restaurants. 

A boondocking spot at Rollins Pond…right on the water

We boondocked in several spots. Our favorite boondocking campsites were Rollins Pond and Fish Creek in the High Peaks region and Moreau Lake State Park at the southern end of the Park. Near the towns of Wilmington and Lake Placid, we stayed for several days at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain KOA. Besides being centrally located for High Peaks exploring, the campground is nestled amidst tall pines and is right next to great hiking trails along the Ausable River.

The Ausable with its east and west branches runs from the High Peaks and empties into Lake Champlain. It tumbles and turns and has lots of rapids and white water as it carves out deep gorges and chasms. It is also one of the most popular tout streams in the U.S.

We also spent a couple days on Lake George, located on the park's southern boundary. Two of our followers – Tom and Pam Roberts – invited us to stay in one of their cottages right on the lake and took us for a delightful ride on this 30 mile long lake, considered the crown jewel lake of the Adirondacks.

In all, we spent two weeks in the park before heading to the Finger Lakes region and Letchworth. 

Our Harvest Host spot at the Heron Hills Winery

In the Finger Lakes, we boondocked in the parking lot of the Heron Hill Winery near Hammondsport, NY, overlooking Keuka Lake. Heron Hill is a Harvest Host site and we had the lot all to ourselves, offering one of the most spectacular views we have ever had. We can save you 15% off the cost of a Harvest Host membership, by the way. Just go to https://rvlifestyle.com/hh

Inspiration Point at Letchworth State Park

 And Letchworth State Park is equally amazing. Often dubbed as “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth offers easily accessible and spectacular views of a deep, 600-foot gorge carved out of the limestone and sandstone shale by the Genesee River.

The best way to tell you about this area is with video and I'll be spending the next few days putting together an epic one of all the sights and sounds we experienced in this magnificent state.

Look for it Thursday on the RV Lifestyle Channel in YouTube.







Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • I think you mean Hammondsport, New York (not Hammersport). My dad is from nearby Elmira and we used to go to Keuka Lake when I was a kid.

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