ADIRONDACK PARK

"Adirondacks - bark-eaters!" was the Iroquois Indians' insult for the Algonquin. The name caught on for the entire region between Albany and the Canadian border. Today when you think Adirondacks, you think size. Adirondack, all 6 million acres of it, is the largest park in continental USA, accessible to New Yorkers in just a 5-hour drive. The park is a camping, backpacking, mountaineering and hiking paradise. Lake Placid and the high peak area was the site of the Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980 and is now a winter sports training area.

Adirondack covers not just public but also privately owned land. Besides 105 towns and villages including winter resorts and the chic spa town of Saratoga Springs, the park has huge wilderness regions such as Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area, Sentinel Range Wilderness, Sawtooth Mountains, Santanoni Mountains and Dix Mountain wilderness. 2800 lakes and ponds, 1200 miles of rivers and 46 registered High Peaks that are over 4,000 feet. At 5344 feet, Mount Marcy towers above Gothic, Haystack, Upper Wolf Jaw, Lower Wolf Jaw, Algonquin, Saddleback and others in the 1.2 billion year old chain of Adirondack Mountains.

Besides the northeast's high peak wilderness areas, a gentler landscape of undulating hills and lakes makes the south and west approaches friendly. All across the park is fascinating wilderness- dense woods of balsam fir, beech, black cherry, pine, hemlock, and wildflowers by the bushel. Inhabiting these forests is an impressive range of wildlife- white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, beaver, and a large number of birds and fish.

There are a host of exciting activities including boating, horseback riding, mountaineering, trekking, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing. The park has some splendid wildlife including moose, deer, black bear, coyotes, beavers and bald eagles. And when you tire of taking a walk on the wild side, visit the theater and art exhibitions, shop at artisan outlets, and take tours of museums, architectural and Olympic sites.

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Entry permits

There is no admission fee to enter the park since there are multiple access routes. You have to pay a fee at the state campground but not for hiking, canoeing and boat accesses.

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Access

The closest airport to Adirondack Park is at Albany. A commercial airport services the park from Saranac Lake. There is a scenic train ride on Amtrak between New York and Montreal with halts at Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, Fort Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport and Platsburg. Adirondacks Trailways operates a bus service around the mountains and large cities such as New York, Albany and Schenectady. Interstate Rt.87 traverses the eastern part of Adirondack Park from Albany to the Canadian border. In addition, there are more than 40 roads to drive into the park- so you shouldn't really have a problem getting into Adirondack.

Moving around Adirondack is likewise convenient, local buses traverse the park, and cars can be hired both outside and within the park area. For the adventurous, there are more options: go canoeing or boating down the rivers; hike, bike, ride, and during the winter, go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or dog-sledding. 3,200 miles of hiking trails meander across Avalanche Pass, Wolf Jaw Notch and Indian Pass, connecting the wilderness regions: many are open throughout the year and are a great way to see the park. Canoe routes like the one from Old Forge splash across miles of lakes, ponds and rivers.

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Best time to visit

The best time for hiking and paddling vacations is between May and October. But the weather in the Adirondacks is unpredictable - sudden summer showers and swift plunges of the mercury even at lower altitudes means that you have to be prepared for all weather conditions. Though warm days continue till October, snowfall begins in September. After mid-September, it's better to plan short trips and day hikes with easy accessibility to a safe haven or lodge to take refuge in should the weather turn nasty.

A word of advice for those looking for that spectacular photo of fall foliage: autumn in the Adirondacks is hard to beat for colour: gold, brown, scarlet, orange- every shade fall can possibly be. Time your visit for fall if you're a die-hard colour-lover.

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Accommodation

Adirondack Park has an entire range of accommodation options. At the top end are elegant resorts and spas, while motels and cottages stud the lakesides. You can also rent rooms in colonial homes around the Champlain Valley. There are plenty of eating out choices - gastronomic delights, game specialties, ethnic fare, fast food and good old mom's cooking.

For more information, contact licensed guide services such as the Adirondack Mountain Adventures (Tel: 516-293 7701), that can tailor trips to suit you. Alternately, you could contact the Information Center of New York State Tourism at 1 800/CALL-NYS (if you're calling from within the States, its territories or Canada) or 518-474 4116 (if you're calling from elsewhere).


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National Parks

- Acadia National Park
- Denali National Park
- Everglades National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Mammoth Cave National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Redwood National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
 
State Parks
- Adirondack Park

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