In 1892, the state of New York set aside land to become the Adirondack Park. The Park is larger than all other parks combined in the 48 contiguous states. It occupies a fifth of New York State, is the same area as neighboring Vermont, and is almost three times the size of Yellowstone National Park!
Adirondack Park is renowned for its abundance of natural beauty, including its pristine forests, lakes, rivers, and outdoor activities. Because it includes public and private land on which people live all year round, the Adirondack Park does not have a traditional entrance or entrance charge like a national park.
Adirondack Park is One of a Kind
The Adirondack Park is one of a kind since it consists of both privately and publicly held properties. This planning framework has helped New York State preserve our state’s stunning woods, while also allowing locals and tourists to make use of the Park’s natural resources and enjoy its rural setting.
Private property occupies more than half of the Adirondack Park and is used mostly for Placed Image: /vs-uploads/images/Park Map+Key 2016Web small.jpg
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105 settlements, farms, active woods, commercial centers, and residential neighborhoods. 130,000 permanent inhabitants, 200,000 seasonal residents, and 12.4 million annual tourists call the Park home.
The other 45 percent of the Park is Forest Preserve, which has been “Forever Wild” under NYS law since 1894 and is owned by the public. These areas are one of just two landscapes in the entire world that are guaranteed by the constitution.
Wilderness designation has been placed on one million acres of these public lands, making them available for non-motorized activities. More than 1.3 million acres of public property are classified as Wild Forest, where motorized usage are allowed only on certain bodies of water, roads, and paths.
Background on the Adirondacks
The Mohawks and the Algonquins were the first indigenous peoples to occupy this area. Due to the severe temperature and steep environment of the Adirondack Mountains, it is unclear if either tribe ever truly moved there. However, the tribes made use of the territory as a hunting and fishing ground and a transportation corridor to other parts of the state. In fact, some have speculated that the name “Adirondack” comes from a Mohawk phrase that meaning “those who consume trees” (or “Barkeater”). Many people believe that it is a derogatory word for the Algonquins who moved north. The name “Adirondacks” was first used officially in1838, according to geologist Ebenezer Emmons.
The French and Indian War and the subsequent Revolutionary War both used the Adirondacks as a significant background. Along the beaches of Lake Champlain, in fact, you may see historical landmarks that have survived to the present day.
Lake Champlain and the present-day eastern boundary of the Adirondack Park were both found by Samuel De Champlain, the first European to enter the Adirondacks. Colonization of the region started off slow.
After the Revolutionary War
As a means of paying off war debts, the state of New York was given control of the Adirondacks after the Revolutionary War and promptly sold off millions of acres to timber barons. There weren’t many takers of this offer until the 1830s, and even then, the rest of the Adirondacks weren’t fully explored and colonized. People quickly depleted the seemingly endless supply of resources by engaging in widespread tree-cutting and animal-killing for sustenance and clothing.
Many prominent authors after the 19th century glorified the outdoors in their writing, including Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a result, many city inhabitants headed north to enjoy the great outdoors. The first tourists were able to visit the region with the building of the train that linked New York City and Quebec. In search of rest and relaxation in the midst of natural beauty, hordes of tourists have flocked to the guesthouses and large campgrounds lining the shores of the Adirondack lakes.
Even while the number of visitors to the Adirondacks is on the rise, the region’s rich timber and water resources are deteriorating due to the widespread cutting down of trees, which has led to increased erosion and floods. This cut off vital water and canal commerce routes downstate. Verplank Colvin, a distinguished attorney, witnessed the devastation firsthand and spent over 30 years conducting surveys to catalogue the area’s natural riches. In1873, he stated that the watershed’s degradation posed a real threat to the Erie Canal’s continued operation and advocated for the establishment of a state Forest Preserve.
The Adirondack Park was designated “Forever Wild” by the state of New York in 1894, per Article XIV of the state constitution. This indicates that the state is prohibited from selling or leasing public land under the Constitution.
The Adirondacks experienced a dramatic shift in their tourist industry after World War II, when state route I-87, sometimes known as the “Adirondack Northway,” was built. The preference of vacationers for more conventional lodgings like hotels and motels has surpassed that of more homey options like bed and breakfasts. Crowds flocked to Lake Placid during the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Bed & breakfasts and local house rentals have reemerged as popular lodging options in the Adirondacks, catering to visitors’ desires for a more intimate experience.
Animals Native to the Adirondacks
The Adirondacks are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including 53 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, and numerous species of birds, insects, and fish. The Adirondacks are home to many unique species of wildlife, including the moose, bald eagle, common loon, river otter, black bear, coywolves and coyotes, bobcat, deer, and beaver.
Stunning Scenery, Lush Vegetation, and Beautiful Flowers
The Adirondack region’s rocks are around a billion years old, but the mountains themselves are much younger. They’re constantly expanding, too, because to the upward push of subterranean rock caused by the melting of glaciers and the friction between the Earth’s tectonic plates. The Adirondack Mountains are unique in that they create a round dome, rather than a linear range.
The Adirondacks are a section of the world’s biggest Boreal Forest, which is dominated by coniferous trees including pines, spruces, and larches. The Park’s 100,000+ acres of old-growth forest are among the largest such areas in the world. Northern hardwood forest occupies over two-thirds of the Park’s land area.
Hills, lakes, marshes, ponds, and streams make up the pleasant landscapes of the western and southern Adirondacks. The High Peaks area, located in the Park’s northeastern part, is the highest point in elevation. There are 43 peaks that are higher than 4,000 feet, and 11 of those are alpine summits that are higher than the tree line. Smaller mountains and valleys, ideal for farming, make up the eastern part of the Adirondacks, which borders Lake Champlain and the state of Vermont.
Pure Waters for Miles
There are five large drainage basins that have their origins in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park is the source of water for Lake Champlain and the Hudson, Black, St. Lawrence, and Mohawk Rivers. New York City and its surrounding areas benefit from the Adirondacks’ ability to filter water through their woods and marshes.
There are more than 2,800 lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, along with more than 1,500 miles of rivers that are fed by an estimated 30,000 miles of brooks and streams.
This is a time for leisure travel and amusement.
Approximately 7–12.4 million people travel to the Adirondacks annually. It’s longer than the Grand Canyon! Many communities in the Adirondacks cater to tourists all year long, whether they’re in search of winter sports, summer fun, or a weekend getaway.
Visitor favorites include Old Forge, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Lake George. The hamlet of Newcomb, Tupper Lake, Inlet, Speculator, and Schroon Lake are just a few examples of the many Adirondack settlements that are perfect for a weekend trip.
The Adirondacks attract tourists all through the year for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, including as hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, boating, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and bird watching. Get familiar with Leave No Trace and NYSDEC standards before enjoying a day of outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondack Council is the largest of the several groups advocating for the Adirondack Park and Albany, and it has members from every one of the United States and even other countries. The Adirondack Council provides recommendations to legislators on how to maintain the Park’s ecological integrity and wild nature via public education and lobbying.