Encompassing six million acres, the Adirondack Park is the largest park in the continental United States. With more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, 2,000 miles of hiking trails, and just about every seasonal outdoor activity you can imagine, the Adirondacks are one of the Northeast's top recreational playgrounds. After a day on the ski slopes, exploring historic sites, or visiting the Adirondack Museum, kick back with a regional wine on an iconic Adirondack chair and breathe in the fresh, pine-scented air.
Canoeists and kayakers prize the placid preserve of St. Regis Wilderness, which prohibits motorized boats. Whiteface Mountain, the east coast's only Olympic mountain, boasts ski slopes with the greatest vertical drop in the eastern United States and 77 trails. The less daunting Mount Pisgah draws families and beginners to its slopes. Everyone wants to climb the Adirondacks' highest peak, Mount Marcy, at 5,344 feet, while thrill seekers race down Class V rapids in the Hudson River Gorge.
Flora and Fauna
The Adirondacks encompass a big, biologically diverse region, although past exploitation has threatened moose, beaver, Canadian lynx, and osprey populations, which are in the process of being restored. Climb aboard the open-air cars of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for a ride through the forest and over rivers and bridges. Indoors, learn more about the region's native plants and animals, including live exhibits of river otters, fish, and amphibians, at the Wild Center: The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks.
Where to Stay
Adventurers base themselves at historic hotels near the Ausable Chasm to explore the two-mile sandstone gorge nearby. Old Forge Camping Resort offers tent and RV camping, log cabin and Adirondack cottage rentals -- as well as a free shuttle to the nearby Enchanted Forest Water Safari. Escape the crowds on Lake George Islands, with close to 400 isolated shoreline campsites.