Saranac Lake is for everyone
Saranac Lake's waterways, trails, and attractions make any vacation fun and bursting with opportunities to explore. Your vacation should only be limited by how much fun you want to have, not accessibility. To ensure that your next vacation is as much fun as can be, and to help you plan, we've put together this guide to some of the region's experiences that no one should miss and which are welcoming and designed with visitors with disabilities in mind.
One of the best ways to learn more about the area is with a visit to Historic Saranac Lake and the Saranac Laboratory Museum, which tells the story of the village's role as a tuberculosis cure center and other local histories. Because the building is a historic landmark and was built in the 1800s, not all of it is accessible. However, the John Black Room, where rotating exhibits are displayed, is wheelchair accessible, as is the Cure Porch on Wheels, a new exhibit space and oral history booth. The staff here is always happy to spend time with visitors who are not able to see the entire space but wish to learn more.
You don't have to be a kid to enjoy the Adirondack Carousel! Visitors of all ages adore this carousel, which features hand-crafted carousel animals, all of which you'll find in the Adirondacks. The building in William Morris Park is fully wheelchair accessible, and so is the carousel! Instead of a chariot, visitors who can't or don't wish to climb aboard an animal can ride in the mini Chris Craft boat for a sweet ride.
While you're in the area, be sure to drive over to Tupper Lake to visit The Wild Center. One of the most beloved attractions in the whole state, The Wild Center is an interactive natural history museum with live otters, raptors, Adirondack amphibians, nature trails, and the Wild Walk, a raised series of wooden walkways that bring you up to the treetops! All of the indoor exhibits and most of the Wild Walk are wheelchair-friendly and were designed with everyone in mind! The Wild Center also offers special guided tours for the visually impaired and days dedicated to those with sensory issues.
Many of Saranac Lake's great hotels and motels feature ADA-compliant rooms. Choose a stunning lakeside spot at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge or downtown's historic Hotel Saranac as your home base.
Want to go camping? There are a number of campgrounds in the area that offer ADA-friendly camping for a wonderful outdoor experience. These state-run campgrounds are very family-friendly and are easy to get around, with gentle paved roads, plus a variety of amenities, including playgrounds and free activity programs.
Buck Pond State Campground in Onchiota features wheelchair accessible camping, camping pads, showers, restrooms, bathhouse, and picnic areas.
Fish Creek State Campground, located between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake, offers wheelchair accessible day use areas, camping, picnic pads, grills, picnic tables, camping pads, showers, rest rooms, pavilion, and a fishing pier!
Rollins Pond State Campground, located adjacent to Fish Creek, offers wheelchair accessible bathrooms, fire places, day use areas, and picnic tables.
Meadowbrook State Campground in nearby Ray Brook offers wheelchair accessible bathrooms, fire places, day use area, and picnic tables.
The Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center is a great place to get outdoors, breathe in that pine-scented Adirondack fresh air, and explore nature. The main building, which features gallery space, a theater, gift shop, exhibits, and a great room to relax and enjoy the views in, is all on one level and is fully accessible for visitors in wheelchairs, with walkers, and other mobility concerns. FYI: need help with the front door? Call ahead and a staff member will gladly assist you! Outside, the Barnum Brook Trail, while not ADA-compliant, is wheelchair accessible. This 0.6 mile trail is a loop with a network of bridges, boardwalks and overlooks. Those in power wheelchairs should have no trouble, but there is one hill with an 8-10% grade that should be considered. However, taking the trail counterclockwise will ensure you don't have to go up the hill.
Adirondack Riverwalking and Forest Bathing is another wonderful option! With an ADA compliant website, and experiences specifically planned for persons with disabilities, they offer Forest Therapy for all. Forest Therapy has a flexible structure that makes it easy to adapt for a wide range of disabilities. Adirondack Riverwalking and Forest Bathing has partnered with Tri-Lakes Center for Independent Living and local people with functional differences, to learn how to be more aware and in-tune with a wider range of needs. More than anything, they create an atmosphere where it is safe and comfortable to share your experience and ask for the support or modifications you need at any time during your sensory forest walk.
Have a boat and want to get out on the water? The Second Pond State Boat Launch is your ticket to exploring expansive Lower Saranac Lake and its picturesque islands. The boat launch at Second Pond has a concrete boat launch with stable docks and wheelchair accessible parking spots.
Part of what makes Saranac Lake so pretty is the beautiful Saranac River, which winds through downtown. It's popular with paddlers, fishermen, and sightseers. One of the nicest ways to explore the river in downtown is on the Riverwalk, a brick-paved path that follows the river, offering great views and access to downtown's shops and restaurants. Both ends of this 1-mile round trip path have ramps for access, and there are curb cuts along the route.
Beyond Saranac Lake
There are accessible spaces throughout the Adirondacks that offer Adirondack beauty to all travelers. Adirondack Wayfinder offers a specially designed road trip trail highlighting accessible camping, historic sites, attractions, and more!
The Tri-Lakes Center for Independent Living is a fantastic regional organization that provides many services to individuals and their families with accessibility concerns. The TLCIL even has a "Loan Closet," consisting of items such as wheelchairs, walkers, temporary ramps, and more, which may be loaned out. If you find yourself trying to plan a trip to the area and want to borrow an item or simply ask for information, the TLCIL welcomes your call or email!
Accessible Adirondack Tourism focuses on tourism in the Adirondacks for people with disabilities, their families, friends and companions. They provide a single-source website for people with disabilities to locate recreational, dining, lodging, retail, outdoor and other accessible resources within the Adirondack region, including the 14 counties of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Oneida, Oswego, Warren, and Washington.
- Adirondack Diversity Initiative
- Adirondack Diversity Solutions
- Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA)
- Accessible Adirondack Tourism
- Tri-Lakes Center for Independent Living
- Travel Unity
Additional travel tips
- Questions? Please feel free to call ahead to chat directly with a hotel, restaurant, or attraction.
- If you have special needs, please mention them at the time of reservation, and call the provider 24 to 48 hours before your arrival to confirm that proper accommodations have been made. Don't hesitate to ask for specifics such as door and bathroom measurements if you question whether or not your wheelchair will fit.
- Please be specific and clear when describing a disability. Not all service providers know the "lingo" of accessible travel but they do want to help make sure you have a wonderful experience when you visit. Give as many details as you can about your needs. The more information a service provider has, the better they will be able to accommodate you and make your visit as easy and comfortable as possible.