How to pick your camping spot

Camping is far more than an inexpensive way to stay somewhere. Camping is about living — for a while — in nature.

Whether we love the outdoors, want to learn to love the outdoors, or just long to sleep under the stars, Saranac Lake has many unique camping destinations. Make those dreams come true.

Choose a level

It's easy to choose a backcountry site where it is just us and the trees. Or, not. We have a wide variety of campgrounds with all kinds of amenities.

Whatever is holding you back might not even be an issue. Personally, if I can stay where there are restrooms and showers, then I'm a happy camper!

Campgrounds offer all kinds of fun things to do.

Other options include playgrounds, picnic tables with stands for grilling, swimming beaches or pools, on-site stores, or rowboat, canoe, kayak, or tubing availability. Some campgrounds have open air amphitheaters where all the children can play together, putting on shows. Hiking paths and fishing spots can also be abundant and easy to get to. Some of them have places you have to paddle to reach the trailhead. That's one way to get the mountain to yourself.

Some campgrounds have sandy swimming beaches.

"Wearing out the children" is a self-fixing problem at a campground. The family dilemma where parents would like to relax while children want to be on the go all the time gets solved when there are plenty of things to do, and plenty of other children to do those things with.

Not quite ready for the tent yet? Have no fear. St. Regis Falls Scenic Campsite has camping cabins for the best of both worlds. Enjoy all of the amenities of a cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, beds, and a roof over your head.

Take a lake

Waterfront access is a great reason to choose one of our many camping spots on the shores of an Adirondack lake. Whether you love that view or want a base to paddle from, fish from, or head out boating, you can find the right match among our choices.

Lean-tos are first come, first served. They offer a fine shelter, often with a picnic table or a privy nearby. These are based on the three-sided log structures Adirondack guides would build for the comfort of the hunting and fishing parties they served.

Now that's a wonderful view -- front and back!

These became so popular that as the originals, made from balsam or spruce logs, fell into disrepair, they were replaced with ones made from cedar, which resists rot and insect damage. Now, coming across one on the trail, especially one with a firepit, means "this is where to spend the night."

Choose a campground or campsite with motorboat access if water skiing or tubing is in the plans. Or, choose a primitive campsite on a lovely little pond with easy canoe or kayak carries to other waterbodies, and live the adventure experienced by the first Adirondack explorers.

Whatever your pleasure, be only steps away from that paddling, or boating, adventure.

Primitive campsites are designated areas with a level, erosion-resistant, cleared site. This makes setting up easy, and you will sleep well knowing you haven't inadvertently chosen a place with a lurking problem, like water seepage.

Your own island

That's right. Book that campsite on an island. Your own island.

Saranac Lake Islands State Campground is a system of 87 campsites that are water access only. They are located on Lower Saranac Lake and give access to the six lakes that form the Saranac Chain of Lakes.

We have a dock that's just a few minutes' walk from shops and restaurants, so take a motorboat and make lunch or dinner in town a fun part of your camping experience.

A primitive camping site on Follensby Clear Pond.

Some of the islands are big, and you share. Some of the islands are little and your family, including the dog, can have it to yourselves. Always clean up after the dog, and proof of rabies vaccination is required.

The miles and miles of possible boater recreation includes a number of beaches and day use sites like Bluff Island, with its incredible diving cliff.

Now this is a getaway! Better than putting a Do Not Disturb on the doorknob, that's for sure.

Find out more about island camping with our blog post, “One Particular Island” all to ourselves.

The Saranac Chain of Lakes has been the summer playground for so many over the last century and a half, from the very rich to the humble, but outdoor savvy. Lake Clear itself was once a destination for train travelers, and now welcomes those with pop-up campers and RVs. The Saint Regis Canoe Wilderness is a designated area of 50 different lakes and ponds, which are for only non-motorized craft.

Saranac Lake has ways of making every seeker of nature find just the right spot.

Explore all of our camping. Come in from the wild with our delightful dining. Explore our many attractions.

This week in related ADK news:

Pampered pedaling

Views made easy

Catch of the day

The art of the buy

Eat me

Sweet treats

High Rock highlights

Categories:camping, Summer
McKenzie Road Bouldering
The August Event Line-Up

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About The Author

Pamela Merritt's picture
Pamela Merritt finds a library's reading room as exciting as a hike through the forest. She met the Adirondacks in 1999 and declared it "home." She's been collecting stories ever since. She declares summer's hiking and kayaking blends beautifully into winter's snowshoeing and reading to create four great seasons of enjoyment. Her published works display her eclectic range, from How-To cat care manuals to literary short fiction.

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