One of the great blessings of being a Delawarean is geographic: some of the country’s most fantastic vacation spots are within a very do-able single day’s drive – yet their distinctiveness and tranquility might just as well make them a million miles away. The Chesapeake Bay, the Pocono Mountains, beaches from Cape Cod to the Outer Banks, and even treasures like New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee and Massachusetts’ Berkshires can be reached in six to seven hours or less.
Among the best of these beauts are the majestic peaks, lush pine forests and icy lakes and streams of the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.
Our family has trucked up the New York State thru-way each summer for a couple generations now, and the group is getting bigger each year, which is ok, because the Adirondacks sit within a 6.1 million acre reserve – the largest state park in the country. Designated “Forever Wild” by the state in 1894, far-sighted citizens and public officials created the park through a combination of state and private land and to this day its cliffs and woods are essentially untouched by time.
That timeless aura, rugged natural beauty and cool summer weather attracted many of the country’s wealthiest families to build their famous “great camps” on Raquette and Saranac Lake at the turn of the last century.
The Adirondacks are an outdoorsy-persons’ paradise, a hiker’s Shangri-La in particular. The region famously hosts 46 peaks over 4,000 feet – “46ers” have climbed them all – with hundreds of miles of trails caringly maintained by park staff and private volunteer groups like the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS).
But if you are hankering for vacationary-musts like a round of miniature golf and soft-serve ice cream cones, worry not! … the villages of Lake George and Lake Placid offer plenty of touristy action. Even better, if American history is your thing, nearby Fort Ticonderoga is a must-see, with its Revolutionary tales of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold along with endless views of Lake Champlain and Vermont’s Green Mountains beyond.
The capacity for these ancient peaks and their valleys to surprise with new adventures is limitless. Year after year more hidden ponds and secret swimming holes and scenic overlooks are discovered. Here are a few shots from this summer’s visit: