Adirondack Canoe Tenting Dos & Don’ts | Photograph Essay

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During my first decade in New York City, exploring the Empire State’s outdoor offerings wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities—flying west was quicker and easier anyway. Then a contributor submitted a photo essay from a canoe camping trip to a small lake south of the New York-Canada border, and I realized I was missing a whole world far up north—the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Park is a unique wilderness area made up of public and private land. Designated “Forever Wild” in 1892, it permanently preserves 6 million acres of pristine wilderness for future generations to explore and enjoy. To put that in perspective, that’s bigger than the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountain, and Glacier National Parks combined.

Adirondack Park is home to North America’s oldest mountains – once the territory of the Iroquois-speaking Mohawk and Oneida and the Algonquian-speaking Mahicans – and the state’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. Not to mention nearly 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 3,000 lakes and ponds including Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes. Within these three lakes are 86 individual islands of various sizes where you can camp (if you can snag a ReserveAmerica reservation six months in advance). It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely canoe camping trip.