The Adirondack Park in northern New York is one of the country’s great wilderness areas. The land that makes up the park is located inside the Blue Line, an invisible line that surrounds more than six million acres of land.
The park is a mixture of public and private land and was created in 1885. In 1895, the New York State Assembly said that the land should remain “forever kept as wild forest lands”.
Wanting to learn more about the area’s history and natural beauty, I decided to check out the Adirondack Experience in Hamilton County, New York.
The Adirondack Experience is a unique museum that tells the story of the Adirondack Mountains, the Adirondack Park, and the people that live in and visit the area. Located on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Blue Mountain Lake, the museum consists of a series of buildings that each cover a different theme related to the Adirondacks.
The museum occupies over 120 acres and has 23 different buildings. Most of these are open for visitors to tour and learn about different aspects of the Adirondacks.
The museum opened to the public in 1957 on the site of the Blue Mountain House, a historic hotel. While only a few remnants of this hotel still exist on the property, other historic buildings have been reconstructed here, and several modern facilities to house museum collections have been added as well.
In July 2017, the Adirondack Experience opened its newest and most modern exhibit, Life in the Adirondacks.
This portion of the museum delves into many different aspects of life in the region including transportation, industries, native peoples, and the natural beauty of the Adirondacks. While other parts of the site delve into some of these areas in more detail, this building makes a perfect introduction to the museum and the Adirondacks as a whole.
Throughout the Life in the Adirondacks exhibit, there are interactive elements, videos, and audio recordings that bring different aspects of Adirondack history to life.
While I highly recommend exploring the rest of the Adirondack Experience as well, this is definitely the first spot you should visit and is the one building you definitely don’t want to miss.
Of course, just because the Life in the Adirondack exhibit is the one spot to definitely not miss, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other great exhibits to explore at the Adirondack Experience. In fact, there are nearly 20 different buildings that contain displays.
For me, some of the most interesting spots to explore were the historic cabins. Some of these were moved to the site to preserve them while others were originally located here. These seven buildings each helped to tell the story of the Adirondacks and offered a great look into rustic architecture and regional design.
Inside the Bull Cottage, there was even a display of rustic furniture, a style of Adirondack design using pieces found in nature in a more natural state than they are usually used. This selection of furniture really offered a great look into this style of design.
I also really enjoyed the Boats and Boating exhibit that highlights the history of boating transportation within the Adirondacks. The museum features a variety of different small boats dating back to the first days of settlement in the region. There is even a small workshop on site that is in the process of building a new boat!
Another great spot is the Marion River Carry Pavilion. Located in the center of the Adirondack Experience, this area features a historic train and boat that once carried passengers to resorts in the region.
The train here was the first piece collected by the museum and once ran the world’s shortest railroad line, a mere 1,300 yards, connecting Blue Mountain Lake and Utowana Lake. The engine is in great shape, and it’s really interesting to see this piece of transportation history.
To be honest, I could keep on going on and on about the many great things to see at the Adirondack Experience as there are over a dozen buildings and exhibits that I didn’t even mention here. However, I’ll leave those for you to uncover on your own.
If you are wanting to learn more about the history and culture of the region or are looking for something to do in the Adirondacks on a rainy day, you really can’t beat the Adirondack Experience, even if you’ve already been to the nearby Wild Center. This is also a great spot to bring kids as there are many interactive things for them to do on site.
In fact, there’s enough to do here that you might spend the whole day exploring (and they even have a cafe with tasty food so you don’t have to leave for lunch), but you could also spend just a few hours here and cover most the highlights
So, the next time you are exploring northern New York, I highly recommend a stop at the Adirondack Experience on Blue Mountain Lake in Hamilton County.
Note: My visit to the Adirondack Experience was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
Cost: Adults: $22, Kids: $14
(Save $2 by purchasing in advance online)
Address: 9097 NY-30