Home ยป Thousand Islands

Cruising the St. Lawrence River with Uncle Sam Boat Tours

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.

New York is home to many beautiful waterways, but few, if any, can rival the beauty of the St. Lawrence River. And, for those wanting to see this scenic river, sailing with Uncle Sam Boat Tours is a great option.

The St. Lawrence River connects Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. Along a little over 100 miles of the river’s length, it forms the border between New York and Ontario, Canada.

This stretch of the river is known for its immense beauty and forms the Thousand Islands region of New York. However, this region is actually home to over 1,800 islands.

My three-decker boat with Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay, New York
My triple-decker boat.

Alexandria Bay, New York is a common jumping-off point for exploring this region, and it’s where you can hop aboard Uncle Sam Boat Tours.

Uncle Sam Boat Tours runs a variety of tours from their dock in this quaint village and has been operating since 1926. During the season, which runs roughly from April to October, they offer five different tours, as well as a few dining cruises.

I already had planned to tour Boldt Castle, a once-abandoned island in the middle of the river, and, since I needed a way to get across the water, I decided to book a tour with Uncle Sam.

Touring Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands of New York
Don’t miss the chance to add a visit to Boldt Castle to your tour.

While I could have simply taken their quick shuttle to and from the island, I opted to take their Two Nation Tour, a roughly two-hour tour that takes you on a guided trip through both American and Canadian waters. No passport required!

One nice thing about Uncle Sam Boat Tours is that all of their tours make a stop at Boldt Castle during operating hours, so you can choose whichever tour option you want and still get transportation to the island. (Note that Boldt Castle charges a separate admission fee should you decide to disembark and explore the island.)

Then, when you are done visiting the castle, you can hop any of their boats back to the mainland.

St. Lawrence River passing through islands as seen on the Two Nation Tour with Uncle Same Boat Tours
There is incredible beauty everywhere you look.

The Two Nation Tour starts by heading south on the St. Lawrence River towards Millionaires Row.

In addition to the sheer beauty of the river, it’s amazing to see the incredible homes situated on private islands. These are some of the most luxurious spots that you’ll ever see, and it’s truly fascinating to see these islands from up close.

A boat sitting in the water next to an island home in the St. Lawrence River
Guides offer narration about the many historic homes and islands that you see.

While cruising the river, guides offer narration that goes into the history of the region and what you are seeing from the boat, including a lot of interesting facts about the islands and their inhabitants.

Of course, these homes wouldn’t be here if the St. Lawrence River wasn’t one of the most beautiful waterways in the United States. This is truly a breathtaking spot and the water of the river is nearly crystal clear.

Uncle Sam Boat Tours paddlewheel
The back of the riverboat.

In fact, it’s amazing to look down from the top of the boat while in the middle of the river and to be able to peer all the way to the bottom of the water. In fact, on clear days, you can even see shipwrecks on the riverbed!

After a tour around Millionaires Row, the Two Nation Tour with Uncle Sam heads back north along the St. Lawrence’s shipping lanes. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the massive cargo ships that ply the river, though I was unlucky on the day of my tour.

Just Enough Room Island in Alexandria Bay NY
Just Enough Room Island

The boat also passes by Hub Island, also known as Just Enough Room Island. This tiny island, about the size of a tennis court, features a home and a tree. It is considered to be the smallest inhabited island in the world.

From here, the boat passes Heart Island, home of Boldt Castle (it stops at the island on the way back) and heads towards Canadian waters. While there is really nothing denoting that you’ve crossed the border, the boat’s guide does tell you when you’ve entered Canada.

Two islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River as seen from Uncle Sam Boat tours
These two islands are said to split the border between the United States and Canada.

For the next hour, the boat travels through Canadian waters, nearing the shore of Rockport, Ontario. You might even see other boat tours from Canada doing a route similar to the one that you are on.

The tour continues through the many small islands and narrow channels of the St. Lawrence River, even passing under the very large Thousand Islands Bridge that connects to Interstate 81 in the United States.

Thousand Islands Bridge as seen from the St Lawrence River in Canada.
Passing under the massive Thousand Islands bridge is a highlight of the trip.

As you cruise the water, the narration continues throughout most of the tour. Visitors can also spend their time on board enjoying the beauty of the ship, getting a snack or drink from the fully stocked bar, or even driving the boat (if you have kids).

All too soon, the boat turns around and heads back for Alexandria Bay, making its stop at Boldt Castle along the way, before returning to the dock.

Island home in the St Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay NY
It’s hard for photos to fully showcase the beauty and uniqueness of this part of the river.

I’ve done a lot of boat tours on rivers and lakes throughout the country, including one with Clayton Island Tours just south of here, and I can say without question that the Two Nation Tour with Uncle Sam Boat Tours was the most beautiful one that I have ever done.

The sheer beauty of this region is absolutely worth seeing, and there is no better way to see it than from the water.

Upper deck of a Uncle Sam Boat Tours boat in Alexandria Bay New York
The upper deck of my boat.

So, the next time you find yourself exploring the Thousand Islands region of New York, make sure to take a ride on the St. Lawrence River with Uncle Sam Boat Tours.

For more information on their tours, visit the website for Uncle Sam Boat Tours.

Looking for more things to do nearby? Check out the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, Zoo New York in Watertown, and the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg.

More nearby places worth exploring

Find more things to do in the Thousand Islands!

1 thought on “Cruising the St. Lawrence River with Uncle Sam Boat Tours”

  1. I took the tour years ago and it left a memory that i cherish to this day. I tell people that they should visit the islands if they want to go back in time. I enjoyed the Guides and their Description of each island. I would give anything to go back and see Boldts Castle since its been restored. I was the right after it was purchased and the restoration was going to start. The pictures I have from it still gives me chills that i had the opportunity to walk on this island


Leave a Comment