Undiscovered America #2: Adirondack
April 4, 2017
The Adirondacks are one of the few natural areas in the eastern United States the average American knows by name. The mountain range makes up nearly the entire area between the city of Albany, and the borders of Vermont and Canada. Roughly six-million acres within this region are currently managed as Adirondack Park, a New York state park, making it larger than any National Park in the lower 48 states. Even on this vast scale, outside of the northeast few people are even aware what the Adirondacks look like.
The mountains rise like a plateau in the northeast corner of the state. Glaciation flattened the prominent peaks into domes of striated rock, and dug out valleys and waterways between the high points. These geologic actions created more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, as well as thousands of lakes. These waters allowed lush wetlands and old-growth forests to prosper, which gave life to large and diverse animal populations.
At 5,343ft Mount Marcy is both the highest point in New York and the centerpiece of the range. While other peaks are more accessible, Mount Marcy gives sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, waters, and forests in such a way you might forget that you’re standing in one of the most populated states in the country. The Adirondacks are within driving distance of dozens of cities but surprisingly few people make the short drives into this natural wonder.
Cities and expanding populations on the east coast have overtaken most of the natural, wild spaces. However, in regards to Adirondack Park, the State of New York established in their Constitution that, “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
Several attempts have been made to establish an Adirondack National Park, including a 1967 proposal that you can read in it’s entirety here. My dream is for a unified and comprehensive National Park system where every worthy site is given the same love, appreciation, and designation so our most impressive natural wonders can stand together as one celebrated series of landscapes.
Below are three videos featuring the grandeur and accessibility of the Adirondack Mountains by Unboring Exploring, a quirky hiking and nature video series dedicated to discovering and promoting the exploration of natural wonders and the environment in the United States and around the world.