If you've never tried camping, just the thought can seem daunting. But it's really like a video game. I like to think there are actually three "skill levels" to choose from.
The Schroon Lake area has wonderful options at every level. Here are some tips to choose just the right mix of gorgeous nature and the easy side of civilization.
There are all kinds of ways to enjoy everything we have to offer.
Easy level: camping cabins
Ah, the cabin in the woods. By renting a camping cabin at a full-service campground, your party can enjoy the best of both worlds in a low-stress environment.
This can be an excellent choice for a family vacation on a budget. A little "house" with beds and a bathroom, yet for a low price compared to a hotel room. There's a kitchen to cook in, with a store on the premises so you don't have to go anywhere if you don't feel like it. Bring your own bed linens, towels, and other amenities.
(All the water fun you can handle at Medcalf Acres.)
Amusing children has never been easier. That's one of the most wonderful things about a resort campground; there's plenty of things to do, like swimming, hiking, fishing, and taking boats and rafts out on the water. There's a playground, and other amusements, all making it easy for everyone to make friends, and amuse themselves in the ways they like best.
The family gets all the wonderful things to do in our forests and around our lakes and rivers, but also has resort amenities like a pool and playground. The grounds are both defined and expansive, so younger children don't need as much supervision while playing, and older ones can safely explore. Mom and Dad get a real nature break.
This sort of delightful access, without giving up much in the way of civilization's best features, is a fine reason to start with camping cabins.
Mid level: campsites
Getting a bit more adventurous, it's time to move onto organized tent camping. In many situations, the same campgrounds that offer cabin camping offer tent camping. It's the best of both worlds — you still have easy access to civilization, but you feel a little closer to nature.
The campsites are inexpensive, and all you need is a tent, sleeping bags, and a cooler to start trying it out. Whether you choose a private campground, or explore the range of fine New York State Campgrounds, there are bathrooms and showers available.
This makes sleeping under the stars a much more attractive prospect, because you don't have to worry so much about hygiene under the stars.
(Eagle Point Campground. Photo courtesy of cnyhiking.com)
Campsites are usually the least expensive option, even if you buy sleeping bags and rent a tent. Such a setup can offer some amazing views, literally close enough to touch.
Swim on the beach, paddle on the lakes and rivers, and rent watercraft from our state campgrounds, right on the site. There are grills and picnic tables for some fine summer food throughout the whole stay.
Paradox Lake campground has wonderful water access, and is nestled in a forest for some premier "getting away from it all."
(Photo of Paradox Lake from launch area by J. Beachy)
You can start to see the attraction of such camping by flipping some assumptions on their heads. Like, okay, we don't have a house, but we also have a lot less housekeeping, too.
People seem to love being a part of nature. While there are still people and facilities around, you can snuggle in that sleeping bag (I recommend an air mattress, too) with the loons calling and the lap of waves.
Now that's getting out of our workaday world in a big way.
Hard level: backwoods camping
You can see how it is possible to work our way toward full immersion in nature. The Adirondacks allow "backwoods" camping.
--You can camp anywhere as long as you are at least 150 feet from a water body, road, or trail, unless the area is posted as "Camping Prohibited."
--Tents are not allowed inside lean-tos. Around lean-tos, camp at least 150 feet from the lean-to unless there is a "Camp Here" marker.
--Camping for more than 3 nights or with 10 or more people requires a permit from a forest ranger.
Designated primitive campsites are a great way to start trying this kind of backwoods adventure. These are sites already suitable for camping; flat, with soils resistant to use and erosion, and some even have some sort of privy situation. Great for beginners!
Because sometimes you just want the place to yourselves.
Inflatable boats are a real asset for exploring wilderness lakes and rivers. Backwoods camping requires more planning and equipment, but is also an investment in a lot of inexpensive enjoyment for years to come.
Hiking, fishing, birding, and paddling enthusiasts all seem to enjoy this form of camping because it places them in prime spots for these enthusiasms. While the Schroon Lake area has nature in highly accessible ways, the less accessible ways become gateways to the deepest possible communing with nature.
This also enhances appreciation and companionship with those you take on these journeys. There's nothing like being the only folks in the forest to draw people closer.
(This is called Moonlight Camping at Schroon Lake. It was painted originally by Levi Wells Prentice.)
Live the dream.
For the ❤ of the ‘dacks: