This month I did some research into one of my favorite activities - camping! I love it, as you'll find out reading this blog.
My husband and I live in the woods in the Adirondacks. At home we can do pretty much everything camping-wise that can be done at a campground. But there's just something about hitching up that camper and moseying on down the road to one of our region's amazing campgrounds. It gives us a greater connection to the wonderful world in which we live here in the Adirondacks!
Our little converted cargo trailer camper (just for scale, this is a very wide panoramic shot of the length - it's really just a 6 x 12 foot unit):
I spend almost a week every June camping (or "glamping") in the Saranac Lake region with a bunch of women friends. We've been doing this for 17 years and haven't missed one year yet. But this time I decided to explore camping in the Whiteface Region. I've never camped in Wilmington, so I was excited about the opportunity.
You've likely heard about "glamping," a new word for a new kind of travel, defined as glamorous camping. It's becoming a global trend. There are glamping resorts, which set up the entire experience for you and all you have to do is bring your clothes and toothbrush.
Then there is our kind of glamping — where we just haul along all our favorite creature comforts, the best food and wine and cocktails, and comfy plush accoutrements, creating our own "glampsite." It can be done at any campsite with the right equipment. Trust me on this one.
The Whiteface Region has some great campgrounds with options for just about everyone. From the Lake Placid/Whiteface KOA to the North Pole Resorts, you will likely find something to fit both your budget and the level of camping you're comfortable with. Both campgrounds have fully-equipped camping cabins, bare minimum tent sites, and full hookup sites with power, cable, water, and sewer.
My plan is to stay at the North Pole Resorts, and since I just happened to be passing through the region prior to my stay, I did some quick recon!
The North Pole Resorts is a family-friendly motel and campground located right in the middle of Wilmington. In addition to the campground, there are 20 units in the motel section, complete with their own adjacent pool. The main camping area onsite backs up to the Ausable River, providing some spectacular views. The Hundred Acre Wood is a separate camping area with over 100 sites, across the highway about 1/4 mile to the West.
The beautiful wooded sites at both areas provide a wonderful camping experience. My favorite however, is the main campground with its direct access to the Ausable River. There is a pool for swimming, as river swimming is not allowed on property. The Wilmington Town Beach is also just up the road, with lots of amenities including swimming (yes, they have a great beach).
There are canoe, rowboat, and kayak rentals at North Pole, so you could rent a boat and paddle up to the beach from the campground. Or you can quickly drive or leisurely walk to the beach.
Once on the water, the view on the river is spectacular, and it's navigable for quite a distance upriver from the beach until it becomes too shallow. There are some great rock formations to slide on near the end of where you can paddle, if the water level is high enough. Fun, fun, fun on a hot summer day! There is also a mini-golf course at the campground and a great kids playground.
The North Pole General Store and Gift Shop is worth a stop even if you're not staying overnight. In addition to all the camping supplies you may need, including a great variety of non-perishable, refrigerated, and frozen foods, there is a large selection of Adirondack and general gift items.
The best part, however, is the huge selection of beer. Touted as the "largest selection of craft beer in the area" on their sign, there are both national brands and small craft brews from all over available by the bottle or 6-pack. You can mix and match brands as well.
Next door to the general store is a small liquor store for your non-beer adult beverage needs. All in all, North Pole Resorts has got you covered for just about anything you might possibly need.
First of all, when packing for glamping, spare no luxury. Bring everything you can fit into your car to make yourself comfortable. Seriously, packing light is not an option. On one of our glamping trips, the ranger at the booth when we checked out asked, "Are you sure you ladies have everything? I've never seen so much stuff on a site in all the years I've worked here." Well hey, we do camp in comfort. As you go through your house when packing and ask yourself if a particular item should be packed, just do it.
As I was writing this, a news piece was broadcast in the background about the growth of glamping poularity. Serendipitous, indeed!
Most of the hard-shell camping sites in the main campground provide power and water and even have cable hookups — we don't usually end up at campgrounds that have cable hookups, but hey, as long as you're glamping and don't already have one in your rig, throw in the TV!
The sites with hookups are mostly all situated along Penquin Parkway, a straight shot from the main check-in area down to the river. The sites here are all back-in sites (no pull-throughs), so perfect your trailer backing abilities prior to arrival if you're bringing a trailer. There are also a few tent sites next to these with no hookups at all.
All the sites in this area have easy access to the waterfront. There's a beautiful sitting area with a couple of benches, and located just upstream and directly on the river, there's a picnic area anyone at the resort can use. Both beautiful places to sit and enjoy the gorgeous scenery and views on the river.
As I said previously, you can bring as much or as little as you choose. Whether you're sleeping in a tent or hard-shell camper, a 10 x 10 (or so) popup shelter is also essential to create that somewhat weather-proof outdoor "living room." And they're not that expensive these days!
We bring lots of fun decorations and comfort items with us as well. Comfy chairs and loungers are a must, as are fun decorations like flamingos, tapestry hangings to put on the sides of your shelter, blankets and great lighting for evening. There are tons of outdoor seating and table selections on the market these days. My husband says I own far too many!
Food is also essential. Websites devoted to camp cooking have so many recipes now, so make sure you avail yourself of those hundreds of options. I could write an entire book on camp cooking and food storage. But that's for another blog. Just bring your favorite and best foods and make sure they're easy to prepare.
Using paper plates that can be burned is also an easy clean-up practice if you're not into washing dishes. Don't use styrofoam anything! The one thing you must have is a propane camp stove, so buy a good one and you won't regret it. They're also not that expensive these days.
Make your reservation soon as the North Pole Resort is a very popular destination. While you're in the region, make sure you check out the events listings so you don't miss any of our exciting happenings. The one must activity is a drive up the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway — a great option if you don't have the time or physical ability to hike it. You'll be rewarded with an amazing view and some fabulous pictures to wow your friends with!
This week in ADK news: