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If the idea of winter camping conjures up a shiver... you might not be doing it right.

I love the outdoors in winter, but draw a line at the sleeping bag, no matter how thick it may be. But that's not all there is to our winter campgrounds. If you would like a base of civilization with lots of lovely winter, there are two excellent choices right around the corner.


There are two year-round campgrounds in the Whiteface Region which offer a variety of lodging in the winter. From one room to a group-sized cabin, these accommodations will provide a warm basecamp for easy winter exploration. Both Lake Placid/Whiteface KOA and the North Pole Resorts are close to the skiing and boarding at Whiteface Mountain,

Minutes from all the action at Whiteface Mountain.

The beauty of it is that such lodging also has abundant recreational possibilities right outside the front door. The KOA has 70 acres of birch and pine forest to explore, along with the scenic glory of the Ausable River. The North Pole is known as the "100-acre wood" with trails throughout, which connect to even more state trails, and a footpath to the Ausable River.

By staying in a place that is also a winter recreation area, there's a great advantage to just getting out and enjoying the winter landscape, instead of spending energy getting to the winter landscape we want to enjoy. If you lean more toward snowball fights with the kids or a mittened-hand in mittened-hand stroll through the pretty forest, it is even more relaxing to venture out on foot and make an easy loop back to your own lodgings.

The Ausable River is a frozen treat.

This is especially attractive if you, or a member of your group, is new to winter recreation. One of the trepidations of winter hiking, especially with children, is going too far or getting too cold by the end of the activity. Staying in the winter wonderland itself is a great way to dip the toe of your boot in the snow, and easily return to light and warmth when you are ready to.

Explore at your own pace, from your own place.


Take advantage of off-season rates and enjoy a winter resort experience very reasonably. The winter campgrounds have walkable amenities like breakfast, a camp store, and a game room on the premises.

Set out, or come back, at your leisure. Stretch that budget with the abundant of free places to explore with all levels of trails. Any age or skill level can wander our nature parks, with nearby dining and shopping in downtown Wilmington, or the complex around the famous Jay Covered Bridge and Jay Rocks Rapids.

The Jay Covered Bridge is a great place to discover, with the frozen rapids of the Jay Rocks and the surrounding park.

It can feel very sumptuous to enjoy a classic wood-paneled cabin in "your own forest." Get a cabin with a kitchenette to enhance board game time with the family or couple time for romance. If you wanted to curl up with that good book you have been intending to start, this is a most delightful setting to finish it in, too.

You can choose the level of privacy around you.

Welcoming interiors for your getaway; seen here, inside a KOA cabin.

The bright sun glistening off the snow and the warm golden light that comes from the paneling is a particular North Country touch. Whether you want to go out or stay in, the environment is most inviting to move between the contrasts of the invigorating winter landscape and the cozy indoor space.

With the North Pole Inn's fondness for holiday decor, there are hints of winter indoors, too.

For a look at a one-stop attraction which offers winter exploration, included footwear, gourmet meals, and an all-day experience, see the blog, Nature's Four-Season Gift.


If you are planning a getaway to get closer, choosing a campground in winter has many little-realized advantages. It is the flip side of summer's crowds and high activity. While warm-weather getaways are a great thing, there's also much to be said for a winter shift to peaceful relaxation, the slower pace of snow walking, and the enhanced attentions that come from being able to focus on just a few important people.

While Whiteface Mountain offers plenty of thrilling challenges, your location is also near more relaxed forms of winter enjoyment.

The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is a great place for anyone to learn about nature.

Our attractions are wonderful in winter. But don't forget the attraction of doing ordinary things in extraordinary places. It is often at the end of the day, when you share your feelings and impressions of what everyone experienced, that you really bond. The activity is the catalyst. More intimacy is the aftermath.

Everyone needs both.

Campfires are fun anytime, but in winter, they are extra special. (photo courtesy ORDA)

Best of all, you can bring up the getaway subject with the surprise move of declaring you want to go winter camping! In the astonishment that follows, you can explain why what they thought is probably not what you meant. In helping them understand the advantages, you will provide everyone with what they want most.

That is the greatest gift of all.

From either camping spot you are just minutes away from tasty dining and eclectic shopping, ranging from craft stores to fine local chocolates. Look on our events calendar for a race, live music, or a relaxing yoga session... with wolves.

This week in related ADK stories:

Maple Weekends in Malone

Extreme winter sports - 1900s style

Lapland Nordic skiing

Mountain fun for non-skiers!

Top 5 ice fishing tips

Not-to-miss boreal birding

Wild Center maple & more

Pamela Merritt

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