Lakefront, riverside, or mountain-top—campers have their pick of views in this southern Adirondacks town.
On the southern cusp of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Luzerne is a small town with a big sense of adventure. Forested slopes lead down the shores of the namesake lake, where you can swim, fish, and kayak from the three sandy beaches. Just minutes away, the Hudson River is the spot for river tubing, stand-up paddleboarding, or jet-skiing, or you can head out into the hills to hike, mountain bike, or horseback ride. Campers can stay lakeside at the state campground just north of town, pitch a tent along the Hudson, or seek out backcountry campsites in the surrounding wilderness.
Lake Champlain Valley Northeast of Lake Lucerne, campers make a beeline for Lake George, the “Queen of American Lakes,” where you can enjoy everything from paragliding to water-skiing. If you’re lucky enough to snag a spot (sites can book up months in advance), camping on the lake’s private islands is an unmissable experience. To the north, there’s first-come, first-served primitive camping in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, and plenty of choice around Lake Champlain on the Vermont border. Western Foothills Heading west, lowland lakes and forested valleys blanket the western foothills. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and explore the wilderness, you’ll find some of the region’s best backcountry camping around the Moose River Plains, while rustic shelters dot the trails of the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. There’s also island camping on Indian Lake and plenty of RV camping around Old Forge and Inlet. Hudson Valley The Hudson River curls its way south from Lake Luzerne in an endless panorama of forested riverbanks and historic towns. Albany and Hudson are the main hubs, but there are camping and glamping options dotted along the riverside and hidden away in the surrounding countryside. West of Hudson, head into the Catskill Mountains to hike, mountain bike, camp, or ski, depending on the season.
The best time to visit Lake Luzerne is from May to August, when the weather is ideal for swimming, water sports, and tent camping. This is peak season, and popular spots can get crowded, so book ahead. Hiking is particularly scenic in fall when the landscapes are aglow with autumnal colors. Ski season in the Adirondacks runs from November through April, but there are backcountry cabins, cozy glampsites, and RV parks open year-round.
- Lake Luzerne has grocery stores, restaurants, and shops selling camping and fishing supplies. - Tick season runs from April through September in the Lake Luzerne region, so cover up when hiking and check for ticks after outdoor activities. - There is no fee to enter Adirondack Park, but state campgrounds charge a fee, and many require reservations. A New York State Fishing License is required for any kind of fishing. - Backcountry camping is allowed on state forest land through Adirondack Park, but you must not camp within 150 feet of any road, trail, or body of water unless marked with a “camp here” sign.