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What budget adventure has the primitive solitude of backpacking without having to carry everything on your back? Where can you camp somewhere new every night, bask in the glory of breathtaking, wilderness scenery, and swim in pristine mountain lakes whenever the mood strikes you? If you said a canoe trip in the St. Regis Canoe area of the Adirondacks, you are spot on! This place takes my breath away and always leaves me feeling recharged. Here’s the scoop.
What’s so Awesome about Paddling in the St. Regis Canoe Area?
- Free canoe-in campsites – Yes, free. And if you play your cards right, you can have a whole island to yourself. Campsites are primitive, with a fire pit and an outhouse. If you get a picnic table, you’re lucky.
- Cool, clear water for swimming – There are hundreds of lakes in the Adirondacks, and each has it’s own personality. While there are a few that are murky, and a few more that are overpopulated, the majority are perfect gems – wooded shorelines, calling loons, and water so clear and refreshing, you’ll be tempted to skip canoeing altogether and make it a swimming holiday.
- The lakes in the St. Regis Canoe Area are all connected – That’s why they call it a canoe area. The lakes are connected by well-marked portages, which means you haul your canoe and gear on foot to the next lake. Some are short and easy, while others require a bit of strength and finesse. On our last trip, we planned it so we didn’t portage at all. We were still able to tour 6 lakes, all connected.
- You’re far from civilization, but not too far – When the sun goes down on your island campsite, you feel like you’re alone in a vast and wild country. You can scarcely hear a whisper of civilization. But, if you run out of bug spray or get a hankering for tuna fish, it’s really not a big deal to paddle to the nearest camp store.
- It’s a vacation for kids and adults – There is plenty to do for everyone. Spend the day paddling, fishing, hiking, or bird watching, then set up your campsite and relax with a glass of wine while the kids catch dinner.
Okay, so now you know why the St. Regis Canoe area is so awesome. Our family will keep going back as long as we can paddle a boat. Now for the logistics.
Sound Like the Adventure for You? Let’s Make it Happen
St. Regis Canoe Area is located in the Adirondack Park, not far from the town of Saranac Lake, New York. The area encompasses 19,000 acres of wilderness, and is noted for its beauty, wildlife, and recreational opportunities.
If you are planning your very first canoe trip, I highly recommend the folks at St. Regis Canoe Outfitters for answering all of your questions and helping you plan a trip that will fit your level of experience and your time frame. They maintain an outpost on Floodbrook Pond, which is a great place to start your adventure. If you don’t have a canoe of your own, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters maintains a fleet of rentals, plus camping equipment, food, and maps. We just love them, and we are getting no compensation to say that.
Because there are so many lakes and ponds out here, you can design a canoe camping trip that lasts a few days or many weeks. Here are a few more tips for making this the best trip ever.
Tips for Canoe Camping in the St. Regis Canoe Area
Visit the St. Regis Canoe Area before July or in September. Okay, it never actually gets crowded, but in the middle of summer, your favorite campsite may be taken, and that can be a bummer.
Pack your bug spray, and then pack an extra bottle. We really did run out one year, the buggiest two days we’ve ever experienced. We backtracked miles just to buy more.
Get the Adirondack Paddler’s map. I’m a total map geek, and this map is one of my all-time favorite finds. You can’t plan a St. Regis Canoe Area trip without it, and it’s really fun to break out your map in the winter to plan your summer camping trip.
Buy a fishing license and be prepared for fish dinners.
Claim your campsite by the early afternoon, even if you want to keep exploring. This way, you won’t be left scrambling for a site in the evening.
So that’s a quick guide to canoe camping in the St. Regis Canoe area. Like many wilderness adventures, it is an awesome budget vacation, and perfect for families with young kids, couples, and dogs. Whether you’ve got a few days or a week to spend exploring, it’s well worth the journey.
Want to know our favorite lakes and campsites in the St. Regis Canoe Area? Leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Here are some Resources for Your Canoe Camping Adventure in the St. Regis Canoe Area (click on the photo for more info):