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If you’ve traveled, you’ve probably ventured to a national park. But some hidden gems are managed by states instead of the federal government. State parks offer beautiful scenery, plenty of outdoor recreation, and fewer crowds. Although typically smaller than the national parks, the largest state park in the U.S. rivals Yellowstone’s size.
You won’t believe how many square miles this state park covers. Let’s dive in and learn more about this protected area in the northeast!
What Is A State Park?
A state establishes a state park to preserve a place of natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational potential. This is much the same as national parks, except the beauty or history is particular to the state and not the nation. They’re also under state administration rather than federal.
Are State Parks Worth Visiting?
State parks are usually less crowded and cheaper to visit than national parks while still offering excellent recreational opportunities, scenic views, and local history. By visiting state parks, you support local government and agencies since the entrance, camping, and rental fees go back to the state.
Some state parks are just as magnificent as national parks. For example, Valley of Fire State Park outside Las Vegas offers some of the most unique scenery in the region.
Antelope Island State Park, Sand Hollow State Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah saw over one million visitors in 2022. Niagara Falls State Park in New York protects one of the most iconic waterfalls in the world and is the oldest park in the U.S.
Where Is the Largest State Park in the U.S.?
If you want to visit the largest state park in the U.S., ironically, you’ll head about three hours north of the most populous city in the country.
Adirondack Park in New York includes hundreds of thousands of acres of never-logged forest and 102 towns that house approximately 132,000 people. Adirondack Park covers almost all of northeastern New York and has popular locations like Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Not only is it expansive, but it’s also one of the most visited parks in the U.S., with approximately ten million people visiting every year. There are over 2,000 miles of trails to suit all types of abilities. It’s also unique in that 52% of the park is privately owned.
How Big Is Adirondack Park in New York?
The largest state park in the U.S. is over six million acres, with more than 10,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams. That’s over 9,300 square miles.
To compare its massive size, you could fit Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park inside Adirondack Park. It’s about the same size as Vermont or New Hampshire.
Keep in Mind: Did you know New York has castles? You can even visit them and live out your fairytale daydreams!
What Does Adirondack Park in New York Protect?
When it was established in 1892, Adirondack Park was one of the U.S.’s first Forever Wild Forest Preserves. About 2.6 million of the six million acres belong to the state of New York.
This mountain landscape is full of boreal forests but was in danger of deforestation in the late 1800s. Thanks to Verplanck Colvin and others, Adirondack Park was created to preserve these remarkable forests.
Thousands of lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams are protected. Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York. From cross-country skiing to camping to kayaking, there are year-round recreation opportunities here in Adirondack Park.
Do People Live in Adirondack Park?
As mentioned earlier, there are 102 towns in Adirondack Park. Over half of the largest state park in the U.S. is privately owned. Year-round, there are approximately 132,000 residents, but upwards of 200,000 during the summer.
Is Camping Permitted in the Largest State Park in the U.S.?
Camping is one of the most popular activities in Adirondack State Park. Hundreds of campgrounds and thousands of campsites spread across the six million acres. There are primitive tent sites and privately owned campgrounds with amenities.
Visitors can camp along the shores of Saranac Lake or head to Shady Oaks RV Park for full hookups. Moose River Plains offers excellent backcountry New York camping.
If you prefer glamping, check out Posh Primitive and Camp Orenda. There are campgrounds and campsites for every type of outdoor enthusiast.
Are There Hiking Trails in the Largest State Park in the US?
Along with camping, many people enjoy hiking in Adirondack State Park. More than 2,000 miles of trails have waterfalls, 360-degree views, and dense forests. Hikers enjoy the challenge of the 46 peaks that make up the Adirondack High Peaks near Lake Placid.
The trail to the summit of Mount Arab is one of the most popular since it’s doable for families and hikers of all skill levels. The hike to Mount Haystack is one of Adirondack Park’s most challenging trails, but the view makes it worth it.
What Water Recreation Activities Are Popular In Adirondack Park?
Visitors not only enjoy camping and hiking but also water recreation in the largest state park in the U.S. With more than 10,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, many people participate in paddling, whitewater rafting, fishing, and boating.
The Hudson River winds over 300 miles through New York. This exhilarating river is one of the country’s top ten whitewater rafting trips. Remember that no matter what kind of fishing you do, you must have a license if you are 16 or older.
Keep in Mind: Are you thinking about taking a cross-country road trip? Before you hit the road, see how long it’ll take to drive across the US!
Are There Winter Recreation Activities in Adirondack Park?
The fun doesn’t end once December and January roll around. Adirondack Park has skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing opportunities.
Beginners and experts enjoy the snow here. West Mountain and Titus Mountain offer family tubing adventures. Whiteface Mountain has 90 trails serviced by 12 chair lifts. The longest run at Gore Mountain is over four miles!
The Largest State Park in the U.S. is Larger Than Every National Park in the Lower 48
No national park in the contiguous U.S. compares to the size of Adirondack State Park in New York. This massive region protects boreal forests, mountain peaks, rivers, lakes, and more northeastern wilderness.
And there is no entrance fee — it’s free! There are no ranger stations, entrance gates, or toll booths. You simply cross the boundaries to start your northeastern adventure in the largest state park in the U.S.
When will you visit upstate New York and the magnificence of Adirondack Park?