Like many places in upstate New York, Crown Point Campground offers visitors a peek at the past as well as a wide array of refreshing outdoor activities. Back in the day, the British, French, and Americans all jostled for control of this area, because of Crown Point’s enormous strategic significance. The remains of these conflicts are still clearly visible today. Other historical attractions include a 19th-century lighthouse. There are not many of these structures outside New England, so to see one this far inland is a rare treat.
During their off-hours, those British, French, and American soldiers probably enjoyed some of the same outdoor activities which are available to today’s Crown Point Campground visitors. Explore the area on a hiking trail, cruise the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain on a powered or unpowered boat, and reel in the big one from one of the campground’s many fishing spots.
The RV campground is the centerpiece of Crown Point. There are over 60 places to park your rig. Some spots are right on the water’s edge, and others are on secluded loops. This campground also has all the amenities you’d expect at a New York state park.
Finger-shaped Lake Champlain is basically an aquatic superhighway that straddles the New York/Vermont border and connects Montreal to the Hudson River Valley. To reach Crown Point, which is at the southern tip of Lake Champlain, most people come up from Albany. You can either take Interstate 87 through New York or the back way through Vermont. Both routes are direct, scenic, and easy to traverse in your RV. You can take one direction to get there, and take the other route on the way back.
Inside the park, there is a large parking area near the lighthouse, fishing pier, and fort ruins. There is also some parking near the boat launch.
The Crown Point Campground has 66 RV sites available from May to October. About half of them are next to the water, but they are not exactly “lakeside” because the shore is steep and rocky. The sites are level and shady, but they have no hookups. However, generator use is allowed and there are about two dozen drinking water spigots in this campground.
Other amenities include a children’s play area, two restroom/shower areas, group picnic area, and RV dump station. Plus, your pet is welcome to join you during your stay.
From the boat launch near the RV campground, boaters can explore some or all of this vast lake. There are about 80 islands on Lake Champlain, so there is a lot of exploring to do. Paddlers usually stay close to the shores, and power boaters typically go out to open water. But that’s just a rule of thumb, as the entire lake is yours. Keep an eye out for “Champ,” the legendary Lake Champlain sea monster first spotted by settlers in 1609. An extensive Vermont Historical Society investigation dismissed the Champ legend, but the mystery remains.
Crown Point was always known as a good fishing spot. The addition of a steamboat pier in 1929, which eventually became a fishing pier, made the fishing even better. Bass usually like sheltered areas, so the fishing pier is a great bass fishing spot. To catch trout, most people go out onto the lake. Once you find a good spot, stay there. Trout often swim together in large schools. Before you arrive at the park, you’ll need a New York fishing license. These licenses are available online and via phone.
The North Country National Scenic Trail starts right at Crown Point. The trail passes through Adirondack Park, which is a six million acre wilderness area. This area has lots of dense forests and isolated bogs. Or, you can take your RV to the second part of this trail, which goes through the Adirondack Mountains. But don’t let the name intimidate you. These mountains are more like rocky hills. As a bonus, this trail is constantly being developed, so hikers get that true explorer spirit.
Originally built in the 1850s and restored in 1911, the lighthouse was restored again in 2009. That year was quadricentennial of Lake Champlain’s 1609 discovery by French explorers. Workers redid the interior, shored up the stone walls, and restored the Rodin sculpture on the lighthouse. That sculpture is not the only thing that makes this lighthouse unique. It has columns, so it looks more like a memorial statute than a lighthouse. All in all, it’s a very cool sight.
This fortification probably dates back to 1700 and was the first permanent French trading post on Crown Point. Much to the chagrin of the English, the fortifications were expanded in the 1730s. At one point, the large stone fort included a huge windmill, extensive limestone rock quarry, and other facilities. During the French and Indian War in the 1750s, an approaching British army forced the French to abandon the area. Today, all that’s left is a stone wall, and it is a sobering reminder of the intense conflict that raged here for many decades.
If historical reenactments are more your speed, take the short walk to Historic Fort Crown Point. The path starts at the visitors’ center. In addition to stone ruins, Historic Fort Crown point has a museum, a movie, and access to the spectacular Lake Champlain bridge.