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For nearly one hundred years, the land around Saranac Lake Islands, near Lake Placid in upstate New York, was available for leasing. Families and individuals built camping platforms all around the lake, but these remained private. These leases eventually expired in 1974, and the state of New York took over to offer the same camping opportunities to the public.
The private structures were removed, replaced by primitive campground amenities like fire rings and picnic tables. The campground expansion continued through 1992 when the last few campsites were added. The entire region is surrounded by enjoyable recreational activities, including hiking, birdwatching opportunities, and vivid fall photography.
It goes without saying that camping at Saranac Lake Islands will give you plentiful aquatic recreational opportunities. The campsites themselves are located at Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes. These two lakes are connected by a small series of locks to pass your boat between the bodies of water. Several other lakes are connected via a canal system. Boats of all types are welcome – kayaks, canoes, powerboats for water skiing, and paddleboards. You can also catch your dinner from shore or boat at these lakes. Anglers can fish for large and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and northern pike.
An extensive network of hiking trails is accessible from Saranac Lake Islands. There are over 80 miles of trails in Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, a 79,000-acre patchwork of wild area. This vast forest has trails for all skill levels, many of which take you to the over 100 bodies of water found here. Some of the trails near Saranac Lakes include the short climb to the top of Fleetwood Mountain, the flat West Pine Pond Trail, and the scenic Horseshoe Pond Trail. You’ll find additional trails in the nearby High Peaks Wilderness Area.
Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers will have their hands full at Saranac Lake Island. Waterfowl, songbirds, and birds of prey abound. If you’re lucky, you’ll see larger mammals like moose, black bears, and bobcats. Saranac Lake Island makes for postcard-worthy photos year-round, but fall is stunning when the foliage glows in bright warm colors, reflecting in the water.
So where can you camp in an RV at Saranac Lake Islands? The closest RV campground is Meadowbrook Campground, five minutes east of Saranac Lake. This campground is seasonal also but is ideally situated for exploration near Saranac Lake Island. There are 20 RV campsites at this campground. Twelve sites can accommodate small RVs up to 20 feet, and an additional eight sites can handle a rental RV up to 30 feet. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. Other amenities include hot showers, flushing toilets, and a dump station, but there are no hookups. Pets are also allowed here.
Watersports enthusiasts will find a unique treasure at Saranac Lake Islands, a recreational waterway 18 miles from one end of Upper Saranac Lake to the other end of Lower Saranac Lake. There are several campsites in Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes accessible only by boat. These campsites, located on the shores of the lakes and the numerous islands, offer primitive, secluded camping away from modern conveniences. When you book an RV in Franklin County, you’ll have to park the rig elsewhere, but it’s worth taking a boat to one of these campsites for a night.
Saranac Lake Islands campsites are only accessible by boat, so you will not be able to bring your rental RV directly to the sites. Saranac Lake Islands Campground is open seasonally and provides primitive sites on the islands and the shore of the lake. There are a total of 87 sites between Middle and Lower Saranac Lake, all with picnic tables, fire rings, and outhouses. There’s no water at the campsites, and you will need to pack out your own trash. Pets are allowed with proof of a current rabies vaccine, as long as they’re kept on a leash six feet or less.
Saranac Lake Islands is ideally situated for exploration of upstate New York in a rental RV. The village of Saranac Lake, just five minutes away, offers a wealth of things to do. The downtown area features several shops offering works from local artisans and some cozy cafes. Two fascinating museums include the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, a cottage where the famous author penned a few of his works, and the Saranac Laboratory Museum. Saranac Lake offers some outfitters and grocery stores for your resupply, as well as some gas stations that also sell propane.
Upstate New York offers so much more for you to explore. Plattsburgh and massive Lake Champlain are just one hour to the east, where you can find many opportunities to explore with the family.
Historic Ticonderoga is an hour and a half to the south, and Albany is an extra hour beyond that. Both of these cities are rich in colonial-era history, forts, and museums. You’ll pass through beautiful Wilderness areas to get to them, where you will be able to see even more recreational opportunities in this scenic region.