Saranac River in village of Saranac Lake in Adirondack Mountains, New York.

9 Most Charming River Towns in The Adirondack Mountains to Visit in 2024

The Adirondack Mountains of Northeastern New York are a sight to behold and are home to over 100 magnificent peaks. The stunning peaks are complimented by the region's vast network of forests and waterbodies, creating a landscape that attracts over seven to 12.4 million visitors yearly! Besides its massive collection of lakes, the area has over 1,200 miles of rivers. Within the Adirondacks and its flowing rivers, several charming river towns are worth a visit in 2024, from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake.

Lake Placid

High Falls Gorge in Lake Placid, Adirondacks
High Falls Gorge in Lake Placid, Adirondacks.

Lake Placid is part of Essex County in New York with the Ausable River passing through this cozy town. Lake Placid's reputation as an Olympic Town was cemented after it hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, bringing light to Lake Placid's athletic legacy.

Recreation is abundant at Lake Placid, especially around the Ausable River. The water body is perfect for fly fishing for local fish like rainbow or brook trout. Visitors can enjoy captivating views at Ausable Chasm, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Adirondack". The Ausable Chasm is one of the country's oldest attractions, yet continues to lure tourists in with its natural formations, including the Rainbow Falls, Elephant's Head, Hyde's Cave, and more. The attraction is also ideal for hiking, rafting, climbing, and rappelling. Visitors can also enjoy a brisk, yet picturesque walk at High Falls Gorge, featuring four waterfalls and a wheelchair-accessible path. This attraction is but a short drive from Lake Placid and is right next to Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort.


The Ausable River flowing past Jay, New York.
The Ausable River flowing past Jay, New York.

Arguably, Jay is one of the underrated towns in the Adirondack Mountains. The Ausable River flows through Jay and adds to the town's charming backdrop.

This town in the Adirondacks is famous for its covered bridge, which is the last of its kind in the area. Spanning the east branch of the Ausable River since 1957, the Jay Covered Bridge is listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places. Tourists can find this historic bridge within the Douglas Memorial Park, a family-friendly attraction with picnic areas, swimming areas, walking paths, and beaches. Visitors can take a breath of fresh air and embark on a hike to Jay Mountain of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, which offers one dedicated and designated trail. Otherwise, a visit to Jay is well spent picnicking at Jay Village Green adjacent to the Amos and Julia Ward Theatre. This popular community area has a bandstand, a water fountain, and a picnic area.


River and flowers blooming in Keene, New York
River flowing through Keene, New York. Image credit Chelsea Mealo via Shutterstock

Visitors can find Keene along the East Branch of the Ausable River in New York's Essex County. The town of Keene is nicknamed "Home of the High Peaks" and is a hiker's haven. This town in the Adirondacks is home to Mt. Marcy, the highest point in the Adirondacks and the state! Keene also includes 15 of the 46 High Peaks.

Besides its hiking trails, Keene has plenty of local gems worth a visit. Stop at Noon Mark Diner, known for its sumptuous pies. Past and present patrons raved about the diner's pies featured in magazines like Bon Appétit and Gourmet. The diner offers a range of sweet and savory pies, using a homemade crust crafted with an old family recipe. Conveniently, the Noon Mark Diner also serves as the Adirondacks Trailways Bus Terminal!

Glens Falls

Glens Falls Paper Factory Upstate New York Adirondacks
Glens Falls Paper Factory, New York, along the Hudson River.

Glens Falls hides in the southeastern corner of Warren County and is surrounded by the Hudson River. This Adirondacks town got its name from Glens Falls, a large waterfall in the Hudson River at the southern edge of town.

Though Glens Falls remains outside the boundary of the Adirondack Park, the town is known as "The Gateway to the Adirondacks".

Plenty of gems await travelers visiting Glens Falls. First, the town hosts a collection of art galleries downtown, including the Hyde Collection Art Museum. This gem of a museum features works from legendary artists like Reubens, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Homer! Winter visitors can set their sights on West Mountain, located at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. This landmark is an attraction ideal for skiers and snowboarders with its 32 trails, a tubing park, and a lodge. Glens Falls is also home to the viewing platform at Cooper's Cave, which is part of the New York state's historic Independence Trail. This landmark was made famous by James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans.

Old Forge

Fourth Lake in Old Forge, New York.
Fourth Lake in Old Forge, New York.

The Old Forge is the "Adirondack Base Camp" and is perfect for exploring the Adirondack Park and the region. Not only is the community situated along Moose River, but it is also known for recording the lowest winter temperatures in the state!

Travelers who crave the outdoors will find plenty of recreation at Old Forge, especially around McCauley Mountain, the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. With a vertical drop of 633 feet, McCauley Mountain features 21 slopes and a trail spanning a mile long. Skiing is also great here, with an annual snowfall of about 281 inches. Old Forge is also ideal for snowmobiling with its hundreds of groomed trails!

Visitors with a knack for history can also discover local gems at the Goodsell Museum. This attraction has exhibits about the Adirondacks, along with a research library, displays of maps, vintage photos, postcards, and memorabilia depicting early life in the region. The museum boasts continuously changing exhibits.

The festive spirit is hardly dull at Old Forge, especially during the winter. During the colder months, visitors can be a part of the festivities during events like Snodeo Weekend, Snofest, and the winter-filled spirits of the Old Forge Winter Carnival!

Saranac Lake

Colorful fall trees around the Saranac river in the Adirondacks in New York State
Colorful fall trees around the Saranac River in the Adirondacks in New York.

The Saranac River runs through the heart of Saranac Lake, a community named after the nearby Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes. The community covers parts of three towns—Harrietstown, St. Armand, and North Elba—as well as the Franklin and Essex Counties. Saranac Lake encompasses a complex landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests, alongside a melange of creative and historic attractions.

The 81-mile-long Saranac River is perfect for paddling for half or full-day excursions. Alternatively, during the winter months, skiers can enjoy themselves at the Mount Pisgah Recreation Center. The attraction is also great for snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Embark on a self-guided tour of downtown and discover the Walk of Fame, which features notable figures connected to Saranac Lake, from Broadway star Faye Dunaway to Albert Einstein!

Lake Luzerne

Rockwell Falls, Lake Luzerne, New York
Rockwell Falls, Lake Luzerne, New York.

At Warren County's Lake Luzerne, the Hudson River "squeezes" into a narrow gorge, creating tumbling waters that produce the cascades of the Rockwell Falls. Here, the waters from the river and the Great Sacandaga Reservoir meet to concoct rushing white waters. Lake Luzerne is no stranger to tourists, welcoming visitors like President Grant, who came here for rest and recreation after the Civil War.

Travelers can view the flowing waters of Rockwell Falls which is located upstream where the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers meet in Lake Luzerne. During periods of low water, visitors can see that the falls are shaped like a horseshoe! Visitors can also enjoy the waters of Lake Luzerne and partake in activities like river paddling, tubing, floating, rafting, and canoeing. The lake also has two public beaches—Luzerne Heights Public Beach and Wayside Beach—with shorelines. In the warmer months, the historic Painted Pony Championship Rodeo is a must-see! The oldest continuously run rodeo has been around since 1953 and operates on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in the summer.

Long Lake

Long Lake, autumn color along the Raquette River
Long Lake, New York, autumn color along the Raquette River.

Long Lake was named after Long Lake, a lake that is part of the Raquette River system and flows 14 miles in the center of the Adirondack Park. Long Lake is a destination perfect to visit for all four seasons! Boasting as one of the oldest communities within Adirondack Park, this town is a family-friendly destination.

Explore and stay at the historic Adirondack Hotel, built in the 1850s and currently stands as the last remaining hotel in Adirondack Park. This historic hotel boasts 20 renovated guestrooms, two dining rooms, a gift shop, a taproom, and a sitting room. Across the hotel lies the town beach, where visitors can feel the sand on their toes or take a dip in Long Lake. The beach encompasses stunning views of the Seward Mountain Range and is near boat rentals and restaurants. In the summer, the beach is also a popular venue for family-friendly events.

Visitors ought to check out the Mt Sabattis Recreation Area during their stay, which was named after the Long Lake guide, Mitchell Sabattis. This attraction is a community gathering place and includes a range of amenities like picnic areas, sledding hills, pickleball, basketball, tennis courts, and a local farmer's market!

Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake in autumn, located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Tupper Lake in autumn, located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

The community of Tupper Lake is a part of New York's Franklin County, with the Raquette River flowing past its south side. Along with Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, Tupper Lake is part of the three villages that make up the Tri-Lakes Region.

This Adirondacks town is one of the best places to see the stars, boasting clear skies due to a lack of light pollution. Star chasers can flock to the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory to engage in activities from special lectures to stargazing sessions (if weather permits).

Tupper Lake also boasts its famed attraction, The Wild Center. This hands-on and interactive tourist attraction was recognized by outlets like Adirondack Life and USA Today, boasting a massive, 54,000 square foot of indoor space. Peruse tons of interactive exhibits, embark on guided canoe trips, or stroll through marked trails. The Wild Center is especially famous for its Wild Walk, which transports visitors to a trail of bridges towards the treetops in the Adirondack forest. Discover a four-story twig tree house, swinging bridges, a spider's web where visitors can hang out, and an oversized bald eagle's nest!

Visitors keen on getting their hikes on should try the Tupper Lake Hiking Triad, which is ideal for novice hikers. This hiking challenge calls for hiking three family-friendly mountains, rewarding challengers with outstanding views of the lakes and mountains at the summits of Mount Arab, Coney Mountain, and Goodman Mountain. Complete the challenge over a weekend!

The Adirondack Mountains dazzle several million visitors every year with its landscape of mountain peaks, forests, and water bodies, including its rivers. By the banks of these flowing rivers exist several river towns with plenty of charm, waiting for curious visitors to explore their history and local sights.

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