Surrounded by the trees alight with fiery orange, yellow, and crimson leaves, you can’t help but gawk, which is why autumn is the perfect time of year for a New York road trip through the Adirondacks. We’ve put together a round-trip loop through the Adirondacks that includes the top must-hit waypoints to make the most of your fall getaway.
New York Adirondacks Fall Road Trip, Leg One: Southern NY to Lake George
Starting from southern New York state, make your way north on Interstate 87. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the first hills rising into the towering 4,000-foot Adirondacks and “the queen of American lakes.”
Mineral Springs and PYO Apples [Saratoga Springs, NY]
Saratoga Springs, with its 18 mineral springs and bounty of fall fun, is an ideal spot to stop, stretch cramped legs, and refresh. Walk the award-winning Main Street, book a private mineral therapy bath (historically believed to have healing powers), or take a tour of the mineral springs and see if you can taste the subtle differences in taste due to each spring’s unique mineral and chemical makeup. Not interested in water tastings? Head over to Bowman Orchards and choose a few of their 46 apple varieties to fill up your bag before getting back on the road.
Up Yonder Farm & Environmental Education Center [Bolton Landing, NY]
Upon arrival in Bolton Landing on Lake George, you can either head straight to The Sagamore to relax and unpack, or you can make a pit stop at Up Yonda Farm. Check out the educational dioramas in the barn-turned-museum, or take a walk along the Summit Trail, which will bring you to The Vista. With a name like that, you know what to expect: panoramic views of Lake George, and the 14 islands and seven mountains that make up the forest preserve.
Where to Stay: The Sagamore Resort [Bolton Landing, NY]
On its own private 70-acre island 10 miles north of the town of Lake George and right on the lake itself, The Sagamore Resort has long delivered the classic Adirondack escape, right on down to the Kelly green trim. Whether it’s couples looking for a place to celebrate a special anniversary or families seeking that annual tradition to be passed down across generations, The Sagamore is where they have turned since the 1880s.
New York Adirondacks Fall Road Trip, Leg Two: Lake George to Lake Placid
This leg of your New York road trip will land you squarely in the midst of the Adirondacks. Taking the back roads through the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and alongside Tupper Lake will bring you to the Wild Center, which makes an impressive pit stop on the way to Lake Placid Lodge.
Wild Center [Tupper Lake, NY]
It would be close to impossible to find a better place than the Wild Center’s Wild Walk to take in the foliage. Described as upstate New York’s High Line, this elevated walkway leads visitors through the treetops, offering a spectacular vantage point to enjoy Mother Nature’s fall fashion show.
An Olympic Gondola Ride through the Clouds [Lake Placid, NY]
Whiteface Mountain may have hosted Olympic athletes, but nowadays, the gondolas are ready and waiting for you. The eight-person Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry you from the Main Base Lodge to the top of Little Whiteface, floating over streams, ski trails, forest, and sheer rock faces as it hugs the mountain’s tree line. At the summit, enjoy unparalleled views of the Adirondacks all dressed up in fall foliage from the observation deck. Go in early October to be there in time for the Flaming Leaves Festival, where barbecue and blues mix in the air with ski jumpers lunching hundreds of feet up into the fiery foliage backdrop.
Where to Stay: Lake Placid Lodge [Lake Placid, NY]
Lake Placid is a natural destination within the heart of the Adirondacks. And just far enough outside of town to be a true retreat, you’ll find Lake Placid Lodge, hand-built in the Arts and Crafts tradition but with a modern spin. Originally built in 1882 as a private camp, the lodge first became a hotel in 1946. After a massive fire in 2005, a team of architects and scores of local artisans rebuilt the lodge that stands today, a tribute to the Adirondack Great Camps of the Gilded Age millionaires where the idea of taking a break from the digital rat race is an everyday event. Adults-only except for special “family-friendly days,” the lodge is also a great option for that couple’s getaway you’ve been dreaming about for years.
New York Adirondacks Fall Road Trip, Leg Three: Lake Placid to Vermont and Back
After a night nestled under the covers of the cocoon-like beds at Lake Placid Lodge, it’s time to hit the road and cover some mileage. Your first stop will take you to a prehistoric canyon, followed by a ferry ride, and then a ride through the idyllic Vermont countryside on your way back home.
Fall Photography Tour [Ausable Chasm, NY]
Known as the “Grand Canyon of New York,” Ausable Chasm is a unique vertical-walled canyon made of prehistoric rock that sits on the edge of the New York side of Lake Champlain. One of the earliest and oldest natural attractions in the United States, Ausable Chasm attracts throngs of visitors each summer. In the fall, however, you’ll have an exclusive tour through the upper arm of the Chasm on a two-hour Fall Photography Tour. Shoot the foliage, the intricate structures, the brilliant river views, even the Rainbow Falls from water level, all under the expert eye of a professional photographer. Bring home wall-worthy shots from your fall road trip.
Lake Champlain Ferry Ride to Burlington and Back Home [Vermont]
From Ausable Chasm, it’s a short drive to Plattsburgh, where the quick Lake Champlain ferry will give you perspective on the towering Adirondacks behind you and Green Mountains of Vermont in front. Once on dry land again, head south to make your way to Vermont’s cultural hotbed of activity, Burlington. Wander the extremely walkable downtown, tour the Magic Hat Brewery to get a taste of Burlington’s brew-happy culture, or make your way to Burlington’s Earth Clock, a 43.5-foot circle of 14 granite slabs that create a clock, compass, and calendar. By this point, it’s time to get on the road for your drive back home. Wind your way south alongside Lake Champlain on some of New England’s most scenic roads, knowing you’ve just logged a loop worth every mile of asphalt that it required.