Adirondack Extravaganza: The Wild Center (photo heavy!)

Nothing lights a fire under a lapsed blogger like a blog-worthy outing!

And we took a quintessential autumn outing this week—to the Wild Center of the Adirondacks.

I’ve written elsewhere about this region of upstate New York I call home. The Adirondack Park is “the biggest natural park in the lower 48 states. It can hold Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks inside its borders.” 

About 20 years ago, the idea surfaced to build a natural history museum in the ADK Park.

Does that sound boring? It is anything but!

From that initial germ of an idea came the Wild Center, an amazing outdoor/indoor set of experiences that explains, informs, and celebrates the environment in these mountains.

Making the trip in autumn gave us the bonus of a glorious drive.


The Center is in the town of Tupper Lake, about 1.5 hours by car from our house.

I could relay all kinds of facts and figures but the website does that better.

I’ll just show you some photos.

Planet Adirondack, a huge globe in a darkened hall, allows visitors to see storms across the earth in real time.

The animal inhabitants of the region, some living, some still informative in their preserved states.

Art of the indigenous peoples of the region and a place to make your own art

And a display to warm the heart of a weaver.

The Wild Center opened in 2006 but just a few years ago they added the Wild Walk. And what a wild and wonderful walk it is!

The attention to deal is amazing


Lots of information


. . . and inventive ways to bring it alive


A small vignette along the way


The seat of the swing says “Soar from tree to tree”


Every inch of concrete walkway is imprinted with twigs and pine needles

The Wild Walk rises gradually from the forest floor to the level of the treetops.

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I can’t imagine a better place to teach about and honor the wonders of this region. And, even better, it’s all accessible to people of all generations and abilities!

We have many reasons to return:

  • to see the otters playing in their waterfall. They were shy the day we were there;
  • to see the place without marauding hordes of 12-year-olds. We arrived just as many buses unloaded kids on field trips;
  • to get a photo of me on the spider web! I really, really wanted that photo  . . . but not with hordes of 12-year-olds;
  • and to absorb more of the vast amount of information and experiences offered.

The lovely news is that we were given free passes to return! When we were leaving, I asked at the main desk for a phone number so, next time, we can call ahead to ask about the school trips (and avoid them!) The admissions manager overheard me and gave us passes to come back, as well as that phone number.

If you were visiting me and wanted to understand this part of our world, I would take you to The Wild Center.

And I would show you a moose:


77 thoughts on “Adirondack Extravaganza: The Wild Center (photo heavy!)

  1. Fascinating! Sounds like you had a blast and I’m sure it’ll be as good or even better next time without the hordes.
    Is the Lesser Striped Red Backed Moose indigenous to your part of the world? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one before.

  2. It is beautiful.. those fall trees! I have been waiting to see these! I’ll take the serene a beautiful place to push off in a kayak. Love the thought a nature being a woven piece.

    • I’ll be doing a post with *way* more foliage photos for you–it’s been a stunning year. And the Center does offer the opportunity to go out in canoes–I’d like to do that on another visit.

  3. The views, the creativity, I could all day, and I might even play on the spider web with the 12 year olds….but only if they were nice! What a great post Kerry; take another trip so we see more of your lovely state!

    • New York is a beautiful state and that tends to go unrecognized because people just think of NY City (which has its own beauties, of course). I know very nice 12-year-olds but when you put dozens and dozens together and let them out of school for a day . . . these were really manic and out of control.

  4. Thank you for a lovely virtual outing! I really love the signboard showing the wonderful migration achievements of different species.
    And you should have gotten on the spider web, it’s always good to shake up 12-year-olds’ ideas of what older people can do. 🙂

    • You would absolutely love this place, with your naturalist leaning! And you’re a better woman than I am if you’d be willing to be out there on that trampoline with those kids. No kidding–they put the “wild” in this Wild Walk!

    • I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed! Lake Placid, home of two Winter Olympics and a charming town, is about 45 minutes from the Wild Center, and there are trails to walk and mountain to climb all over the place!

  5. Oh, if only……… I’m reading a book called ‘Wilding’ in the intro the author notes that nobody does National Parks like the USA and now I get a little glimpse of how it’s done. The autumnal colour is spectacular too. And the moose 🙂 But I think the cream on top is that you get to go back sans marauders and for free. Lookout spider web…..

    • It was a great day–perfect autumn weather and a good time with my moose. The kids were having a terrific time . . . I think the Wild Center is a natural for children and there were many, many beautifully-behaved kids there with parents. It was the out-of-control pack that got to me . . .

  6. So…. how soon are you planning to go back and explore in greater detail all those things you had to skip past because you didn’t have a week there? More even than the original visit to places such as this, I love the re-visit, and the re-re-visit… Thank you so much for the descriptions, photos, links – and passion!

    • I agree about the re-visits being even better. You lose the surprise factor but gain a depth of experience, and know what to look for. They have a number of videos on in a theater and we skipped those entirely and we did move fairly quickly, to avoid close encounters with the school kids. I’d be curious to go in the depth of winter–that would be a very different experience!

  7. What a wonderful place Kerry with the focus on nature but also the culture of the indigenous peoples of the area. It reminds me a bit of the types of places we visited last year in northern Canada and Alaska. The drive through the countryside with the russets and golden yellows of the autumnal trees would have been spectacular plus you have free passes to return! 🙂

    • The kids were so high on being away from school and showing off for each other–it really did take away. We got out on that Wild Walk well ahead of them . . . but could hear them coming, closer and closer. Eek.

  8. I want to spend time at the eagles nest. See if the place has a webcam and, if so, check it for school buses in the parking lot before your next visit.

    • the webcam is a good idea but it takes us an hour and a half to get there so there would be way too much for the pesky kids to sneak in once we were on the road. The admissions staff was very willing to take a phone call, though, and let us know which days are quietest.

  9. when I came upon that swing…from here, I thought I saw it move!

    even though there were oodles of school children, it makes me believe that a % of those children will grow up understanding the need for such places…

    • Yes, I agree-it’s a very positive place for the kids to visit and I hope all the local schools are taking them and also teaching and following up about what they saw. I just would’ve enjoyed my own visit more if we weren’t there at exactly the same time!

  10. What a fantastic place, Kerry! Every photo has something of real interest and your enthusiasm made for an excellent post. The views from the tree tops, the walkways with twigs and pine needles embedded in them, the clever way of showing how birds search for holes in trees for nest sites by putting coins on the path…. wow; brilliant!
    What a pity the young people put a dampener on your enjoyment of the place. What is it with school trips these days? When I was at school in the dark ages we behaved ourselves on when on visits on pain of terrible punishment. These days, the noise from school groups is deafening and none of them have any idea of respect for other people. When visiting schools in the past all the staff bellow to make themselves heard!

    • Thanks for being so careful to look at the photos, Clare! I had so many to choose from and it’s nice to know people noticed them. The extent to which the Center had paid attention to every detail astounded me.

      I was struck, too, by the school kids’ behavior. I understand youthful enthusiasm but I really thought the teachers had completely lost control of this crowd.

    • I live here and don’t get out into the region often enough! I feel a little embarrassed, never to have been to the Wild Center before but I’ll be back, for sure!

  11. Wow. Amazing the time, thought, and planning that went into this place. I was curious as to how it evolved and was financed, so went to the website for more information. It’s a pretty incredible story of people coming together with imagination and enthusiasm to create something really special–and in a relatively short period of time. So often non-profits are weakened by petty power struggles and bickering, it’s heartening to see one that really knows how to get things done.
    I especially like the woven basket-like shoes and the migration arrows. I’m looking forward to your next trip there.

  12. What an amazing place! I enjoyed your photos so much. I would especially like the adventure of the nature walk with the suspension bridges. I’d love to see the glorious colors of fall foliage. I like serenity and to get away from traffic and crowds, so I agree that busloads of loud kids would interfere with the experience. The spider web looks a little scary to me!

    • This is a very different environment than where you live–it would all be an adventure for you! I talked to a staff member about the spider web–there were dozens of kids bouncing on it at one point, 25 feet above the ground, and i thought that was terrifying. But she said they had accounted for all possibilities and the designers were confident it couldn’t collapse. Yikes.

    • It’s a nice mix of information and quiet spaces–that walk around the pond was very serene but in the forest on the other side, they had quiet music playing, a composition written especially for that environment. So cool.

  13. It’s been years since I have been in the area, but you make me want to see this. And I was happy to read recently that long-absent fish are starting to spawn in lakes previously wounded by acid rain.

  14. Pingback: Shades of Autumn (photo heavy again!) | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  15. I love a day trip in November, it visually tells me, “Hey, even if it is still warm, it’s fall.” What beautiful autumn colors! I’d like a go on the spider web, myself. I’m surprised that safety wasn’t an issue with the chaperones/teachers. This is my 40th year as a teacher and I’d like to think that I’d whip those kids into shape real quick. LOL.

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