The girls ran up the walkway at the Wild Center, following the noise of the crowd, their young legs seemingly unaffected by our Mount Arab hike only an hour earlier. Their moms and I trudged behind them, dodging and weaving around other adults who had stopped to read the interpretive signs lining the railings.
Just off of Route 30 in Tupper Lake, New York, the 81 acres of the Wild Center is the Adirondack Region’s natural history museum, nature center, and treetop trek all rolled into one.
The main building of the Center is reminiscent of the area’s historical camps – timber-framed and stone-accented – overlooking a grass-fringed pond. It houses hundreds of live animals native to the region, hands-on exhibits, and high-definition films in the theaters. We watched baby otters shyly peek out of their cave and trout swim through reeds in their tank. We listened to the waterfalls and the bird calls. We touched rocks and learned about the geological history of the Adirondacks. There are opportunities to rent snowshoes in the winter to explore the Center’s extensive trail system or to take a two-hour canoe tour on the Raquette River with a naturalist in the summer.
The Wild Walk takes visitors 30 feet off the ground to give them a bird’s (or squirrel’s) eye view of the Adirondack forest. Stop and read interpretive signs about species typically found in certain trees, about the ground predators, listen to birds’ calls. Visit the eagles’ nest, the bears’ den or hang out on the spider web, suspended over the earth and backed up by a plexiglass floor beneath the webbing (important for those of us who have problems with heights!). Learn about the migration of butterflies and birds in a Chutes-and-Ladders-esque game. The kids will love spending time here. Once you’ve explored all there is to explore, walk the trails, visit the river, marvel at all the Adirondacks have to offer.
If you’re planning a family trip to the Adirondacks this year, take a side trip from the hiking, canoeing, and camping and spend half a day exploring the Wild Center.
Just the Facts:
The Wild Center
Address: 45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, NY 12986; about 5 hours from Toronto or New York City, 2.5 hours from Ottawa
Hours: The Wild Walk is closed for the winter. Currently open Friday – Sunday, 10am-5pm; check website for details. From the end of May until Labor Day, the whole facility is open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm.
Price: Tickets run from $10-20 and are good for two consecutive days. Members and children under four are free.
Nearby Accommodations: Rollins Pond State Campground (May to September only), Shaheen’s Motel (all year round)
Nearby Ice Cream: Skyline Ice Cream (May to September only)