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Old 06-15-2015, 07:19 AM
 
166 posts, read 192,746 times
Reputation: 370

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Hello,
I've never been to Saranac Lake and I'm wondering if it's a place to live or just visit. I can see from pics and videos why it's a great place in the summer. But what is it to live there in the winter? I'm not talking about the weather, I understand how it is there in the winter. I'm talking social life, communities, etc. Is it totally dead in the winter or it's a "real" place to live. In other words, is Saranac Lake just a summer vacation place?
Thanks for your comments
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 7,546,745 times
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The Adirondaks are predominantly wilderness, covered by large areas of forest lands, lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Some of it is wilder and more remote than parts of the Rocky Mountains. That wild aspect of the Adirondaks is what draws people for vacations, but it also makes life more complicated for year-round residents.

Saranac Lake and the rest of the Adirondak towns are also pretty isolated as there's no fast, easy connection with Syracuse, Albany, or Plattsburgh. It's all basically 2 lane rural highways between I-87 on the east, I-81 on the west, and I-90 on the south. The towns are small and frequently without a lot of services and conveniences that people take for granted in larger, more settled places. Because of zoning restrictions and limited year round populations, for example, there are no Walmarts in the Adirondak Park itself. The closest one to Saranac Lake would likely be in Ticonderoga, about 70 miles away. It's likely that other popular big box stores are similarly scarce. If you like to shop on-line, you probably wouldn't have an issue but if you like to shop brick-and-mortar stores, you probably need to reconsider living in the Adirondaks.

Medical services are also limited; many small towns throughout the country don't have doctors or even "urgent care" facilities any more, and the Adirondaks, being so sparsely populated, wouldn't be much different. There are hospitals in Saranac Lake, in Lake Placid, and in Elizabethtown, and that's probably where the physicians are, too.

If you were to live there year round, you also would have to adjust to limited options in dining and entertainment, especially in the winter as many local businesses are seasonal. A ski town like Lake Placid would probably be busy and active the entire year, but most towns would not.

Finally, the Adirondaks are cold. The area is higher in latitude and higher in general elevation than most of NYS. The valleys between the mountains tend to get very cold because cold air tends to settle there. Consequently, temperatures well below 0 F are common, frequently -20 F. The snow may come and stay all winter.
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:46 AM
 
166 posts, read 192,746 times
Reputation: 370
ouch!
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Old 06-15-2015, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 7,546,745 times
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There's reason why much of the Adirondaks remained a mostly wild, sparsely settled area with limited development even into the 1880s when most of the rest of the state had been settled, cleared, farmed, logged, and otherwise developed by that time. When the State Forest Preserve was created in 1891, the area within the "blue line", although mostly privately owned, the primary "industries" were logging, hunting/trapping/guiding, and ice-making. Even farming was limited because of the harsh climate and rocky soil.

In the 19th century, everything was exploitable. Even Niagara Falls was lined with factories powered by the rushing water, and tourists were charged fees for the opportunity to even view the cataract. One of the reasons why so many of the national parks in the West are preserved today is because they were too remote, controlled by hostile Native Americans, or considered too useless to be exploited until late in the 19th century when attitudes toward natural resources and nature in general had started to change. In and around areas where mining took hold early on, like Pike's Peak, the areas were desecrated to make money. When

The Adirondaks would have suffered the same fate but nobody found gold or silver there, the climate was too cold and the land was too poor for farming, so that only left logging. Only the most remote areas of the Adirondaks that the loggers couldn't get to easily kept their primeval forests; all the rest was logged at one time or another.
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Old 06-15-2015, 08:13 PM
 
166 posts, read 192,746 times
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Linda,
very interesting, thank you.
P.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:30 PM
 
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Hey, all. I hope Spring is sprung your way. Long Winter and late Spring here in Virginny, too.

So, down the road a good ten years, Saranac Lake is among my top possibilities for retirement. I'm from Buffalo, like a winter that's cold and snowy, love the Northwoods (especially in the Summer & Fall), love hiking, fishing, camping, have loved my times visiting Saranac Lake (admittedly only in the Summer), etc. I've got dogs, music, kids to visit (two are already grown and gone), and plenty of memories and imagination, so I never lack for things to do on bad-weather days.

That said, how shut-in a feeling/situation are Winters up there? Does the town shut down to the extent that it's easy to feel stranded? Assuming I live in town, which would be my preference, how physically isolated does the town get during the snowy season? A big part of coping with Winter is being able to walk the dogs on trails. Are any of them open/walkable during the snowy season?

Conversely, how tourist-swamped does it get in Summer? Having been one of those tourists, I had little scale to judge what the town is like before my ilk swarmed, so....

Thanks for your responses.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Watervliet, NY
4,603 posts, read 1,785,542 times
Reputation: 8484
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phorlan View Post
Hello,
I've never been to Saranac Lake and I'm wondering if it's a place to live or just visit. I can see from pics and videos why it's a great place in the summer. But what is it to live there in the winter? I'm not talking about the weather, I understand how it is there in the winter. I'm talking social life, communities, etc. Is it totally dead in the winter or it's a "real" place to live. In other words, is Saranac Lake just a summer vacation place?
Thanks for your comments
My brother lives up there; in fact, he oversees land use management for 75% of the 6 million acre Adirondack Park.

It's not completely "dead" in winter. The ice carnival is a huge deal, and they have all of the outdoor winter recreation you could want. My brother has lived up there over 20 years, and loves it. He wouldn't live anywhere else, and this is a kid who spent his formative years as an adult in Syracuse, so he is used to places with more action, and grew up just outside of Albany.

Actually, you should consider the weather in winter. They get some of the coldest temperatures in the country (my brother's posted thermometer pictures as low as -30), and driving around in bad weather if you can't get out of doing so is not fun (you'll find out how good of a winter driver you are by driving Route 73 into Keene during an ice/sleet storm).
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Watervliet, NY
4,603 posts, read 1,785,542 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda_d View Post
The snow may come and stay all winter.
My brother (who actually lives in Vermontville) still had snow on the ground as late as a week and a half ago. They are also dealing with some pretty significant flooding in and around Saranac Lake; a state of emergency was declared in that area only several days ago.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:48 AM
 
Location: Watervliet, NY
4,603 posts, read 1,785,542 times
Reputation: 8484
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phorlan View Post
ouch!
It's not for city folks who need conveniences on every single corner.
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