It's easy, and often necessary, to bash our state government, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, for some of the decisions that are made on the state level.
But one thing I have found that the state, and the DEC and Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in particular, do pretty well is run state campgrounds in the Adirondacks.
I'd say they are a best-kept secret, but they aren't really a secret. Good luck trying to find a site, particularly one on the water, on a summer weekend with good weather.
That's because, from my experience, you will find few better vacation bargains than a stay at many of the campgrounds around the Adirondacks, many of which are set on some of the most pristine state forestland we have. The nightly rate is generally $20 to $22 a night, so we do like many -- reserve a bunch of weekends, and if you get a rainy one, you can often re-schedule, or you are out just a few bucks.
If you've never slept in a tent or campground, the DEC will be offering a new program for first-time campers that will let you stay at a fully equipped campsite to experience camping. Three of our region's campgrounds and one in Old Forge are among those participating. You can find more information here.
Not all state campgrounds are created equal, and some offer more a more primitive experience and solitude while others have more amenities and options for socialization.
You also have to log on to the reservation website real early in the season to reserve the best sites on summer weekends, but that's another story.
Last year, after some trial and error at different campgrounds, I found the campadk.com website, which offers some great reviews and pictures of state campgrounds in the Adirondacks. It's a great resource to let you find the best sites for what you want to do.
I have four different reservations at campgrounds in different parts of the Adirondacks lined up for this spring and summer. We tent camp, so we need decent weather, and I will be happy to get three of the four in, fishing, hiking and kayaking in the most glorious times of year in our Adirondacks.
-- Don Lehman