Search This Blog

Friday, July 20, 2018

Visiting Ausable Chasm, New York

So often in life, we take advantage of the little things.  We get so wrapped up in the "need to do" and daily sing song of life that we forget to do whats really important - spend time with people we love.  In this digital and forever-connected age, it's so easy to let friendships and relationships slide to the wayside when we cant find time to make it work.  While I can be just as guilty, since moving back to Connecticut two years ago, I have a greater appreciation for spending time with the people I love.  2,282 miles will certainly give you perspective on how lucky you are to spend time with the people who mean the most to you.  

This spring, I bought a house and have been forever grateful to the help of family and friends in turning this place from a fixer upper to a home (theres nothing like free labor and expertise to make you realize how lucky you are).  So in the spirit of spending more quality time with family and friends and when my parents suggested a fourth of July trip somewhere (anywhere) just to spend time together as a family, I jumped at the chance.  I was excited to spend some time with these humans and for the first time in a while, without a paint roller or drill in my hand.  While everyone else in my family was busy or had their reasons for not wanting to join, I happily tagged along with my parents and planned a four day weekend nearly 5 hours away in the gorgeous Adirondacks of upstate New York. 

When you all decide the week before the Fourth of July you want to go on a camping trip in the Northeast, your options are pretty limited.  The National and State Parks have been booked up for months and even the KOA is booked solid through the holiday weekend.   To find a campsite big enough for my parents larger-than-life glamper/RV set up (which required 50 amp service) I was going to have to do some research.  After looking into the popular spots like Lake George and Saratoga and striking out, I came across a place I had never heard of with openings at their campground, Ausable Chasm.  

This was a part of New York I had never heard of and truth be told, I spent an embarrassing amount of time on google just trying to figure out how to pronounce Ausable Chasm.  Turns out its (aw-sable kasm) and the word Au Sable is french for "sandy".  

The 150 foot deep sandstorm gorge is known as the "Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks".  The Ausable River runs through the chasm and empties in Lake Champlain.  At the Southern end, the 91' Rainbow Falls floods into the chasm.  This sandstone gorge is two miles long and is one of the oldest attractions in the northeast.  This popular tourist attraction in the Adirondacks has been operating since 1870.  A big Visitor's Center welcomes you (and demands you buy a ticket to see any part of the gorge not visible from the road and bridge).  While all very touristy, there are a number of things to do and see in the chasm.  There are self-guided rim walks and hiking trails that give you a birds eye view of the canyon.  For those not afraid to get wet, you can tube or raft down the canyon.  The really adventurous can complete an adventure course through the chasm or dabble in climbing and rappelling. 

After paying the admission fee at the front desk ($29.95 per adult before the campground discount for the classic tour combining the rafting with admission to the park) we made our way into the chasm and started the 1.5 mile walk through the chasm trails to Table Rock.  We found the trails poorly marked and somehow got a little disoriented and were thankful to have a map to take us to the launch point for the rafting.  When we finally found Table Rock, we donned some sweaty lifejackets and boarded an inflatable raft with a handful of strangers for a 20 minute raft ride down the Ausable River.  The river was really low and slow when we got there July 4th weekend but even when its faster, this is a family friendly easy going raft road down the chasm.  

The tube ride looked like a lot of fun but with the low river levels, also looked like a pain as tubers were struggling to get themselves down the river in a next to nothing current.  The one rapid section which the rafters get to experience is also off limits to tubers (they have to get out of their tubes, walk a section, and get back on for the rest of the ride down the River).  

A tour guide controlled and paddled the raft and told us fun facts about the canyon, how the older tours operated, and about some of the animals that call the chasm home (wolf spiders.... w o l f  s p i d e r s).  

Overall, we found Ausable Chasm to be a pretty place and an interesting formation tucked away in Northern New York.  However, we also felt that the chasm was insanely touristy and the raft ride was just another touristy gimmick offered at a fee for chasm visitors.  While the area was beautiful to see and experience, the tourist trap effect definitely made it a "see once and done" sort of attraction for us.  

Outside of the chasm, this area of northern New York was still absolutely beautiful.  Lazy rivers for fly fishing, long winding roads for biking, and some beautiful places to hike, shop, and spend an afternoon. After spending time in the chasm, I hopped on my mountain bike and biked down to the nearby Ausable River.  Under the bridge, you can wade in the unseasonably warm river and enjoy a sunny afternoon.  After a quick swim, I headed back to the campground and checked out some of the mountain biking and frisbee golf trails right on the campground. The trails were relatively flat and super flowy, well marked, and very beginner friendly.  

While the chasm was home base, the campground at the chasm just served as the home base for exploring the Adirondacks.  Check back in next week for our trip across Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont and my hike to Indian Head with an amazing view of Lower Ausable Lake.  

Ausable Chasm  US Hwy. 9, Ausable Chasm, NY
Directions: I-87 exit 34 (Keeseville), then north a couple of miles on US 9.
Phone: 518-834-7454  Admission
Float Tours and trolley/shuttle buses operate mid-May through Columbus Day only.  
Trails open year round, weather permitting.
April 1 - June 29 9:00-4:00
 June 30 - September 4 9:00-5:00
September 5 - November 19 9:00-4:00
November 25 - March 31 9:00-4:00

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!