Adirondack Park

Adirondack Park, 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State.

Created in eastern upstate New York in 1892 as one of the first Forever Wild Forest Preserves in the nation, the Adirondack Park is a unique wilderness area and National Historic Landmark. At 6 million acres, it is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. The state of New York owns approximately 2.6 million acres, while the remaining 3.4 million acres are devoted to forestry, agriculture and open space recreation. The Adirondack Park is not a National Park - there's no fee to enter and the park doesn't close at night, nor is it a state park, a common misconception.

It's also the largest National Historic Landmark in the United States, covering an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and the Great Smokies National Parks combined.

When the Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by the State of New York - this diverse mountain landscape was a wild place. Full of pristine waterways, boreal forests, and the towering mountains. It was land ripe for cultivation or conservation, and it was already on the brink of wide-spread deforestation.

Clear cutting was a growing concern for many in the late 1800s, but it wasn't until 1894 that the Adirondack Forest Preserve was established and recognized as a constitutionally protected Forever Wild area. Of the Adirondack Park's 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State. The remaining 3.4 million acres are privately owned.

Within the Adirondack Region is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. It is also home to 105 small towns and villages. The region's mix of public and private land allows for conservation and civilization to thrive.

A large portion of the Adirondack Park is made up of Forest Preserve, which comes with its own land-use codes and regulations. Most of New York State's entire Forest Preserve is located in the Adirondacks, and there are 286,000 acres of New York state-owned land in the Catskill Forest Preserve. These are the only two areas in the state that are designated as "Forever Wild" – meaning the land is protected under Article XIV of the New York State Constitution – " to preserve the exceptional scenic, recreational and ecological value." (Source:

This amendment to the state constitution ensures that forest preserve lands won't be logged for timber, and certain areas will be maintained according to unit management plans for recreation, including skiing, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

The Adirondack Park Forest Preserve

Verplanck Colvin, a lawyer, author, illustrator and topographical engineer, was the original surveyor of the Adirondack Park. Through his early work and appreciation of the Adirondack Mountains - he helped raise awareness for the need to create a Forest Preserve and ultimately, the Adirondack Park.

Colvin got his start at his father's law office in Albany, specializing in real estate law and gaining practical surveying experience. Colvin spent several years around the 1860s exploring in the Adirondacks and by 1869, he decided to do a geological survey of the region.

One year later, Colvin recorded his ascent of Seward Mountain - where he witnessed the widespread devastation of the logging industry - and presented his observations to the Albany Institute. This caught the ears of several NYS officials and was printed in the annual report of the New York State Museum of Natural History. In his report, Colvin argued that clear-cutting would lead to reduced water flow in the state's canals and rivers - main thoroughfares of commerce for New York City and beyond.

In 1872, Colvin applied for a stipend from New York State to cover the costs of a survey, and was presented with a budget of $1,000, and named to the newly created post of Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey. Over the next year, Colvin and his crews discovered Lake Tear of the Clouds - the source of the Hudson River, and many more Adirondack peaks. Through his work in the Adirondacks, Colvin was able to demonstrate the need for conservation of the state's wild spaces. Eventually, Colvin was appointed Superintendent of the New York State Land Survey, where his work led to the creation of the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve.