The Wild Center: The Wildest Adirondack Adventure Center
During our road trip through the Adirondacks, we managed to fit in some pretty awesome places. I’ll tell you right now that this sparsely populated region of Upstate New York is perfect for family vacations. But when we arrived at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake NY, we weren’t prepared for just how much of a wilderness adventure we would be having. This Adirondack adventure center was about to capture our hearts and minds.
What is the Wild Center Tupper Lake NY?
Located not far from Lake Placid in Upstate New York, the Wild Center is an immersive Adirondack adventure park that has become one of the most popular attractions in the Adirondacks if not Upstate New York.
The Wild Center is a series of attractions that includes an interactive museum and nature experience, an iForest immersive artistic forest walk, nature experiences including canoeing and kayaking, and of course, the crown jewel of the Wild Center, the Wild Walk.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t get enough of action in one day, Wild Center tickets are valid for 2 days.
Things To Do at the Wild Center
The Wild Center is truly an Adirondack adventure center. It’s very easy to spend an entire day, or even two days exploring all the things to do in Tupper Lake NY, especially the Wild Center.
Adirondack Museum at Wild Center
The entrance to the Wild Center belies how cool it is inside. From the front, this brown, wooden building looks like a pretty standard visitors center. But once we entered the Adirondack Wild Center, we realized that we were in for much more than we had anticipated.
As soon as we entered the Wild Center museum we were surprised by a gushing wall of ice. There are displays of Adirondack history from the ice age and beyond. The Wild Center museum is filled with displays of local fish, otters, and even insects.
And far from being just for kids, the Adirondack Museum also had a fascinating globe dubbed Planet Adirondack that can pull huge amounts of information from all over the world. I spent WAY too much time speaking with the volunteer running it. Eventually, my kids had to come to drag me out as I was begging for more details on seismic events in Indonesia.
Wild Center iForest
Behind the Wild Center is a series of educational walking trails. The trails are lined with plants and wildflowers that ring a beautiful pond. The boys chased grasshoppers and butterflies as we made our way to one of the Wild Center’s more unique exhibits, the iForest.
The iForest is dubbed an “immersive sound and art installation”. And it’s the only one of its kind at the Wild Center Tupper Lake campus. The iForest trail winds through the Adirondack forest while 24 speakers play a musical composition of voices and instruments.
Nature Trails at Wild Center
The Wild Center covers over 115 acres of territory. All this land is crisscrossed with beautiful hiking trails including ones that go along the edge of the Raquette River. The trails are well marked and fairly accessible. The best part about exploring the hiking trails at Wild Center was constantly finding the nature experts on the trails.
The Wild Center nature experts hold a wealth of information on all sorts of topics. Our boys were particularly fascinated with Sean who is an expert in … moss. Yes, these people are so amazing that they held a 4 and 7-year-old’s attention for 20 minutes by chatting with them about moss and lichen! Christina and I actually had to drag them away so that we would have some time to experience the rest of the Wild Center.
The Wild Center Wild Walk Adirondacks Experience
Towering above the trees and overlooking the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, the Wild Walk is the crown jewel of the Wild Center. The Wild Walk is a multi-tiered, accessible adventure walk that is full of surprises at every corner.
The Wild Center Wild Walk begins with a walk through a raised bird watching platform and quickly grows into an immersive experience that had our whole family running to try and take it all in.
At Wild Center, the Adirondack tree top walk winds along boardwalks connecting various displays and activities. Each of the Wild Walk NY attractions has plaques that are filled with information about the nature it represents. Along the way, there are plenty of swinging chairs if you need a place to relax.
The Silk Road
Some of the coolest parts of the Wild Walk included a massive spider web that the boys spent loads of time running through. But watch out for the massive spider that watches over its web. Anyone with a serious case of arachnophobia had best think twice about entering.
The Tupper Lake Wild Center also has a 30 ft hollowed out White Pine trunk called “The Snag”. The Snag represents the 160 ft tall (49 m) giants that are the largest trees in the Adirondacks. When the trees break from lightning strikes or wind storms, the remaining trunks are called snags.
This snag holds a spiral staircase and is home to a museum that shows the life of the Adirondack wildlife that calls these trees home. It’s not only visually spectacular, but also very educational.
The Nest is one of the Wild Walks most famous features. The views from this 30 ft (9m) replica of an Eagle’s nest are breathtaking. Unfortunately, there is no overlook of the nest to get the breathtaking shot from the Wild Center website though.
The walls of the nest are a bit too high for small children to see over but a little help from his brother led to D getting to see the Adirondack mountains over the forest canopy.
Other Activities at Wild Center For Kids, Families, and Adults
While it’s easy to spend the entire day taking in the views from the Nest or wandering through the Adirondack museum, that’s not all that the Wild Center has to offer. For example, you can register for a behind the scenes tour where the nature experts take visitors behind the veil to show off the machinery that keeps the animal habitats running.
Raquette River Canoeing
We opted for the Wild Center Raquette river canoeing experience. This tour took us on a short hike to the river’s edge where we boarded canoes for a tour of the Oxbow section of the Raquette River.
During the Wild Center canoe experience the boys quizzed the nature experts on the various plants and animals we saw along the way. And of course, the Wild Center team had all the answers and more!
The Pines Wild Play Area
The kids were so excited when they heard about a playground at Wild Center. When we arrived at the Pine Forest Playground the boys were surprised. Where were the slides and swings?
The Pines Wild Play Area at Wild Center isn’t a playground in the typical sense. The Pines play area is a natural playground where children (and adults) are encouraged to build forts with logs, climb massive tree stumps and roots, and find joy in the world’s greatest playground, nature.
Where To Stay In Tupper Lake NY
There are surprisingly few hotels in Tupper Lake NY as many people opt for a day trip from nearby Lake Placid. But if you are looking to stay close to the Wild Center check out nearby Lake Clear Lodge and enjoy the beautiful sunset. You can also make your way into Lake Placid where one of the most popular hotels is the Golden Arrow Resort on scenic Mirror Lake. It gets bonus points for also being home to Generations, one of the most popular restaurants in Lake Placid.
Where To Eat Near The Wild Center
The Wild Center New York has a cafeteria with some pretty decent food. The sandwiches particularly are really tasty. But if you are spending the night in Tupper Lake or are looking for something else, check out The Hub on Park St. for some delicious farm-to-table food for the whole family.
Other Things Things To Do In Tupper Lake NY
Once we were finished with the canoe ride it was clear that there were plenty of things to do near the Wild Center. Some of the most popular things to do near the Wild Center are:
- Climb the Mt. Arab Fire Tower and take in the epic views of the Adirondacks from above the trees. We didn’t have time for this one, but we love checking out the fall colors from the Muskoka Fire Towers in Ontario.
- Take a walk along Ampersand Brook in Ampersand Forest. Ampersand Mountain is home to some of the remaining old-growth forests in New York.
- Go for a paddle on Little Tupper Lake NY
- Make the short drive to Lake Placid and explore the Olympic sites
- Make the drive to North Creek NY and experience rail biking through the Adirondacks
Wild Center With Kids
It’s very obvious when you arrive at the Wild Center that it is very focused on children. Visiting Wild Center with kids is a great experience. It’s educational, engaging, and entertaining.
Kids at Wild Center will really enjoy the Wild Walk, the fascinating museum, and exploring the nature that surrounds the property. The Wild Center nature experts are also incredible at engaging with children with their boundless knowledge.
What You Need To Know Before Visiting The Wild Center NY
- Wild Center NY tickets are valid for two consecutive days. You can spend a whole weekend here.
- Wagons and strollers for children can be borrowed free of charge
- Much of the Wild Center is wheelchair accessible including the Wild Walk
- There are great souvenirs and outdoor products available at the Wild Supply Co. located in the main building
- There is a cafe on-site. Prices are fairly reasonable and the quality of the food is good.
- Visitors can refill water bottles for free at the Waterside Cafe
Disclosure: We were guests of the Wild Center. As always our opinions remain our own. Wandering Wagars is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that travelling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.