In the heart of the Adirondacks sits a museum of epic proportions. Situated on 81 acres, The Wild Center is an indoor/outdoor natural history museum boasting 54,000 square feet of exhibit space, an elevated trail system through the treetops, guided canoe trips, and 900 animals. Located in Tupper Lake, the museum is 45 minutes from Lake Placid and five hours from New York City. Check out highlights from our recent visit below, along with recommendations for the area.
Explore the Great Outdoors at the Wild Center: An iForest, Wild Walk, and Guided Canoe Tours
Since its opening three years ago, the Wild Walk at the Wild Center has been a hit with visitors from all over the globe. Described as the “High Line of the Forest, ” an elevated trail system comprised of bridges and paths is raised 30 feet in the air. Visitors not only get aerial views of the mountains, but also a unique perspective into the life of the animals that reside in the tall Adirondack pines. Along the trail, several interactive stops include a giant (rope) spider web suspended above the forest, a four-story twig house, and an oversized eagles nest at the trails highest point.
For those looking for a more intimiate nature experience, guided canoe tours are available–and are totally affordable. Each trip is led by a NYS Licensed Guide and Wild Center Naturalist, ready to guide adventurous visitors through different marsh habitats on the Raquette River. Keep an eye out for carnivorous plants, bald eagles, beavers, and other wildlife!
The latest and greatest addition to The Wild Center is the “iForest.” (See above video provided by the Wild Center.) Artist/composer Pete M Wyer has created an immersive sound experience in the woods, where visitors are led down a meandering path and followed by the voices of a chamber choir. The voices are recordings of what Wyer imagined might have been actual conversations held in that same place–hundreds of years ago, and in the Mohawk language. Underneath the voices of the choir–or perhaps above it–the songs of birds and rustling leaves join the voices in perfect harmony. The result is other-worldly, contemplative and calming.
Indoors at the Wild Center: An Adirondack Natural History Museum
On its website, the Wild Center states their mission of creating a space that leads by example, showing how people and the rest of the natural world can thrive together. From insect exhibits, to a massive 3d light map globe—small scale to large—the Wild Center presents a comprehensive understanding of the natural environment for visitors. It’s also home to more than 900 live Adirondack animals—including otters, porcupines, ravens, snakes and fresh-water fish. In the Great Hall, don’t miss the Daily Animal Encounters where visitors can get close to animals like snakes, turtles, blue jays, ravens and porcupines. (The day we visited, we “encountered” an American Kestrel, the worlds smallest falcon.) Beyond the hall, animal exhibits beyond include otters, turtles, fish of the Adirondacks, and more.
Make A Weekend of It!—Where To Stay & Eat in the Area
Tupper Lake is just 45 minutes from Lake Placid, making a visit to the Wild Center a great daytrip. There are closer hotels, but Escape Brooklyn loves The Lake House at High Peaks Resort. The hotel is decorated in modern Adirondack style, and boasts a bar, indoor pool, and hot tub. The views from each room can’t be beat. Outside, there’s a lakefront pool, fire pit, and water sport amenities like kayaks and paddleboats for guest use. Grab dinner nearby at Salt of the Earth Bistro, the newest restaurant in town, who’s serving up farm to table fare in a cute hostel-turned-house. Last but not least, if you’re making the trip up to Tupper Lake, fuel up at The Washboard before, and grab a beer at Raquette River Brewing after. The Washboard combination laundromat and donut shop—try the maple donut!