Following a drive down a long wooded dirt road, Great Camp Sagamore sits on a sunny lakeside clearing. All photos by Erin Lindsey/Escape Brooklyn.

In Raquette Lake, New York, the iconic Great Camp Sagamore offers an immersive, all-inclusive retreat for those looking to fully unplug in nature.

Currently in its 126th year, this fascinating National Historic Landmark from America’s Gilded Age was once a private getaway for the wealthy and famous — including the Durants, Vanderbilts, Emersons and more.

Those unfamiliar with the term Great Camp might be misled by its name — an Adirondack “camp” actually refers to the regional cabins and structures that the wealthy used to escape oppressive summers in the city, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Camps had multiple buildings, often small structures with single domestic functions (food storage, hydro electric, staff quarters, dinner halls, etc.) and were built to be as self-sustainable as possible. They were a direct reaction against America’s advancing Industrial Age, a reassuring alternative to the problems of industrialization that troubled workers and consumers alike.

But this “return to nature” adopted by the super-wealthy wasn’t exactly authentic; many camps had extravagant amenities for the time such as plumbing and lighting. Simply put, they were built with the illusion of roughing it, not unlike modern glamping. The wealthiest among camp owners would throw fanciful parties, competing to see who could entertain the most lavishly in the wilderness.

After years of preservation efforts, these extravagant lodges in remote Adirondack locations provide an hospitality experience unlike any other – rooted in history, nature, art and architecture. For a more robust version of Sagamore’s history, and history of the Great Camp movement, don’t miss Great Camp Sagamore’s historic tours, or check out their history page.

Muted, moody sunset colors after a thunderstorm at Lake Sagamore.

Nowadays, it’s fitting that much of the guest experience at Great Camp Sagamore remains a nod to the past. Most rooms are booked in two night blocks (“Simply Sagamore stays”) in rooms clad with Adirondack-style furnishings and oftentimes, a pair of twin beds. And at first pass, it’s model of all-inclusive lodging and meals might feel dated – but once you’re checked in, the idea of leaving to eat seems absurd. Last, there’s a complete and utter lack of cell service. (For those who must remain connected, WiFi is available in the main lodge.) But all of these things, plus its many onsite amenities, is what makes the Sagamore experience so special.

Located at the end of a long dirt road, the drive into Great Camp Sagamore campus serves as a portal into another dimension and time, where art and nature harmonize. Leave the outside world behind, and immerse completely into the Adirondack wilderness.

Below, a few pointers on our favorite activities – plus a few tips to make the most of a trip to Great Camp Sagamore.

The Great Outdoors: Paddling and Hiking at Great Camp Sagamore

Many of Great Camp Sagamore’s trails begin near its iconic footbridge.

From easy trails to difficult paths, there’s no shortage of hiking in the region – plus five on-site trails right at Great Camp Sagamore.

Most trails at Great Camp Sagamore are mellow, with little elevation gain. Trail maps are provided at check-in; the Powerhouse Trail, Cascade Trail, and Beaverflow trails are all about 1.5 miles, and can be combined for a longer 4.5 mile hike. Another option is the Lake Trail, which circles the glistening waters of Sagamore Lake. Further afoot, check AllTrails for a comprehensive list of trails in the region.

Guests may use kayaks and canoes stocked at Great Camp Sagamore’s boathouse. Take advantage and explore Sagamore Lake’s pristine beauty.

Another great way to explore Great Camp Sagamore is by watercraft; the crystal-clear waters of Sagamore Lake are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Guests may make use of both at Great Camp Sagamore, free of charge, from the boathouse. Keep close to the waters edge to explore the many coves and bays, and keep an eye out for wildlife!

Rainy day? Don’t let it get you down; take Sagamore’s history tour, or spend a few hours at the hand-set bowling alley. Also recommended is a visit to the nearby Adirondack Experience: Museum on Blue Lake to continue your Adirondack education. Throughout its enormous campus, exhibits of all kinds range from modern photography and immersive movies, to the story of the indigenous Mohawk and Abenaki tribes, as of course, an immersive exhibit on Adirondack Great Camps.

Lodging at Great Camp Sagamore

Located near the water’s edge of Lake Sagamore, Alfred’s Cabin was built for Alfred Vanderbilt.

Guests at Great Camp Sagamore can book private rooms inside the main lodge, or other cabins and cottages. Rooms are classic Adirondack-style, and you’ll do without some modern amenities in favor of a tranquil wilderness experience unlike any other. Many rooms utilize twin beds – very common in the Great Camp tradition.

Two types of stays are available at Great Camp Sagamore: multi-day educational programs, and “Simply Sagamore” overnight getaways. Information on both can be found on Sagamore’s Overnight Overview page.

Trip Prep: What to Know When Planning a Trip to Great Camp Sagamore

Be prepared for the full spectrum of weather conditions – and when all else fails, there’s always bowling in Great Camp Sagamore’s historic open-air, hand-set bowling alley.

Planning a trip to Great Camp Sagamore is different than most Escape Brooklyn getaways; guests should plan to stay onsite from check-in until check-out to make the most of a trip. Here’s a few preparation tips.

  • Wrap up your work beforehand. Cell service is spotty, and though WiFi is provided in the main lodge, too many guests can overload the system. If you have pressing business, wrap it up before your trip, and leave the laptop behind.
  • Three scheduled meals a day are included at Great Camp Sagamore. Don’t be fooled by the words “buffet style” or “family style meals” – the food is very good! Give them a heads up about any dietary restrictions before your stay, as most can be accommodated if arranged in advance. Great Camp Sagamore asks that food not be consumed or stored in your rooms, but for snacks you might bring along, an airtight container is provided in guest rooms.
  • Alcohol can be purchased the “bar” in the dining room, or at the front desk.
  • When hiking, bring snacks, water, and a whistle – just in case. Also, be sure to sign-out and register where you’ll be hiking that day. Guest safety in the great outdoors is of the utmost importance for Great Camp Sagamore.
  • Pack smart! Bring bug spray, long sleeves, sunscreen, and rain gear. This is true Adirondack wilderness – weather shifts and seasonal flies are no joke. Some essentials like bug jackets and bug spray are available on-site, but best to bring your own.

This post was made in collaboration with Adirondack Hub; all views and recommendations are our own.