Let’s jump back in time a little bit to our New York state honeymoon in Lake Placid. Take a look at a few of the other posts I’ve shared on things to do and places to go in Lake Placid below:
Today I’m talking all about another fun day out we had while in the Lake Placid area: the Wild Center at Tupper Lake.
Situated in the heart of the Adirondacks, the Wild Center is an indoor and outdoor natural history museum and visitor centre all rolled into one. It was around a 30 mile drive, around 40 minutes, away from our accommodation at Lake Placid – and a very beautiful drive it was through the rolling mountains where the leaves were changing colours and along the shores of the connected Saranac lakes.
The goal of the Wild Center is to introduce visitors to the natural beauty of the surrounding Adirondack mountains, help them to understand how they were formed and came to be today, as well as helping to preserve the wildlife that lives among them.
Entering the Wild Center is quite an astonishing sight in itself. The pond out of the back of the facility comes right up to the huge glass windows that line the back wall. The floor is set lower so that the water in the pond is about level with your waist, meaning it runs seamlessly up to the edges of the windows – a really beautiful effect. This hall holds presentations throughout the day of various kinds – we managed to catch part of one where a trainer was talking about and showing an owl.
There are other Animal Encounter presentations throughout the Wild Center too – we caught the Otter show just as we arrived which was really informative and fun too. The otters are available to see all day every day, but the presentations only happen at certain times, so make sure to pick up a time guide when you buy your tickets to organise your day. There are 50 other species of animal living at the centre, within habitats inside and around the centre including owls, snakes, frogs, turtles, skunks, porcupines and more.
There are five main indoor exhibit areas – the Pataki Hall of the Adirondacks is the main area to the right hand side when you enter the centre. You are first greeted with the sight of a huge block of gently dripping ice that creaks and groans, demonstrating the glaciers that formed the Adirondacks. You can then follow the Living River Trail which is home to most of the animal exhibits and a real waterfall.
This area is also home to Planet Adirondack – an interactive exhibit with a projected space-eye view of the Earth showing live weather around the globe. There are also other interactive experiences that allow you to see the effects of the weather on the landscape.
To the left of the main entry hall is the Flammer Theatre which shows a selection of short films throughout the day. We were recommended one on the Merganser Ducks which are native to the Adirondacks (an this was very cute – following their launch from their nest), and we also watched A Matter of Degrees, a film narrated by Sigourney Weaver that was a finalist in the 2008 Banff Mountain Film Festival which takes you through an astounding narration of the creation of the Adirondacks and their journey through the years.
The Wild Center is part of a 115 acre site that not only includes the pond you can see out the windows of the entry hall, but a vast network of trails through the surrounding forested area and along a winding river, as well as the Wild Walk. There are even options to hire canoes and paddle boards along the river which I’d love to do if we ever went back.
As the area is so big, we couldn’t possible do everything but took the trail around the pond then veered off into the iForest. I couldn’t find a huge amount of information on this before we arrived, but it was a very interesting experience! This is a short, flat trail through the forest just off the edge of the trout pond with an immersive sound installation. Haunting choral music plays from hidden speakers (although Ben took great pleasure in finding the speakers and pointing them out to me!) as you wander a rambling trail through the trees with changing leaves. The soundtrack has been specifically designed for the space so that it creates a strangely relaxing and atmospheric ambience that changes as the seasons pass.
The part we were most excited for at the Wild Center was the Wild Walk, an area of boardwalk and suspension bridges that rises above the natural forest, giving views over the nearby mountains. The trail is accessible and allows visitors to wander the treetops with a literal bird’s eye view from a large recreated bald eagle’s nest, hang on a huge spider’s web and explore the inside of a giant snag tree to see the wildlife within.
The price for entry to the Wild Center is $17 per person. At first, we thought this seemed a little steep for a visitor centre, however once you realise quite how much there is to see and do there, the value seems a lot better. If you got there early in the morning and spent time exploring the inside and outside of the centre, you’d find you could spend all day there. In addition, this price contributes towards the upkeep of the centre, the wildlife on the property and goes towards maintaining the natural beauty of the Adirondacks. If you’re planning a visit, make sure to check the opening days and times as these change based on the season.
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