The Adirondack region consists of a mountainous dome in central New York. This area, some 200 kilometers in diameter, bears the scars of the previous ice age. As the glaciers came and went, they carved out the deep valleys and left behind large boulders and numerous ponds and lakes. The Adirondacks are home to numerous high peaks, the most prominent being Mount Marcy. Mount Marcy peaks at 1623 meters, representing the highest point in the state. It also is home to the highest lake, Lake Tear of the Clouds, which flows into the mighty Hudson River.
The Adirondack Park is massive in many ways. At 6.1 million acres, the park is comparable to the size of Vermont and could contain “rival” parks Yosemite, Yellowstone, Great Smokies, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. Furthermore, it represents the largest protected wilderness in the contiguous United States. The park is protected by one of the strongest environmental laws, deemed to be kept “forever wild” by the state constitution. The park itself became a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
Long before the arrival of European settlers, the Adirondack region was home to the native Mohawk people. The Mohawk were members of the Iroquois Nation and were deemed the “guardians of the Eastern Door” and as such had direct contact with early settlers of New York. Due to the lack of fertile land the Adirondacks were not settled as quickly as the nearby river valleys. This allowed the park to remain mostly wild long enough to survive to a time when environmental law could be established. Those that did venture into the wilderness developed a unique and rich culture of their own. Today, the park differs greatly from the traditional notion of a park due to the fact that it is comprised of public and private lands. This results in the close association of communities and wilderness that is unfortunately not seen in many other places.
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