Keene Valley and Plattsburgh to Cranberry Lake
Separated from the southern Adirondacks by a range of mountains known as the High Peaks, the northern area of this park is a different entity, where life operates at full speed 365 days a year. Summer brings hikers, bikers, and paddlers, while wintertime beckons skiers and snowboarders to the state's best mountains.
Cut west from I-87 along Route 73 and you'll come to the center of activity: the village of Lake Placid, home to two winter Olympics and the birthplace of winter sports in America. Call it one of the ironies of geography that this town actually sits on Mirror Lake -- the actual Lake Placid is a few miles outside of town. There's some kitsch to the town as it clings to its Olympic heritage -- sure, it's cool to ski and skate where the athletes did, but 1980 was a long time ago, and 1932 a really long time ago. Nevertheless, the town is a beehive of activity all year-round, as it has been since the Games put the Adirondacks on America's recreation map.
West of Lake Placid, Route 73 becomes Route 86. Along Route 86, you'll pass through the village of Saranac Lake, which may not have the quality of restaurants that Placid does, but doesn't have the crowds, either. Cut north up Route 30 and you'll be in one of the most remote and gorgeous canoeing areas in America: the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness Area. Back on 86, the road takes you past two more huge lakes with countless opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping, and canoeing. Head east from Lake Placid and you'll run right into Lake Champlain; though not heavily developed for recreation or tourism, it's a gorgeous sight.