Frontier Town: The Adirondack campground with a state park feel
Like many kids who grew up in the Adirondack region, or even nearby, I visited Frontier Town as a youngster. In its day, Frontier Town was an exciting western theme park with cowboys and Indians, train rides and robberies, a rodeo and wildlife. But eventually the place fell on hard times and closed, a big loss for the Essex County town of North Hudson.
Somewhere along the way, the idea sprung up to build a state campground on the former theme park site along the banks of the Schroon River. It opened in 2019 and if you’ve been there, you know it’s unlike any other campground in the Adirondacks. It’s more like a state park.
First, the campground is not on state land, but rather is on private land. What this means is that unlike other state campgrounds that are on Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks, Frontier Town can and does offer electricity at some of its campsites. Next, the campground follows the western theme of its property history.
Just before the campground opened two years ago, I was part of a tour offered by DEC to the New York State Outdoor Writers Association who toured the facility with several DEC staff members. We saw first hand the level, spacious and well-laid-out campsites as well as a unique multi-use trail system that permeates the facility. Mostly, the park was designed to be horse-friendly, with numerous facilities, large campsites and trail access.
Meanwhile, some things haven’t gone well for the area, the facility, and the locality. Feedback from the equestrian community about the campground, at least what this writer heard, was luke-warm, at best.
Most of all, questions remain about future trails, especially after environmental groups successfully sued the state earlier this year regarding tree cutting on snowmobile trails, which could double as horse trails. North Hudson is a town that could surely benefit from the trail system that appeared to be on the horizon following the state’s acquisition of large tracts of former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands nearly a decade ago. But those trails have yet to happen.
My wife and I camped at Frontier Town a few weeks ago. To be honest with you, we weren’t too excited about it. Sure, a 50 amp service is convenient, but we usually seek out a waterfront site for fishing and paddling. Those, however, have been hard to come by this summer.
Our main reason for booking at Frontier Town was our hopes of getting into Boreas Ponds (also part of the Finch acquisition) but the access road remains closed following the 2019 Halloween storm.
And so we improvised and spent a day near Lake Placid, making the campground our base camp. It worked out great, especially when we arrived to 90-degree temperatures and the 50-amp service allowed us to run the AC unit in our little RV. But also, once we settled in we began to enjoy the spacious campsite, big fireplace and the newness of the place in general. I told my wife ahead of time this place was more like a park, and once she experienced it herself, she agreed.
Despite it not being on a lakeshore or having the big trail system (yet), this place has plenty of potential. There is so much public land nearby that this campground can and should be a launching pad for hikers in the High Peaks region, especially since it is open through Columbus Day weekend.