A Fully Accessible Campground
Located in the heart of the Adirondack Park, just north of the Hamlet of Long Lake you will find International Paper's John Dillon Park. Operated by Paul Smith's College this one-of-a-kind wilderness facility is designed to be accessible to all, including those with physical disabilities. From trails and fishing docks to lean-tos and campsites, every aspect of John Dillon Park is planned with accesibility to nature in mind.
Join Don Meissner as he receives a personal tour of this special place with Park Manager, Steve Ellis.
Note: the following is an abridged commentary from the above video. For more infomation on John Dillon Park, watch now.
Welcome to John Dillon Park
Don: "Hi Folks, I'm Don Meissner, and to say I'm here "in the beautiful Adirondacks" is an understatement. I'm here at (John) Dillon Park with Steve Ellis, the manager here. So, Steve, you can introduce me and everybody else to what this place is, because it's really unique."
Steve: "It is. So, what John Dillon Park is, is a fully-accessible wilderness facility designed for people with disabilities. We really promote a universal design and access to all. We have three-and-a-half miles of trails, nine lean-tos and one tent site, various viewing areas and boating access, as well as fishing access, all really designed with accessibility in mind."
Don: "Did you see me smile when you said fishing access, that was my hot button... what I would like to do now if you could, since I haven't been past this building, take me down and show me the docks and show me how this is so accessible for everybody, because my biggest desire of all is to be able to bring a rod and reel in here and try to catch a fish."
Steve: "Oh, you will have no problem!"
An Accessible Adirondack Fishing Dock
Don: "...Now it's my turn to tell you what I'm thinking and feeling... As we walked out here, I hear Steve say, 'did you see that bass,' and the bass just took off and went under us. He is probably still under us right now and nothing kindles my excitement more than thinking about that. Then I look around and I see all the rocks along here, all the structures that these fish can hide around and downfalls, and you know I just have to tell you this is beautiful. I can just imagine what somebody would feel coming here. Here's the other thing... this is a brook trout lake. And, there's a certain mystique, beauty and glamour about brook trout. We're lucky in the Adirondacks that this is the home of brook trout, very few places are except if you go way up into Canada. You really do have something special here."
Steve: "We do, for sure. You know I've been here for about 10 years now and it is about the experiences; I've come out here to help people as I was along the trail doing maintenance. I'd see somebody out here fishing and just simple little things like taking fish off for them or baiting their hook, you know it's part of the job here and we try to provide all the experiences that we can here... I've been on this lake for 10 years now, and every time I've been out I've caught fish."
Don: "Okay Steve, let me ask you this, ten years that you've been on this little part of paradise, does human nature take over and you get so that you come out here and you just look and it's nonchalant, or is every day a wonder in itself being here?"
Steve: "Everyday is a wonder. I mean you never know what you're going to run into, I've actually seen moose swim across the lake here before..."
Explore the Accessible Campsites & Lean-tos:
Don: "Here's what impresses me tremendously... everything about these lean-tos is thought out to make life easier for people that are coming here for the first time to enjoy something like this... I'm really pleasantly impressed, not surprised, because in knowing you for a while and in knowing the agencies that you're involved with (Paul Smith's College and International Paper Company), it doesn't surprise me that they would be doing everything right. But people that come here are able to put their beds in here, correct?"
Steve: "Yes, so, we provide a little bit more space here than you would traditionally find in a lean-to to accommodate some of the necessities that people will need and we provide ramp access, etc..."
Don: "The other thing that I did notice is that everything is so solid; they have that sense of security, too... Everything is here for them: the firewood, cook space, the table to eat on... it's all right here... and they're looking out over this vista that is priceless."
Worry Free Camping...
Steve: "As I stated before, it's designed to get away from those barriers. So, we have golf carts here - vehicles that we can actually take their gear into the campsites, we supply the firewood for people, and on a daily basis we pick up the trash, it's kind of worry free here! Basically, I tell people that they have to come here and enjoy themselves - we pretty much take care of the rest..."
Don: "I like that slogan. They're only responsibility is to come here and enjoy."
Ending the Tour at the Viewing Dock
Don: "You know this is a fitting spot to end our trail through John Dillon Park. I sure have learned a lot today. I was fascinated when I came in here, and now I'm truly enthralled. This place is set up in a more special way than I've ever seen, it is set up to really blend right in with the surroundings. Everything here is made from the surroundings and it really is a place where somebody that's never had a chance to visit the wilderness and be in the outdoors can come and be comfortable...this is a place for all of you. It's quiet. Everything is really here for you, from the lean-tos to the beds built from the trees... there's firewood brought in for you, tables, and a place for you to cook your food. There's also people here in the background (someplace) that are very, very aware, and very, very caring about what you need and the fact that you have a wonderful time. I really do hope you get a chance to visit John Dillon Park, and maybe I'll be here to visit with you."
Want to see more? Check out this blog from John Dillon Park.