Live the Adirondack Great Camp experience
Picture it: Sagamore Lake, 1918. Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt has invited you to her palatial, bark-trimmed summer estate. You spend your days playing croquet on the lawn, bowling in the covered (yet outdoor) bowling alley, enjoying exquisite dinners with fascinating companions, fishing, and paddling. At night you snuggle under wool blankets on big, fluffy beds made of tree branches with a fire roaring in the stone fireplace. Now picture this: Sagamore Lake, 2023. You're doing all of these things, and more, except that you didn't need to get a coveted invitation to indulge. You just needed to drive to Raquette Lake and relax. Tucked away on a sublime lake in the wilderness of the Adirondack Experience, amid gorgeous forest, Great Camp Sagamore is a truly unique treasure in the Adirondack wilderness: a preserved Great Camp, now open to the public for history tours and memorable overnight stays. It's not a hotel, but a completely unique way to be immersed the life of a Great Camp. Now that you're picturing it, let's explore!
What is Great Camp Sagamore?
Well, in one word: heaven. In a few more words, it is a gem of classic Adirondack architecture and a complex of unique, historic buildings, twenty-seven of them, in fact! The Sagamore complex includes the lakeside Main Lodge, with it's bark-trimmed porches and big lake views; the Dining Hall, which has seen many meals over time, with guests from high society to movie star Gary Cooper; the Wigwam, a cozy, rustic furniture-filled lodge tucked into the woods with porches overlooking a burbling stream; individual cottages to create a home away from home; the playhouse, where many an evening has been spent by friends and family around the fire, and where today many programs enjoy the relaxed space. The complex also includes the area that would have been utilized by the camp's staff: the barn, where now workshops host classes in carving, packbasket making, and boat-building, plus history displays; the schoolhouse, where the children of camp staff, who lived on the grounds, began their education.
In other words, time spent at Great Camp Sagamore means immersing yourself in an entire world of Adirondack splendor, relaxation, history, and adventure.
Uniquely Adirondack experiences
One of the hallmarks of Sagamore's summer season is the selection of curated, themed weekends that offer travelers and visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in Adirondack history, arts, crafts, and music, with old friends and new. A program weekend is an amazing way to revel in the comforts and relaxation of Sagamore, plus it also means you can do something extra special with your spouse, a dear friend, or even your grandchild. Going solo? No problem! Travelers who meet at weekends such as the Anne LaBastille Women's Writing Weekend find that they become fast friends and stay in touch, even years after their first visit!
These program weekends, which often have a creative, educational element, include lodging (anywhere from two to five nights, depending on your program), three meals a day in the incredible Great Camp Sagamore dining room, use of canoes and kayaks, history tours, use of the historic bowling alley, swimming, any educational instruction, and more!
Among the incredible opportunities coming up in 2023:
- Woodcarving with Rick and Ellen Butz. Learn the beautiful craft of carving by hand, and painting your creation, from master carvers and Adirondack residents Rick and Ellen. Ellen is a descendant of Margaret Collins, wife of one of the camp's early caretakers!
- Grandparent Grandchild Camp. One of the most popular, this recurring program gives multiple generations the opportunity to gather together, play, explore, and create incredible memories together.
- Plein Air Painting Workshop. The Adirondacks are known for inspiring generations of artists, so why not join that grand tradition in one of the most beautiful spots around? Spend five nights exploring your talents and the stunning landscape under the guidance of an expert.
- Durant's Gilded Age Camps. History lovers, this one is perfect for you! Enjoy historian-led tours not just of Sagamore, but of William West Durant's other Adirondack creations, private Camp Uncas and Pine Knot, as well as a luncheon on a replica steamboat on Raquette Lake, sunrise paddling, and more.
In recent years, Great Camp Sagamore has also offered "Simply Sagamore" weekends; instead of joining an education program or event, visitors can simply relax. Great Camp Sagamore isn't just one building, it's an entire complex and there are many ways to fill your day. Your days are up to you, from total relaxation and quiet time to endless outdoor adventure.
- Take a hike! Great Camp Sagamore has 12 miles of hiking trails, for those wanting to stretch their legs and take in the extraordinary scenery. The trails are also a wonderful way to do some birding.
- Cool off in Sagamore Lake. Paddle before breakfast, or go for a dip whenever you like, the opportunities are there, all day, every day.
- Get playful. Want to play croquet? You can do that here!
- Relax for a moment, or two, or twelve. Sagamore is abundant with porches and perches, all with the camp's distinctive red Adirondack chairs. You might like to sit on the porch of the Main Lodge and watch the water for loons, or find a quiet, shady spot overlooking the brook to indulge in a good book.
Simply Sagamore weekends include your lodging, with a range of choices, use of the boat house, bowling alley, and three fantastic meals a day in the Dining Hall. Seating is family-style, at big tables, giving visitors the opportunity to make new friends and get to know other travelers from near and far. The Dining Hall isn't a restaurant, but rest assured that all of the meal options are hearty, full of flavor and fresh ingredients, and crafted with heaps of Adirondack hospitality.
A weekend at Great Camp Sagamore means taking time away from our busy everyday lives; chances are, your cell phone won't work here, but think of it as a gift. Instead of screen time, you have me time, "me paddling a secluded lake" time, or family time with a splash of paddling, pancakes, and historic perfection.