Island Camping on Beautiful Lake George

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are between 170 to 395 islands on Lake George. The number depends upon the source you use, sometimes there is a different count on the same website! (Depends upon your definition of an island!) 44 of those islands can be used for camping, and that number is not in question! There are a total of of 398 campsites and 116 picnic and day use smedium_49030490ites, and Bolton Landing is the Gateway to Island Camping. All the campsites are numbered and described on the web site, which also has a lot of great camping tips. The public islands are divided into three groups, the Glen, Narrow and Long Island Groups. Reservations are required, you can make them on the web site, or call  1-800-CAMP. You can also call the Bolton Chamber office for more information: 518-644-3831. Now, why would you want to camp on an island? When I asked that question of several people who actually do island camping, one woman answered, “Who wouldn’t want to camp on an island in Lake George? It is the most pristine and beautiful area in the world, except for perhaps New Zealand, and it completely beats the pants off of camping in a campground with your (very) close neighbors and their generators as constant companions. Besides, you have direct access to the water, lake-front property!” This lady reserves a private Lake George island every year for a group vacation with her family and several friends with their families – they have an absolutely wonderful time! When I asked about electricity and cell phone access, I was told that people who need electricity should not be camping on an island: look for RV campsites, or get a cabin on shore – after all, one of the wonderful things about island camping is the absence of those distracting amenities.  Camping on an island assures you of privacy, and most of all, is reasonably quiet, except for the sound of birds and water lapping at the shore. Some islands have only one or two campsites, and even the larger islands keep the campsites separated so you feel as if you are the only inhabitants. Noise pollution is taken seriously. Quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. are strictly enforced, and violators can be evicted, in which case all fees are forfeited.  No pets are allowed on the islands, or on any boats on the island docks. Fireworks are also banned, however you will have a front-row seat for some lovely displays from the Sagamore, Bolton Landing and Lake George Village. Firearms are only permitted in fall and spring hunting seasons, and may not be discharged in any campground. Generators may only be used between 9 and 11 a.m., and again between 4 and 7 p.m. each day; and if the generator is considered to be unreasonably loud, use of that machine may be eliminated. ProtectLakeGeorgeButtonBefore you start out, remember there is a mandatory watercraft inspection in effect for the Lake George “Clean Drain and Dry” program to prevent the spread of invasive species. Campfires: you can buy firewood for your camp at most local stores – the DEC does not allow any wood into this area that has not been treated for pests. Chainsaws are not permitted on the islands, and it is prohibited to cut down any trees, dead or alive – only dead and already downed wood may be used in fires. The Lake George Association, the oldest lake association in the United States, is to be congratulated on keeping the waters of Lake George so pristine that it can actually be used a drinking and cooking water. Many people do bring 5 gallon container of drinking water along – fairly easy to carry and lasts quite a while. And a French Press works great for coffee! As far as bathing, you can invest in a sun shower, or use a collapsible bucket for water (SO easy to pack and carry), but to keep our lake pristine, please stay at least 200 feet back from the shore for any personal bathing. Use biodegradable camp soap sparingly (never use anything with phosphorus) and baking soda instead of toothpaste – and please don’t use these directly in the lake water. (Baking soda is a useful item, besides cleaning, it can also be used to put out the campfire in an emergency.) Bring along some waterless alcohol based hand sanitizer, and if you do have any grey water, dump it as far away from the shoreline as possible – dig a six-inch deep hole to give the water more exposure to the soil.  (You did remember the camp shovel, right?!) There is usually a designated platform for your tent, if you have a second tent, place it where there is no vegetation growing, possibly where other tents have been placed before. Build your camp fires only in the designated spots, keep it going only when you are going to use or just enjoy it. Use a camp stove when possible. small_9218842556Bring plenty of garbage and zip lock bags of all sizes – especially to store your food on your boat overnight (lessens unwanted visits from animals) and to take ALL garbage with you when you leave. There are three garbage collection centers on Uncas Island, Narrow Island, and Long Island. (These can be used during your stay, too.) Please remember – don’t feed the birds! (Geese, ducks, waterfowl and seagulls.) No boat? No worries – you can get a water taxi ride from local marinas (see our blog “Water Taxis on Lake George May 2, 2013) And if the weather turns inclement, the park rangers will be out to inform you if you should get to shore, and give you a ride if necessary. Want to go out to eat? There are several drive-up (boat-up?) delis and restaurants available if you get tired of camp food. The Water’s Edge Lakeside Deli (518-644-2511) has 7 docking spaces available for lake boaters – you can eat at the picnic tables overlooking the lake on their deck, or take away – they serve breakfast all day, and have a full service deli and store: you can gas up, get boating supplies, live bait, minnows, night crawlers, ice and beer among other things. The Algonquin (one of the oldest restaurants on Lake George 518-644-9442) has assisted boat docking, with indoor and outdoor seating right on the lake. The Sagamore (518-644-9400) has six restaurants to choose from, five at the hotel itself. To dock at the Sagamore, call 644-9400 to be connected with Security for a docking space. There are also free public docks at the Rogers Memorial Park and Veterans Memorial Park (3 hour maximum stay) so you can walk into town to visit the shops, restaurants, delis and markets like Stewart’s and Topps. There are New York State Park Passes available that can be used for making reservations – these are fantastic and can be used at any State Park! Don’t leave home without a first aid kit, a couple of extra waterproof jackets and blankets. And please leave your campsite cleaner than you found it so the next occupants will also have a wonderful time on beautiful Lake George. What is your favorite camping experience? Would you love to camp on an island? How long would you choose to stay? Penelope Jewellmedium_10379949265    ]]>