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Adventure NY is going virtual! As part of #AdventureAtHome, we'll be bringing you updated content for inspiration on how to enjoy the outdoors close to home. Check back each month for new content. Be sure to sign up for Find Your Adventure (the Camping, Wildlife Viewing, and Hiking) email newsletter as well.

Need ideas of things to do outside? In celebration of DEC's 50th anniversary, we've compiled a list of 50 outdoor activities for all ages and levels. Check out the Fall 2020 edition of Conservationist for Kids to find new ways to get outside.

Trees & Outdoor Recreation

man and two children planting a tree
Photo taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Did you know that DEC's nursery (Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery) in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, hosts an annual seedling sale each year through May? Seedlings can help to play an important role in improving and enjoying outdoor spaces.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live at the DEC tree nursery.

Create wildlife habitat for backyard birding (leaves DEC website). If you have a backyard, you can start your birders life list by observing for as little as 15 minutes a day. Check out our website to get started birding.

Planting DEC's Wildlife Packet can help to attract birds and other wildlife to your yard to enhance wildlife viewing opportunities. The packet includes:

  • gray dogwood - berries support more than 100 bird species, pollinators, and small mammals
  • silky dogwood - thick patches create good cover and nesting sites for all kinds of wildlife
  • winged sumac - serves as a winter food source for bird species that overwinter, as well as both small and large mammals.

Order your Wildlife Packet today. Don't have a backyard for planting or birding? Find a community garden (leaves DEC website) near you. Community gardens offer shared spaces for planting and enjoyment. Discover trees at a local public land.

Check out our YouTube Playlist to learn more about the benefits trees provide to outdoor recreation.

The Nursery helps to grow seedlings for reforestation across the state to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. These seedlings help forested areas with high deer populations regrow. There are several projects that the Nursery produces seedlings for including Trees for Tribs and the School Seedling Program. Since it began in 1985, the school seedling program has provided 895,850 seedlings to schools and youth organizations.


Take to the snow this year with snowshoeing! Snowshoeing can be a great, low-impact way to exercise this winter that only requires a few basic techniques. To get started, you need snowshoes - that are specified for your weight, the terrain or land that you will be headed out on, and the conditions - warm, waterproof boots, layers of clothing that can handle the temperatures, and adjustable poles (optional, but can be helpful). Many education centers and outdoor retailers have snowshoes available for rental, check for COVID-19 restrictions.

Snowshoeing is intuitive when getting started, but you will need to adjust to a wider stride as you walk on flat land. Fine-tune the length of your trip as you become more comfortable.

In case you missed it, check out DEC's Facebook LIVE to learn more tips and tricks.

Don't forget to review the Hiker Responsibility Code and prepare the 10 hiking essentials for every trip. In case you missed it, watch a Facebook LIVE with DEC Forest Rangers discussing Winter HikeSmartNY tips.

Always be sure to follow trail etiquette when sharing the trail with other winter outdoor enthusiasts. Avoid ski tracks and give skiers the right of way.

New York has thousands of miles of trails to explore this winter; all trails on DEC lands are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. If there is not enough snow, find a great winter hike near you. Winter is a special time to get outside and an opportunity to see things that may otherwise not be seen, including dens and nests. Animal tracks are plentiful and it is a great time to observe birds and other wildlife.

Check out our YouTube playlist for more winter recreation ideas.

Cross-Country Skiing this winter

cross-country skiing

Looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors this winter? Cross-country skiing is a great way to explore wintery landscapes, and many trails can be easier to traverse with smooth, deep snow. Cross-country skiing is also known as "Nordic skiing" and may be abbreviated "XC." There are two styles of cross-country skiing: classic skiing - the original version, and involves a straight-line stride - and skate skiing, where movements may look like a speed skater on ice.

Check out our Facebook LIVE (leaves DEC website) on how to get started cross-country skiing.

All trails on DEC lands are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Check out this list of great places to explore.

If there is not enough snow to enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, you can still take in the sights and sounds of the season by checking out a winter hike.

Plan ahead and prepare for a safe and enjoyable adventure by checking out these outdoor winter hiking safety tips. In case you missed it, watch a Facebook LIVE with DEC Forest Rangers discussing Winter HikeSmartNY tips.

Check out our YouTube playlist for more winter recreation ideas.

Winter Seal Watching

'Tis the season for seal watching! Seals are found in New York from late fall until through late spring. Seals "haul out" - or leave the water to rest on sandy beaches or rocks - to regulate their body temperature, socialize, or give birth. Hauling out in groups also helps seals avoid predators. Up to five species can be seen locally, but harbor, gray, and harp seals are the most common types of seals that you may 'sea'.

Photo credits: Harold Hellman

Share the shore (leaves DEC website) with seals and other marine wildlife! Always keep a safe distance of 150 feet, or three school bus lengths, of distance between you and the seals. Seals are sensitive and can be easily disturbed while resting on land. Help protect them and yourselves by giving space when wildlife watching.

Watch our YouTube playlist for videos on seals and seal watching in NY.

Stay tuned for our Facebook LIVE next week to learn more about CRESLI (Coastal Research & Education Society of Long Island, Inc.) and their work to research local seal populations.

Sea Turtles of NY

Did you know that you do not need to travel to a tropical climate to see sea turtles? Several species can be found as water temperatures begin to rise in late spring and early summer. During these months, the waters of New York become more suitable for sea turtles, and you can find four species of sea turtles: green, Kemp's Ridley, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. They remain local to New York from approximately May through November and are particularly fond of the warmer waters in coastal bays and the Long Island Sound. By the end of November, they begin their migration south to warmer nesting waters.


Sea turtles that you see on shore in New York are cold-stunned and need immediate attention. Do not touch the turtles, and call the stranding hotline at (631) 369-9829. Learn more about the New York Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC) and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (links leave DEC website).

Learn more about NYMRC by checking out our Facebook LIVE.

Viewing marine animals in their natural habitat can be a surreal experience, but it's always best to view them from a safe and respectful distance for their safety and yours. Learn more about wildlife watching close to home.

Learning About the Hudson River Estuary

Did you know that the Hudson River Estuary is a great place to learn about plants, animals, and habitats around the Hudson River and the surrounding Hudson Valley area? The Hudson River Estuary Program helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River and its valley. The watershed is home to nearly 5 million people, with millions traveling over it each day. Take a virtual tour and learn more about the Hudson River.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook LIVE to learn more about the aquatic macroinvertebrates that inhabit the Hudson River.

Watch our YouTube Playlist for videos on fish seining, the Hudson River turtles, and the American Eel.

The Hudson River Estuary has been hosting weekly Facebook Live seining events. You can see the change in the species over the past several months. Head to DEC's Facebook to watch. For more opportunities to learn about the Hudson River estuary and other piers of New York, check out A Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor (leaves DEC website).

Fall Foliage Fun!

fall foliage

#AdventureAtHome this autumn by experiencing the color changes throughout September and October.

Autumn leaves change color (leaves DEC website) due to the days growing shorter and colder. Plants slow down, and eventually stop producing the food necessary to produce chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for that leafy green color. As the levels of chlorophyll is depleted, other pigments such as carotenoids cause those classic fall colors. Watch for the differences in colors in maples, oaks, or dogwoods near you.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook LIVE to learn more about how and why leaves change color.

Every Wednesday in the fall check out the latest report (leaves DEC website) for color change in NY. Areas like the Adirondacks and Catskills will experience peak colors during the last weeks of September through the beginning of October, while other regions may not see the best colors until late October. There are plenty of ways (leaves DEC website) to enjoy the cooler temps and nature's fireworks show, while still following DEC and State Park's guidelines for safe outdoor recreation. Take a drive on one of NY's Scenic Byways (leaves DEC website), or get outdoors for an autumn hike. Check out the Catskills Lark in the Park (leaves DEC website) or self-guided hikes and video tours of the region.

For more ways to enjoy fall, check out our YouTube Playlist.


From lakefronts to woodlands, your own backyard or even in the living room, there is nothing like spending the night sleeping under the stars. Camping is an affordable and rewarding experience that connects families with nature and one another while experiencing the great outdoors.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live to learn more on how to get started and hear some tips from an expert camper.

DEC operates 52 campgrounds located in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks so there is something for everyone. DEC campgrounds provide a wide variety of experiences, including island camping, tent and trailer camping, boat launching facilities, hiking trails, and beaches.

Create a checklist of what you will need. Then make a reservation; walk-in camping is not permitted at this time. Be sure to check the DEC website for the latest updates related to COVID-19 and DEC campgrounds.

Check out our YouTube playlist for beginner tips and tricks.

While your camping be sure to protect the environment and minimize your impact. Learn more about how to be a more environmentally friendly camper. Always use local firewood to protect our trees.

Find your next adventure using DECinfo Locator - an interactive map featuring campgrounds, primitive campsites, lean-tos, hiking trails, parking areas, and other information to help plan a visit.

Unable to find a location or get out this summer? Turn the camping trip indoors. Turn off all the lights and use flashlights. Make your favorite camping meals at home. Set up a blanket for a picnic. Pull out the sleeping bags and set up "camp." Check out the stars and constellations or use your flashlights to make finger shadows on your walls or tent inside. You can even enjoy the sounds and sight of a crackling virtual campfire (Leaves DEC website).


New York State has more than 7,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs and more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams that provide opportunities for paddling including kayaking, canoeing, rafting, or stand-up paddleboarding. Many lakes, ponds and rivers in the Adirondacks and Catskills provide places without motorized boating. Whether it's a leisurely flat water paddle on a pond or lake or an exciting whitewater paddle on a raging river, there is a range of paddling opportunities in New York State to meet the desires of all paddlers.

people kayaking on a lake

Many DEC Campgrounds are situated on bodies of water and provide access for paddlers. Find your next adventure using DECinfo Locator - an interactive map featuring boat launches, hand launches, fishing spots, parking areas, and other information to help you enjoy the state's lakes and waterways.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live where provided tips and tricks on how to get started paddling.

Watch our YouTube playlist for how-tos and inspiration.

Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD, aka life jacket) while on or along the water, especially when water temperatures are cold or when currents are swift. State law also requires all people on a pleasure vessel less than 21-feet-long to wear a PFD between November 1 and May 1.

If you are looking for flatwater paddling, check out St. Regis Canoe Area, Essex Chain Lakes or Tivoli Bays.

Many local organizations host guided paddle trips. Check out this one hosted by Adirondack Mountain Club - Genesee Valley Chapter (leaves DEC website) at the Montezuma Wildlife Center on the Seneca River.

Watch a video (leaves DEC website) on the NYS Canalway Water Trail and learn more (leaves DEC website), or take the Erie Canalway Challenge (leaves DEC website).

Canal Corporation also offers several ways to explore the New York State Canals (leaves DEC website).

For those with the Hudson River in their backyard, check out the Hudson River Estuary Program that helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River and its valley. Learn more about important access to the Hudson River. The Hudson River Estuary Program also offers several educational programs virtually, as well as at Norrie Point Environmental Education Center.


#AdventureAtHome Week 6 is all about archery! Archery is a fun, recreational sport for all ages and abilities that has many health benefits (leaves DEC website). It can help build strength and confidence in a calm and focused way while being safe. There are many different types of archery including indoor, field, 3D, as well as bowhunting and bowfishing. For archery, you will need a bow, arrows, a quiver or place to put your arrows, a target, and a backstop. With a bow and arrow, it is important to make sure that the arrows spine strength matches the weight of the bow.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook live to learn more about archery in your backyard.

For those who do not have a bow and arrow, there are resources (PDF) that you can utilize to help practice archery skills.

In archery, safety comes first. There are a few guidelines to always follow:

  • Inspect your equipment prior to use
  • Only point a bow and arrow in a safe direction towards your target
  • Be sure to know what's in front, immediately behind, and beyond the target
  • Only shoot a bow when you have a safe shooting area and a safe backstop

Before you start, it is important to check with your local town or city ordinances to make sure shooting a bow is legal. Also, it is illegal to discharge a bow within 150 feet of a school, playground, or house. If you are not sure if your backyard is a good location, there are other places you can consider, including a local archery shop or a club with a range, as well as some state lands and town parks. If you aren't sure, contact your local DEC office.

For youth that are looking for more, or may be unable to shoot in their backyards, check to see if your school has an Archery in the School's program. Check out some photos of previous tournaments.

Watch our YouTube playlist for how-tos and inspiration.


two young women in the woods

Come Hike with Us for week five of #AdventureAtHome. Nature walks and hiking can be an excellent way to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while reducing stress and getting healthy. Anyone of any age or ability can head out for a walk or hike. DEC maintains hiking trails on many areas of Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks as well as on State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas and Unique Areas. Find a place near you by visiting our website, checking out DEC's Infolocator.

Take a nature walk in your neighborhood. Urban spaces and communities can offer a lot of opportunities to enjoy nature. That's why DEC's urban and community forestry program works hard to promote trees and greenspaces in cities. Take a walk around your neighborhood and find a tree that interests you. Take a moment to soak in what you are seeing. It's amazing what you can learn from observing a tree near you. Studies show that trees improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, reduce cooling and heating energy needs, increase property values and improve the quality of life for people and wildlife around them.

Get your day pack ready with the 10 Essentials for a safe and enjoyable experience. Download the handout to take with you.

Plan a route that is based off how much time you have, your fitness level and experience, and the weather. Here are some great hikes for the winter, autumn, spring, or summer. Many trails are also accessible to people with disabilities.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live to learn about some of the things you may see on a hike, learn about the Catskill Visitor Center, and more!

Check out some of the other fire towers in NYS.

Planning Safe and Fun Outdoor Adventures

ranger outdoors

Welcome to Week 4 of #AdventureAtHome. This week we will be providing information and resources on how to have safe and fun outdoor adventures. New York is home to thousands of miles of trails and offers walking and hiking experiences for all ages and abilities. Whether you are going for an hour, or all day, it is important to plan ahead and prepare by checking out the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website).

Check out Hike Smart NY for more details on the Hiker Responsibility Code and the 10 essentials you should bring on every hike. By following the Hiker Responsibility Code, carrying the 10 Essentials on all hikes, and following #RecreateLocal guidelines, you can help to ensure that every trip is an enjoyable one.

DEC manages nearly 5 million acres of land, with close to 2,000 miles of trails that provide plenty of opportunity for various types of recreation. The Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves provide users with countless outdoor recreation opportunities. New York also has hundreds of state forests and wildlife management areas that can provide less crowded and more out of the way adventures across the state.

Before embarking on your next outdoor adventure, it is important to plan ahead and prepare by checking out the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website).

If the parking lot is full when you reach it, find an alternate location.

Watch our YouTube playlist for how-tos and inspiration.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live that provided tips on how to pack for your next hike or outdoor adventure.

Discover Nature Nearby

Nature is all around us. From the changes in weather throughout the day, to the sounds of birds and other critters out your window and close to home, there are so many ways to enjoy the sights and sounds of our natural environment. Ordinary wonders of the natural world can be enjoyed everywhere across New York.

To get started, check out some of these nature activities to learn more when you head outside. You can keep a record of things you see, hear, smell, and feel by nature journaling.

If you are looking for a mobile or digital way to record your findings, check out Merlin Bird ID (leaves DEC website) for identifying birds in your area, iNaturalist (leaves DEC website) to contribute your encounters and become a citizen scientist, and BugGuide (leaves DEC website) for insect identification.

Play Discover Nature Bingo (PDF) this week to inspire you to take a closer look at what's around. Share what you find with us by tagging us on social media and using #AdventureAtHome.

Download Discover Nature Bingo in Spanish (PDF) or in Mandarin (PDF).

Want to become a nature detective? State Parks will take you on a virtual adventure to explore.

Watch our Discover Nature playlist for how-tos and inspiration.

In case you missed it, check out our Facebook Live on all things frogs. For more videos at Saratoga Spa State Park, check out their YouTube channel. Learn more about frogs and toads (PDF) or visit FrogWatchUSA (leaves DEC website).


multigenerational bird watchers in the woods

Birding is a simple and fun activity to take part in from anywhere in New York State. Birds are everywhere from the city to rural areas, and it is easy to get started. Birding is fun for all ages and does not require special expensive equipment. Get started today!

Watch our I Bird NY YouTube playlist for how-tos and inspiration.

Take the 2020 I Bird NY Challenge.

In case you missed it, head over to DEC's Facebook page to watch a recording of our Spanish Facebook Live event with an expert birder giving tips on how to find common New York birds. Check out our Facebook Live Birding 101 in English, too!


Fishing is a fun activity for all ages and all members of the family that can be done even in urban areas.

To dip your toes into this great outdoor activity, start here.

Not ready to hit the water just yet? Check out these fun indoor fishing activities, including how to turn your bathtub into a fishing pond (leaves DEC website).

Watch our I Fish NY YouTube playlist for how-tos and inspiration.

Para videos en Español (sale del sitio web DEC).

In case you missed it, head over to DEC's Facebook to watch a recording of our live event with expert I Fish NY staff providing tips and tricks on how to get started fishing from anywhere in NY.

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