Rollins Pond – Saranac Lake, NY

Hello Friends, Rollins Pond Campground is where our next adventure takes us, it lays high up in the Saranac Lake region, of upstate NY, and it is truly a beautiful area. What makes this place really interesting is where it is located geographically. In order to get to it you have to first travel through another campground called Fish Creek Pond Campground, which is located within the Adirondack Park Preserve. With that bit of knowledge, you can imagine our destination is well off the beaten path, away from civilization, away from work, and the cell phone signal is spotty.

The two campgrounds are very similar, in many ways, most of the campsites are on the water, and have a single lane paved road that runs just beyond. The big difference is that the Rollins Pond campsites are spread out a little more so you have quite a bit more privacy but the Fish Creek Pond campsites are less hilly. The Fish Creek Pond bathrooms seem to be a little cleaner as well, probably due to the fact that it is closer to the entrance, but it is very open and there is a lot of activity everywhere you go. Once you get to the Rollins Pond area the traffic cuts down considerably, for vehicles, children, and bikes, so it is also far more quiet and gives you a much better camping experience in our opinion.

Rollins Pond Roadway

There isn’t really too much in the area as far as stores go. You have the Fish Creek Pond Trading post, which is a bit pricey, and the IGA in Tupper Lake, so come prepared. It’s not that it’s a long drive to either one but it can take awhile to get in, and out, of the campground pulling over for every other vehicle coming your way, people walking, playing, waiting for the service vehicles to get done chit chatting, etc…

There is, on the other hand, a food truck, with hot coffee, that makes its way through the campground a couple times a day along with another truck selling bags of ice if you need it, which is handy. The downside with the food truck is you can always hear it coming by the distinguished sound of sleigh bells. Well… we think they are sleigh bells, we have speculated that it could also be a group of chained virgins waiting to be sacrificed to the camp Gods. It was dark when they came through, at 10 pm, so we figured there was a 50/50 chance by the clink clanking noise that it made.

Anyway, this campground also has you sign what we dubbed as a “bear waiver” to help with liability cases, we assume. Apparently, NYS is a unique place where love, and equality, shine for all of the creatures of the Earth, logic , and wisdom, are futile, and the rules of Darwinism rarely apply. So here, walking up to play kissy face with a wild bear, after asking the ranger if its ok to pee in the lake, seems like a really great idea with little to no consequences. There are more but those are just some of the stories that came from the Rangers as Spencer joked with them about the handy bear form.

To be fair to NY though Kimberly frequently tells stories about Alaska, and how they watch the “lower 48ers,” when they vacation there. Love and equality shine there too but if Charles Darwin ever had a warehouse of trophies it would be in Alaska, not for the natives, but for the visitors. Apparently Kodiak, and Polar, bears don’t like to snuggle nearly as much as black bears do, strange as it may sound, and every year there is a strong reminder of that to the Alaskan residence. Getting back on track, be prepared to keep your coolers in your vehicle since there is a strict rule about not leaving food, whether in coolers or not, unattended in the open. I say strict because there are signs up everywhere using the word “Strict” but not too many people seemed to pay attention. We do admire, and respect, the bears… from a distance, but we have no desire to have lunch with one so we played along.

Now, we picked our campsite out online, and to be honest it was the last water site available for the days that we wanted. There were no pictures, and it was last minute but lady luck was certainly with us because we could not have asked for a better site to be on.

Site 28 was level, close to the water, and had enough space to fit a couple more tents on it even with all of our stuff including the pickup truck. The ground seems to be mostly sand, which is good if you get stuck in the rain, like we were on Friday night, but bad if you don’t like sand in your tent because there is just no way to stop it. The trees are mostly pine, which gives you a decent amount of shade, and most of the sites have their own little beach next to the water if you want to step into the sun for a while. The air temperature is quite a bit cooler there, as well, so make sure that you bring a warm set of cloths, especially at night, even warmer if you are not used to sleeping outside. Just to give you an idea, we went in mid August and the temperatures went from mid 70’s on Friday, to high 30’s low 40’s Sunday morning. From the campsite, we were able to take the kayak out to a small island that has a picnic grove on it, covered in wintergreen, but left a mess by the previous visitors which is sad because it really is a nice private spot to be.

The lake itself seemed to have a constant breeze rolling down it, which was nice, since we did not have any issues with bugs. The water had a fair amount of traffic but most of it was from kayaks and rowboats, we saw very few motor boats, and we did not see any jet skis, which is a huge plus for Spencer. Don’t get us wrong we love riding the Jet Ski, but it seems that most people don’t know how to ride them without being obnoxious to everyone else trying to enjoy the lake. Cutting off other boats, skidding around within a few feet of someone’s bobber, jumping their own wake next to someone’s anchored pontoon while they are trying to enjoy some quiet time with the family. You can’t say anything because you get the inevitable “you don’t own the lake” or “share the lake” which is true, but we think it’s big enough to where you don’t have to share it on top of someone else.

The bathrooms looked like a 1960’s high school locker room, dark, outdated, worn out, but they served their purpose. This campground also has shower building available, which looked newer from the outside, but since it was so frosty out, with periods of rain, we decided to pass since we were only there for the weekend anyway. The fishing seemed to be slow, but we aren’t really sure if it’s because of the weather or because it gets fished so much by other campers. Spencer caught handfuls of little yellow perch, and what seemed to be small lake chubsuckers, not to say there isn’t more there we just didn’t see a whole lot of activity, and it didn’t look like anyone was catching anything substantial. As we walked around the campground we noticed several fire pits falling apart, other sites were being restored so they were roped off, but nobody burning garbage, no plastic in the fire pits, no junk on the ground. We even saw a couple of RV’s using solar panels to recharge their camper which is really cool. This place also has a great campground rule that we think should be adopted in many more places. The rule states “The use of generators may be limited to no more than 5 hours per day and fall between the hours of 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. If the use of a generator is deemed unreasonably loud by the facility staff then individual use of a generator may be prohibited/limited .” We can’t tell you how many times we have gone camping and listened to a generator run all night, Crown Point Campground being one of them.

So, with that here are our personal site picks for the Rollins Pond Campground. Please keep in mind this is a large area, so we weren’t able to see all of the sites in the short time that we were there. We do, however, plan on returning so we will update the list as necessary upon our return.

Click here to follow along on the Rollins Pond Campground map… This map is terrible just FYI. Reserve America can give you a better idea of the actual layout if you prefer to look there.

The sites between 15 and 25 were hilly and many of them were roped off for some campsite restoration project so we weren’t able to get a good look. So with that we will start with sites 27, 28, and 30 which we deem to be the honeypots. They are nice and level, they have a ton of space, are right on the water with their own beach, and little to no roots. Sites 32 and 34 are just a step down but are also pretty good sites in their own right. Please see the pictures above for a better idea of site 28.

Site 40 to bathroom

35, 36, 40, 41, and 42 are up on a high bank, they all have a good view of the lake but getting down to it could be troublesome if you aren’t careful. In our opinion 40 has the best view, plus has a small beach to rest on if you can get down to it but the fire pit was destroyed as of the time of this post. 42 has a good beach as well but the main part of the site is a cement slab so I would think twice about putting a tent there, but you’re golden if you have something on wheels. They are all across the way from the bathroom, by the way, so there can be a lot of activity in that area.

Site 40
Site 37-40

37, 38, are on a steep bank, the fire pits are a pile of rubble, and the beach area looks overgrown. 37, 38 and 40 are also right on top of each other in the open, with no privacy so there’s that. 45 through 59 on the water side of the road are pretty much the same, it’s hit and miss with the fire pits but they all do have a small beach if you can get down to it. Sites 60 and 63 are pretty good sites, they are more open, and have a nice little beach down by the water, the trail leading down seems less steep as well, and the campsite itself is flat and spacious but we wouldn’t camp in either one of these spots with small children.

Site 46
Site 49

Sites 46 and 49 are not on the water but they are still really nice sites to be on. It’s a bit of a walk to access the water, if there aren’t any sites open to cut through, but they are flat and have plenty of trees around for privacy. The same goes for site 67, this is a really nice, non water, site but again, at the time of this blog, the fire pit was reduced to rubble. 29, 31, and 33 are pretty nice non-water sites too and are private for the most part. It was tough to get a real good look, though, since there were RV’s and vehicles parked there. Typically, at other campgrounds, being at the bottom of a hill like they are, with so much RV traffic makes for a muddy mess. Since the ground here is mostly sand, however, it had really good drainage so there might not be anything to worry about…. from what we saw there didn’t seem to be any issues.

Site 45 Path to Water

That said, you probably want to stay away from most of the sites on the banks if you have small, toddler size, children. We have included a picture of the bank behind these campsites which is a little steeper than the picture gives it credit for. We would also recommend staying away from 65, 66, 53, they are small, get no sun, and they have a steep bank.

So again here are our personal picks, the list as of 8-21-2019, there were a lot of really good sites here but a lot of them were either under repair or are in need of repair.

27 – Honey Pot
28 – Honey Pot
30 – Honey Pot
46 – Not on Water
49 – Not on Water
67 – Not on Water

Overall Kimberly and Spencer give this campground two very big thumbs up, it is a fantastic campground and we will be going back here for sure.

-Spencer and Kimberly

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