Ausable Chasm, or: How to Make a Fool of Myself

It’s been a pretty quiet few days on the travel front. So I decided: why not post about some of my many past adventures? So, a retroactive post.

A couple summers ago, my friend and I decided to take a day trip to New York’s Adirondack region, where we went to Ausable Chasm. The motivation behind this was one part boredom, one part seeing tonnes of photos of my parents there around my age (images to come as soon as I can get my hands on them!). So, away we went.

Border Traffic in Lacolle

We made the mistake of crossing into the United States at Lacolle. Which meant we 1) got questioned as if we were terrorists and 2) lost a fair amount of travel time waiting.

As a geographer, cool rock formations make me very, very happy. So, suffice to say, the chasm’s hiking trails made me very, very happy. (I use the term hiking loosely; in all reality, they are more level walking paths with a few staircases along the way). Someone had left tiny little paper stick figures along the way, which we had more fun than two mid-20s adults should have trying to find them….

Smiling Bob

Cool rock formations! Geographer’s delight!

We decided to take advantage of the then-fairly new option of inner tubing down the river, as opposed to the guided rafting trip. Which means I probably shouldn’t have worn really heavy Adidas sneakers and socks…. next time: more waterproof footwear wouldn’t be a bad idea. Also: bringing my digital camera was probably asking for trouble (Ironically, for once: it survived unscathed).

The inner tubing was definately the right choice. While the rapids were only easy Class II , which doesn’t exact make us intrepid daredevils by going down them on a rubber donut, I definately got an adrenaline rush in the two rapids sectors. The rest of the ride was relaxing and worth the extra $. I personally loathe waterslides, and found this the perfect alternative to floating through a jam-packed chlorinated asphalt lazy “river”.

Rafters and Tubers
Tubing rapids!

Only problem? At the end, it was clearly indicated to paddle to one side of the whirlpool, and we had been informed upon launching into the river at Table Rock. My friend, always better at following instructions, did so, and easily grabbed the cord to full himself to shore at the end. I, however, forgot, and got stuck for 15 minutes in the whirlpool. My friend, on shore, in hysterics laughing, as were most passerbys. Finally a tour guide on a raft (a raft FULL of camera-toting tourists, I might add), took pity, and pushed me to shore in front of his raft with his oar (and yes, cameras WERE rolling).

We decided to opt-out of the shuttle bus back to the departure point, and instead decided to hike. We also decided to NOT check what time it is. So, we hiked for 30 minutes or so, making it nearly halfway back… and then arrived a park employee. Who was doing a closing sweep, and informed us we would have to backtrak to the end of the raft ride and take the shuttle. So, we complied. It turned out the shuttle bus was the last employee shuttle of the day, to return them to punch out, which made for an awkward bus ride, where we couldn’t stop laughing.

Lone ranger

Upon arriving at the parking lot, we found locked bathrooms… and that at a packed tourist destination on a Saturday, our car was the only lone one remaining the in the parking lot, which induced further giggles.

All in all, I’d give the Chasm itself a 3.5-4/5 but the raft ride (and maybe our misadventures) bumped it to a 4.5/5

Ausable Chasm is located in Keeseville, New York in the Adirondack region easily accessible from I-87 and is open year-round. Camping is available. For more information, check out their website:

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