In the 1000 Islands, we know how to do ICE-solation!
If ever there was a winter to trek to the 1000 Islands, this is it. Uncrowded and lots to do; it’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself. Here’s some tips for you “winter isolation vacation” in the 1000 Islands, even if it’s for just a few days.
Wintering on an Island you can drive to
A lot of places claim to be a winter wonderland and Wellesley Island might actually be one. Hundreds of acres of public access, multiple protected frozen bays and cozy places to stay all within reach of the mainland via the Thousand Islands Bridge.
Wellesley Island State Park has more than nine miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Check with the Nature Center for equipment rentals. You can stay right in the park at one of the heated cabins with full kitchens and an all-wooden interior for a cozy winter’s rest. The cabins have easy access to the Nature Center trails and Eel Bay, a shallow fresh water bay popular for ice fishing pursuit of northern pike on tip-ups and loads of perch for jigging.
Local tip: Stop by one of our craft beverage places to “stock up” before retreating to your cabin, cottage or room.
Winter is our prettiest season; don’t tell anyone
Grab your camera and head north! Unspoiled beauty abounds in winter, when bald eagles descend to fish from unfrozen channels and the stars shine without the light pollution of populated places. Whether shooting sunsets on the river, the Milky Way behind illuminated Tibbetts Point Lighthouse or seeking the natural habits found in preserves from the Thousand Islands Land Trust or Indian River Lakes Conservancy, photographers learn quickly that January and February are our most photogenic months.
Local tip: Bald eagles tend to gather around the open St. Lawrence River near Comfort Island. Head to Keeywaydin State Park, Alexandria Bay, for a prime viewing location.
Hit the slopes, not the lines
With Covid pushing people outdoors, there’s a good chance you’re going to spend a lot of time in the chair lift line. Not so at Dry Hill Ski Area in Watertown. Located on the northern cusp of the once-dreaded lake effect snowbelt, Dry Hill is a relatively small set of slopes perfect for avoiding the crowds you’ll find at bigger ski destinations. Dry Hill settles into that nice spot of offering a bit of a challenge but also dodging the long lines of other locations. Check out the schedule for night tubing!
Local tip: If outdoors is your thing and outdoors away from others is your thing this year, consider spending the night at one of the Watertown-area hotels – some with pools! – grabbing some local takeout and then pairing your skiing trip with some hiking among the many trails along the Northern Edge of Tug Hill. Check out Visit Tug Hill for downloadable interactive trail maps and experience unspoiled beauty just past your hotel room door.
Doesn’t get any more distanced than ice fishing
The frozen bays of the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario shoreline are among the most productive ice fishing locations in New York. This is the only place in the state without a daily catch limit on yellow perch since they are so plentiful. Experienced anglers know names like Chaumont Bay, Eel Bay, South Bay and Goose Bay…they’re the stuff of legend and their plentiful fish mean that just about anyone can find success. There’s no better way to get out – and away – then heading onto the ice.
Local tip: Check with one of the area’s popular bait shops such as the Thousand Island Bait Store to get the latest on where there’s thick ice, what’s biting and the best bait. Once you arrive, swing in, stock-up and get last-minute fishing reports.
Cabin Fever…that’s lasted too long
Stop over thinking it. Yes, a night or two away from the house in a quiet hotel will do you some good. Check-in and tune-out the news before heading down to the pool or hot tub. You’ve earned it and it’ll keep the kids entertained. They don’t care where you go, just that you took them.
Local tip: Hit the local craft beverage producers and stock-up before checking in. Ask the front desk who does the best takeout and relax. You’ve got this, and we’re here to help.