“1000 Islands? Like the dressing?”
That’s how nearly every conversation has gone since my quick trip to the 1000 Islands region of New York. And yes, the dressing was invented there (and is delicious). But the region has much more to offer than condiments.
Where Is It?
The 1000 Islands are in the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian and US (New York) border. It’s where the Great Lakes give way to the river to eventually flow into the Gulf of St. Lawrence way up north.
It’s accessible from New York and Ontario. Though I could see Canada at several points during my visit, I didn’t go on this trip. But pack your passport! Ottawa is only 2 hours away and the border is literally minutes away. I centered my visit in the town of Clayton, New York but also took trips to Cape Vincent, Alexandria Bay, and Wellesley Island.
Are there really 1000 Islands?
YES! More actually. There are over 1800 islands in this region. It is rumored that to truly be counted as an island the land mass must stay above water 365 days a year and support at least one living tree and one other type of vegetation. I didn’t count the islands, but in 2 days on the water in a fairly small geographical area, I probably saw at least 100
Some of the islands are large enough to support many homes and year round inhabitants. Others are small and owned by a single family. Still others are not so small and owned by a single family. It’s a great place to gawk!
Is there anything to do?
I could spend an entire week just walking through town and sitting by the water. We had 3 full days and 2 partial days during our initial visit and still didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted to. Here are the musts:
When is the best time to go?
Summer is the busiest time. Winters can get brutally cold. So cold the river freezes over and becomes solid enough that many people drive on it. But there is good cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The warmer month draw many campers, boaters, and island dwellers.
2017 has brought record high water to the region and tourism has taken a hit. Most tours and services are open and functioning as normal. So consider a trip to the 1000 Islands for a late summer or fall getaway.