A new Adirondack Welcome Center rest area that the state is calling state-of-the-art opened in September on the Northbound side of the Northway, between exits 17 and 18 in Queensbury.
The 8,615-square-foot center cost $16.2 million and is located on a 22-acre lot, just over the Saratoga County line between the Hudson River and Exit 18.
The facility is a comfortable, modern gateway to the Adirondacks region, promoting local attractions and providing a family-friendly respite for travelers heading into New York state’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park, the largest publicly protected park in the contiguous United States.
“You have one chance to make a great first impression, which for a tourism region like ours is so important,” said state Sen. Betty Little. “This new and much more appealing rest area is fitting of the region’s hospitality. It is welcoming and informational and accommodating. For many years, the rest area has been in need of major improvement. This new Welcome Center far exceeds what I and others envisioned but it does a much better job reflecting what we’re about and all we have to offer.”
The new center features an Adirondacks Walk of Fame leading to a new, 8,615 square-foot, LEED certifiable building the state said is more than four times the size of the buildings that serviced the rest area for decades.
The building is designed in a classic Adirondack theme and offers expanded parking and restroom facilities. It has a host of environmentally friendly features, including geothermal water source heat pumps for both heating and cooling the building, LED light fixtures, electric car charging stations, recyclables collection, water efficient landscaping, and energy efficient windows and doors.
Additionally, in time for boating season next spring, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will open a boat inspection and washing station at the facility to help prevent the spread of invasive species and preserve biodiversity within the Adirondack Park.
It contains I LOVE NY interactive kiosks, which highlight regional attractions and tourism destinations including those in Saratoga Springs. There is an Adirondacks floor map and an I LOVE NY selfie wall with where people can take pictures that look as if they are riding a on a ski chairlift from Gore Mountain Ski Resort.
For family travelers, an outdoor children’s play area with a zip line is available, along with a pet comfort area, free Wi-Fi, cell phone charging stations, picnic tables and Adirondack chairs.
Food and beverages sourced from the region and other locations in New York, through the Taste NY program, will be showcased in nine vending machines. The program has played a considerable role in helping to increase tourism across the state, officials said.
State Assemblyman Dan Stec said the center “showcases the countless reasons for visitors to spend more time in the Adirondack Park. From the region’s historical gems to its natural beauty and fantastic local businesses, this new facility will provide a warm welcome to visitors new and old. This investment will further grow the tourism industry in the Adirondacks, creating increased economic opportunities throughout the state along with providing environmental safeguards against invasive species.”
Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough called the Adirondacks one of the “most beautiful, exciting regions in our state. This new state-of-the-art Welcome Center will be a modern gateway for both new and returning visitors, providing information relating to local attractions, places to visit and things to do.”
State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, “The new Adirondacks Welcome Center provides travelers a safe, convenient place to rest and it highlights the North Country’s tremendous assets: spectacular landscapes and recreational opportunities galore. We are proud to be part of helping to create world-class Welcome Centers that promote all that New York state has to offer.”
More than 12.4 million people visited the Adirondacks region last year, state officials said, some 460,000 visitors more than 2016, and a nearly 20 percent increase since 2011. Regional tourism generates more than $1.4 billion in direct visitor spending, including $178 million in state and local taxes, and supports more than 21,300 jobs across six counties.