Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: A Promotional Adirondack Quiz

the view from NewcombLast time Amy and I were at Lost Brook Tract we were talking about how to promote the Adirondack Region to people who know little or nothing about it.  The default approach for decades has been to promote it as something like Vermont, the Berkshires or the Poconos:  cozy resorts, Adirondack chairs, pretty scenery, shopping, tourist sites and an overriding rustic chic.  That’s all well and good, but in a time when more and more people crave mountains and wild places, when camping and hiking are the leading recreational pursuits, I have wondered why we don’t try to promote the Adirondacks in a different way.

As many of you know, outside the region few people know about the Adirondacks at all.  Even here in the Northeast, the vast majority of people have no idea that the Adirondack Park is a superlative wilderness area, with grandeur and unspoiled land to match any state in the union outside of Alaska.  Elsewhere, wilderness and mountains sell; they generate a lot of visitation.  What if people identified our Forest Preserve as wild and mountainous, instead of just scenic and a good place for a getaway?  They could: we have quite a story to tell.

I’ve written about this topic before in several columns.  But after our last chat at Lost Brook Tract I decided that instead of just talking about it I should take one of my “What if we did this…” brainstorms and try something, a little prototype promotional application that might  dumbfound people who don’t know what we have here.

In this modern social media world people love visuals and interaction.  So I decided to make a “quiz,” a thing people could click through and then be surprised at the real answers.  I put together a prototype in Powerpoint.  It is rough right now – it needs branding, it needs some pizazz and it needs a payoff that links to lots of additional information including other promotional Adirondack web sites.  But it is sufficient to gather some feedback.  That’s what I’m hoping to get from you fine readers.

I’ve embedded the Powerpoint below so that you can download and run it.  Take a look!  Try to put yourself in the perspective of someone who is not familiar with the Adirondacks.   I’ve  used some facts about the Adirondack region that most people do not know in order to create comparative surprises versus other states in the country.  If you already know these things then the impact upon you will be nil.  But imagine the potential impact upon people who don’t know.

That said, many of you may not know all of them.  Here they are:

  • The Adirondack Park is by far the largest wilderness park in the Continental United States
  • Indian Pass has the largest wall in the Northeast and has one of the world’s largest talus cave systems (if not the largest)
  • The Hudson River (and the Boquet and Moose Rivers as well) produces class IV – V whitewater in the spring
  • Whiteface has the tenth most skiable vertical of any ski resort in the Continental United States
  • The Adirondack Park harbors the world’s largest intact temperate deciduous forest
  • The Adirondack Park contains more than 3,000 lakes, three times the number in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota
  • The Adirondack region is part of a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Here’s the Powerpoint: Adirondack Promotional Quiz Temporary Version

Play it as a slideshow to get the proper effect.  Note that checking a check box is possible but right now it doesn’t do anything.  The “Next” buttons do work, however.  I will be upgrading it over the next few days, so expect a few changes if you look at it later.

Let me know what you think about this concept, good or bad.  Thanks!

Photo: High Peaks overlook, Newcomb, sunrise.

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Pete Nelson is a teacher, writer, essayist and activist whose work has appeared in a variety of Adirondack publications, and regularly in the Adirondack Almanack since 2005. Pete is also a founder and current Coordinator of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which is working to make the Park more welcoming and inclusive.When not writing or teaching mathematics at North Country Community College, Pete can be found in the back country, making music or even walking on stilts, which he and his wife Amy have done professionally throughout the United States for nearly two decades.Pete is a proud resident of Keene, and along with Amy and his dog Henderson owns Lost Brook Tract, a forty-acre inholding deep in the High Peaks Wilderness.

18 Responses

  1. Merry says:

    I am not able to open the file: “The file “Adirondack-Promotional-Quiz-Temporary-Version1.pptx.ppt” could not be opened./ It may be damaged or use a file format that Preview doesn’t recognize.” Is it me or my computer (MacBook Air OS X 10.9.5} Thanks.

  2. Richard says:

    I could run it on the Mac–just need to save it, remove the Active-X, and then run it from the saved version.

    Nice work! (Perhaps add the Beaver River for whitewater).

  3. Tom Philo says:

    Excellent! I was able to open but unable to take the test/check the boxes ~ Maybe that is the intent? Lot of people kayak/canoe flat water, maybe a mention of Cedar River Flow, Bog River Flow etc. I know there has to be limitations but some mention of the great flat water opportunities might be considered.

  4. Lee Keet says:

    Great idea! I had no problem running it (Windows 8) + Office 2010.
    Some ideas:
    1. Make the answers less obvious. After “New York” is right a few times it loses surprise. How about, for example, “the Adirondack Park is as big as the following other parks combined (check all that you think apply): Yellowstone, etc.
    2. And perhaps: Major rivers flow North, south, east and west from (check all that apply): the Rockies, the Himalayas, the Alps, the Smokies, the Adirondacks
    3. And, “the Adirondack Park is bigger than (check all that apply): Texas, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut.
    4. Do the same with the lakes and rivers fact, e.g., “the Adirondack Park in NY has (check one) 500 miles of rivers & streams and 200 lakes, 10,000 miles of rivers & streams and 500 lakes, 20,000 miles of rivers & streams and 2,000 lakes, or 30,000 miles of rivers & streams and 3,000 lakes.

    I am sure there are lots more that others can suggest. Well done.

    This was fun. Love the concept. Happy to brainstorm it more.

  5. Rick Fenton says:

    The Adirondack Park is by no means a “wilderness park.” Please don’t perpetuate this unfortunate mistake. The park comprises about 2.8 million acres of public land, with the rest – more than half the park – private. Landowners within the park resent the continual marketing of the Adirondacks as a huge consolidated chunk of wild land. The comparison defeats the important message of the park’s uniqueness as a public-private patchwork, with all the benefits and challenges inherent in the arrangement.

    • Paul says:

      If you do market the park as a 6 million acre wilderness some folks that come a long way to see that are going to be a little disappointed.

      As many have said he the park is really not that remote. Haven’t I seen it pointed out numerous times here at the Almanack that you can’t get five miles from a road anywhere in the Adirondacks?

      You can market it as a wild place, and it is, but it is a different kind of wild place.

    • joe says:

      True, I wish the 18th century people has chosen not to call it a park. The term conjures up many things year our region is not. Nor is it the Adk STATE Park as writers here often name it [editors should catch this common error]

      There’s a story about why it is not named….state park, for another time.

      But I like your idea.

    • Pete Nelson says:


      I am well familiar with the balance of land in the Adirondacks. In fact I myself own land in the heart of the park. A few other people commented to me that the private/public mixture needs to be mentioned. My next version of the prototype, coming later today, will have some changed wording to reflect that, for indeed it is important and unique. It is part of what makes the Adirondack park such a hopeful example of what can be done.

      However I wouldn’t want my intent to get lost in that issue. “Resent” is a pretty strong word when in fact almost all the marketing for the Adirondacks (rightly) plays up the public/private mixture, by promoting towns, commercial recreation, museums, shops, resorts and numerous other non-wilderness features. I can’t think offhand of a marketing campaign that does otherwise. So I’m not sure in terms of marketing what there is to resent.

      If on the other hand any resentment is really about my little prototype then let me explain myself better. Ironically my interest with this strategy is not to ignore the private part of the park, but in fact the opposite – to help it thrive. I want to bring more visitors to the park. My interest is in healthy, busy towns, fully employed guides, booked hotels, humming boat liveries and so on.

      The problem is that we’re failing to capture the attention of a sizable potential constituency. In my long experience living outside the park I can report that the Adirondacks are missing too much of the large, rapidly growing national wave of interest in wilderness recreation. That is because people who aren’t from the area simply don’t equate the Adirondack Park with wilderness, they equate it with chairs and B & B’s (when they even know of the park at all). Someone living in Indiana or Illinois who desires a wilderness experience is hundreds of miles closer to wilderness on a grand scale if they go east, not west – they just don’t know it. Wouldn’t we like for them to turn east and come up I-90?

      I want to appeal to that crowd; it’s a big crowd! That’s the purpose of this little experiment. I have a hard time seeing why that does anything but play to the interests of the private residents of the park. That’s certainly my intent, to maximize the potential of the very public/private balance you think I’m ignoring.

      Finally, some will imply or outright say, as you have, as Paul has on this comment thread, that this isn’t a wilderness park. I’m not sure what you’re comparing it to but having been all over most of American’s wilderness areas I can report that Adirondack wilderness compares most favorably in all respects.

      The facts speak for themselves. All I’m suggesting is that we use them to change the widespread perception that there ain’t wilderness out east, not to ignore anyone here, but rather to our collective benefit.

      • Paul says:

        “I’m not sure what you’re comparing it to”

        Pete, I made one comparison in my next comment. Places like that are all over the inter-mountain west. The Adirondacks is a neat mix of public and private land but to promote it as something it simply isn’t doesn’t make sense.

        You place is a great example of what is possible in the Adirondacks where else can you own such a place?

        What the “park” needs is more opportunities for residents that has nothing to do with tourism (you use the idea of telecommuting opportunities as a good example).

        I would even argue for far fewer tourists and more full time residents.

  6. Bob Meyer says:

    Pete, this is a great idea!
    i especially like Lee Keet’s suggested additions.
    there might be something to add from Rick Fenton’s comments though i’m not sure how it would be successfully incorporated in an Adirondack promotional piece without confusing the public.
    Keep it simple is a good model to follow.

  7. Paul says:

    The other thing to remember is that you are not competing with only “parks”. For example many of the national forest areas out west are pretty remote compared to the Adirondacks. When I lived in Colorado one of my favorite places to go hiking/climbing was a place called the Chicago Basin near Telluride. You could take the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge RR in there and climb a number of mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation. You were 30 miles from the nearest road and not anywhere near a “park”. Just some run of the mill NF lands. And way more remote (but not less interesting) than areas in the Adirondacks.

  8. peter says:

    There is clearly something contrary about marketing the Adirondacks. Please leave the place alone. Unfortunately, people seem to be coming here all on their own. This past weekend is testament to that shift, with parking lots overflowing and trails flooded with all those people Pete Nelson seems to want here. At a certain point (I believe it has already happened) we will tip from use into abuse.

    Some perspective from Alva Dunning is needed here: “this woods is a gittin’ too full o’ people fer comfort. – They’re a-runnin’ all over here in Summer a-shootin’ an’ a-fishin’. They do get in the way an’ they ain’t got no business here disturbin’ the woods.” Alva was a guide who died in 1902.

    Many seem fascinated by the idea of marketing this wonderful place, even those whose families “discovered Blue Mountain Lake in 1954.” At the very least, Pete should change his biographical profile listed with his little marketing games to something to the tune of “he despises unspoiled territory so much that he wants to invite all those within driving distance to come and change its very nature.”

    • Pete Nelson says:

      Taken out of the real, vital context in which the Adirondack Park exists I have sympathy for this comment. As anyone who has read me regularly already knows, I’m on the side of protecting the wilderness to the best extent possible as well as increasing the amount of protected land. Where others want the State to stop buying parcels and making them Forever Wild, I want the State to acquire and protect as much as it can. Where others favor the NYCO amendment, the Adirondack Club and Resort and more ATV trails, I – for various reasons – oppose them. Where many wanted the Essex Chain classified as Wild Forest, allowing a wider variety of uses, I supported a Wilderness designation.

      But taken in the context of the Adirondack region as it exists and for what it represents to the world, I part company with Peter in a big way. First, and most obviously, the point of view he presents would have a stronger argument if the Adirondacks was a typical park. But it isn’t of course, it’s half private: a living, breathing habitation for people in their towns, along their rural roads or ensconced in their great and not-so-great camps. These people and their communities need to exist and thrive, not be cordoned off. I for one would like to see that thriving happen in a sustainable, environmentally exemplary way; indeed we owe it to the park to strive for that. Recreational tourism is a growth industry and it is comparatively green.

      But there is a larger issue that in my mind damns Peter’s position. The vast majority of Americans – much less people elsewhere in the world – have no experience of real wilderness. They do not get the myriad benefits of exposure to and experience with territory like this. This is a two-fold issue, one in broad sense political and one in a broad sense moral.

      On the political side, if we want people to protect the environment – ours, theirs, everyone’s – they need to value it in a different way than many Americans do. A week’s camping trip to the Adirondacks can remake a value system. We want more people to experience – and subsequently value – pristine places, protected places, not fewer people. Their wilderness experiences trickle down to decisions about commuting, about recycling, about climate change and more. While Peter worries about the High Peaks being overrun I worry about the rest of the American landscape being overrun. Meanwhile the carrying capacity of this multi-million acre park has in no way been approached, not even close.

      On the moral side, this simple challenge: what right do Peter or I have to discourage people from coming? The two of us experience it here: we hike, we paddle, we camp. Why should we be privileged above anyone else? I know a lot of people who need this place and its experiences more than I do. And I have many friends in the park that could use the business. I long ago got over the idea that I am entitled to have the Adirondack Park to myself.

      As far as I am concerned this remarkable region is a critical and evolving demonstration to the world about how the human beings and wild places can coexist without one utterly destroying the other. On that basis it is a park unique in the world. Sadly, this experiment cannot be validated – and exalted – by roping it off.

    • An says:

      Peter – I never hear the wilderness areas of the west or Alaska complaining that there are “too many visitors”. Maybe that’s the ADK’s problem – too provincial.

  9. Paul says:

    Pete, also on the largest temperate deciduous forest is that accurate? The Great Smoky National Park is over 500 thousand acres. And I think all of it is TDF. Much of the Adirondack forests are not TDF. They are classified as other forest types (like you see at higher latitudes) due to the elevation. Doesn’t make em any less wild, probably more, but the question may not be accurate. I would check on that one. What about some of the TDF in Asia?

    I wouldn’t worry about it most people (except us nerds) don’t really care about it any way. If it looks wild they will come!

    • Pete Nelson says:


      I wondered about this fact too when I first heard it, so I looked into it. It comes from the Nature Conservancy and is backed with solid science.


  10. An says:

    I don’t live in the Adirondacks – I’m a city guy. I love the wilderness though. The Catskills is more akin to Vermont, the Berkshires, the Poconos. The Adirondacks should be seen more like Yellowstone and Denali. What’s the difference? No large animals that can’t be seen elsewhere. It’s great that Moose are returning. However – people might not want to hear – but cougars and wolves returning would make a HUGE difference.
    In the past 3 years – whales and dolphins have been spotted with regularity in the NYC area…. Now they have boat tours – which have proved so popular that they extended the season from the end of August until mid October (American Princess Cruises leaving from the Rockaways). People will spend money to see animals (or even the chance) that they couldn’t normally see. Many ppl go out west hoping to see Grizzlies and wolves and cougars. Grizzlies are not native to this area so I wouldn’t suggest it… Even in Pennsylvania – people come from all over to see the few herds of elk that are back there. If elk have been restored to not only Pennsylvania – but also our northern neighbor of Ontario, Canada (which they now also permit limited hunting) – then why not New York State?
    If cougars can live mostly without incident in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County – there is NO REASON they couldn’t do so in NY State anywhere north and west of from Ulster and Dutchess Counties. If wolves can survive in Ontario and Michigan – they could around the Adirondacks. No one would think with all the ship and boat traffic – that even with cleaned up waters – huge humpback whales would be within touching distance – but they are there – and a few thousand people have gotten to see them this year. Animals just need low pollution – and not to be over-hunted and they can adapt.

    As a city guy – I think that is the difference. It’s true – most ppl know Lake George and Lake Placid (because of the Olympics) – but few associate it with “the Adirondacks”. As huge and beautiful as the ADK’s are – people should be coming from out of the northeast to visit it – just as they do the national parks. New York State should market it more. Casinos are not the way to market upstate NY.

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