I’m just going to be honest. Fort Drum has a brutally cold winter. There will be snow, and lots of it.
Maybe you’re the type of person who loves EVERYTHING about winter—the cold, the layers, the snow, the ice sports. If this is you, you’ve hit the jackpot at Fort Drum.
Or, maybe you prefer year-round warmth, and the thought of the season makes you want to hibernate under a down blanket. I personally survived two-and-a-half Fort Drum winters, and the best way to conquer those months is to stay busy. So, here’s a list of the five best things to do in the North Country when the temperature plummets!
Take Road Trips
Photo by Michael Martin
Lake Saranac Winter Carnival is truly an amazing experience. It’s a huge deal in the area, and it’s been happening since 1897. You’ll see interactive ice sculptures and an ice palace, carnival activities, concerts, art exhibits, fireworks and much more for the whole family. Saranac Lake is a gorgeous area that is about two hours from Fort Drum.
Another place about two hours from Drum is Lake Placid. Simply put, it’s a-m-a-z-i-n-g. You can go skiing on Whiteface Mountain, play ice sports on Lake Placid, and take sleigh rides. There are numerous spas, breweries, restaurants, boutiques, iconic hotels and B&Bs.
Photo by row4food
Also, Lake Placid is home to the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous Miracle on Ice (Suck it, Russia!). In fact, activities still take place throughout the Olympic Village.
Try Ice Sports
From September through April, the Watertown Municipal Arena offers public ice skating, figure skating and hockey programs for all ages and levels. The arena is also home to Federal Hockey League games and the Watertown Wolves.
Dry Hill Ski Area is the local slope for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. Interested in learning or brushing up on your skills? Dry Hill ski shop provides equipment for purchase or rental. Plus, it offers group and private lessons for all ages and experience levels. The ski shop opens at the end of October and the slopes will be ready soon after. Be sure to ask about the military discount for active duty.
Also, Fort Drum MWR organizes seasonal snowmobile and snowshoeing trips through the beautiful and rugged Tug Hill Region of northern New York.
Right and Up Tip: Spend a day at Dry Hill Ski and check out the Fireside Lounge to replenish empty stomachs.
Add to Your Talents
Photo by Jared Hackbarth
Throughout the year, especially the winter, you’ll find plenty of community events and enrichment opportunities. There are great classes geared towards kids, college level course work, cooking classes, workshops and music lessons. Start filling up your winter schedule by visiting The City of Watertown, Jefferson Community College, Jefferson Personal Enrichment Workshops and Cornell Cooperative Extension websites.
Om Your Way Through
Public Square located in Downtown Watertown is home to two yoga studios that offer two completely different practices. Satyana Yoga offers hatha style classes focused on breathing, gentle movements and postures. Plus, it offers private one-on-one lessons. If you’re interested in a more vigorous format, then head over to Vigilante Yoga. This studio provides heated and non-heated vinyasa style classes, aerial yoga and barre.
If yoga isn’t your thing, Fort Drum offers a plethora of fitness opportunities on post. Check out the Magrath Sports Complex and Pool, Atkins Functional Fitness, and Monti Physical Fitness Center and Pool Facebook pages for a complete list of group classes and personal trainers.
Hit the Books
Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, a historic building built in 1903, provides a variety of programming. Here you’ll find services like book clubs, story times, tween classes, family-oriented events and more. You can even check out e-books through the Overdrive app. If you’re interested in diving into your family history, the library houses a genealogy research database.
As you can see, with an adventurous attitude (and the right outerwear), you can survive a winter in Fort Drum. And who knows, maybe you’ll learn to be one of those people who love the season!
Cover Photo by Dave Shea
About the Author
Brittany Rakowitz is an Ohio native and became an Army spouse in 2012. To date she has PCS’d to Fort Leavenworth, Fort Drum, Fort Irwin and is currently stationed in Fargo, ND. She is a graduate of the State University of New York and holds a Bachelor’s of Art in Arts Management. Brittany enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the best spots in a new town, and spoiling her dog child, Rip.