Is Saranac Lake Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On August 25, 2023
Saranac Lake, United States
Safety Index:
77
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
100
* Rated 100 / 100 based on 1 user reviews.

Saranac Lake, New York, is a charming village nestled in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains that offers beautiful scenery and plenty of outdoor recreation.

Surrounded by forests, lakes, and peaks, it provides easy access to hiking, boating, fishing, and more.

The area first became popular in the late 1800s when Dr. E.L. Trudeau promoted the cool, fresh mountain air as beneficial for tuberculosis patients.

Saranac Lake soon became a famous sanatorium town where the sick traveled for the “fresh air cure.”

While TB treatment faded, the village continued to thrive.

Historic mansions of the sanatorium era can still be seen today.

What makes Saranac Lake special are its natural assets.

The chain of lakes linked by the Saranac River provides miles of waterways to explore.

Ample wilderness, wetlands, and mountain trails offer plenty of room to roam.

The compact downtown makes it easy to enjoy local shops and eateries.

NOTE:

Saranac Lake is the name of the village, but it isn’t located on Saranac Lake.

We’ll explain more on that later.

Also, the town of Saranac isn’t part of this article.

That’s a much smaller place 33 miles northeast on the Saranac River.

This is a four-season destination with activities specifically planned for each one.

There is no “off-season” here.

You’ll also be an hour to the Canadian border or two hours from the beauty of Vermont.

Warnings & Dangers in Saranac Lake

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

Crime rates are very low in this region, giving it a low risk. The outdoor activities come with their own set of challenges, but you can keep the risk low by learning safety practices for each one and sticking to options within your fitness levels. You'll be amazed at the choices!

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

There's public bus transportation available throughout the counties, but having a rental car is the ideal way to explore all the different lakes and mountains. Rideshares and taxis can be called, but long-distance costs will add up. All options are a low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Statistically, this is a low risk, but you also should treat it with a much higher risk as you would in any tourism community. Keep the risk low by locking your car doors, leaving valuable items out of sight, and carrying only what you need while you go on adventures. Don't leave purses or backpacks unattended, even for a few seconds.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

The medium risk here is due to the year-round potential for severe weather. From blizzards to severe thunderstorms to wildfires, there are a lot of hazards that *could happen. As long as you stay informed and sign up for weather alerts, you'll keep the risk as low as possible.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

This is another low risk. Since 2013, only three robberies have been reported. Keep in mind that most New York cities won't be this safe.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

The low risk keeps going here, with no real concerns of international terrorism due to the remote and wilderness nature of this region. It's still important to report anything suspicious you see. Call 1-866-SAFENYS or 1-866-723-3697 to report any issues.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

The local police will post any scams as they are reported, so stay informed to keep the risk low. Rental scams are another concern, but you can avoid those easily by asking for proof of a rental license and knowing tell-tale signs of fraud like an owner asking you to wire money ahead of time.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is yet another low risk. Women will find many things to do here, from extreme sports to relaxing in the spa. It's great for girlfriend getaways of all ages, mommy/daughter trips, or solo female travelers.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The water utility here tests for more than 80 contaminants, and the 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance. The risk is low.

Safest Places to Visit in Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is the name of the official tourism website, so it’s an easy place to get started.

There’s even a section for first-time visitors.

Visit Adirondacks is the website for the entire region, which has a lot more information but also isn’t Saranac Lake specific.

Saranac Lake isn’t located on Saranac Lake.

In fact, Saranac Lake is a chain of lakes with upper, middle, and lower sections.

The farthest lake is Upper Saranac Lake, just 20 minutes from the village.

The village of Saranac Lake is on Lake Flower, Lake Colby, and Moody Pond.

Hiking is a way of life here, with many trails throughout the mountainous terrain.

The 6er challenge tempts hikers to climb the six mountains that surround the village.

  • McKenzie – 10 miles, 3822′ Elevation
  • Ampersand – 5.4 miles, 3353′ Elevation
  • Scarface – 6.8 miles, 3054′ Elevation
  • Haystack – 6.6 miles, 2864′ Elevation
  • St. Regis – 6.6 miles, 2874′ Elevation
  • Baker* – 1.8 miles, 2874′ Elevation

Take a scenic drive up to Whiteface Mountain.

Drive the winding Veterans Memorial Highway to the summit for panoramic views.

Stop at the castle-style architectural landmark halfway up.

Picnic areas along the drive offer nice spots to take in the scenery.

Paddle a canoe or kayak on one of the lakes.

Upper Saranac Lake and Lower Saranac Lake both offer nice calm water for paddling.

Rent a boat or bring your own and spend a peaceful day on the water taking in the beautiful scenery.

Visit the Saranac Laboratory Museum to learn about the history of TB treatment in the area.

See artifacts and photos from when the town was a famous sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s.

Interesting exhibits describe medical treatments used at the time.

Go camping at one of the many campgrounds around Saranac Lake.

Some popular spots are Fish Creek Campground on Upper Saranac Lake or Lake Colby State Park.

Enjoy a campfire, cookout, fishing, hiking, and more.

Reserve a site ahead of time.

Downtown Saranac Lake is an idyllic village with shopping, dining, art, and a walk of fame with local famous names.

Winter events include all the outdoor activities you can imagine, from skiing to ice climbing, but there’s also the Ice Palace and Winter Carnival that bring visitors out in the cold. Just be sure to bundle up.

Places to Avoid in Saranac Lake

You don’t need to avoid any particular neighborhoods because of high crime rates or worry about dangerous parts of town.

This is a safe area to roam.

It can also be a crowded area during the peak summer season, but fall gets pretty busy too.

Fall foliage is a major tourism aspect here, and that peaks in the first few weeks of October.

If you are visiting then PLAN AHEAD.

Accommodations can sell out quickly.

And remember, if there’s a rental deal during peak season that seems too good to be true, it is!

You will not find a super-discounted deal on a home here.

The demand is too great.

Anything else is likely a scam.

The Saranac Lake 6er is a great goal to achieve if you are physically fit and familiar with hiking.

However, avoid trying to complete the six peaks if you are struggling or have ongoing health issues while trying to make each summit.

Another note for those who are tackling the peaks, “Starting at Baker Mountain trailhead no longer counts for the 6er program.

To earn a 6er title, one must start and end their Baker Mountain summit (on foot) from the 6er bell, located in Berkeley Green Park.”

There is now a paddling challenge, which includes five paddling adventures.

Again, avoid trying to meet this goal if your physical abilities won’t allow it.

You also can’t control the weather and don’t want to risk being on the water in a thunderstorm just to complete a challenge.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Saranac Lake

  1. Saranac Lake has its own police department. The department has a newer website that didn’t initially show up in search results for me. Make sure you’re looking at the URL that starts with Crime Watch. You can also find them on Facebook @saranaclakepolice. Their phone number is (518) 891-4422.
  2. The police department started using the Crime Watch program in early 2023, which means a lot of great information for you. You can search the interactive map using your own search parameters. For example, you might want to see if any car thefts have happened near a hotel. The site also lists recent arrests, daily calls for service, and safety information.
  3. Sign up for NY Alerts to get statewide emergency notifications. Since Saranac Lake covers two counties, you don’t want to miss an alert. Be sure to select Essex and Lincoln Counties when you sign up. You’ll get weather alerts and other major public safety alerts on your mobile device.
  4. Another important alert system is the Village of Saranac Lake Community Alerts. The website states, “By opting in to receive alerts from the Village, residents can get real-time notifications on road closures, water line disruptions, other water and sewer related issues, and general emergency notifications.”
  5. Use the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website to check lake water quality and get updated seasonal safety tips. That’s also where you would purchase a fishing license or learn about boating safety requirements.
  6. Police officers here have e-bikes as part of the vehicle fleet. If a police officer approaches you on one of these bikes, it’s the same as if a patrol car pulled you over.
  7. Black fly season runs from May to June, and that means these annoying, biting bugs become relentless. Not all bug sprays work against them. Check the label before you purchase. The best way to avoid them is to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, even if they are lightweight.
  8. Between November 15 and April 15, a parking ban is in effect. That sounds worse than it is – that means you can’t park on the street overnight (between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.). This helps keep the streets cleared of snow.
  9. If you plan to drive the hour to Canada while you’re here, please review the list of things you can and can’t bring into Canada or back into the U.S. Also, Canada is very strict about certain criminal offenses when it comes to entry. Even if you have the right paperwork but have a driving under the influence conviction on your record, you could be denied entry. It’s critical you review the rules on the Canadian Border Service Agency website.
  10. To track road conditions, constructions, and traffic jams across the state, use NY 511. This helpful interactive site shows real-time information with live traffic cameras on the major roadways across New York.

So... How Safe Is Saranac Lake Really?

Saranac Lake is a safe town by all accounts in current crime data and historically.

Crime sharply dropped off in 2022, going from 24 crime reports (violent and property) in 2021 to six in 2022.

If you see any reports during your research that discuss the dangers of Saranac Lake, those go back to 2013 and don’t take into account the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

The vast majority of those crimes were between people who know each other.

As we discussed above, the police department isn’t resting on its laurels about crime either.

The Crime Watch product came in 2023, during a time when crime rates were on the decline.

Not only is the community safe, but the police department has every intention of keeping it that way and being transparent about crime that does happen.

Weather safety is critical, but that onus falls on the visitor to use the available resources for updates.

If you don’t like driving in the snow, you probably should avoid the winter months here since more than nine feet of snow accumulates each season.

Even wildlife concerns, like bears, shouldn’t be an issue if you have bear spray, keep food in sealed containers, and know how to handle the very occasional face-off with one.

Most wildlife injuries come from people who tried to get too close or left food outside.

In fact, this village is so popular that finding housing is nearly impossible for people moving here.

You really won’t find much of a safer place in the Adirondacks, but that still means using basic personal safety steps.

How Does Saranac Lake Compare?

CitySafety Index
Saranac Lake77
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

The requirements for entering the country are the same, whether crossing the Canadian border or flying in from overseas. A visa or visa waiver paired with a valid passport will need to be shown before entry is allowed. Visit the Canadian Border Services Agency for rules if you're planning to visit Canada while you're here.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted, and any Canadian dollars you have should be exchanged when crossing the border. Other currency exchanges can be done at most international airports and your bank. ATMs will also dispense cash in USD, but you'll pay a fee for that.

Weather

Weather

Pack layers of clothing like long sleeves, sweaters, and jackets since temperatures can drop at night, even in summer. Bring waterproof boots and warm socks for hiking. Pack bug spray and sunscreen. Bring a hat and gloves for cold weather and a swimsuit and comfortable walking shoes for summer. Check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Focus on versatile pieces you can layer for changing conditions.

Airports

Airports

The closest commercial airports are Adirondack Regional Airport, located 6 miles away, which offers daily Cape Air flights to Boston, and Burlington International Airport, 65 miles away in Vermont. Plattsburgh International Airport is 60 miles northeast with American and United flights, and Albany International Airport is 115 miles southeast with many flight options but a longer drive.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

You'll want to get travel insurance that covers your flights, rental car, and health while considering adventure travel insurance if you're going to do more risky outdoor activities.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Saranac Lake Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -10° C
Feb -9° C
Mar -4° C
Apr 4° C
May 11° C
Jun 16° C
Jul 18° C
Aug 17° C
Sep 13° C
Oct 7° C
Nov 1° C
Dec -6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
-4-23101822252419125-1
Low
°C
-16-15-10-349111061-4-11
High
°F
252837506472777566544130
Low
°F
3514273948525043342512

New York - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Albany77
Binghamton61
Brooklyn74
Buffalo58
Cooperstown78
Elmira64
Fair Haven75
Greenport Village78
Ithaca62
Jamestown54
Lake George78
Lake Placid82
Lewisboro88
Long Island83
Manhattan82
Mt Vernon62
New Paltz79
New Rochelle77
New York City67
Niagara Falls63
Oswego75
Poughkeepsie79
Queens73
Rochester67
Rye76
Saranac Lake77
Saratoga Springs74
Schenectady52
Seneca Falls79
Shelter Island85
Sleepy Hollow77
Syracuse71
Utica57
Watertown63
Watkins Glen81
White Plains77
Yonkers59

Where to Next?

1 Review on Saranac Lake

  1. R
    Rosemary Bennett says:

    I traveled solo and found the area to be safe and welcoming. The local businesses and residents contribute to a warm and secure environment. Can’t wait to go back!

Saranac Lake Rated 5 / 5 based on 1 user reviews.

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