It all begins with Waterford, the country’s oldest incorporated village and the meeting place of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, where the highest canal lift in the world begins with your west-ward cruise ascending 169 feet through a series of five locks up and on your way to navigate the Erie Canal. Or, you can cruise northward for 60 miles to Lake Champlain and have history unfold itself while you experience the Revolutionary War sites along the way.

The two New York canal systems ­ the Erie and the Champlain ­ have undergone a transition from what once was commercial use to what have now become recreational use and a historic adventure. The cruising season begins on June 1st and ends on a colorful note with peak fall foliage throughout October and offers 5 months of safe and relatively economic family-oriented recreation.

Since 1995, when the “New York State Recreationway Plan” was enacted to include recreational boating, many of the small towns and villages along the canal routes ­ from Albany, Troy and Waterford to Canada and Buffalo ­ have joined in the resurgence of the prosperity to be gained from the canal system. As a result, the narrow canal boats for hire are a family’s or small group’s delight. If affords quiet and serene travel with the best night’s sleep that your memory can recall. Bring your camera, pen, and brush to capture your sights and we’ll give you memories that will keep your spirit alive until you return the following year.

There are only two other companies offering bareboat canal cruises in New York ­ the Mid-Lakes Navigation Company located near Syracuse, NY and the Erie Canal Cruise Lines in the Rochester, NY area. Both companies occupy the western two thirds of the state; cruising to the eastern part of the state is limited due to the time it takes for travel. The Erie-Champlain Boat Company is strategically located at the most-eastern end of the Erie Canal and the most-southern tip of the Champlain Canal offering easy access to both canal systems.

The narrow Old English design of the canal boats makes them easy to handle by the novice operators with a minimal three hours of training. The New York State Canal System is a relatively safe body of water, protected by close land and easily assessable anchorages, and it is easily navigated by the channel markers placed and maintained by the State of New York, making it preferable for family vacations. The historic orientation of such a vacation put the vacationers not only in touch with each other but also with the roots of their forefathers, as they become the advertisement for future business.

As the New York State Canal Corporation says in their brochure “Unlock the Legend”,

“Explore some of the oldest water routes in North America and follow in the wake of history. The legend of the grand Erie Canal flows as strongly today as it did when it was opened in 1825. Travel through New York’s Heartland, gliding past lush farmland, famous battlefields, scenic port towns and thriving wildlife preserves. The 524-mile New York State Canal System connects with hundreds of miles of lakes and rivers across the Empire State, linking the Great Lakes with the majestic Hudson River and with five waterways in Canada.”