Motorcycle Spotlight: Americade
Motorcycle rallies and gatherings offer enthusiasts and riders the opportunity to gather and share their passion for riding, view expos and check out vendors, as well as to enjoy travelling to new areas, making new friends and participating in a variety of motorcycle-centric experiences.
Countless events, from smaller, brand- or type-specific gatherings to larger, more diverse rallies, take place in various locales all over the United States.
But one of the largest, most famous and most popular motorcycle rallies takes place each year in Upstate New York: Americade.
Americade is a week-long motorcycle rally unlike any other. It bills itself as the “world’s largest multi-brand motorcycle touring rally,” and is one of only three annual rallies recognized by the American Motorcyclist Association.
And touring is the backbone of the rally.
Held in beautiful, historic Lake George, New York, the event features numerous guided, unguided and self-guided tours through some of the most scenic areas in the Northeast, including rides through the Adirondack Park, Vermont, and even into Canada.
Every year, more than 60,000 registered riders and as many as 100,000 fellow attendees converge on Lake George for an enjoyable, family-themed week sure to please all motorcycle lovers.
History Of The Americade
Americade’s predecessor “Aspencade,” began in 1969 in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Named after the festival celebrating the changing colors of the aspen tree native to that area, Aspencade was a popular regional motorcycle touring event.
After attending Aspencade in the early 1970’s, Lake George resident Bill Dutcher envisioned such an event for the Northeast, and a decade later saw his dream come to fruition as the first “Aspencade East” in 1983.
Aspencade East was a success, and its attendance continued to grow over the next three years (from 2,000 to over 10,000 registered riders). When the opportunity came to rename the event, Dutcher has said it was his wife who came up with the name “Americade” at a Fourth of July party.
Realizing that what had started as a regional event had begun attracting motorcyclists from all over the country, he felt that the name was truly appropriate and it was adopted in 1986.
In the early years of the rally, the events and the expo were separated by a dozen or more miles. With the adoption of the new name, the entire rally was consolidated in the village of Lake George and has stayed there ever since.
Lake George, New York is a quiet village in the midst of New York’s Adirondack Park. The Park itself, established in 1885, encompasses nearly six million
acres and was the first state preserve of its kind in the nation.
It boasts 2,000 mountain peaks with elevations higher than 3,000 feet.
The park’s largest body of water happens to be Lake George, from which the village gets its name. This pristine lake has been called the “Queen of American Lakes,” and Thomas Jefferson was so taken with it he commented that it was the most beautiful body of water he had ever seen.
The area draws thousands of boaters, hikers, campers, anglers and birdwatchers year-round.
The village contains, among several points of interest listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort William Henry, where a pivotal battle in the French and Indian Wars took place. This battle and other events are described in James Fenimore Cooper’s historical novel, The Last of the Mohicans.
The fort, now reconstructed as a living museum, serves as the hub for organizers of the Americade rally as well as the very popular location for bike demos.
Prospect Mountain overlooks Lake George, and visitors can hike or ride to its 2,030-foot summit, which itself is the site of its own Americade events and boasts a panoramic 100-mile view of the surrounding area.
The immediate region boasts a variety of lodging accommodations for visitors, from quaint B&B’s to cottages, rental homes, motels, hotels and campgrounds.
Types Of Events
While events and attractions vary each year, here are some of the highlights:
- As mentioned above, riders can register to go on a number of guided or unguided rides through some of the most stunning and scenic areas in and around Lake George.
These rides include riding tours of covered bridges in New York and nearby Vermont, gently winding and/or twisty routes through the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges, and rides around Lake George and Lake Champlain, all with suggested stops at lookouts, chasm and canyon tours, panoramas, and even ideas on where to grab a bite.
- Bike Demos
- Interested in trying out the latest and greatest models from your favorite motorcycle manufacturer?
Americade boasts the largest collection of displays and demos in the entire country. You can take demo rides on a variety of motorcycles and trikes from top brands, talk with experts and have all your questions answered in one place.
- The Expo
- Over a million square feet of vendors! The expo is where you can see and try out the newest and hottest products, including helmets, apparel, gear and electronics in a massive outdoor setting that includes great food and a beer garden.
- A variety of exciting stunt shows and riding contests.
- Parades, plus numerous custom and classic motorcycle display contests in a variety of categories.
- Seminars and lectures on a variety of motorcycle topics by some of the most well-known names in the motorcycling world as part of “Americade University.”
- A charity auction to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, where you can win helmets, jackets and electronics worth over $400 for a single $50 bid, all to benefit an important organization supporting wounded veterans.
- Skills Challenges, where attendees can win awards (and bragging rights) demonstrating their riding prowess.
- A variety of local attractions, including beaches, daytime and dinner cruises on Lake George, the Six Flags: Great Escape Amusement Park, whitewater rafting, fantastic local restaurants and historic sites.
There are a variety of local attractions and things to do in addition to the rally events. Lake George has a number of ways to have fun in the water, from relaxing sandy beaches to parasailing, power boat rentals, jet ski rentals, scuba diving and lake cruises.
Nearby Six Flags Great Escape & Hurricane Harbor is a large amusement park featuring gravity-defying rollercoasters and thrill rides as well as its own water park to help you cool off with water slides, geysers, fountains and pools.
There’s also whitewater rafting on the nearby Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers, with several operators offering expeditions ranging from the relaxing and easy to the fast and challenging. For thrill-seekers of every age and ability, there’s also the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, the first aerial adventure course in the United States and the largest tree-top adventure park in the country. Another way to get off your motorized bike is to check out Revolution Rail Co., which offers guided rail-biking excursions on historic railway tracks through Adirondack forests and alongside the Hudson River.
If you’re in the mood for shopping, Canada Street in Lake George features numerous antique and gift shops, or you can visit the Factory Outlets of Lake George, offering the latest top-brand apparel and gifts at deep discounts.
The Lake George area provides numerous options when it comes to accommodations, from quaint B&B’s to major chain hotels to campgrounds. There’s something at every price point, but be sure to book early! Here are few of the featured suggestions from Americade organizers:
- As well as being the Headquarters of the Americade Rally, the Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center boasts stunning views of the lake while offering the convenience of being truly in the middle of it all!
- Adirondack Camping Village features spacious sites in a wooded, rustic mountain setting.
- Antigua Resort on Plum Point offers well-appointed rooms with cable television, Wi-Fi, motorcycle parking within sight of your room, a motorcycle washing station and beautiful lakefront access.
- Birchwood Cottages on Loon Lake has six cottages with private lake frontage and all the modern amenities.
- Country Inn & Suites, just four miles from Lake George, has indoor and outdoor pools, a hot buffet breakfast, a fitness center, and is on the trolley route if you want to leave your bike behind for the day.
Americade – Wrap Up
Americade is consistently billed by top publications as one of the best annual motorcycle events anywhere.
Many attendees enthusiastically return each year, driving from all over North America. It’s a celebration that’s well-organized, family-friendly, laid-back and often full of more experiences than you can possibly see in a week.
That’s one reason why this rally’s attendance grows each year!
For more information and registration, head over to Americade.com and sign up.
 Normally held in June, this year’s Americade has been postponed to July 21 -25, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will contain all of the regular events plus new attractions to please every motorcycle rider, passenger or enthusiast. A variety of measures will be in place to keep everyone safe.
 Aspencade continues to be held annually, and is now called The Golden Aspen Rally.