Moving to Fort Drum? What Military Families Need to Know.

Fort DrumBy Jenny Hale, The Social Media Guru

So, you have orders to Fort Drum?  Congratulations!  While you may be concerned about the snow, Fort Drum has incredible sights, unique experiences, and even another country nearby (Canada is a day trip!), making it a great duty station!  If you give Fort Drum a chance, it has so much to offer!

Moving to Fort Drum?

Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division.  The installation is over 100,000 acres and is the largest employer in Northern New York.

Fort Drum has the 10th Mountain Division Museum, sharing the history of the most deployed division of the Army, as well as a bowling alley and Remington Park Campground.  Fort Drum also has Warrior Adventure Quest for Soldiers within six months of deployment and returning from a deployment, which offers programs for ATV tours, rock climbing, snowboarding, paintball and more.

There are no schools on post. Military children attend public or private schools nearby, unless they are home-schooled.

Where to Live?

Fort Drum Soldiers and their families live on-post in various neighborhoods and apartment complexes.  However, for those eligible to live off-post, most families elect to live in Watertown, Calcium, Evans Mills, and other surrounding towns.  Due to the winter weather conditions, finding housing close to post can be a big safety factor. It can also be a time saver during the winter months. Options for those looking for a quaint town are Sackets Harbor and Alexandria Bay. Check out neighborhood reviews on PCSgrades.com for more information about the local area.

 The state of New York in general has a high cost of living, but the Fort Drum-Watertown region has reasonable housing prices.  Utilities can be higher during winter months, however.

Things to Do at Fort Drum

  • Salmon Run Mall is a small shopping complex located in Watertown. The mall features many popular stores and a movie theater.
  • Dry Hill Ski Area is a local skiing spot in Watertown. The location has skiing and tubing hills, as well as offers military discounts.
  • The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park is a small zoo with a variety of New York State native animals – their specialty. The zoo is fairly inexpensive and offers those visiting a look at the unique animals of the area.
  • Black River cuts through the Watertown region and offers a variety of hiking, fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting opportunities for families.

Climate

I grew up in the Fort Drum region and spent over 20 years in the freezing snow!  I promise you will make it through the next few years!  Besides the snow, Fort Drum is a really awesome region to be in for seasons.  It has four real seasons that last several months each. You learn to appreciate the time you have in each one.

December and January are usually the coldest months, with a low of single and teen digits on average.  January highs, on average, are just under 30 degrees.  July is usually the hottest month, with averages around 80.  It is not common to get a lot of 90-degree days in the summer in the area, but it does happen.  Fort Drum has a summer that can be enjoyed outside without terrible heat.

It tends to rain the most in the fall, but it is fairly consistent year-round. The snowy part of the year lasts from late October to late April, about six months of the year on average.

Traditions

4th of July in Alexandria Bay is a big tradition in the Fort Drum region. A-Bay puts on a spectacular fireworks show right over Bolt Castle. Excited viewers spend the evening enjoying the town’s shops and restaurants before and after the show.  The event is so popular that it can take about an hour to get out of the town after the event ends, so you might as well hang around after!

  • The New York State Fair comes to Syracuse every year at the end of summer. This is a huge event, bringing in over a million visitors.  The fair features daily free concerts from national recording artists, and paid concerts with some of the most popular acts in the music industry. There is also a huge amusement park section, livestock shows, vendors, a Native American village, and incredible food.  This fair is huge and has a special day each year for free admission to military members.
  • During the summer, Fort Drum hosts Mountainfest, a one-day festival that concludes with a Salute to the Troops tribute concert and fireworks. It is also open to the public.

Easy Drives from Fort Drum

  • Alexandria Bay is approximately 45 minutes to an hour away from Fort Drum and is a location often used for military balls and celebrations. The little town is on the St. Lawrence River and part of the Thousand Islands. The small town is lined with shops, restaurants, bars, live music, festivals, a beach, and more.  Alexandria Bay is home to Bolt Castle, which is located on Heart Island within view from the town.  You can take a boat tour across the lake and spend the day on the island visiting the castle and learning the history of the area.
  • Sackets Harbor is approximately an hour away from Fort Drum and features a battlefield site and military cemetery. It is lined with stores, restaurants, parks, and a winery.
  • Clayton is a small town approximately 45 minutes from Fort Drum. It features a park, shops, restaurants on the water, and a small-town feel.  It is the perfect Saturday trip for a great lunch and hometown shopping.
  • Syracuse is about an hour and a half from Fort Drum. It is one of the bigger cities located near the installation and a must-see on the weekends. Syracuse is filled with summer festivals, a zoo, children’s museums, Destiny USA (the largest mall in the state), and Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome for college basketball and football games.
  • Canada is less than two hours from Fort Drum. Kingston, Ontario is approximately an hour and a half away and features Fort Henry, a military historical site from the 19th  century. Gananoque is a little over an hour from Fort Drum and has a small casino.
  • The Adirondack Mountains are less than three hours from Fort Drum and absolutely stunning in the fall. Make it your yearly goal to get to the Adirondacks for a weekend during peak season and go camping, rent a cabin, or go hiking in on one of the incredible mountain trails.  In the summer, the Adirondacks region is perfect for Enchanted Forest Water Safari, an outdoor water park and mini-amusement park.  The park features a variety of fairy tale set-ups for kids to enjoy and is under two hours from Fort Drum.  The water park is in the town of Old Forge, a great Adirondack town to visit.

Fort Drum and the surrounding areas were a great place for me to spend over 20 years of my life.  There are so many amazing parts of New York that you will love and being so close to Canada, spectacular mountains, incredible watersports, and four seasons of the year, makes Fort Drum a duty station you won’t forget.

PCSgrades.com is a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. Help us help each other and submit your reviews today.  Together, we can truly make a difference!

Jenny HaleJenny Hale, The Military Social Media Guru, is a civilian working with the military at Fort Knox, but grew up in the Fort Drum region. When she’s not working as a military marketing strategist for mil-spouse and veteran entrepreneurs, she spends her free time traveling. After moving six times to four states in two years, Jenny caught the travel bug and visits military towns frequently to explore their military history.

 

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