The 7 Best Camping Spots in New England

With both beautiful shorelines and breathtaking mountains, New England is an excellent choice for your next camping trip. There’s a huge range of recreational activities to try, including hiking, boating, fishing, and cycling, so you know you’ll get the complete camping experience. Beautiful Cape Cod offers stunning beaches and tons of monuments and sightseeing, but we encourage exploring a little further into the region, as there’s plenty of hidden gems to be discovered.

The White Mountains in New Hampshire offer nearly 800,000 acres of state forest, with a massively varied ecosystem. No matter the time of year, the White Mountains always have plenty of activities on offer, including multiple ski areas. If you’re there to enjoy the scenes but don’t feel like a monster hike, the Mount Washington Cog Railway goes all the way to the summit, where visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of four states and Canada! Read on to discover some of the best camping in New England, whether you’re looking for primitive camping, glamping, forests or lakes, there’s plenty of options for your next getaway. 

 

1. Bear Creek Campground

 

Camping in the woods.

A trip to New England would never be complete without a little outdoor adventure.

 

In Connecticut, we recommend Bear Creek Campground, just next to Lake Compounce. Bear Creek is an excellent family camping destination, and there’s endless fun for the kids in one of New England’s best theme parks, right next door. With spaces for RV’s and plenty of sites for tent camping, full hook-up, wifi, and great facilities, Bear Creek is the perfect location for your next family getaway.

If you want to get some nature in as well as all the amusement park fun, just above Lake Compounce is Compounce Mountain. Here you’ll find the 4.6-mile Compounce Ridge Trail, which runs along the eastern rim of the 954-foot-high mountain. It’s a steep climb, but the views are some of the best in Connecticut, with spectacular visions of Meriden’s Hanging Hills and Rattlesnake Mountain.

At $30 a night during the week and $40 at the weekend for a tent, it’s not the cheapest campsite on this list but the proximity to Lake Compounce is invaluable. If you’re there with the kids, Bear Creek is a great option.

 

Pros:

 

  • Close to theme park
  • Spotless facilities
  • Full hookup

 

Cons:

 

  • Expensive
  • Busy

 

2. Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Campground – Freeport, Maine

 

A picture of the woods.

Wolfe’s Neck offers some great camping and trail hiking opportunities.

 

If you want to camp in Maine, it doesn’t get much better than Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Campground, where the forest meets the bay. Located on a working saltwater farm, Wolfe’s Neck boasts 626 acres of land and 4 miles of shoreline. There are 130 oceanfront, inland and wooded tent sites available, so you can find the perfect spot.

Wolfe’s Neck State Park is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon, with plenty of hiking trails and scenic views, why not go for a picnic by the ocean? Not too far off the beaten track, the well-maintained trail system is the ideal place to introduce the kids to the joys of nature holidays. We recommend the 1.5-mile Harraseeket Trail, which leads to the other side of the peninsula, overlooking rocky cliffs and Maine’s Harraseeket River.

Acadia National Park is just around the corner, its landscape marked with luscious woodland, characteristic rocky beaches and peaks like Cadillac Mountain, which is the highest point in New England, and in fact the US east coast. Split into three areas, Wolfe’s Neck Campground caters to all styles of campers. In the East Bay, sites with electric and water hookups are available for tents and RV’s. For those who want to disappear into the forest, the middle bay offers shady spots for tents only. In the West Bay, trees and open pastures make a perfect spot for a family campsite, with plenty of space for the kids to run around and play.

 

Pros:

 

  • Plenty of space
  • Oceanside camping

 

Cons:

 

  • Busy
  • No Sewer

 

3. Camden Hills State Park – Camden, Maine

 

An eagle flying through the sky.

Camden Hills State Park is home to many varieties of bird species.

 

Just a few minutes north of Camden on US Route 1, Camden Hills State Park is the ideal camping day-tripper destination. Known for its panoramic view of Camden Harbour and closely situated to Mount Battie, it could be the perfect getaway spot for you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and be humbled by nature. There’s even winter camping in a rustic shelter available, for the more adventurous campers. 

The campground and surrounding area are scenic and wooded, this state forest makes an ideal base camp for hikers. The camping fee here even includes access to the auto road to Mt. Battie’s summit. The Mount Battie trail offers a relatively short but rewarding hike up the southern side of the mountain, with an excellent view of Camden and the islands of Penobscot Bay making the climb well worth it. In a stunning forest location, the sites here are well spaced and mostly separated by trees, so your site will be private and fairly well secluded from neighbors. One thing to note is to check the site map when making a reservation, as some sites are quite far out, however, this can be a bonus if you’re looking for a more peaceful and natural experience.

 

Pros:

 

  • Free Wifi
  • Access to nature trails

 

Cons:

 

  • No pull-thru sites
  • Spotty mobile signal

 

4. Sweet Water Forest

 

A campfire by a lake.

Sweet Water Forest Campground is located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

 

Sweet Water Forest Campground is located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The campsite has been family-run since 1958, welcoming campers and RV’ers to Sweet Water Forest and the town of Brewster, which many consider to be the heart of Cape Cod. Cape Cod is an amazing location to visit from the campsite – it’s a hook-shaped peninsula just off the coastline, containing quaint villages, lighthouses, seafood shacks, ponds, bay, and ocean beaches. You can also visit the John F. Kennedy Museum in the town of Hyannis, the first stop of the Kennedy Legacy Trail down to downtown, where you can catch a ferry to the famous resort islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. So for a wonderful variety of experiences, from quaint seaside jaunts to historical trails, and with both forests, seasides and islands to explore, your trip to Sweet Water Forest will be far from boring!

Family-owned, this campsite has stood the test of time, with new amenities and features being added every year. Although some signals need updating, and some of the roads are tight and winding, this campsite will provide for most of your needs – especially if you’re a family group. They even have a little fishing and paddling pond, called Griffiths’ Pond, for you all to potter around in. The campground is also huge, with 250 level sites for tents and RVs, spread throughout over 80 acres of peaceful woodlands. Not only do you have many sites to choose from, but there is also a range of activities and features that will keep you amused, such as an 18 hole miniature golf course, a fishing dock, canoe rentals, and in-camp recreational activities. Which easy access to beaches, nearby attractions, and Cape CodRail Trail, the Atlantic Cedar Swamp Walk at Marconi this is the ideal location for campers to explore Cape Cod.

 

Pros:

 

  • Wi-FI (mainly just in the office area)
  • Full hookup for RV
  • On-site activities like a miniature golf course and fishing pond

 

Cons:

 

  • No laundry facilities
  • Can be very popular – book in advance to avoid disappointment

 

5. Beartown State Forest

 

A lake in the woods.

This 12,000-acre forest is perfect for swimming, boating, or fishing in Benedict Pond.

 

The Berkshiresprovide some of the most breathtaking scenery in New England, so this list wouldn’t be complete without a campsite option for this area. Beartown State Forest offers 12,000 acres of dense forest and greenery. There are only 12 sites available at Beartown, but if you manage to get one its worth it for the scenery, with options amongst the woods and along the lake.

The campground has a well-maintained beach, with boat ramps for kayaking. In this area, there’s also plenty of great hikes to check out, including the Pond Loop and of course the legendary Appalachian Trail. If you can make it to the top of the climb there are gratuitously rewarding views to enjoy. Beartown is the recommended destination for primitive camping in New England- there’s no showers, minimal toilets and little access to electricity. If your aim is to truly reconnect with nature, Beartown State Forest is the perfect destination.

 

Pros:

 

  • Scenic
  • Great location

 

Cons:

 

  • Few amenities
  • Only 12 sites

 

6. Lafayette Place Campground

 

A forest.

In the heart of Franconia Notch State Park, Lafayette Place Campground is the camping and hiking hub for the park.

 

Lafayette Place Campground is one of our favorites. Perfectly situated in the heart of Franconia Notch State Park, there’s so much nature to see in this area. There are hiking and biking trails up in the White Mountains leaving straight from the campsite, where the peaks reach up to 4000 feet. The Appalachian Trail passes right by Lincoln, so take the opportunity to see a bit of this 2,200-mile trail, which is the longest hiking-only trail in the world. There’s easy access from the I-93, this campsite is private and convenient, the perfect place for a quiet retreat to nature in New Hampshire.

This lovely site fils up fast, especially in summer, so it’s a good idea to reserve a spot. Situated at the bottom of two mountains in a notch, there are a nearby creek and a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Sightseeing is easy with this camp as your base, with wildflower meadows filled with Oxeye Daisies, Orange Hawkweed and Lupine are all around, and plenty of day trip destinations including the lush Echo Lake. The beach boasts a direct view of Franconia Notch, and here you can try canoeing or kayaking, with equipment available to rent at the Lakeside General Store. We also recommend checking out Flume George and the Pimigewasset trail, where you can see huge expanses to the south on a clear day.

Although the Lafayette Place Campground brings you into close quarters with some beautifully varied natural experiences – you might not feel like you are totally out in the sticks. The I-93 is quite close to the campground, so sometimes you can still hear some background noise. So for the more adventurous campers, you might want to search for somewhere a little more remote.

 

Pros:

 

  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Access to nature trails

 

Cons:

 

  • No hookup, water or electric
  • No Wi-Fi

 

7. Fisherman’s Memorial State Park and Campground

 

A man fishing.

Whether you are looking for a place to pitch a tent and enjoy a campfire, or park your RV and play some basketball or tennis, Fishermen’s can accommodate you.

 

Fisherman’s Memorial Campground offers a “seaside village” atmosphere and is a great destination for family fun. At 91 acres, this campground offers 147 trailer and 35 tent sites. Located in close proximity to the state beach areas, this site can get pretty busy during the summer, so it’s recommended to book in advance. On Sundays during the summer you can find a wonderful farmers market, right at the main entrance, so you can pick up some fresh and delicious local ingredients.

Like a lot of Rhone Island, this campground actually comes with a bit of history and is actually an old fort. There are several World War II bunkers around, one of which you can climb for a fabulous view of the area. Most sites have thick hedges, providing plenty of privacy. The top sites within the camp are in Area 1, which is available to book a year in advance. This is really worth planning ahead for, as here you’ll find the best facilities and most spacious campsites. If you can make it over, the Cliff Walk hike in Newport is gorgeous. Closer by the whole of Fishermans Memorial State Park is at your disposal.

 

Pros:

 

  • Full hookup for water and electric
  • Very quiet

 

Cons:

 

  • No Wifi
  • No sewer

 

8. Smuggler’s Notch State Park

 

A couple walking in the woods.

Smugglers’ Notch State Park is not confined to the campground. Just outside the gates lies a scenic corridor full of adventure.

 

There are so many things to do near Smuggler’s Notch State Park- before we even start talking about the gorgeous nature. You’ll be right next to the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, to break up your camping trip with a sweet treat, and the Lake Champlain chocolates. There’s also an array of activities for booze enthusiasts near the park: Boyden Vally Winery and Farm, Burlington Brew Tour, Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center, and Shelburne Vineyard and Wine Tasting. So for those of you who are looking for a varied stay, or maybe even a boozy weekend away, Smuggler’s Notch State Park might just be the option for you.

The Park itself is an oasis of natural beauty, situated near Stow in Lamoille County. At an elevation of 2,119 feet near Mount Mansfield (the highest peak of the Green Mountains), and with Mt Mansfield Ski Area (the best ski area in Vermont) nearby, this is also a great option for mountain and hill climbing and exploration. The park is named for Smugglers Notch, which separates Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak and the Sterling Range. Smugglers Notch is named after the smuggling which happened in the area; that was prompted by a request of President Thomas Jefferson to stop American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. So if you visit Smuggler’s Notch State Park, you’ll never be bored, with a whole range of activities from wine tasting, brewery visits, sweet treats from ice cream and chocolate factories, skiing and mountain hiking, and nerding out about the history of smugglers.

Smugglers Notch is a State Park, so we would recommend visiting one of the state-owned campgrounds here. However the amenities are quite basic: although they have a brand new set of bathrooms, there is only one shower and you have to pay to use it in some sites. When camping, though, this is not your only option – check out our reviews of the top camping showers here.  There’s also no full hookup for RV, and some of the campsites are difficult to back into or are not level. The campsite is on a mountain, after all! Although the campsites are basic they provide all you need unless you’re looking for a glamping experience. The most exciting parts of your stay will most definitely be in what you can experience outside of the campsite- but there’s no harm in having a few days sleeping on the side of a mountain, with those stunning views too!

 

Pros:

 

  • Huge array of local attractions and activities
  • Good Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Bathrooms and showers

 

Cons:

 

  • No hookup for RV
  • A mountainside location which is not convenient for campers over 30 feet
  • Limited amenities

Final Verdict:

New England is home to countless beautiful natural features, just waiting to be discovered. Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire hold over 20 National Parks and recreation areas, so why not explore a new one on your next trip. While you’re in the area, the city of Boston offers a huge contrast to the tranquil natural scenery mentioned here, so you may want to consider making a stop there as well.

If you’re trying to choose which campsite is best, the following questions can help you decide:

 

  • What environment are you looking for? Forest or lake?
  • What amenities do you need?
  • Do you need a family campground or a quiet secluded spot?
  • Which would be the most convenient state for you to reach? 

 

The United States is home to endless beautiful camping destinations. You can determine what you’re looking for in your ideal camping experience, using our questions above, but no matter your requirements or dreams for your camping holiday – our options have got you covered. So if you’re looking for the best camping experience in New England, one of these campgrounds is just waiting to welcome you, so you can arrive, set up camp, and let the good times roll. 

 

 

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Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.