Eastern New Hampshire and western Maine share an immense, breathtaking park: 148,000 acre White Mountain National Forest. In the heart of New Hampshire’s portion, lies the wild and unspoiled Franconia Notch State Park.
New Hampshire’s section of the Whites is home to The Presidential Range, a stretch of stately mountains that quite simply and beautifully, dwarf you. National Forest blankets the base of The Presidential Range with thick hardwoods before gradually fading to a high elevation alpine forest. Rocky granite tops at the summits reward hikers with views that roll far into neighboring states.
Camping is a popular activity in this area, and there are a number of backcountry, primitive, and full-service campgrounds. Franconia Notch State Park, in Lincoln, NH, is home to the popular Lafayette Place Campground. It’s a favored basecamp for hikers hoping to explore surrounding peaks.
Camping at Franconia Notch State Park
Franconia Notch State Park, a hub for outdoor activities in the heart of the White Mountains, has some of the best hiking and camping in the state of New Hampshire.
For hiking, Mount Washington and the Presidential Range have rugged, intense trails that reward hikers with stunning views at their summit. Mount Washington is a training ground for elite hikers vying to tackle Mount Everest. But for the more novice or intermediate hikers among us, there are numerous day hikes within the White Mountains.
For camping, a favorite campground is Lafayette Place — the only campground within Franconia Notch State Park.
Outside of the park, the region is rife with campgrounds; the White Mountains are an extremely popular place among campers. But take note: on a busy summer weekend it can be hard to secure a campsite without advanced reservations.
Lafayette Place is preferred by hikers for its proximity to White Mountain trailheads, so if you’re wanting to tackle some of these world-class trails, plan on booking ahead.Camp Here
5 Reasons to camp at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch State Park
For those considering a camping trip to Franconia Notch State Park, we turned to campers who have already been for advice.
1. It’s home to a well-loved campground
Favored among those planning a Presidential Range hike, Lafayette Campground features spacious sites, friendly staff, and clean, hot showers. Word to the wise: it can get busy here. If you prefer to avoid crowds, try a mid-week getaway. The season runs from May through mid-October, and weekends are especially busy. Aiming for a May or September trip is your best bet, as summer months bring a packed campground with vacationing kids and parents. October is popular for those viewing the areas spectacular fall foliage.
“Lafayette has the WARMEST showers! The facilities are clean, the showers are huge, you can wash your dirty hiking clothes in there while you wash up. Perfect location and great amenities!” — The Dyrt camper Kim O.
2. There is abundant wildlife
An exciting experience for those camping at Lafayette Place: it’s possible to observe white-tailed deer, moose, fox, bear and other native animals. Consequently, and this should go without saying: be respectful of nature around you.
In recent years, this area has had issues with bears. This has very little to do with bears and everything to do with us. Practicing carry-in, carry-out etiquette is important. Going one step further is even better: bring an extra bag or two and pick up whatever trash (food scraps included!) you find along the way.
Leaving our garbage, food, and man-made products for animals to discover has a devastating impact on the local ecosystem.
3. The grounds are quiet
Peaceful camping in a crowded place might sound like an oxymoron, yet Lafayette Place Campground manages to succeed at just that. Restricted to tents and pop-up campers, there is no generator hum or RV traffic to contend with. Campsites are large, well-spaced, and often shady and private. In this busy camper’s playground, this means you’ll still feel secluded.
“Sadly my visit was brief and rainy, but Franconia Notch is beautiful nonetheless in all it’s gargantuan splendor! The site was on the smaller side, but shaded. Most of the sites were relatively private. The roads could get a bit confusing and maze-like, but was generally relaxing to stroll through once you get your bearings.” — The Dyrt camper Rachel P.
4. Love hiking? You’ll be in heaven.
Franconia Notch State Park is at the base of the Presidential Range, where there are a multitude of hikes to fit all skill levels. Area hikes are often a short drive away, and some even begin directly from the campground.
In the summer months, Mount Washington itself is a strenuous, but non-technical hike. Additionally, for those wishing to experience the views without the ability or desire to hike the mountain, the Mount Washington Auto Road winds to the top of the peak, and the Cog Railway makes a summit as well.
Three of our favorites Hikes:
- Franconia Ridge Loop. A challenging 9-mile loop, this trail is exposed and features spectacular views along the entire ridge.
- Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail. Challenging. 8 miles out and back, this trail is dangerous in the winter due to Mount Washington’s unpredictable weather.
- Lonesome Lake Trail. Starting at the campground, this moderate trail features a mountain lake, steep climbs, and in the fall, unparalleled fall foliage.
5. It’s the ultimate adventure basecamp
Not just for hikers, Lafayette Place Campground is close to downtown Lincoln, NH, for dining, shopping, and adventure tours. Legs need a rest? No problem. Hop in a kayak and throw yourself down the Pemigewasset River rapids for a heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping good time. Or, for a different view not offered by car, feet, or kayak, climb high in the trees for a zipline tour through mountain alpine forests.
Some of our favorite activities that don’t include hiking:
“This whole area is bursting with things to do and this is a nice place to stay while exploring the region. There are no RVs allowed here, some sites are along the river. It’s very clean, well-cared for, very wooded, but pretty basic (as we like it!). Make reservations if possible.” — The Dyrt camper Harry H.
- Lafayette Place Campground, Franconia, NH
- Kancamagus Highway Camping at Hancock Campground, Lincoln, NH
- Lazy River Campground, Epsom, NH