When one thinks of a White Mountains camping and adventure trip, New Hampshire’s iconic Mount Washington usually comes to mind. While this impressive, moody mountain is definitely a must-conquer on every hiker’s list, there are scores of other attractions and countless activities that should be on the forefront of every outdoor lover’s mind.

For the Best White Mountains Camping, these 5 Campgrounds are a must

The White Mountains, a rugged, northern section of the Appalachian Mountain Range, are an impressive set of peaks that extend from New Hampshire into Maine. Heavily forested wilderness areas rise and fall in peaks and valleys for hundreds of thousands of acres, and tiny New England towns dot the landscape in between. Camping here is often remote, secluded, and full of wildlife, busy in their native, untouched habitat.

Franconia Notch is perhaps the most frequented state park within New Hampshire’s White Mountains, but there are other areas of this National Forest that are well worth your time exploring. There are a number of campgrounds in this area; these 5 are just a few of our favorites. And while this list primarily consists of more remote-style camping, there are options for all kinds of campers.

Wild River Campground

Image from The Dyrt camper Paige B.

This small, remote campground located near the Maine border is a lesser-known gem of the White Mountains. There is fishing in the Wild River, as well as hikes of all levels, with trailheads beginning directly from the campground. There is an easy, meandering trail that follows the Wild River, appropriately named the Wild River Trail.

For those looking for a winter camping experience in the White Mountains, Wild River is not accessible and campers should look elsewhere. The Dyrt camper Sarah C. warns, “The campground is 5.5 miles off of state route 113 down a gravel Forest Service road that is well maintained, however the road is gated and not maintained in winter.”

There are 12 first-come, first-serve sites. Fresh drinking water, firewood for sale ($6/bundle), and a camp host complete the list of amenities. There are clean pit toilets.

Fees are $18/night.

Sawyer Pond

Continuing the remote trend of White Mountains camping, Sawyer Pond is a hike-in wilderness camping area on a small pond tucked into the mountains. With access available year-round, Sawyer Pond is a secluded tent camping site a short distance from a parking lot. It can be popular on the weekends, and as these are first-come, first-serve campsites, you’ll want to arrive early.

There is one shelter that sleeps six, as well as six platform tent sites. Sawyer Pond is a favorite among novice backpackers, or those that prefer not to hike a long ways to reach their tent site. The campground is about a mile and a half from the parking lot.

Sites are first-come, first-serve free sites. There are no bathroom facilities and there is no water.

Waterville Campground

Image from The Dyrt

Located in the heart of the Waterville Valley, Waterville Campground is a preferred basecamp among campers for the plethora of hikes and outdoor recreation in the Pemigewassit Wilderness Area of the southern White Mountains. Fishing, swimming, white-water rafting, and hiking, are all popular among campers here. Waterville Campground lies on the Mad River, and is home to over 200 species of bird, as well as moose, bear, dear, and other native wildlife.

The Dyrt camper Daniel S. makes note of this areas lack of campgrounds, saying “Theres not much for other camping right here unless you’re going backcountry.” While Waterville Campground offers campers in this area a bit more in terms of amenities, for a fun evening, he recommends enjoying a nearby resort. “Black Bear Lodge is always good for a night. Enjoy the heated indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub.”

$18/night. Amenities include restrooms and drinking water. There are no showers or laundry facilities, but those are available within a short driving distance.

Dry River in Crawford Notch State Park

Crawford Notch State Park is an unbelievably beautiful pocket of the White Mountains, and Dry River Campground is the ultimate basecamp for exploring it all. For families with young children, StoryLand is nearby and a well-loved family attraction. For local trails that are a bit easier on smaller legs, Arethusa Falls and Willard Cliffs, among others, are a short drive away. The river that runs along the campground is also popular for wading, playing, or for swimming.

Rates start at $25/night. There are lean-tos, flat tent sites, and a few more secluded sites that offer privacy from other campers as well as a platform. There is water, as well as restrooms with showers. As for a camp store, plan on coming prepared with all your necessary camping food and gear. The Dyrt camper Jean C. shared valuable information on this, saying “There’s no camp store…if you haven’t stocked up in advance, your best bet for groceries when coming from the south/east are Grant’s Supermarket at the junction of 302 & 16 or your choice of major supermarkets in Conway.”

Hancock Campground

Image from The Dyrt camper Kate R.

You can’t explore the White Mountains and not take a drive on the breathtaking Kancamagus Highway. And if you drive on the Kancamagus (The Kanc, to locals) you’ll drive right by Hancock Campground, one of six national forest campgrounds along The Kanc. This area of the White Mountains is notoriously busy, especially on holiday weekends in the fall, when leaf peepers come to revel in the glorious views of the changing hillsides. Unfortunately for RVers, Hancock Campground is only open to the tenting community. For those lucky enough to find a spot here, this means that light and noise pollution is to a minimum. Nighttime views of the stars can be pretty outrageous.

$24/night. Facilities include potable water and pit toilets. Sites are first-come, first-serve, and they can fill quickly. And a point of advice that most campers at The Dyrt included? If you’re lucky enough, snag a spot along the river. As The Dyrt camper Elliot B. points out, “You’ll probably want to be closer to the river, because there is traffic along the road (not awful, but still semi-constant.”

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