the dyrt
Rachel P.
Boston, MA
Joined April 2018
Camping is my happy place 😁🏕
Wells State Park

I was very pleasantly surprised by this Park, just tucked away off of Route 49 in Sturbridge. While I didn’t get to explore the entire grounds, I was impressed with how beautiful and shaded the Park was and all the trails it had to offer. Plus, it is practically down the road from Treehouse Brewery, near Sturbridge Village, Hyland Orchard and countless other community amenities.

It is absolutely lovely in the fall, especially on the water at the campers’ beach. Quite calm and scenic. Site 2, right nearby, is a great spot. Fairly large and literally feet away from the beach.

Nicks Lake Campground

Though just moments away from the heart of Old Forge, Nicks Lake provides a nice balance between the hustle and bustle of Main Street and the tranquility of the Adirondacks.

The grounds are a wonderful option for families, not only hosting a number of amenities (i.e. campers beach, hiking trails), but providing opportunities to observe the local wildlife. You can catch sight of deer or a bear at any moment. (Just keep in mind to maintain a safe distance and respect their space!)

The sites were fairly sized and shaded- my family and I reserved sites 38 and 36 for our brief visit. We enjoyed our stay and are likely to return!

Smugglers Notch State Park

I’d say this was one of Vermont’s best kept secrets, except I don’t think it’s exactly a secret. Even in October, the Park seemed full with visitors and Stowe was hopping! Leaf peepers were in full force and the grounds were absolutely spectacular- I really picked the perfect time of year to go. Nights got pretty brisk, but the foliage was breathtaking.

The Park, located along scenic Rte108, has about 20 tent sites and 14 lean-to’s well dispersed throughout the grounds. A couple spots were drive-in sites, accessible to those with disabilities; most had small pathways and/or stairwells leading to their platforms. There was not a bad site within the entire vicinity. All were fully shaded and extremely private. Although, I’d be curious about checking out Sites 1 or 16 next time around!

Bathrooms were clean and the main office sold firewood at the entrance. Facilities are also pet friendly. Plus, there are so many hiking trails and recreational opportunities in and around the Park-from Stowe Mountain Resort to the quaint shops in town and local craft breweries. And even with the Park seeming “full”, the grounds were perfectly quiet, without the incessant sound of generators you find at larger state parks.

Without a doubt, Smugglers Notch State Park is a favorite of mine!

Saco/Old Orchard Beach KOA

Seriously, KOA’s have the friendliest staff ever! My sister and I arrived late Friday evening- after 3+ hours of Boston, holiday traffic- and were promptly greeted by a bubbly employee who happily lead us to our “kabin.” Despite a small snafu getting into our accommodations, she was incredibly gracious and helpful.

K16 was a single room cabin that could comfortably sleep 4, furnished with a full-sized bed and a bunk bed. We were shocked to find that the cabin had electrical, lights and a small heater. Being a chilly fall night, this was greatly appreciated. The Saco/Old Orchard KOA really provided a good compromise between camping and getting a hotel. I may be adventurous and willing to brave the elements, but have to keep the comfort of those traveling with me in mind!

Most of the grounds were dense- comprised primarily of RVs and various cabins. Though there were a few tent sites. My sister and I lucked out with our cabin and the cul-de-sac it was in. It overlooked the woods and was a bit more secluded than many of the other sites. KK15, K3, K2 and K1 are great options as well, located along the wooded edges of the grounds. Tent sites 96, P5, P4, P3, P2 and P1 were also among the best spots, offering full shade and privacy.

We definitely enjoyed our stay-the cabin was comfortable, facilities were clean, and we were within 20 minutes of Portland and 10 minutes to Old Orchard Beach. Not to mention-the on-site Merry Moose cafe was definitely a nice touch! I can’t say this was truly “camping”-but it wasn’t bad!

North Lake Reservoir

Not that they would do this place any justice, but I sincerely wish I had pictures. Unfortunately my last visit here was before smart phones were so commonplace. North Lake Reservoir is one of the Adirondack Park’s best kept secrets. Extremely primitive, you must get off Rte 28, heading toward the old Buffalo Head restaurant and passed there, keep going another 30-40 minutes along a dirt/gravel road until you reach N Lake Rd.

The DEC-run facility offers about 25 primitive sites along North Lake. There is a campers log where you can sign in at the entrance and the sites are dispersed along a long dirt road. A few are drive-in, while many you must park and walk-in. These sites are primitive-no tables, no facilities or running water. Best of all, no generators or electrical hookups for those of us in it to truly be in nature.

I don’t recall the site number, but we had about a 1/2-3/4 mile hike along a narrow path to the site. It was completely worth it- the site was large and right on the water, completely surrounded by trees and shade. The only sounds came from the occasional boat across the lake and loon calls in the morning.

Coming here has absolutely been one of my favorite experiences. If you’re adventurous and up for the challenge and seclusion, I highly recommend checking out North Lake Reservoir!

Seawall Campground

Along the southwestern side of MDI, is Seawall Campground. You’re definitely on the “quiet side” in these grounds, but the landscape is serene, picturesque and absolutely must be experienced.

The grounds are a bit off the beaten path, away from Bar Harbor and the hot spots of Acadia National Park. However you won’t lack for things to do. Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound is just up the road to the north, and Bass Harbor Lighthouse is to the west. There are also plenty of opportunities for hiking and kayaking!

Within feet outside the facility, is a magnificent seawall that peers off into the Atlantic. It is spectacular. The sunrises and sunsets are a nice alternative to Cadillac Mountain, and the day use areas are perfect for picnicking and grilling.

The grounds are well-wooded and rustic, with limited amenities. Water and bathrooms are available, but there are no showers on site. A private store up the road will charge a small fee for several minutes. The Park Service also offers a number of programs at their amphitheater, including a “bark ranger” demonstration- it is hard to get more adorable than that!

Loops D and B are the best areas for tent- camping. Loops A and C were geared toward large campers and RVs, and provided much less shade and privacy. Loop D offers a large number of walk-in sites and Loop B some drive in spots. Old wheelbarrows are provided near the rest rooms in Loop D to assist with hauling gear, but they always seem to be in use.

Sites 78, 87 and 88 were among my favorites in Loop D, though 53, 54, 58, 78, 81 and 86 weren’t bad. I had site 61, but it was smaller and more open than many of the other sites. For those who want privacy without a huge hike, 67 and 71 are nice options. As far as Loop B is concerned, sites 7, 21 and 27 were the better sites.

Whetstone Gulf State Park

Tucked away behind acres upon acres of rural farmland, between the Thousand Islands Region and Tug Hill Plateau, is Whetstone Gulf State Park. The Park was fairly crowded, with lots of bustle, and well-suited for large RVs and campers. My sister and I lucked out that upon a late arrival (8:15pm), the main office was still open for check-in. The staff was plenty friendly and assisted to direct us to our site.

Our site, 14, was large and had access to electricity. The trees were tall and towered over the grounds. We were, thankfully, relatively shielded from a brief rainstorm the following morning. I was a bit disappointed with several items of trash found at my site upon arrival, including a glob of paint from a paintball gun on one of the picnic tables. Despite this, I have to say that this site is one of the better options at this campground in terms of privacy and seclusion, even with the bathrooms only being steps away. Sites 32 and 49 were also decent, but many of the sites were open and visible. Think “woodsy suburb”.

As a whole, the grounds were geared towards big campers and RVs. Being a tent camper who savors shade, solitude and quiet, this is not my favorite of parks. Additionally, the loop closest to the “beach house” contained piles of dirt and gravel, leaving something to be desired.

The grounds do have multiple trails, including a gorge trail, which perhaps may offer some redeeming qualities. Though I will have to save them for a future visit. The beach was closed for the season, but the grounds did offer a nice playground for children.

Bar Harbor/Woodlands KOA

Typically, a KOA wouldn’t have been my first choice. They tend to be campy and incredibly dense-if I wanted to feel like I was “camping in the ‘burbs” I’d go and tent out at my parents’ backyard. I was pleasantly surprised, however, with Bar Harbor/Woodlands KOA!

Having only planned my Maine getaway only three weeks prior, I was without many choices. I caught a lucky break with this KOA. The grounds provided a comfortable, yet affordable option, while being within close proximity to Bar Harbor, Acadia, and all the amenities Mount Desert Island has to offer.

My site, 735, was wooded and while denser than most state or federal parks I venture to, provided the shade and privacy I enjoy when camping. The facilities were clean and updated- which was actually a nice change for me! Much of the programming was of course geared toward kids and family. One such event included a family-friendly “hayride” that embarked at dusk in search of the infamous “bigfoot”. I got the biggest kick out of the 6 foot cryptid running at me while cleaning dishes.

I also need to give a shout-out to the friendly and helpful staff, who assisted me in a pinch when my car battery died! Kindness is never forgotten!

If you and your loved ones find yourself out in this neck of the woods or planning your own Maine getaway, this is not a bad stop! As a tent camper who enjoys that “woodsy” wilderness feel, I recommend sites 624, 701, 702, 707, 710, 715, and 735. 710 is arguably the best site on the grounds, and 624 provided a combination of solitude and convenience with its “camp kitchen” fixture.

You also have your choice of cabins, classic and deluxe, campers, “glamper” tents and group sites.

Lake Wissota State Park

Lake Wissota State Park is located in and around Chippewa Falls, WI. My sisters and I came up here once growing up and had a ball. It was just north of Chicago (near where we lived), so it wasn’t far. From my recollection, the grounds were fairly wooded, had an array of wildlife and there was a ton to do in terms of swimming, hiking, canoeing or just enjoying the sights. Wish I had pictures to share.

Delta Lake State Park

Delta Lake State Park sits at the foothills of the Adirondack Park, just outside Rome, New York. Pretty and well-kempt, Delta Lake is a nice option for those looking to stay close to home and within proximity to civilization. You can enjoy the great outdoors, while only being a few miles away from a restaurant or grocery store.

The campground isn‘t the best I’ve experienced, a bit on the crowded side-similar to a woodsy suburb- but this could have been distinctive to Loop A where I stayed. I stayed in site 35 and was intermixed with all the campers and RV’s, so it got a bit noisy. Not that restful, secluded experience I typically go for, but I should have planned further in advance.

However, what the park lacked in terms of its campground, it totally made up for in its beach, swimming and picnic areas! This place was awesome for hosting a birthday party for my niece and relaxing at the beach/ day facilities. They have plenty of picnic tables, charcoal grills, a huge beach and locker rooms. This is really a great place to spend a day with your family!

Pawtuckaway State Park

About an 1 1/2 hours north of Boston and 40 minutes west of Hampton Beach lies Pawtuckaway State Park. Many of the reviews I perused before my visit balked at how busy the park was, and it was generally busy, but it was beautiful and turned out to be one of my favorite parks.

After you register its about a 1.5 mile drive before you hit the camping areas. The park isn’t completely isolated, but you get that sense that you’re headed out into the wilderness. You’re passing wetlands, trailheads; there are three separate camping areas- Horse Island, Neal’s Cove and Big Island. Each seems to have their own vibe and feel. The park also has a visitor’s beach, playground, store, plenty of boat access and modern bathroom facilities.

I had site 35 on Horse Island. Gorgeous. It’s a longer “driveway” to the site, but it’s like you’re tucked away in this secret hideout. It was decently sized and shaded, with a fire pit and picnic table. It was also right on the water (Pawtuckaway Lake). There was a small sandy access-you’re not supposed to swim anywhere besides the beach-but I didn’t notice anyone enforcing this. For future notice bring water shoes, but the swimming was amazing. So many other campers had their paddle boards and kayaks out-just such a nice amenity. I really lucked out.

Truly, there really wasn’t a bad site in the park-some are better and more private than others, but this is one of the more solid parks I’ve come across. After some exploring, I compiled a list of some other A-list sites; and while it is by no means exhaustive (ran out of time to explore everything) it could come in handy! As far as Horse Island goes, sites 1, 4 and 48 really knocked it out of the park. 7, 16 and 17 are also some pretty stellar options. If you’re looking for secluded, waterfront- these are excellent sites! On Big Island, my go-to sites would be: 90, 93, 95 and 122. 90-95 aren’t waterfront, but they’re incredibly shaded, private and genuinely seemed to have that in-the-wilderness feel. (at least those are my favorite qualities in a good camping spot!) 111 and 112 are also strong contenders. I didn’t get to explore much of Neal’s Cove, so I will be saving that for my next visit.

I definitely recommend this park-yes there are many campers, seems to be a popular place. But it’s well taken care of, offers a host of amenities and has many beautiful sites to choose from!

Otter River State Park

Otter River State Park is located in Winchendon, in north central MA proximate to the NH border. The park was certainly lovely, facilities clean and my stay pleasant. Sites were a bit small. The hiking trails in and around the camp trail were nice, but not overly remarkable. Don’t recall there being a ton to do in and around the neighboring towns. Really, this is a good, low-key spot for families looking to spend a couple days out of the city. It’s about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Boston. Kids can play safely and bike throughout the grounds.

Keewadyn State Park

Keewadyn sits along the St. Lawrence River in the Alexandria Bay Area. You can catch some pretty good views-Canada is literally across the way- but this felt a lot like camping in someone’s backyard. The whole park was wide open with barely any shade or trees. Granted, most are probably there to camp by the river and to partake in some of the area’s recreational opportunities, but I generally prefer to camp in more forested, secluded parks.

On the bright side, there is a lot to do in terms of recreation-boating, kayaking, white water rafting, wine tasting and exploring the local history. The park is safe and family oriented. Wouldn’t be my first choice, but maybe a good option for families with young children.

Dolly Copp

Dolly Copp Camprground is located in the White Mountains of Gorham, New Hampshire. The area in and around the National Forest is spectacular. The trees and ranges are brilliantly breathtaking. The campground itself proximate to Mount Washington and the Presidential Mountain Range. The grounds seem to be closed at the moment due to planned improvements and are managed by the USDA Forest Service.

Though my time was short, I was impressed with the grounds. Unfortunately my site at the time was without shade, but there were plenty around that were well situated and secluded. You need to book early if you want a decent site! Some book a year in advance! Dolly Copp seemed massive and could accommodate a large number of campers. I think are 177 camp sites overall. There is also a scenic river and multiple foot trails around the park.

The weather can be volatile in the park and rains frequently, so be sure to bring plenty of gear and dress warmly if you plan to visit! But I definitely recommend this campground and encourage you all to visit Mount Washington!

Lafayette-Franconia Notch State Park

Lafayette Campground sits at the base of Mount Cannon in Franconia Notch State Park. 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.

I came with friends in June 2017 to hike Mount Cannon. Feels good to say I did it, but the hike is definitely not for novices. It’s exhausting for a pro, which both my friends were, but I was far from that. It was a long haul up and down and took between 6-8 hours in the rain. Ended up breaking a finger and hurting my foot, but I survived. My entire body hurt for days afterwards.

Despite the bad hiking experience, I’d love to visit the grounds at least and explore more of the area. It truly is gorgeous.This time though, I’d be looking forward to a more laid back experience.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen boasts one of New York’s most beautiful state parks! I last camped here in 2012 and absolutely loved hiking along the gorges. Also- the camping was next to perfect. Sites are decently sized and well secluded from one another.

in addition, the park is so well situated within the Finger Lakes and all the various wine trails! Made for a perfect girls weekend! Definitely recommend!

Woodford State Park

Woodford State Park is situated between Wilmington and Bennington VT in the southern part of the Green Mountain National Forest. The park surrounds the Adams Reservoir and happens to be the highest elevation of all the Vermont state campgrounds. Woodford has two beaches- a larger day-use area with tables and grills and a smaller “campers” beach in the park’s third loop. There is also an approximate 2.5 mile trail that loops the reservoir and access to canoe and kayak rentals.

My sister and I stayed in site #2, which was smaller and less covered than some of the other sites. But I was lucky to book a spot just two weeks ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. Despite a couple days of rain, I really enjoyed myself and the park. The grounds seemed well kept and the staff were helpful. Plus there’s also looks to go and see in nearby Wilmington and historic Bennington.

After some exploration, I came to the conclusion that site #23 is the absolute best. It’s my go-to for my next visit! I judge this based on privacy, shade and water views, but of course preference is subjective. Sites #11, 21, 39, 40, 45, 56, 70, 72 and 84 were also pretty great.

Overall, Woodford was a great park and I definitely recommend it, particularly to those looking for dog and/or family oriented recreation!