Don’t be fooled by the relatively small size of the Granite State – New Hampshire boasts vast forests, beautiful lakes and friendly locals, as well as plenty of idyllic campsites. For winter enthusiasts, the White Mountains are perfect for snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and romantic carriage rides. But it’s especially the summer and shoulder seasons that have an awesome variety of choices for outdoor enthusiasts – mountain biking and hiking are favorites, lakeside stays offer superlative fishing, and there is also ziplining, off-roading, birdwatching, falconry and golf. Happy campers won’t want to miss our pick of the top spots to go camping in New Hampshire – bookable on Culture Trip.
Blissfully quiet and scenic, Colebrook is a small community located in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods. It’s bordered on the west by the Connecticut River and home to Beaver Brook Falls Natural Area and its rolling waterfall to the pond below. The Coös trail – built in 1803 – runs from Colebrook to Dixville Notch following the ancient Abenaki Indians route. Check out the lively Black Bear Tavern and the Coös Brewing Company for refreshments.
Yearning to unleash your adventurous side? Look no further. This campsite is in a suitably stunning mountain location with views across New Hampshire’s Great North Woods. Bring a telescope to view the dark skies and Milky Way at night. Ride the Wilds trails are nearby – perfect for mountain bikes and four-wheel-drive vehicles. Hikers have hundreds of miles to explore via the Coös Trail with water activities on offer at Dixville Notch and Connecticut Lakes.
Tucked away in the southwest corner of the Granite State, Greenfield State Park is a 400-acre (160ha) park with ponds, bogs and a hiker-friendly forest that extends to the shore of Otter Lake. Off-highway recreational vehicles are increasingly popular and there are several trails here where you can push them to their limits. New Hampshire is home to Ride the Wilds – the largest interconnected trail network in the northeast and one of the largest in the country.
This is waterfront camping at its best. Riverside Reflections is on the Contoocook River among a woodland area in the renowned Monadnock region. On-site, campers have access to a small beach area including a swim platform and a 30ft (9m) lily pad, as well as complimentary floatation devices. There is an option to cool off on the tire tube at the river’s edge in front of this private site. Kayaks, canoes, rowboats and a paddle boat are also available to use. The site has portable toilets and sun-powered showers.
Pillsbury State Park is on the eastern edge of the town of Unity – named as such because the town initially had significant disputes about ownership and boundaries. Pillsbury is one of the jewels of the state park system for its primitive wilderness, home to wildlife such as moose and loon birds. Though heavily wooded, it is sprinkled with several ponds and wetlands which are optimum for canoeing and kayaking. Crossed by a network of hiking and mountain bike trails, the park is an important link in the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, a 51mi (80km) hiking trail.
Two college students meet, fall in love and decide to share their rural life with the world. That’s the love story. With fireflies flitting around while you’re snuggled by the campfire, the other part of the name is self-explanatory. This beautiful pastoral location is a camper’s delight as it has its own private field close to old-growth wood trails, stone walls and even a nearby stream. This is an active working farm with chickens, sheep and a horse – plus farm-fresh eggs, juicy blueberries and tractor rides are available. Camp toilets and solar showers are also available on-site.
Wellington State Park is next to Newfound Lake – one of the deepest and clearest bodies of water in the state. Here you’ll find the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire State Park system with trails and picnic areas along the shore. The peninsula nature trail offers designated fishing areas and spectacular views of the lake’s cliff and Belle Islands. A well-marked hiking trail leads from the park providing hikers access to Goose Pond, Bear Mountain, Welton Falls and Mount Cardigan.
The location is what sells this campsite – it’s 10 minutes from Bristol, 15 minutes from Newfound Lake and Wellington State Park and 45 minutes from Cardigan State Park and Lake Winnipesaukee. Located on 18 acres (7ha) of woodland, campers can unwind and immerse themselves in nature – and it’s only a short walk to the river for swimming, fishing and tubing. Enjoy a spacious, comfy canvas tent and stay warm with a wood stove, campfire and grill on site.
Bounded on the north by the Ossipee Mountains and the southwest by Lake Winnipesaukee, sprawling Tuftonboro includes the villages of Tuftonboro Corner, Center Tuftonboro, Melvin Village and Mirror Lake. Melvin Village is known for its marina and is popular for antique shopping. The Melvin and Beech rivers run through the town – with Lower Beech Pond, Mirror Lake and Dan Hole Pond notable for water activities. The highest point is Mount Shaw at a whopping 2,900ft (890m).
Located in the Ossipee Mountains, the stream-fed pond on this campsite is great for swimming. These mountains are what is left after three eruptions – 10 million years apart – which have formed a famous ring dike. Globally, only three mountain ranges have this type of landscape. Hike to vantage points over Lake Winnipesaukee or Mount Shaw with views to Mount Washington. The site has a composting outhouse, screened-in gazebo, propane heater plus outdoor shower fed by gravity water – and woodworking shops nearby.
The historic town of Andover includes the villages of Potter Place, Cilleyville, East Andover and West Andover – in addition to the town center – and is known for being home to the Ragged Mountain State Forest as well as two historic covered bridges. The northern slopes of Mount Kearsarge are in the southwest of the town and lie within the watershed of the Merrimack River. Noted for the famous Proctor Academy, there are also antique shops, Greek revival architecture and the Potter Place railroad station.
This campsite, on 100 acres (40ha) of undeveloped woods, is perfect for stargazing, where the owners have developed a sustainable living community and organic farm. Near the Rail-to-Trail system, it’s also superb for biking or going on long walks, taking in surrounding towns, lakes, hiking trails and quaint picnic spots. This wilderness is known for black bears, so keep an eye out. Only 300yd (275m) from running water, campers are surrounded by oak, maple, birch and pine trees.
This secluded meadow campsite is tucked in the woods among rolling meadows and offers great hiking. There are views of Mount Kearsarge with Pleasant Lake only four minutes by car, Bucklin Beach a 10-minute drive and Little Lake Sunapee just beyond New London. New London itself boasts amenities such as a summer theatre, grocery store, restaurants and a farm stand. Within 10 to 30 minutes are Wadleigh and Winslow State Parks and Mount Kearsarge State Forest Park for further hiking opportunities.
The spectacular 72ft (22m) drop of the Beaver Brook Falls is the main feature of this diminutive 7-acre (3ha) park in Colebrook. There’s a choice of two trails to take you up to the base of the falls and there are picnic benches on the grassy area between the road and the falls. Fed by the Connecticut River, this area of New Hampshire’s Great North Woods is spectacular for mountain views – as well as canoeing, kayaking and swimming.
This spectacular setting in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods has views of the nearby Sanguinary Mountain, Mount Gloriette and Dixville Peak. If you have a four-wheel-drive or mountain bike, the camp keeper recommends riding it for an unforgettable experience. This campground is on the Ride the Wilds trails system – giving you access to routes for hiking, biking and four-wheel drives.
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