Take a break from your everyday routine and connect with nature and the great outdoors – go camping this summer! The best place to go camping is New Hampshire, with its natural beauty and its wide range of activities for all tastes and interests. There’s a lot to explore and experience in New Hampshire: world-renowned hiking trails; pristine rivers and lakes for swimming, fishing and boating; historic landmarks; and fun attractions, ranging from festivals, theme parks, and retail shopping to microbreweries, wineries, museums, garden tours, golf courses, sporting events, theaters, award-winning restaurants and more. New Hampshire’s proximity to many New England cities, including Boston (MA), Portland (ME), Providence (RI) and Hartford (CT) make it an easy trip for a weekend or longer. Interstates 93, 293 and 89 make many campgrounds easily accessible. To find a campground, visit www.nhlovescampers.com.
“From tent camping to RV camping to renting a cabin, or yurt, you can go camping your way in New Hampshire. There are plenty of options to suit your specifications and budget. New Hampshire has more than 180 private and public campgrounds in a variety of settings – along a river, lake, ocean, or mountain or close to a town or city,” said Gregg Pitman, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa).
“Camping in New Hampshire is a new experience each time you go,” adds Pittman. Each of the seven regions has a unique personality and access to activities and attractions for the entire family.
Monadnock Region: Small villages, farms, and rolling countryside are set to the backdrop of Mount Monadnock, one of the most frequently-climbed mountains on earth and a popular camping area. Go hiking or biking at Miller State Park in Peterborough, or check out Pisgah State Park in the areas of Hinsdale, Winchester and Chesterfield, for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and boating. Area events include the Hillsborough Balloon Festival in July, the Cheshire Fair in Swanzey in August and the Winchester Pickle Festival in September.
Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region: Situated on the west side of the New Hampshire, many campers come to this region to enjoy its natural splendor via foot, bicycle, horseback, kayak, boat, and ATV. Hikers enjoy the Appalachian Trail and Mount Sunapee, plus hundreds of other scenic trails ranging from easy to expert; golfers enjoy lush greens; and boaters and swimmers enjoy the nine-mile Lake Sunapee. The Mount Sunapee Resort Outdoor Adventure Park features Zip Lines, a Tree-top Obstacle Course, plus hiking, concerts, Segway tours, and brewfests. The region’s scenic byways provide motorists and cyclists with spectacular vistas and landmarks such as the Pier Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the world.
Lakes Region: The largest of the region’s 273 lakes and ponds is Lake Winnipesaukee, encompassing 72 square miles, 274 islands and a 200-mile shoreline. Other popular waterways are Squam Lake, Winnisquam Lake, the Merrimack River, and Newfound Lake. Water enthusiasts enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming, and waterskiing. On Winnipesaukee, cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington, or the M/V Sophie C Mail Boat, the oldest floating U.S. Post Office. Hikers can explore trails of all skill levels, and enjoy incredible views from Mount Major in Alton and Rattlesnake Mountain in Holderness. Families enjoy Squam Lake Science Center in Holderness, The Loon Center and Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, and The Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro. Weirs Beach offers nightlife and entertainment, including one of the last drive-in movie theaters in the U.S. The region’s central location also makes it an ideal base for day trips to visit other regions.
South Central Region: This region is home to the vibrant cities of Concord, Manchester and Nashua. Campgrounds are nestled along scenic byways, yet just a short distance from museums, fine dining, theater, attractions and shopping. Enjoy history and art at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, the Capital Center for the Arts and the Museum of NH History in Concord. Performing arts come alive at Manchester’s Palace Theater and the Dana Center for the Humanities at St. Anselm College. Families enjoy Canobie Lake Park in Salem, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, and Manchester’s SEE Science Museum and Aviation Museum of NH. There is tax-free shopping at the Merrimack Premium Outlets, and malls and specialty shops throughout the region. Delight in scenic drives throughout quaint New England towns, and enjoy “Rail Trails” in Goffstown and hiking at Mt. Uncanoonuc also in Goffstown. Tours and tastings are offered at the Anheuser-Busch Plant in Merrimack, where the famous Budweiser Clydesdales are stabled.
White Mountains Region: Avid hikers seek out this region for its 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, home to 48 peaks over 4,000 ft. as well as the northeast’s tallest peak, Mount Washington at 6,288 ft. But you need not hike to enjoy the area’s grandeur. Spectacular views are yours via the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, as well as gondolas, chairlifts, aerial tramways and even helicopter tours. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound. Take a drive along the 30-mile Kancamagus Highway and National Scenic Byway (Rte 112), or enjoy a ride aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad. Canoe, kayak, swim or fish in the Saco River. Zoom down a zip line at White Mountain-area resorts such as Bretton Woods, Cannon, Cranmore, Loon, and Wildcat. Bicycle or mountain-bike along meandering paths or challenging trails. Play tennis or golf at one of the region’s nine courses. Bring a picnic and relax at Arethusa or Franconia Falls or the spectacular Flume Gorge. Family attractions range from Story Land, Santa’s Village, and Fort Jefferson Fun Park, to the Polar Caves, Lost River, Clark’s Trading Post, and the Mt. Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center.
Great North Woods: Stretching up to the Canadian border with 97 percent of the land covered in forest, the Great North Woods region offers some of the best hunting, hiking, and rock climbing in New Hampshire. Here, trails outnumber highways and wildlife-watching becomes a sport of its own, with the moose population upward of 3,500. The Connecticut lakes and the upper Connecticut River offer great trout and salmon fishing. Scenic drives are the region’s leading attraction, so bring a camera to capture the natural splendor. Head up Route 3 to view rolling farmland along the Connecticut River, and enjoy a picnic at Beaver Brook Falls in Colebrook. Drive across Route 26 and you’ll pass the historic Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, where many first-in-the-nation primary votes were cast in the Ballot Room. Then head to Lake Umbagog, where bald eagles nest. Further south on Route 16 is Thirteen Mile Woods, a stretch of untouched forest along the Androscoggin River, a favorite for kayaking, canoeing and fishing.
Seacoast Region: This region features 18 miles of Atlantic coastline, with long sandy beaches, working ports, offshore islands, and popular resort towns that date back nearly 400 years. At the hub of the region, the old port and downtown areas of the city of Portsmouth are home to brick-paved streets, historic buildings, art galleries, specialty shops, sidewalk cafes and award-winning restaurants. Strawbery Banke Museum provides an historic recreation of life in Colonial days. A short drive away, Redhook Ale Brewery offers tours and casual dining. Tour the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, Great Bay Discovery Center and Great Bay Wildlife Reserve in Greenland, or Flag Hill Winery in Lee. History buffs will enjoy Exeter, one of the first four settlements in the state and its capital during the Revolutionary War.Hampton Beach offers shopping, dining, and a variety of entertainment, such as concerts and weekly fireworks throughout the summer. For a quieter experience, visit Wallis Sands State Park or Jenness State Beach. Explore walking trails or enjoy a picnic at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye. The historic and remote Isles of Shoals, located six miles off the coast, is a great day-trip option.
About the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association (NeHaCa)
Established more than 50 years ago, by New Hampshire campground owners the primary purpose of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association is to promote camping in New Hampshire. NeHaCa is comprised of 143 campgrounds that offer overnight or seasonal campsites. NeHaCa publishes and distributes over 190,000 copies of its annual camping guide, The New Hampshire Camping Guide.
Written by Carol Fusaro