Warm breezes filter through Acadian forests, sending lush green leaves dancing with their reflections in the cool blue lakes below. Pristine swimming holes and natural rockslides abound if you’re willing to stop the car with curiosity when you see a trail leading off the road. Perched on the top of a cliff jutting from a densely wooded mountainside trail, surveying miles of endless rolling green hills, you can almost smell the sun beating down on you. This is summer in New England.
Average summer temperatures in this far northeast corner of America are a balmy 80-85 degrees. The land encompassing the six-state area is diverse: there are old-growth forests, crystal clear rivers and lakes, mountain ranges crisscrossed with trails, tranquil farmland and countryside, dramatic rocky coastline and soft, sandy beaches. Boston is the travel hub of the region. Drive south for a more populated, vibrant cultural and historical experience, and drive north for some of the country’s most remote and pristine natural areas.
If you’re the type who likes to spend your summer nights outdoors, here are six campgrounds to check out in the New England region: one for every state.
Connecticut: Black Rock State Park near Watertown, CT, is tucked into the rolling hills of the Highlands region. It offers swimming, hiking, scenic views, and Native American legend. It is a designated trout park with surrounding rivers stocked frequently. Hikes from the park range from 30 minutes to all day.
Bonus: Nearby Mt. Tom State Park offers great beaches for swimming and a hike up to a stone lookout tower.
Rhode Island: East Beach in the Ninigret State Conservation Area is one of the least developed beaches in Rhode Island, and offers 3 miles of pristine barrier shoreline as the backdrop for its 20 campsites. It offers windsurfing, saltwater fishing, and shellfishing, and is rumored to be one of the best places in the area to see the stars glowing in the night sky.
Massachusetts: Boston Harbor Islands State Park offers a group of rustic campsites spread across four different islands. One of the islands, Peddocks Island, has six available yurts. This is a unique camping experience for adventurous travelers who want to blur the line between car camping and backpacking. The only way to the islands is by ferry, and you must leave your car on the mainland. Peddocks is also the only island with drinking water, so when venturing out to camp on the other islands you must pack in your own water.
Vermont: Will-O-Wood Campground is a family-oriented campground on the shores of beautiful, 300+ foot deep, 5.5 mile long Lake Willoughby, a glacial lake nestled deep in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom between Mt. Pisgah and Mt. Hor. The campground itself boasts a swimming pool, ball courts, a playground, pool and ping-pong tables. Bonus: A few miles down the road is the trailhead for Mt. Pisgah, where you can hike to cliff lookouts for world-class views of Lake Willoughby. Bring a headlamp and don’t miss the sunset glowing across the lake and over the ridges beyond. Back at the trailhead, just across the road is a great rock from which to take a refreshing plunge 20 feet down into the deep crystal waters of the lake.
New Hampshire: Eastern Slope Camping Area is near the sleepy mountain village of North Conway, a mecca for Eastern rock climbers and skiers. It is a large campground with over 200 spacious sites, and dogs are allowed — even at one of the two beaches.
Bonus: Just outside the village of Jackson you can make the 2.5 mile hike to Doublehead Cabin, a rustic log cabin that sits atop the north summit of Doublehead Mountain at 3,053 feet. This vantage point offers views of Mount Washington (6,288 feet), the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States, and other peaks in the Presidential Range.
Maine: Recompense Shore Campground, on the coast near Freeport, is spread over 626 acres with 3 miles of shoreline.
This campground boasts a combination of recreation and education, as it is set on a working organic farm that offers kids’ camps and farming programs. They have bicycle, canoe, and kayak rentals, and three oceanfront cottages available along with tent and RV sites.
Starting on May 1 and running through the end of the summer, you can win a $100 Roanline gift card by reviewing campsites in these incredible New England states. Go to thedyrt.com/contests on May 1 to see more.
Featured image from The Dyrt camper Meag F.