10 Top Rated Campgrounds in New Hampshire

Encompassing the highest elevation in the northeastern U.S., the White Mountains are largely protected by public lands, both state parks, and the vast swath of the White Mountain National Forest. The campgrounds in each of these offer hundreds of campsites for both tents and RVs and offer different types of facilities, from fairly primitive sites to parks in more developed areas. These White Mountain campgrounds are especially popular because they are close to excellent hiking and rock climbing opportunities, as well as some of the state’s most popular tourist attractions, such as the Mount Washington Cog Railway and several other mountaintop climbs. Elsewhere in the state, several parks and private campgrounds sit on lakes with swimming beaches and water sports.

You can reserve sites online in advance at most of these campgrounds. The National Forest campgrounds offer significant discounts to holders of America the Beautiful and Golden Age passes, and the allowance is valid for up to eight people of any age. New Hampshire State Parks only allows a maximum of two adults and four children per site, with additional charges for additional people, so larger families or those with adult children are better off at National Forest campgrounds. Many places you might think of as campgrounds are RV parks with seasonal sites only and no overnight stays or tents allowed. Nearly all state and National Forest parks have sites for both, though they don’t always have hookups for RVs.

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1 Lafayette Place Campground

Lafayette Place Campground

Lafayette Place Campground is located in the heart of one of New Hampshire’s two most beautiful notches (glacier-sculpted mountain passes) and is part of Franconia Notch State Park, a perfect base for hiking (the Appalachian Trail runs through the notch) and the many explore natural attractions of the White Mountains. The eight-mile valley between the high peaks of the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges includes the Flume Gorge, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, the New England Ski Museum, a swimming beach at Echo Lake, fly fishing at Profile Lake, a recreational trail for cyclists, several waterfalls and places to spot hawks and falcons. Free interpretive nature programs help campers of all ages learn more about the region’s natural environment. The 97 wooded camping sites for tents and RVs are large and all have fireplaces. The campsite is open all year round, but showers and other services are only open from mid-May to mid-October.

Adres: Interstate 93, Franconia, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/franconia-notch-state-park.aspx

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2 White Lake State Park

White Lake State Park |  Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography
White Lake State Park | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

White Lake, one of the largest campgrounds in the White Mountains, is also the only one in the White Mountains on a lake with a swimming beach. The 203 campgrounds are fairly open, under tall pine trees along the shore of White Lake. Many of the locations have a view of the lake. The lake was formed at the end of the Ice Age, when ice was buried under glacial debris. When the ice melted, it left a depression that was filled with meltwater. You can walk around the lake on a trail to see beaver dwellings and maybe a spot to see, or you can rent boats at the campground for fishing. While the beach and picnic area are also open daily, the number of visitors is limited daily to avoid overcrowding the park. A few larger campsites are reserved for youth groups.

Adres: 94 State Park Road, Tamworth, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/white-lake-state-park.aspx

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3 Pawtuckaway State Park

Pawtuckaway State Park codymcarlson / photo modified
Pawtuckaway State Park codymcarlson / photo modified

The large Pawtuckaway State Park is located in southern New Hampshire, roughly equidistant from the cities of Concord and Manchester and the seacoast beaches. But besides the location, the park has much more to recommend it. Many of the 192 wooded campgrounds overlook the lake, which has a very nice swimming beach, as well as canoe and kayak rentals and a boat launch. Showers and a camp store are added conveniences. In addition to camping sites, there are five cabins, each sleeping up to six people, with electricity, picnic tables, and campfire rings.

Pawtuckaway State Park has a wide variety of hiking trails, leading to a low mountain peak with a fire tower, a large beaver bog, and – the highlight – a boulder field dotted with huge icy erratica that were left here by retreating glacial ice as it melted at the end of the ice age.

Adres: 40 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park.aspx

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4 Sugarloaf Campgrounds

Sugarloaf Campgrounds Northfoot Adventures / geposte foto
Sugarloaf Campgrounds Northfoot Adventures / geposte foto

Under a mixed hardwood canopy along the banks of the Zealand River, deep in the White Mountain National Forest, Sugarloaf I and Sugarloaf II are twin campgrounds operated by the US Forest Service. Most campsites are large and well-segregated, most with well-designed fire rings for campfire cooking. Sugarloaf II has a hand pump for water, so most campers here just carry Sugarloaf I’s water, which is fitted with spigots.

Both are popular with hikers, who don’t mind the remote feel of the well-spaced sites, nor the lack of showers. The trail on Sugarloaf Mountain – a ridge-topped peak with 360-degree views – starts from a few feet away and at the end of the access road is the trail to the 2.8-mile family-friendly riverside walk to Seeland Hut Falls .The AMC Cabin is a staffed overnight cabin on the Appalachian Trail, overlooking Zealand Notch. Just a few miles away is Mt. Washington, with its trails and famous Cog Railway.

Address: Seeland Rd, off US Route 302, Twin Mountain, New Hampshire

Official site: https://www.recreation.gov

5 Bear Brook State Park

Close to the cities of Manchester and Concord and convenient for those who want to mix the outdoors with more urban vacation activities, Bear Brook is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire. The 101 campgrounds are located in the woods around Beaver Pond, where campers can rent canoes and boats. The park has a camp store, showers, wash area, and RV dump; both ice and firewood are available. Forty miles of trails explore the 10,000-acre expanse of forests, marshes, ponds, and hilltops, with trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Two archery ranges are available for those who bring their own equipment.

Also in the park is the Richard Diehl Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum, in one of the most complete CCC camps in the country, intact. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former Depression Core Camp is also home to the New Hampshire Antique Snowmobile Museum.

Adres: 157 Deerfield Road, Allenstown, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/bear-brook-state-park.aspx

6 Jigger Johnson en Blackberry Crossing

Jigger Johnson and Blackberry Crossing Andy Gregorowicz / photo modified
Jigger Johnson and Blackberry Crossing Andy Gregorowicz / photo modified

Six miles apart along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, these two campgrounds are in the White Mountain National Forest. The large tent sites of each are well spaced, carved into a thick forest along the banks of the Swift River. Close to the campgrounds are trails climbing Mt. Chocorua and several other peaks, as well as a trail leading to the beautiful Sabbaday Falls. A short trail connects Jigger Johnson to the Russell-Colbath Historic Site, and Blackberry Crossing is just a short walk from the Albany Covered Bridge.

Blackberry Crossing was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp in the 1930’s and a self-guided tour explores the old camp. Jigger Johnson is much larger, with 74 tent and RV sites, and has more amenities than Blackberry Crossing, with hand pumps for water supply; campers there can use the coin machines at Jigger Johnson. You cannot reserve sites on any of the campgrounds.

Address: Route 112, Kancamagus Scenic Byway, Albany, New Hampshire

7 Umbagog Lake Campground

Umbagog Lake Campground US Northeast Region Fish and Game Service / photos modified
Umbagog Lake Campground US Northeast Region Fish and Game Service / photos modified

Often cited as one of the best places to kayak in New England, Lake Umbagog is located in both Maine and New Hampshire. Some of it is in a New Hampshire state park, and most of it is in the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. The lakeside campground consists of 27 tent or RV sites with electricity and water hookups, 33 secluded sites around the lake accessible only by boat, and three cabins. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats, and the park can arrange transportation to remote locations. There is a beach for swimming, and the fishing is excellent. The park is also best known for wildlife viewing, with frequent sightings of moose, deer, small mammals, eagles, and a wide variety of other birds.

Adres: 235 East Route 26, Cambridge, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/umbagog-lake-state-park.aspx

8 Lake Francis State Park

Lake Francis State Park |  Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography
Lake Francis State Park | Photo Copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

At the northern tip of New Hampshire, deep in a region known as the Great North Woods, Lake Francis State Park is a favorite for fishing and kayaking or canoeing enthusiasts. The campground stretches along the shore of the lake and offers 45 campsites, including 9 with RV hookups and 9 for ATV camping. Departing directly from their campsites here, the ATV riders can hit 1,000 miles of off-road trails in northern New Hampshire. Kayakers and canoeists can explore Lake Francis itself, as well as Connecticut’s long string of lakes that stretch north almost to the Canadian border. These are all connected by the Connecticut River, the headwaters of which begin just at the border. A small camping store offers a surprising supply of staples and supplies.

Adres: 439 River Road, Pittsburg, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/lake-francis-state-park.aspx

9 Lost River Valley Campground

Lost River Valley Campground |  Photo copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography
Lost River Valley Campground | Photo copyright: Stillman Rogers Photography

Although Lost River Valley is a private campground, it is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest and close to major tourist attractions, such as Lost River Gorge, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, and the many attractions in Franconia Notch. The 125 riverside campsites are well spaced and shielded by woodland; some have RV hookups and there are attractive camping cabins. In addition to basic supplies and supplies, you can purchase ice, LPG, and firewood at the camp store. Reservations are not accepted between the end of June and Labor Day, during which time there is also a three-night minimum stay.

Kids will love this campground for its many activities: a sandy beach, paddle boat and kayak rentals, a game room, tennis and badminton courts, basketball, volleyball, and a playground with a wooden train. The two adjacent mountain streams are stocked with brown trout.

Adres: Route 112, North Woodstock, New Hampshire

Official site: https://lostriver.com

10 Greenfield State Park

In the southwestern part of the state, the 400-acre Greenfield State Park includes Otter Lake, where campers can find a 900-foot pool reserved for their use only. Another beach is used by day visitors. Boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent in July and August, and the undeveloped lake is good for fishing. The 252 campsites are spacious, but some are fairly open, under tall trees with little undergrowth for screening. There are no hookups, although RV’s are welcome on the larger sites. About half of the sites can be reserved in advance. Along with the campground and lake, the park includes ponds and bogs, with woodland trails for exploring them. This is a favorite park for those who live close to Mt. Monadnock.

Adres: 133 Beach Road, Greenfield, New Hampshire

Official Site: https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/greenfield-state-park.aspx

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