Where to Find the Best New Hampshire Camping

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Camping in a cabin in New Hampshire with kayakers on the inland lake.

Looking at a map, New Hampshire may seem like a sliver of the state, but it’s big on New Hampshire camping opportunities. From its mountainous areas with broad, undeveloped forests to its ocean shore, our fifth-largest state is an outdoors lover’s dream.

Let’s find out where to go to best discover this beautiful slice of New England.

What Does New Hampshire Offer for Prospective Campers?

One of the great things about New Hampshire is that it’s reasonably compact, so it’s easy to canvass the different regions. The mountain peaks of east-central New Hampshire, for instance, are just an hour’s drive or less from its short but scenic seacoast. This makes it easy to pivot from backcountry hiking to beachcombing, and maybe even some fishing or whale-watching.

And because there are so many undeveloped areas, it makes for pleasant, relaxing travel along the way. In addition, New Hampshire offers almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor activities, often within proximity to charming towns and villages.

New Hampshire, USA, during the fall

RV Camping Options in New Hampshire

There are a few different ways to get close to New Hampshire’s amazing and varied terrain. You won’t find enormous expanses of federal lands like you see out west, but New Hampshire does have almost 800,000 acres of national forest.

National forest campgrounds are a dependable option for campers, and some offer full or partial hookups. State park campgrounds are a similar way to go and have just as many options. For those who might enjoy a few more comforts, we’ll also steer you toward a few private campgrounds. 

A note: New Hampshire is popular for winter sports like snow skiing, but most campgrounds are open only during the summer months.

National Forests

The vast White Mountain National Forest has 23 developed campgrounds and additional areas for free dispersed wilderness New Hampshire camping. Campground amenities range from basic rustic to some with full service. The park has 1,200 miles of hiking trails, according to the National Park Service (NPS), including 160 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

It’s not all hills and forests, though. According to the NPS, the park has 12,000 acres of wetlands, 67 different lakes, and 4,750 miles of streams.

The vast forest landscape of White Mountain National Forest.

Pro Tip: We can help you make the most of your time in White Mountain National Forest.

State Parks

New Hampshire has 23 state parks with camping facilities. Some have full electrical and sewer hookups, while others have electric and water and a dump station. Typical amenities are very basic, such as a picnic table, fire ring, showers, and flush toilets.

In addition to RV campsites, most state parks in New Hampshire offer primitive tent camping, too. Many of them also have yurts and/or cabins for rent. The state park facilities are generally open for camping from March through October and have pretty strict policies on pets.

Private Campgrounds

Private campgrounds in New Hampshire range from mostly primitive like you’ll find in parks to some with a few more comforts. Some call themselves resorts and offer extras like swimming pools and hot tubs. Spend a little more for access to fitness centers and spas, and you might even be able to rent a golf cart.   

Top Tier New Hampshire Camping Options

Sorting through what New Hampshire offers in camping, we’ve come up with our top seven recommendations. If boondocking is your preference, we’ve got you covered, too. We’ll also point you towards some other fun and memorable things to do in each area.

#1. White Lake State Park 

Address: 94 State Park Road, Tamworth, NH 03886 

About White Lake State Park: The White Mountains region dominates central New Hampshire, and that’s where you’ll find this 902-acre state park. You can camp along the north shore of a lake formed by a glacier in the shade of native trees called pitch pines. The crystal-clear White Lake is popular for swimming, boating, and trout fishing, and has a footpath around it for hiking.

Campground Amenities: There are 203 dry New Hampshire camping sites (with dirt surfaces) with grills and picnic tables. There is water available and a dump station. The campground has well-maintained bathrooms, showers, and two playgrounds, but the lake is the main attraction.

Things To Do Nearby: On a scenic drive in the surrounding area, you’ll want to check out the Whittier Covered Bridge, built in 1870. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike up the 3,490-foot Mount Chocorua or take in the scenic waterfalls along Champney Falls Trail. The Tamworth Distillery offers tastes and tours of its small-batch spirits in town.

#2. Hampton Beach State Park 

Address: 160 Ocean Blvd, Hampton, NH 03842  

About Hampton Beach State Park: Hampton Beach State Park is near the mouth of the Hampton River, and is the only place on New Hampshire’s coastline that has an RV campground. The 50-acre park has a dedicated swimming area with lifeguards and bathhouses.

Unlike many state parks, there are no primitive New Hampshire camping facilities at all. The parking lot-style campground is flat and level. It’s also right along the rocky waterfront which is close to the sand beach. Sorry, dogs aren’t allowed, partly because rare birds nest on the beach.  

Campground Amenities: There are 28 full-hookup sites, and they only allow RVs capable of hooking to water, power, and sewer. In other words, it’s not open to other kinds of rigs such as pop-ups or tents. The sites have tables and grills, bathrooms, and a general store.

Things To Do Nearby: Within easy walking distance, Hampton Beach is a lively resort area with a boardwalk, arcades, and carnival-style food booths. You can hear live music on summer nights at the Seashell Stage public amphitheater. Big-time acts perform inside the historic Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.

You can do some whale watching from the beach. If you’re lucky, you’ll time your visit to coincide with the annual sand sculpture contest.

#3. Pawtuckaway State Park 

Address: 128 Mountain Rd, Nottingham, NH 03290 

About Pawtuckaway State Park: At around 5,000 acres, Pawtuckaway State Park is one of New Hampshire’s largest state parks and is located about 40 miles east of Manchester. It’s made up of forests and marshes and has a 600-foot beach along its lake.

One of the main attractions is the field of boulders that glaciers deposited here ages ago. The extensive hiking trails include a mountaintop observation tower, which offers sweeping landscape views.  

Campground Amenities: The campground has nearly 200 sites with no hookups, only fire pits and picnic tables, but many sites view the water. The few amenities include water, bathrooms, and coin-operated showers. In addition, there’s a boat launch, and you can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats.  

Things To Do Nearby: Pawtuckaway is also popular because it’s less than an hour’s drive from Hampton Beach. The nearby communities offer lots of interesting diversions, too. Architecture lovers may enjoy visiting the Canterbury Shaker Village and its restored buildings. Charmingfare Farm is a working farm that doubles as a zoo and offers hayrides and other fun activities for all ages.

#4. Danforth Bay Camping & RV Resort 

Address: 196 Shawtown Rd #4154, Freedom, NH 03836  

Check out Danforth Bay and its deluxe camping cabins.

About Danforth Bay Camping & RV Resort: Near eastern New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, Danforth Bay is a private campground is open year-round with 300 forested waterfront sites.

It’s open to all ages, while the more upscale Bluffs at Danforth Bay is designed for a 50-year-old and older crowd. Hiking and biking are popular activities on the grounds, and so are fishing and swimming in the pond.  

Campground Amenities: Full hookups (20, 30, and 50 amp power). Extras include cable and Wi-Fi, a game room, boat and golf cart rentals, and a general store. There’s also a dog run. Danforth Bay welcomes pets that are “well socialized, friendly and happy,” according to its website.  

Things To Do Nearby: This is waterfall country, so plan to scope out as many as possible, including Arethusa Falls with its 176-foot plunge. Kancamagus Highway, a scenic byway in the form of a loop, is especially popular with leaf peepers in the fall.

Weather buffs will want to check out Mount Washington Observatory and its meteorological museum. Tax-free name-brand retail outlets are nearby in North Conway.

#5. RiverBrook Campground and RV Park 

Address: 1120 Rumney Rte 25, Rumney, NH 03266  

About RiverBrook Campground and RV Resort: This private resort is on the Baker River in western New Hampshire and has nice views of the mountains. RiverBrook Campground stretches 400 yards along the river near the town of Rumney and is convenient to Interstate 93.

There are lots of opportunities for hiking and rock climbing nearby and swimming, boating, and fishing. Sites are large (65 feet by 30 feet) and grassy, and can handle big rigs.  

Campground Amenities: RiverBrook has full hookups and free Wi-Fi. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and the campground has direct river access. Additional amenities include a store and laundry facility, plus a playground and areas for basketball and horseshoes.   

Things To Do Nearby: A place called Polar Caves has to be cool, right? Formed by glaciers, this group of caves is a natural curiosity you’ll love to explore. Another one, the Lost River Gorge, is where you can hike among the ravines and do some mining for gemstones. The Hobo Railroad, also known as the Plymouth and Lincoln line, offers 80-minute scenic rides.

A motorhome camping by a lake in the summer.

Pro Tip: These are the 10 best RV parks in New England you have to visit!

#6. Haystack Road, White Mountain National Forest 

Address: Haystack Rd, Bethlehem, NH 03574  

About Haystack Road: This location is one of the national forest’s sites for free dispersed New Hampshire camping, and there are nearly a dozen sites. They are well marked, and rangers appreciate it when campers don’t spread out into unauthorized areas.

There are no trash cans, so (as always) be sure to follow “leave no trace” practices strictly. It’s quiet and peaceful, but the road nearby has lots of traffic. This area off Haystack Road (FM 304) and near Twin Mountain is almost in the center of the forest.  

Campground Amenities: This is dry camping with a fire ring and a nearby nature trail. There are no services and no water or toilets.   

Things To Do Nearby: The quaint hillside village of Bethlehem, almost surrounded by forest, is worth a relaxed visit. For a scenic drive with an elevation of around 1,900 feet, follow U.S. Route 302 through a mountain pass called Crawford Notch. The Zealand Hut Trail is a gorgeous 2.5-mile backcountry hike that includes a view of an amazing waterfall.

#7. Gale River Campground, White Mountain National Forest 

Address: Gale River Trail, Bethlehem, NH 03574  

About Gale River Campground: A few miles west, near Beaver Brook Picnic Area, is another of the forest’s boondocking areas. There are nearly a dozen spacious sites at Gale River Campground that offer seclusion, but they are better for smaller rigs.

It’s a beautiful site, with decent cell service, that’s just 15 minutes outside Bethlehem. This dispersed camping area is thickly shaded and is close to, but not directly on, the river.  

Campground Amenities: There are no improvements to the land here other than fire rings.  

Things To Do Nearby: Ride the aerial tram at Cannon Mountain up to 4,080 feet for the best views. The Mountain Washington Cog Railway is another way to see the heights. The Whale’s Town Waterpark in Lincoln is a smooth and slippery way to beat the heat.

Tent camping on the top of a mountain

Enjoy the Best New Hampshire Camping

New Hampshire’s beautiful beach areas, sandwiched between Maine and Massachusetts, are a big draw in the summer. But so are its lush mountainous areas upstate. With its federal lands, state parks, and private campgrounds, you can explore New Hampshire in a way that best suits your style.

Are you going camping in New Hampshire?

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