Your tent is packed, your sleeping bags aired out and rolled, and your cooler is filled to the brim. There's nothing like some outdoor time in New England to bring you back to nature. Massachusetts is home to some of the most idyllic spots to pitch a tent. Check out the following 15-deemed the best in the state by tried and true campers.
With campsites available deep in the woods or along the edge of one of four of the park's 16 ponds, campers can get away from it all at Myles Standish State Forest in Carver. Featuring 372 sites for both tents and small trailers, there's plenty of space to get back to nature in this tranquil setting. There are a few yurts available to rent if you don't travel with your own accommodations, but make your reservations early, as they tend to go fast. New restroom facilities were built in 2013, and the campground features a dishwashing station as well.
If swimming, kayaking, and fishing are part of your perfect camping experience, you'll love camping at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. Eight fresh water ponds-called kettle ponds-grace the campground. You won't find streams or rivers that feed them, however. They were created by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, which makes their depth dependent upon local precipitation. Hiking trails, including one that leads to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, are perfect for taking in even more of the beautiful woods. There are 400 campsites located on more than 1,900 acres.
Located in West Point, Massachusetts, Horseneck Beach State Reservation is located along Horseneck Beach, and affords campers the best of both worlds-the ocean and the woods. Not far from the very popular Provincetown, you and your family can spend time at the Cape without it costing an arm and a leg. Six hundred acres of both barrier beaches and salt marshes with just 100 campsites means reservations are often needed well ahead of time. Climb the sand dunes, swim, and wind surf-all while camping. Not every campground offers these amenities.
Located in the Berkshires, Pittsfield State Forest affords June campers 65 acres of wild azalea fields. There's plenty to look at the rest of the season, too. Cascading streams, Berry Mountain, a wealth of flowering shrubs, waterfalls and more make it as beautiful as one would expect in this location. Berry Pond, one of the highest natural bodies of water in Massachusetts, is a favorite of fishermen-and women, too. Thirty miles of hiking trails allow avid hikers to go all the way into eastern New York state. Campsites are limited, so reserve well ahead of your intended camping trip.
Perfect for city dwellers who want to experience some tranquility and a healthy dose of nature, Wompatuck State Park is just a 35-minute drive from downtown Boston. Featuring 260 campsites and 12 miles of paved paths for both hikers and bicyclists, campers can go fishing and boating, too. Visit Mt. Blue Spring while there and bottle some delicious drinking water. Restrooms and showers are available.
Another of Cape Cod's fine offerings for campers, Shawme-Crowell State Forest in Sandwich is perfect for campers who don't like to rough it as much as others. The restroom and shower-to-camper ratio is high, meaning no one has to "go" in the woods-unless they want to, of course. Seven hundred acres of forest and 15 miles of hiking and bike trails afford active campers plenty of options.
Yes, that's Florida, Massachusetts, for those who fear a misprint. Savoy Mountain State Forest is actually located in both Florida and North Adams, and offers campers 45 sites on which to set up camp. There are also four year-round cabins that may be rented for a unique camping experience. Two ponds means fishing, swimming, and canoeing take place in season. Lots of excellent hiking trails afford some amazing glimpses at the flora and fauna in the dense forest.
Only 20 miles north of Boston, Lorraine Park in the Harold Parker State Forest in Andover makes it even easier for city dwellers to enjoy a camping getaway. Featuring 89 campsites that come with picnic tables and grills, enjoy a weekend-or perhaps even longer-enjoying the great outdoors. This is one of those campgrounds where you'll quickly learn to rough it, however, as there aren't any electric or water hook ups.
Even though the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has just 10 campsites, many of them sit close to the water and all offer campers 2,700 acres of beach and marshland to explore. This, too, is a rather primitive campsite with no water or electric hook ups, but for those who don't mind roughing it, it's well worth it.
This is the first campground to ever grace a Massachusetts State Park. Otter River State Forest in Baldwinville features 85 sites shaded by massive pine trees. There are four yurts available to rent, as well as a pond known for reaching temperatures conducive for swimming quite early in the season. Secure one of those 85 sites early on and welcome late spring/early summer in Massachusetts.
Offering 33 tent sites on four different islands, Boston Harbor Islands is a beautiful area for camping from June through September. Bumpkin Island features 10 rustic campsites and one group campsite. Lovells Island has seven rustic campsites and one group site. Grape Island offers 10 rustic campsites and one group site, and Peddocks Island has six rustic campsites, one group campsite and six yurts available to rent. Rustic camping on Boston Harbor Islands means there are no showers available, and all trash must be carried out with you when you leave. There are compost toilets and some picnic tables. Scheduled passenger ferries from Boston, Hingham and Hull transport campers to their islands.
For excellent views of the Hoosac Range, Mount Greylock and the Green Mountains, rent a tent site at Clarksburg State Park. With 45 sites available, campers can enjoy miles of hiking trails, bird watching, water views and more. One of the ponds features a designated swimming area. Amenities include a modern shower and toilet facility.
Yes, you're still in Massachusetts. Who knew the state had so many towns you've perhaps never heard of? Beartown State Forest affords campers the chance to see a bobcat, deer, or perhaps even a black bear. Offering several campsites that are wheelchair accessible, this opens up the world of camping to just about everyone. Swimming, boating, and fishing on Benedict Pond abound during the late spring and summer months, making this an excellent place for some family fun.
Bordering the Connecticut state line, Granville State Forest in Granville is near many local tourist attractions, and features a wooded camping area with clean, modern amenities including toilets and shower facilities. Pitch your tent, then walk along the Hubbard River, where a waterfall drops 450 in just 2.5 miles. Once the hunting and fishing grounds of the Tunxis tribe, the land became farmland before reverting back to a forest.
Camp on a scenic lake peninsula at Tolland State Forest, where the Otis Reservoir is the center attraction for a wide variety of in-season pastimes. A sandy beach, public boat launch, picnic area and more greet campers, as do hiking trails and some of the best trout fishing in the state. Stay for up to two weeks or pitch your tent for the weekend. Either way, you'll enjoy the beauty of this popular camping destination.
Whether you want to rough it at a rustic campsite or enjoy some of the luxuries of home, you can't go wrong when camping in Massachusetts. The mountains, ponds, lakes, and the ocean all offer tranquil opportunities to experience nature at its best.