Best Connecticut River Campgrounds for Camping

Best Connecticut River Campgrounds for Camping

Oct 26, 2023

The Connecticut River flows south from the mouth of Fourth Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, through undulating hills, forests, fields, villages, and residential neighborhoods, descending more than 2,480 feet in elevation as it winds down to the Massachusetts border.

Being the longest river in the New England region of the United States, flowing generally southerly through four states for 406 miles (653 km), a great place. It begins 300 yards (270 meters) south of the US-Canada border and empties into Long Island Sound.

Its basin spans 11,260 square miles (29,200 km2), passing through five states and one Canadian province via 148 tributaries for historic sites, 38 of which are important rivers—providing 70% of the fresh potable water for Long Island Sound, discharging at a rate of 18,400 cubic feet (520 m3) per second.

Not lack amenities like a giant picnic table, a popular hang-out spot, a deep fire pit, stable spacing for tent camping, a wide curved road for easy vehicle access, and public access to the boat ramp. There’s also an arch bridge to give an amazing view for great fishing and even outdoor activities.

A Brief History of Connecticut River Campgrounds

The name "Connecticut" is a combination of the Mohegan term quine-tucket and the Nipmuc word kwinitekw, both of which indicate "next to a long, tidal river" ( the Housatonic river), which was great for water sports. The name "The Great River" first appeared in English in the early 1600s.

Connecticut River Campgrounds

It was also known as the Fresh River and the Verse River by the Dutch, and the European explorers initially spelled the name "Cannitticutt" in French or English. 

The Pequots ruled an area in the Connecticut River valley's southern portion existing as access points during winter sports, ranging roughly from the river's mouth at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, at the northern end of the meadow just below the Big Bend at Middletown, Connecticut.

Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer, was the first European to map the Connecticut River in 1614, sailing as far north as Enfield Rapids beside a sandy beach.

He named it the "Fresh River" and claimed it for the Netherlands as the colony's northeastern border. In 1623, Dutch traders built Fort Huys de Hoop ("Fort House of Hope"), a fortified trading post near Hartford, Connecticut.

Four other Puritan-led groups also inhabited the lush Connecticut River Valley after the second large oxbow, establishing the two major cities that still dominate the Valley today: Hartford (established in 1635) and Springfield (formed in 1636). 

The first group of settlers departed the Plymouth Colony in 1632, eventually settling at Matianuck (which later became Windsor, Connecticut), several miles north of the Dutch fort.

From Watertown, a group departed the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of a location where they might practice their religion openly with a set of removable stairs.

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Parts of the Connecticut River 

The widely spread Connecticut River sets out to four parts:

1. The Upper Connecticut River

The Upper Connecticut River

The Connecticut River begins in Fourth Connecticut Lake, a small pond 300 yards (270 m) south of the Canada-United States border near Pittsburg, New Hampshire, at a height of 2,670 feet (810 m). 

Flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis for 14 miles (23 km), all inside the town of Pittsburg, before widening to designate the border between New Hampshire and Vermont for 255 miles (410 km).

The river descends about 2,480 feet (760 meters) at the primitive campground in elevation as it travels south to the Massachusetts border, where it lies 190 feet (58 meters) above sea level with a portage trail and river campsites for larger groups. 

The "Upper Valley" refers to the area along the river between Lebanon, New Hampshire, and White River Junction, Vermont.

The region's exact boundaries vary, although it is commonly thought to stretch south to Windsor, Vermont, Cornish, New Hampshire, and north to Bradford, Vermont, and Piermont, New Hampshire.

The land encompasses the towns of Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown in New Hampshire, accounting for almost 3% in good times of the state's total land area. 

2. The Middle Connecticut River

The Middle Connecticut River

Started at the bottom of Lake Hitchcock following the most recent ice age. Its lush vegetation and fine, virtually rockless soil are derived from the sedimentary deposits of an ancient lake the mile downriver of the camping area, a simple site. 

This middle section of the Connecticut River is dotted with lush green forests and agricultural hamlets; it looks a lot like a wildlife refuge hovering with a variety of activities, including bird watching and a lakefront park at the Upper Valley land trust.

Nevertheless, the region is most known for its multiple college towns, like Northampton, South Hadley, and Amherst, as well as the river's most populous city, Springfield. 

3. The Lower Connecticut River

The Lower Connecticut River

This segment begins 15 miles (24 km) south of Hartford, in Middletown, with a narrowing of the river and then a sudden turn southeast with low tide, which comes with an important notice. 

The Connecticut River flows through a sparsely inhabited, hilly, wooded region in southern Connecticut before broadening and emptying into Long Island Sound between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme amid flat coastal marshlands like a grassy meadow on a new hampshire with a moderately-sloped cobblestone bank. 

It is the only major river in the Northeastern United States without a port at its mouth due to the existence of massive, changing sandbars, the American Legion state forest, and a mystic seaport for a sunny Labor Day.

Because of this barrier, Connecticut is one of the few great rivers in the United States without a significant city at its mouth.

Major cities on the Connecticut River are Hartford and Springfield, which lie 45 and 69 miles (70 and 110 km) upriver, respectively, against the Connecticut River Conservancy for river highlands.

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Campgrounds by the Connecticut River

Definitely! Four public camping along the Connecticut River at Hurd, Gillette Castle, River Highlands, and Selden Neck State Parks provide basic riverfront sites with fires and pit toilets for river travelers.

The river campsites are open from May 1 to September 30 and the maximum length of stay is one night, only available to canoers and kayakers for an entire family or larger groups with wooded campsites, a new haven loaded with fun activities.

1. River Highlands State Park

River Highlands State Park

River Highlands, about 32 miles from the Massachusetts border, is the first genuine camping area at river campsites. 

There are two campsites, one right on the beach and the other in a clearing set back among the trees. Both include fire rings, both picnic tables were at the beachfront location alongside a small campsite close by to serve as tent platforms.

Reserve America can reserve the spots for $5 per night to the DEEP (plus a $9 "transaction fee" for Reserve America). Each site may come with a maximum of six campers, and visits are limited to one night.

2. Selden Neck State Park

Selden Neck State Park

In 1983, a team led by Kevin McBride from the University of Connecticut excavated on the island and reported in his dissertation, "The Selden Island site in the lower Connecticut River valley produced an early date of 985 A.D. as well. 

Middle Woodland is distinguished by the presence of materials not frequently found in a certain area, in this case, "a sizeable percentage of non-local stone."

Selden Neck, which is only accessible by boat, is primarily a basic camping area on the Connecticut River that can accommodate up to 46 people in four separate campgrounds during the public boat launch site.  

3. Hurd State Park

Hurd State Park

The park is one of the river's boat camping areas for overnight stays on the Connecticut River's three sites. A permit is required and costs $5 (plus a processing fee).

Hurd State Park features over four miles of paths that wind through East Hampton's forests to the Connecticut River. Hurd also includes a wide field, a picnic pavilion, a youth camping area, and pit toilets.

The original 150 acres were purchased by the state as a state park in 1914. The park is named for the Hurd family, who first settled in the area in 1710.

In the 1950s, the family erected a dock on the Connecticut River near Hurd Brook, which was still partially visible. This park was included in the first Sky's the Limit Hiking Challenge in 2015.

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4. Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle State Park

In 1943, it was designated as a state park. In the clearing near the boat launch, there is one campsite for a maximum of 20 campers. 

River campers must leave by 9 a.m. Also, ground fires are not permitted on the Castle grounds, and no fire pits are available. Picnic tables and pedestal grills are available for visitors to use at riverside sites. 

Room for Recreational Activities at Connecticut River Campgrounds

As a camper, we know that recreational activities are vital when it comes to camping. Check out these activities, you might love them.

1. Fishing and boating

The Connecticut River is ideal for canoeing, swimming, motor boating, jet skiing, and other water sports, with 30 miles of navigable waterway and two neighboring boat ramps.

You can launch a boat or canoe from Norm's Marina on Brattleboro Road, just minutes from the campground, for a charge. For more information, visit the Vermont Canoe Touring Center. Yearly prices are available, as well as summer and winter boat storage.

2. Golf

Within 10 miles of the campground, there are three golf courses: Brentwood Golf Course in Keene features two 18-hole courses: the North Course, which features spacious fairways, and the South Course, which features huge greens. 

Pine Grove Springs Country Club in Spofford, New Hampshire, offers nine and 18-hole rounds. Finally, in Bernardston, Massachusetts, you can play the award-winning 18-hole course at Crumpin-Fox Club.

3. Tennis Game

For a moderate membership fee, you can play on one of six well-maintained red clay courts at the Brattleboro Outing Club. Adult and junior members are also welcome to participate in the club's special programs and events.

4. Mountain Biking and  Cycling

The Brattleboro Bicycle Shop rents bicycles by the day. It's a terrific way to explore the area's backroads and take in the sights. BratBike leases hybrid bikes for both paved and dirt routes for the people's state forests. 

5. Trails for Hiking and Walking

Within four miles of the campground, there are numerous wooded paths for walking, hiking, and mountain biking at New Hampshire's Pisgah State Park. This 13,500-acre park, New Hampshire's largest, has excellent hiking routes and a quiet campsite with drive-in access.

6. Fitness and Aerobics

Visit Outer Limits Health Club in Brattleboro to exercise in an organized setting and continue your exercise program while on vacation.

Outer Limits is the largest health club in the area. A monthly membership provides access to a wide range of training machines, free weights, and cardiovascular equipment.

The Connecticut River Valley is home to some of the most prolific agriculture in the northeastern United States, as well as the Hartford-Springfield Knowledge Corridor, a two-million-person metropolitan area that surrounds Springfield, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut.

Special Events in the Connecticut River Campgrounds

Visitors/Tourists are welcome to special events like the Egg Hunt, July the 4th Celebration, Kiddies Carnival featuring games, and even another known as Prizes in July. The seasonal Halloween event is also celebrated.

There’s another called ‘Christmas in August.’ During this gathering, Sata appears with a Christmas present for each camper/visitor, although only at the office. At times, he delivers them at the campground, leaving visitors in awe and a deep sense of the season’s celebration.

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