Local (near Keene, New Hampshire) Campsite Research – Day 1

Lee and I didn’t have any camping arranged this weekend, which made us sad… so Lee had the idea for us to visit local campsites and see for ourselves what was in the area.  Great idea in concept, really tough to execute.  We spent from 8:30am until 7pm and only saw 10 sites.   Of the 10 sites only one was an absolute winner. The others were a mixed bag.  Along the way we struggled with navigation (despite two iPhones, and Ipad, and a GPS), did a pretty lousy job of communicating, and generally got on each others nerves.  Keep that in mind when you read the reviews, we definitely weren’t in the best frame of mind.  That being said, we didn’t give up, and the very last one we visited was fantastic. So we are going to try it again tomorrow (Clearly we are gluttons for punishment and slow learners.-Lee) but I am going to route our map this time 🙂  The reviews are as follows and they are in the order we visited them. 

Hinsdale campground – 4 South Street, Hinsdale NH
Hinsdale is an old mill town and the campground is outside of the town on the back side of a trailer park.  The campground is separated by a manned gate and Passport America is accepted at the site.  The area also is monitored by CCTV cameras and the amount of security made me believe there had been issues in the past.  The big draw of the site is numerous ATV trails and there were numerous campers there.  The sites are all level  and clean and every one has a lamppost in front of it with the site number on it, which makes it like a little neighborhood.  Tons of very friendly seasonal people  who were talking to each other in the common areas.  There is also some tree division between every site. It is right across the street from the Connecticut river although there is no direct access from the campground  If you are looking for a reasonably pried seasonal ($2100) or are into ATV ing this might be the place for you.  Perkins Rating: Not for Us – Your Mileage May Vary

Forest Lake Campground -331 Keene Rd, Winchester NH
Gated entrance for after hours.  We received some unfriendly stares when we first pulled in but others were overly friendly.  I say overly friendly because as one guy noticed one of our headlights was fogged up and discolored, and told Lee he could fix it with toothpaste.  We were definitely being “checked out” by the residents.  The campground is right on a nice lake  with many seasonal sites with semi-permanent structures attached to them. There is a small meadow perfect for a large group  and some nice lake view sites if you are ok with just water and electric.   Tons of golf carts and most of the sites are really on top of each other although most are at different elevations so you get a bit of a view.  Visitors have to have a code when they are leaving to stop guests from taking advantage of the lake and not paying their day fee.   Perkins Rating: Not for Us – Your Mileage May Vary

No Name -100 Athol Rd Richmond NH. Big field,  no office,  wooded on the edge and open in the middle.  We saw several tents and some RV’s but where you would pay I wasn’t sure.  Power hookups but no sewer.  Perkins Rating: No Way 

Laurel Lake Campground (No website)  – 340 East Lake Rd Fitzwilliam NH
Fitzwilliam is a little spit of a town whose big distinguishing feature is that John Wayne used to vacation there.  The general store was closed with a paper sign on the door, but we also saw a sign for canoe race on beautiful Laurel Lake .  This campground was a huge disappointment.  It is a beautiful piece of property with terrific lake views that has completely fallen into disrepair.  The website is tremendously misleading, showing the only piece of the property that was somewhat well-kept.  The permanent trailers are falling down and scary looking, and there were numerous big pieces of equipment strewn throughout the campground which is being over taken by weeds.  It reminded me of a nice big piece of property in the country where the owner had cars up on blocks in his front yard.  The caretaker was polite and  let us wander.  Unfortunately none of the sites have sewer unless you’re seasonal and all the paths and roads are overgrown.  Again such a shame because it was a mostly wooded piece of property.  If I had a ton of money, I would buy it and fix it up.  Sadly that is not an option so … Perkins Rating: No Way 

Cold Springs Camp Resort 62 Barnard Hill, Weare NH

On the drive to Weare, I saw a man walking a horse down the side of the road…gotta love that, it’s always a good sign.  Weare is a nice country town with locally owned restaurants and businesses.  The campground is close by and has a nice entrance sign and three very nice pools (one with a kids fountain and another for toddlers) right at the entrance.  There were hundreds of  golf carts and a hayride was pulling out as we pulled in.  Also there was a DJ at the pool and he was announcing the day’s activities.  By the time we pulled into the store area, Margharittaville was playing poolside and I was entranced.   It’s very clean and obviously family oriented and the place was packed.   Tons of professional staff and many very nice seasonal sites.  What appears to be the older section of the campground has lots of  wooded sites although they were a little on the small side for us.  Our favorite site was W14A  although W14 would also work well.  In addition we thought we could make 149 and 151 work as they were on the larger side.  This campground would be great if you are a grandparent and want to bring your grandkids as they have a lot of activities and wonderful seasonal spots.  Their prices are on the high side $60 for Super Sites and a seasonal rate of $3,400 but if you can afford it and needed a kid friendly place this would definitely be for you.  Perkins Rating:  Worth Trying

Autumn Hills Campground  – 285 S Stark Hwy Weare, NH
Nice sign with a  nice entrance.  Large  group play area for kids and they were playing some water balloon games and there was a decent pool.  There are  several non-seasonal full hook ups at the campground and huge lots that are not right on top of each other.  Very wooded as well.  A few of the lots have a water view and our favorite (94) was very close to the lake entrance which would be perfect to launch kayaks or a canoe.  Unfortunately a metal chain link fence separates the sites closest to the water from the lake so you can only gain entrance in one central location.  Not sure what the purpose of that is, but really cuts into the experience.  Other sites that would work for us were T5 (elevated with a lot of trees), 90 (smaller site but with a view of the water), and 14 and 11 which are close to the kids area but nice big lots.  Essentially a nice basic campground without a lot of frills reasonably priced at $42 a night.  This was my second favorite site  Perkins Rating:  Worth Trying

Mile-Away Campground 479 Old West Hopkinton Rd, Henniker NH
A small Book store with 30,000 books close by the entrance got my attention and the sign stating 2 cars per site really sparked it.  I would like my daughters to be able to visit me and the second car could come in handy.  There is a heated saltwater pool which seems to be a big attraction and the campground is made up of mostly seasonals who seemed nice.  The camp allows no outside wood, which is a huge drawback since I am looking for something local and there were only two sites that could work for us since most of them were very small.   Nice miniature golf course, numerous golf carts, a beach with boats for rent and sites 20 and 21 are pull throughs right near the beach.  That being said most of the sites were very small and kind of on top of each other.  One site we liked, Lee pulled out a surveyors wheel and showed me how much room the trailer would take and it left little to no room on the site for hanging out.   This was Lee’s second favorite of the day but I am on the fence about it.  Perkins Rating:  Worth Trying

Sandy Beach RV Resort 677 Clement Hill Rd, Contoocook NH
All sites are full hookup and the people are very friendly.  Lots of seasonals and any of the sites can be seasonals or rentals if there is no seasonal currently in them which I like because the weekenders aren’t all batched together in the “crappy” part of the campground.  Neat, clean and tidy sites with a lot of trees but the sites are very close to each other.  Almost all the sites close to water are taken by seasonals but we saw several large sites are favorites being D30 and D35.  There’s also meadow parking if you prefer and the beach is nicely laid out and there were a ton of people in and around the water.  This campsite seems less communal than others, although it may have just been the time of day we toured it and we wouldn’t want to try it unless we got one of the larger sites.  Perkins Rating:  Worth Trying

Keyser Pond Campground 1739 Old Concord Rd,  Henniker Nh
The address wouldn’t work in GPS and  google maps took us to the wrong place also.  We called the campsite and got not great directions and finally flagged down a very nice policeman who showed us where the site was.  Once we found it we thought the people seemed nice.  It has a great playground and mini golf  and a couple of the sites have water views.  Site 82 is great but has a steep incline and would be very tough for us to get our 32 footer into.   Most of the sites were wooded, the seasonals were a bit run down but it was quiet and the small beach looked nice.  Essentially if you had a smaller camper it would be a nice place to go especially if you like to canoe or kayak.  Perkins Rating: Not for Us – Your Miles May Vary

Oxbow Campground 8 Oxbow Rd Deering, NH

Just when we were about to give up, we decided to try on more and it was outstanding.  By far the favorite of the 10 sites we looked at today, the campground has a little bit of everything.  Good signage,  nice people at the desk , and a lot of seasonals but interspersed throughout the campground.  There is a side meadow if you prefer that type of camping but numerous wooded sites, some near a dam and others near a babbling brook.  It was spacious, neat, and clean, and most importantly the sites are not on top of each other.  The sites have really nice fire pits, a swimming pond,  fishing pond, and a boating pond.  There was a party house and a graduation party was happening and the people seem to know each other and are friendly to each other.   There are several level sites either in the middle or on the edge away from folks.  Like I said a little bit for everyone.  Our two favorite sites were 121 and 118.  We liked it so much we rented 118 for a few weeks from now.  120 would also work fine and if you wanted something different site 62 has a babbling brook next to it and site 38 has a great view of the landscape.   Really like the campsite and can’t wait to give it a try. Perkins Rating: Reserved a site

Time to make the route for tomorrow…hopefully we will see more like Oxbow.


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Trial Run – Sunday

Trial Run  –  Last Day

Sunday morning came and with it the realization we needed to depart by noon.  (This is another one of those weird things you would never think of, but it’s just like a hotel. They need to clean the…..dirt ground, I guess, for the next camper. – Lee) It had taken forever to get set up so we weren’t sure how long it would take to tear down. (It ended up taking less than 90 minutes, not bad for our first time).  After some brief discussion we decided to pay for an extra day. This would give us an unlimited amount of time to pack up and finish organizing and would give the kids a chance to visit and see the camper.   Another really good decision.  I think it cost us an extra $48, but at this point it was well worth it.

(At some point during the day, Trace called to me from inside the camper “Something’s wrong.” in a tone that could only mean a spider had somehow gotten into the trailer, or the grey water tank had filled up and was starting to back up into the shower stall. It turned out it was the water in the shower stall thing. Really disgusting smelly water. No big deal, though, I had purchased a sewer hose kit at Camper’s World the day before. But I hadn’t hooked it up yet, because I figured we wouldn’t need it until it was time to drain the tanks when we were ready to leave. Apparently, we use a lot more water than most people, because we had filled that sucker up in just two days, without even using the shower!!! Or, it could be that it wasn’t empty when we started. Hard to tell. So, I hooked it up. Word to the wise, even if the valves are closed when you take off pipe cover, a little of that water is going to leak out. Onto your hands. It is not pleasant. If you have a small child, ask them to take off the cover. Or wear gloves. I washed my hands off, and then set about hooking up all the pipes. The good news is, it’s pretty easy. The bad news is, however much hose you have, you need more. I strolled down to the office/camp store/ice cream parlor/craft center and sure enough, they had a fine selection of the stuff RVers need. I bought another hose kit, and hooked everything up. Once the tanks were drained, the shower smelled better. – Lee)

My oldest daughter stopped by on her way to work and parked her car in our drive.  There were signs stating visitors had to register, but since it was going to be a very quick visit I didn’t think they applied.  Not 2 minutes after she pulled up, a roving campground employee stopped and politely told her she had to move her car to the main office parking lot, and sign in at the main office.  I was surprised, because folks had largely left us alone and I didn’t think anyone was paying attention. At first I was a tad annoyed, but then I thought about it and it makes sense.  The seasonal folks are there all the time and the temporaries like us probably bend the rules all the time.  It’s quite an investment for them, like a summer home, and I don’t blame them for protecting their environment.  Needless to say when our youngest daughter came, we had her park at the office and went down to get her. A quick word about the office/store.  They have a great selection and the prices aren’t that bad.  Toilet paper in particular has to be a special kind and you can’t find it anywhere but a camping store or Walmart.  Obviously there are certain things you do not want to run out of, so pay a little extra and get what they have for the convenience.   Also wood.  I didn’t know that you can’t bring out-of-state wood to a campground.  Because we were close we brought some of our own, but I didn’t have enough small pieces.  Lee got tired of seeing me struggle and bought a bundle.  It was $8 a bundle and very dry, but I still need to look for a solution to that problem.

I want to talk a minute here about division of labor because I think it is very interesting.  Because it is a small space, you are on top of each other unless you divide up the jobs.  We naturally gravitated to the things we were best suited for which in our case tended to be very traditional.  Basically I took care of the inside and Lee took care of the outside.  (I would like to point out the inherent unfairness of this. Assuming your reading this inside, take a look around, and get a feel for the size of “inside”. Now go “outside” and compare. Outside is much, much bigger than inside. Seems unfair to me, I’m just saying. Also, there are less mosquitoes, and dirt and gunk and stuff inside. And it hardly ever rains inside. -Lee)

I found this interesting because in our everyday lives, Lee and I have always shared the various household roles.  When he had a job where he traveled, I took care of the kids, cooking and sort of doing the cleaning 🙂  When I started traveling a lot, the roles switched and he took the primary role with the kids and house.  It’s worth mentioning that Lee is a better housekeeper than I could ever be and has organization in his DNA, but I do think I was a more inspired cook when I was taking my turn in the early years.  Because he is a master organizer, I left organizing inside of the cupboards to him and I think you will agree that the results were fantastic.   Having a husband who can do a little bit of everything is really a huge benefit. (It doesn’t hurt that he is also clever, and handsome, and manly. – Lee)

Lessons Learned

  • Pay for the extra day if you feel you need it so you are not rushed with your first time packing up.
  • Check the fill level on the Grey water tank and Black water tank regularly to avoid unpleasant surprises
  • Wear gloves when messing with the sewer hose (yes we actually had to learn this lesson)
  • Divide the duties based on what you are best at and try to work as much as possible in separate physical spaces during the tear down.
  • The visitor rules are for real; follow them.
  • You can’t bring out-of-state wood to a campground.
  • Make sure the trailer is firmly on the block of wood when you park.


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