7 Unique Campgrounds to Stake Out This Summer

As soon as the weather becomes friendly, I immediately start thinking about where I could go camping. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that camping has been a tradition in my family for a long time or maybe I just need to get out of the city for a while, to get a breather from all the ruckus and busyness. There are so many campgrounds to choose from all over the US and with a bit of research, you’ll quickly find those that suit your needs best.

For some, spending a couple of days in a tent, completely secluded from everyone is what camping is all about, and others prefer a bit more comfort while enjoying nature. Let’s take a closer look at 7 unique campgrounds to stake out this summer in the upstate New York and why they’re worth a visit.

1. Cedar Point County Park

© Robert Foster. Cedar Point County Park.

You’ve probably heard of Cedar Point County Park if you’ve never been and it’s for all the good reasons. This park makes for one of most renowned campgrounds on the east coast thanks to the fusion of different sights it offers. It’s located in East Hampton, Long Island and you’ll need about two hours to get there from New York City (NYC), but the trip will be worth it. Whether you want to try tent life or you’re coming in with your RV, Cedar Point will easily accommodate you. From the park, you can marvel at the vastness and beauty of Gardiners Bay and don’t forget to take a closer look at the legendary, though abandoned lighthouse. What I like about Cedar Point is that there are plenty of activities for campers to enjoy while they’re there, in case all the magnetic views and nature aren’t enough.

From Toronto: 9.75 hour drive, 962 km
From Gananoque: 7.5 hour drive, 748 km

2. Cherry Plain State Park

Cherry Plain State Park might not seem too big with its 175 acres at your disposal, but you can be sure that you won’t lack any space. In fact, this campground isn’t ridiculously popular or crowded, so you can enjoy your peace and quiet while basking in the sun. The park caters to the campers who come with RVs with 10 trailer sites, as well as to more experienced campers who like to wing it in their tents (10 lakeside tent sites). What I particularly like about Cherry Plane is the beautiful sandy beach found on Black River Pond, as well as picnic grounds around the lake that are just perfect for spending a day in nature surrounded with your loved ones and good food. The adventurers will have stuff do to here too – hiking, fishing, biking, swimming, all you have to do is choose. In the winter, you can go ice fishing here, which is a special kind of thrill.

From Toronto: 6.5 hour drive, 650 km
From Gananoque: 4.5 hour drive, 430 km

3. Peekamoose Mountain

© Robert Foster. Peekamoose Mountain.

Now let’s talk about a real, though quite basic campground that you shouldn’t visit unprepared. Unlike with parks, here you’re allowed to camp for free, but that means that you can’t expect any perks that you could find in other more posh campsites. What you see is what you get at Peekamoose Mountain, so be ready to go into full-on Boy Scout mode. Whatever you need you will have to bring with you, as you’ll be pretty much be staying in the wilderness and at some point, you’ll have to leave your vehicle and continue on foot to find a campsite with an amazing view. Peekamoose Mountain is excellent for all hiking aficionados out there and it’s quite unique due to its simplicity and roughness.

From Toronto: 6.75 hour drive, 646 km
From Gananoque: 4.75 hour drive, 465 km

4. Hither Hills State Park

If you’re more of a water person, so to speak, then Hither Hills State Park can easily be one of the perfect campgrounds for you. You’ll find this camping gem in Montauk, about two and half hours from NYC and you can be sure there’s a lot to see here. This is a truly beautiful and popular campsite, which is why it’s wise to book your spot as soon as possible, as it can be quite busy during the summer. One of the biggest attractions of Hither Hills are Walking Dunes – sand dunes that can be as high as 70+ feet that move around thanks to all the wind coming from the ocean. There’s a short hiking loop trail (3/4 of a mile) that will lead you straight to the Dunes and back where you came from and you will enjoy the surroundings just as much as the dunes while walking. I always strongly suggest bringing hearty food and water when you go to Hither Hills, as the salty ocean air and walking will get you tired quickly, so you want to have supplies to replenish yourself and get back to your campsite happy.

From Toronto: 10 hour drive, 973 km
From Gananoque: 8 hour drive, 759 km

5. Cranberry Lake Campground

© Robert Foster. Cranberry Lake Campground.

This campground can be found in the northwest of Adirondack Park and it’s another simplistic yet magnificent place where you can go to leave all the noise and technology behind. Because it lacks many of the amenities that super modern campgrounds offer, Cranberry Lake Campground isn’t crawling with campers all the time, so you can easily find a place to make your own, at least for a couple of days. Nature here is nothing short than mesmerizing and this is a paradise for hikers and bikers who are always on the hunt for trying out new things. If you’re a dynamic person who isn’t afraid to get close and personal with nature without having to deal with touristy attractions and bustling, Cranberry Lake will not disappoint.

From Toronto: 5 hour drive, 445 km
From Gananoque: 2 hour drive, 158 km

6. North Pole Resorts

Ok, let’s talk about this fancy campground for a minute. No, it’s not actually located anywhere near the North Pole, but you’ll find these camping resorts in the Adirondack Mountains. It’s important to mention that the campground itself is open from May to October, while you can reserve a cabin anytime you want. You can choose between tent and trailer camping here, and if you’re so inclined, you can spring for a cabin in the woods. North Pole Resorts offer many amenities, including two outdoor pools, picnic areas, amazing 100-acre playground for your little ones to enjoy and yes, even internet access. Seeing that the resorts are located on the bank of Ausable River, activities like boating and fishing are very popular, as well as hiking and mountain biking.

From Toronto: 6 hour drive, 534 km
From Gananoque: 3 hour drive, 247 km

7. Taconic State Park

© Robert Foster. Taconic State Park.

Last, but certainly not least I want to mention Taconic State Park, which is a bit mainstream, but it’s still awesome for a camping experience. Open skies and untouched nature are what attracts thousands of campers to this park, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quiet secluded place to just be in silence. You can come here for a picnic or fire up your barbecue, or you can choose to stay for a couple of days and experience all the riches Taconic State Park has. What made a special impression on me are Bish Bash Falls, where you can take a dip if the weather allows. Also, being a passionate hiker, I have to recommend going on a hike on the small section of Appalachian Trail available from Taconic State Park, you will be awestruck.

From Toronto: 6.75 hour drive, 695 km
From Gananoque: 4.5 hour drive, 422 km


Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Robert Foster is a professional personal trainer, certified in kettle bells, TRX and group training. He’s an experienced mountain climber and a cycler that writes about his experiences on www.prosurvivalist.com from time to time.

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