The 5 Best Places to Camp in Connecticut this Summer

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: August 6, 2022
© iStock.com/Daniel Hanscom
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If you are visiting Connecticut or want to spend some time in nature at one of the amazing parks, there are many great camping options. You can hike and camp along the Appalachian Trail. You can swim, fish and paddle in Lake Waramaug and if you want to visit Mark Twain’s House and Museum in Hartford you can camp just outside the city so you can get the best of both country and city life. Here are the 5 best places to camp in Connecticut this summer.

1) Appalachian Trail: Riga Shelter

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Hike along the Appalachian Trail and spend the night at the Riga Shelter.

©EWY Media/Shutterstock.com

LocationNW corner of the state, just NW of Salisbury
Nearest CitySalisbury, CT
RV/Tent/CabinsJust tent camping, one shelter, two platforms
Picnic Tables at each siteNo
Fire Pit at each siteNo
AmenitiesPrivy, water from the brook (need to boil/purify)
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsFirst come first serve
What makes it one of the bestThe freedom of hiking along the Appalachian Trail!

For some, hiking the Appalachian Trail is on their bucket list, for others they make regular trips to the trail to experience the wonderful views and wildlife. The trail just clips the NW corner of the state but offers the same experience as the 2,190 miles of trails available. 51 miles of the trail passes through Connecticut and includes sights like St. John’s Ledges (waterfall like rock formations), the red Amesville Bridge, Lion’s Head overlook and Bear Mountain (the tallest summit in the state.)

Along the way you can camp at the Riga Shelter which is almost at the 1,500 mile marker. It is in the far NW corner of the state and provides one shelter, two platforms, two tent sites and a group site. There is a privy onsite and bear box with water access from the brook (water needs to be boiled/purified before drinking). If you are lucky you may run into a white-tail deer, porcupine or barred owl, but hopefully you will not run into a black bear!

2) Hammonsasset Beach State Park

Whimbrels on the beach
One of the best places to camp in Connecticut this summer is Hammonsasset Beach State Park. Try surf fishing for flounder, bluefish and striped bass.

©Safa Shahidi/Shutterstock.com

LocationSouthern Connecticut on the Long Island Sound
Nearest CityMadison, CT
RV/Tent Sites550 sites, some with electric and water hook-ups
CabinsAvailable for 7 night minimum stay
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteNo, individual fire pits not provided
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, a camp store, dump stations, and water
Pet FriendlyNo pets allowed
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestCamping right by the sandy beach!

If hanging at the beach is more of your gig, then camping at Hammonsasset Beach State Park is the place for you. It has 2 miles of sandy beach and a boardwalk for walking or biking. There are 550 grassy campsites to choose from for some amazing camping right near the sandy beach. Try surf fishing for Blackfish, bluefish, flounder, weakfish and striped bass. Hammonsasset is located right on the Long Island Sound near Madison, CT.

3) Hartford: Nelson’s Family Campground

Happy fisherman with walleye fish
You could enjoy a delicious walleye dinner at one of the fine restaurants in downtown Hartford, and then try to catch one of your own to fry up at your campsite!

©FedBul/Shutterstock.com

Location25 miles SE of downtown Hartford
Nearest CityEast Hampton, CT
RV/Tent Sites400 sites (Big Rig Friendly), all have water and electric, some also have sewer
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, laundry, swimming pool, playground, camp store
Pet FriendlyYes (registered campers only, no pets allowed from visitors)
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestBest of both worlds, close to the city but full of camping fun!

If you want to visit the sites in downtown Hartford (and some amazing restaurants) but you want to spend the night under the stars, you could stay at the Nelson’s Family Campground for the best of city and country life. Spend some time exploring Hartford’s rich history like the Mark Twain House and Museum, Gillet’s Castle or the Connecticut Science Center. Then head back to your campsite for a relaxing evening. The campground is 25 miles SW of downtown and has Tent sites as well as RV sites with full hookups.

There is a large swimming pool, playground, rec hall, arcade and on-site store. A short drive away is Lake Pocotopaug for more outdoor fun and some of the best fishing, especially for pikes, walleye and catfish. You better plan a week long camping trip at least to have enough time to do it all! Definitely one of the best places to camp in Connecticut this summer!

4) Great Falls: Lone Oak Campsites

Great Falls Connecticut
Many people call the Great Falls the “Niagra Falls” of New England.

©iStock.com/Jennifer Yakey-Ault

LocationNW corner of the state near the Appalachian Trail
Nearest CityFalls Village/Canaan, CT
RV/Tent Sites469 sites, some with full hookups
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, laundry, swimming pools, hot tub, lounge, restaurant, market, rec hall,
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestFun activities for all ages!

One of the best waterfalls to visit in Connecticut is the Great Falls on the Housatonic River. It is a bit of an adventure to get to the falls but not a long hike, just be sure to get accurate directions since the GPS coordinates seem to give folks trouble. When you get to the falls you will see the 50 foot long falls with water gushing across the expanse. Check the website to see the best time to visit since the falls are dam controlled there are times where water is diverted away from the falls. Other times when the water is released it is an amazing site. There is not camping right at the falls but 10 miles NE is the popular Lone Oak Campsites.

Lone Oak is spread out over 250 acres and has just about everything! There are 469 campsites with a wide range of options from basic tent camping to full hookups. The campground has 2 large pools a hot tub, recreation hall with ping pong, pool, bingo and dances. The campground hosts themed weekends in the summer and lots of activities. Fun for all ages!

5) Lake Waramaug State Park

Lake Waramaug Connecticut
Rent a canoe and explore the beauty of Lake Waramaug.

©iStock.com/Daniel Hanscom

LocationNW shoreline of Lake Waramaug in western CT
Nearest CityNew Preston
RV/Tent Sites74 woodded and open sites overlooking the lake
Rustic CabinsTwo room cabins with a double bed in one room and two bunk beds in the other, no kitchen or private bathroom
Picnic Tables at each siteLocated throughout the park, some right on the lake
Fire Pit at each siteNo
AmenitiesRestrooms, showers, fishing, swimming
Pet FriendlyNo pets allowed
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestCampground is right on the lake!

One of the best places to camp in Connecticut this summer is Lake Waramaug. This large lake and campground has a swimming beach, kayak and canoe rental, concessions and great fishing. If you do take a canoe out watch the shoreline for beavers, snapping turtles, herons and maybe you will even see (or hear) a loon. The campground is right along the edge of the lake and has 74 wooded and open sites. There are six rustic cabins you can rent with each having plenty of space with two rooms for 6 people total. If you get up early enough you can make yourself a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise over the lake!


The Featured Image

Lake Waramaug Connecticut
© iStock.com/Daniel Hanscom

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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