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The Top 5 Campgrounds in New York for 2020

New York is home not only to one of the largest cities in the world, but also some of the country’s most beautiful nature sites, as parts of Niagara Falls, the Adirondack Mountains, and world-renowned beaches can all be found within the Empire State. One of the best and most affordable ways to experience all of the natural beauty the state has to offer is by staying at one of New York’s many campgrounds, whether that means sleeping in a tent, renting an RV, or even booking a cottage or cabin. As many of the best campgrounds in the state tend to book up quickly, it’s best to make plans for a camping vacation early in the year to ensure you can stay at the campsite you prefer. To help you get a head start on your vacation plans this summer, here are the top 5 campgrounds in New York for 2020.

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5) North-South Lake Campground

Nestled deep within the Catskill Forest Preserve, North-South Lake Campground offers a total of 219 camping sites in 7 camping loops, and campers can visit two lakes with two beaches as well as picnic areas and hiking trails. A number of historical sites, such as Alligator Rock, Kaaterskill Falls, and the former site of the Catskill Mountain House can be found within the park. This campground is likely to be preferred by residents of Long Island or New York City, as it is located in the southern part of the state, making the trip fairly quick compared to other campgrounds on this list.

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4) Cranberry Lake Campground

This campground is located in a secluded part of the state, in the northwest part of Adirondack Park. Though it is located far away from tourist attractions in the state, Cranberry Lake Campground offers more than fifty miles of hiking trails as well as opportunities for biking and rowing. Campers can choose from among 171 campsites, which can support both tents and RVs, and the park includes a fishing pier, an amphitheater, and a picnic area, among other amenities. Visitors can swim in the lake, though no lifeguards are on duty, and can also use power boats, rowboats, kayaks, and canoes. Cranberry Lake Campgrounds is suitable for a wide variety of campers, as it features hiking trails of all levels of difficulty, each with scenic views of a relatively-untouched wilderness.

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3) Hunter Lake Campground

This campground advertises itself as “a scenic campground built on family values,” and as such, it offers a number of activities that the whole family can enjoy. Located in the western Catskill Mountains, Hunter Lake Campground is home to a country store, an enclosed pavilion where kids can play ping-pong, pool, air hockey, and video games, and a sandy beach at the shore of Hunter Lake, where campers can swim and ride in boats. Each of the campsites have water and electricity, and RV sites include a sewer hookup as well. Pets are allowed at this campground, so all members of the family, including canine companions, are welcome to stay.

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2) Alger Island

Also known as Big Island, Alger Island is located on Fourth Lake within the Adirondack Park. The entire island, which is only accessible by boat, is operated as a New York State Park campground, featuring 15 sites with lean-tos all located by the island’s shore. While the selection of activities available on the island itself is fairly limited, the island is close to several nearby tourist attractions, including a museum, a golf course, and a theme park. Campers can go jet-skiing in the nearby lake and enjoy lunch at the picnic tables provided on the campsites while enjoying their view of the water. Alger Island is ideal for campers looking for a unique experience, but site availability is limited, so be sure to book your campsite well in advance.

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1) Hither Hills State Park

Long Island is home to some of the most celebrated beaches in the world, and there’s perhaps no better way to enjoy the island’s beaches than to stay at one of the campsites at Hither Hills State Park. Though the campground features an impressive 189 sites, Hither Hills is one of the most popular campgrounds in the state, so it’s best to make your reservations as early as possible. Located on the east end of the island in Montauk, Hither Hills offers sites for both tents and RVs, which offer stunning views of the dunes, beach, and ocean. Campers can take advantage of activities hosted on the expansive beach, including volleyball games, sand castle contests, and campfire jamborees, or visit the nearby Hamptons.


Is Autumn the Best Time for a Camping Trip?

Fall has officially begun, marking the end of what is widely considered to be the season for vacations and the beginning of back-to-school activities, earlier evenings, and more time spent indoors. As the leaves change colors and the temperature drops, many people, and students in particular, see this time of year as symbolizing a return to productivity and new professional endeavors. But despite the longer nights and colder temperatures, the beginning of fall may be the perfect time of year to book a campsite and set up a tent in the woods, enjoying the restorative beauty that nature has to offer.

Camping is widely regarded as an activity best enjoyed in June, July, and August, as the hot temperatures, long days, and extended break from school inspire outdoor activity. However, in many cases the experience of sitting around a campfire, hiking in the woods, and gazing up at the stars outside of a tent is best enjoyed in late September or early October. Doing so at this time of year allows for a relatively unique experience, and while the change in weather can make the experience a little more uncomfortable, the benefits of spending time outdoors later in the year more than make up for it.

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People who are interested in going camping are often looking for a chance to get away from the crowds and heavily-populated areas of their everyday lives, and one of the advantages of doing so in the fall is the fact that campgrounds are likely to be much less busy. As families shift their focus from summer vacations to schoolwork, campgrounds are more likely to be patronized by smaller groups of people, such as couples and even individual campers, making this time of year particularly attractive for adult campers looking to spend time away from children. Being in nature alongside a small number of close friends or loved ones makes for a better opportunity to bond with them and with the outdoors, which is what the best camping trips are all about.

While the thought of sleeping outdoors in the fall without the benefit of indoor heating can seem unthinkable, the right gear can mitigate the discomfort of doing so. A plethora of sleeping bags that are rated as providing sufficient warmth in the cold, even at temperatures approaching zero degrees Fahrenheit, are widely available. If you have no interest in investing in a cold-weather sleeping bag, camping gear is available to rent from a variety of outlets. Dressing appropriately by wearing multiple layers of clothing and making sure to pack sweaters, jackets, and hats is essential. Of particular concern in the fall is the possibility of rain, as wet clothing can lower body temperatures and potentially cause hypothermia, so make sure to take this possibility into account. One way of thinking about cooler weather is by considering it to be brisk and refreshing, as drinking a hot cup of coffee in the morning and enjoying the warmth of a campfire become even more invigorating.

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Autumn also offers an opportunity to experience the beauty of nature when the leaves change color and fall to the ground. The period of time when trees become more colorful and varied is relatively brief, so camping in this environment is a special experience which only occurs once per year. Additionally, when the temperature starts to drop, pests like ticks and mosquitoes are less abundant. As such, taking a walk in the woods during this time of year, given adequate preparation, can be more fun than doing so in the summer, spring, or winter. If you’re interested in photography, the colorful fall landscapes are perfect environments for Instagram. And while camping in the fall may cause you to miss out on some activities that are only possible in the summer, like swimming in lakes, other activities become available during this time of year, such as apple and pumpkin picking, harvest festivals, and Halloween-related events.

One of the benefits of camping as a vacation activity is that it requires relatively little investment of time and money, as campsites are cheap, equipment can be rented, and campgrounds can often be located within a few hours’ drive from home. A successful camping trip can be planned for a weekend, meaning you don’t have to take time off work to enjoy the experience. One thing to watch out for, though, is ensuring that the campground you plan on staying at will be open for the time you wish to stay, as most campgrounds close for the year around mid-October, with some smaller locations closing even earlier than that. Nevertheless, camping in the fall can make for an unforgettable and restorative experience, perfect for preparing oneself for the cold and long fall and winter nights to come.