There are few better ways to slow down, take a deep breath, and connect with family or friends than spending a night camping in the great outdoors. Relaxing amid soothing lakes and hills might sound like a good time, but how do you know where to go or what to bring? Have no fear: We’ve rounded up a convenient camping compendium, including some of the top local camping spots, superior gear, and even a checklist to make sure you have all you need for a fun night in nature’s splendor.
Wondering where to pitch that tent? Try any one of these excellent spots both in and just outside the county.
Situated on a verdant peninsula overlooking the Hudson River, this Croton-on-Hudson park comprises 508 acres of bucolic trails, swimming, camping, and even a ball field. When it comes to spending the night, Croton Point boasts plenty of options, including a deluxe cabin for four or six people, a standard cabin or tent sites, a lodge with recreation hall, and even an RV site with weekly or monthly sewage, water, and electric services. All of these can be rented for varying rates, depending on the time of year.
An underappreciated North Salem gem, Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park is the county’s northernmost park, as well as a top spot for a range of camping adventures. Striped with several miles of trails tucked amid towering hardwoods, the 1,082-acre park also features fishing, hiking, a high/low ropes challenge course, nature exploration, and picnicking in addition to ice-skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during colder months. Camping options for rent include lean-to sites, yurts, a cabin, and even a mess hall. Of course, you can always just pop a tent and soak in the scenery au naturel.
With 4,315 acres of natural grandeur — not to mention the title of Westchester’s largest park — Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is a wonderland for those who love the outdoors. Boasting miles of verdant trails, fishing, and abundant areas for picnicking and camping, the Pound Ridge park is also crossed by two rivers with more than a dozen species of native and stocked fish. Ward Pound Ridge visitors can also find a small nature museum and Delaware Indian center called the Trailside Nature Museum, housed in a structure built during the Great Depression. The reservation offers both tent and lean-to camping, with the latter having an eight-person max.
Take your pick from nearly limitless outdoorsy activities when you steer your clan toward this beloved Columbia County campsite. Located amid more than 5,000 acres of land adjacent to the New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts borders, Taconic State Park’s Copake Falls area offers abundant hiking trails, picnicking, swimming, bicycling, fishing, hunting, and boating at the nearby Rudd Pond, along with snowshoeing and snowmobiling during colder months. When it comes to camping, the options abound, with more than 100 campsites for tents or trailers, including Greenwich cabins, Bash Bish cabins, and Ironworkers’ cabins.
Touted as one of the most popular state campgrounds in the Catskill Forest Preserve, North-South Lake draws curious crowds for good reason. Several lakes are located within the campsite’s bounds, which also encompass incredibly scenic hiking trails, a playground, two swimming beaches, two picnic areas, a boat launch, boat rentals, and restrooms with showers. Nearby hikes through a host of towering peaks also offer glimpses of waterfalls, historic sites, and overlooks, making for days of natural fun.
Those who crave a bit more adventure than the average bear would do well to check out this private-camping wonderland located in Beacon. To start their adventures, guests can choose a 30-minute, 2.5-hour, or even longer trek into Malouf’s scenic base camp, where intrepid explorers can choose either primitive sites (for those with their own tents and gear) or platform sites (which offer a roof and some elevation, as well as a chow box with a host of cooking equipment). Malouf’s also offers a meal-delivery service dishing up options ranging from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to s’mores — all to be enjoyed in the privacy of your secluded site.
If you plan to stay outdoors for a night or longer, you might want to make sure you have these absolute essentials on-hand: