It happens to me every year. Friday afternoon rolls around and meteorologists are predicting the most beautiful weekend of the season. We have half a tank of gas in the car, our tent is lying in the hall closet and I decide that we need to go camping--right now. Luckily, we live in Westchester County where the urban, suburban and rural blend together in such a perfect balance that parks with tent-ready campsites are never more than a 45 minute drive from any front door in the county.
Feeling the itch to get out, sing some songs, make some s'mores and sleep under the stars? Good. We've rounded up details on five great campgrounds in and around Westchester County.
Looking for more summer ideas? Check out our Summer of Play series or our Summer Activity Guide!
Ward Pound Ridge - Pound Ridge
4 Reservation Road
Located in one of the northeastern most corners of Westchester County, Ward Pound Ridge is an expansive 4,315 acre park that boasts a wide array of amenities and activities--including camping. Camping is available in 24 stone lean-tos built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and at 7 tent sites throughout the park. It's best to reserve your site in advance, however, if you're willing to test your luck, each day unreserved sites are available on a first-come, first serve basis. While all of the sites are beautiful, lean-to 15 has an amazing view of the Hudson River and the view is particularly breathtaking during fall foliage. Be forewarned--there is potable water available, but no showers. Bring a camp shower or plan for sponge baths.
Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Campground - North Salem
210 Hawley Road
Connected by a series of trails, Mountain Lakes Park is just a few miles north of Ward Pound Ridge. Located on the grounds of a former summer camp (Camp Morty still operates out of the park during the day in summer), Mountain Lakes has all of the amenities you’d like to find in weekend campout getaway including row boat rentals, showers, hiking, swimming, camping, a waterfall and a rentable cabin (for those who’d prefer to rough it a little less). Funny story--one year, my family and I reserved a site here for a weekend camping trip and arrived to find that the our reserved site was smack-dab in the middle of a huge Boy Scout Jamboree. We were unable to move our site (everything else was booked) but we learned some cool new songs and the park gave us a voucher to return for a jamboree-free weekend in the future.
Croton Point Park - Croton-on-Hudson
1A Croton Point Avenue
Sitting on a small peninsula that juts out into the Hudson River, Croton Point Park is another Westchester County Park that makes for a fantastic weekend getaway. There is ample camping space at this park in addition to kayak rentals, a swimming beach, a swimming pool, a concession stand, two playgrounds, a nature center, showers, grill pits and hiking trails. The park is easily accessible from MetroNorth and, if you pack light, an easy walk from the train station. During the summer months the park is home to many festivals and concerts, like the annual Clearwater Concert, so check the park calendar and plan ahead and take advantage of--or avoid--the festivities.
Fahnestock State Park - Carmel
1498 Route 301
Just about 15 miles north of the Westchester County line, Fahnestock State Park is an easy trip up the Taconic from many spots in Westchester. In addition to the state park’s 80-site campground, Fahnestock boasts a swimming beach and boat rentals on Canopus Lake, a camp store with concessions, showers and hiking (including access to the Appalachian trail. Fahnestock’s campground is unique in that it is open for camping into December; most local parks only allow camping through Labor Day or Columbus Day.
Beaver Pond Campground - Stony Point
700 Kanawaukee Road
Adjoining Harriman State Park and the beautiful Lake Welch Beach in Rockland County, Beaver Pond Campground is a popular weekend destination for New York City families. Only a 40 minute drive from NYC, the campground has approximately 75 tent sites available with additional sites for trailers. The park has all of the amenities campers expect to find--bathrooms, showers, potable water, picnic tables and firepits. However, it's worth noting that most of the camp sites are very close together in relatively open space. Raised platforms are available in the “A” section of the campground. For a more private, woodsy feel, look for campsites in the “W” loop.
Image credit: MommyPoppins.com