RVing in New England
Our guest post comes from Bonnie & Bill Neely of: Real Travel Adventures Ezine – Your free online monthly travel magazine with hundreds of features and photos on travel to anywhere.
In the past, we had found some areas of New England and the Middle Atlantic too crowded and too much traffic to really enjoy traveling the area by RV, but this time was different. We discovered some excellent RV parks to enjoy, and we plan to return again. Keep in mind, when planning your trip, that many campgrounds in the Northeast are open only from May through October, so call first to be sure. We were there just before Memorial Day and had the campgrounds almost to ourselves, yet by the week-end each was already booked completely.
In New Jersey near Morristown, which is centrally located and about 45 minutes to New York City by car or train, we stayed in a beautiful campground, Fla-Cong. With a large grassy park and a little brook running through it, trees, and large, well laid-out, full hook-up spaces on three different levels. This campground has the forest and field look of the best state parks, yet it is just a few blocks from major malls and restaurants.
Just outside the town of Lake George, New York, we found another beautiful campground, Adirondacks Camping Area, which is about five miles from the town. If you are towing a car so that you can drive to town, this is a perfect location because you are in lovely trees with wide, flat camping sites and full hook-ups. The large swimming pool is well maintained. We preferred to be in this mountainside, forest camping area instead of by the lake, yet all the Lake George activities, shopping, swimming, boating, galleries, restaurants, and hiking are just ten minutes away. It was fascinating to watch the town wake up for the season, which officially opens on Memorial Day.
Traveling on to Vermont, we discovered an excellent campground just a mile west of the city of Stowe. Although the huge red barn at the entrance by Nichol’s is a bit shabby, we found Nichol’s Campground on Goldbrook to be one of the most beautiful private campgrounds we have ever found. On a wide bend in the little river, Goldbrook, this pastureland-turned-campground is cradled on its circumference by the wonderful babbling stream at its confluence with a wider river. Tent sites are all along the edge of the water, with large shade trees. The central bathhouse is an easy, open walk within the pasture, although it would seem longer in the middle of the night. The RV sites, also beside a small stream, have full hook-ups but not many trees. Children have a nice playground area, as well.
Vermont has many beautiful State Parks with camping for RV’s as well as tents, and some with cabins to rent. Most have dump stations, but no hook-ups.
Just South of Burlington is a very conveniently located campground, The Shelburne Camping Area This park is behind the Dutch Mill Restaurant and the RV sites are small and close and on gravel, all back-ins. There are nice cabins to rent here, with full kitchens and sleeping 2 – 4 people. This campground, with full hook-ups and an especially nice and accommodating manager, is a good location to come and go from Burlington (10 minutes away) or from the historic little community of Shelburne (very nearby.) Both places have many things to see and do. This campground is open year-round.
Burlington,VT, area is worth a stay. With many festivals and restaurants, eateries, and local artists, there are many things to see and do on the shores of Lake Champlaine. Of course, you can enjoy the fishing pier, SCUBA diving lessons, and boat rentals at the sailing center. The waterfront has a long brick bikeway for pleasant rides near the water and also a free, open skating/skateboard area with challenging ramps. There is an excellent Science Center for hands-on discovery and an Aquarium here also. Union Station and the Ferry Dock are also located here. Our favorite thing was a half-day trip to Ausable Chasm, just on the other side of the lake on the New York shore. In 1608 Samuel de Champlain discovered the huge lake named in his honor. In 1808 Fulton’s Claremont became the first steamer on the Hudson River and just one year later the Vermont was built in Burlington to navigate Lake Champlain. She was followed by the Ticonderoga, built in Shelburne, the first Side-Wheeler. However, in 1906 the side-wheeler became too expensive to operate and was taken out of commission. Now you can see this famous old steamer in the Shelburne Museum.
Today the ferries, which cross year-round, are modern and comfortable. We had a pleasant one hour Ferry ride at the Port Kent crossing. Then we were just a couple of minutes from one of the most beautiful places in the United States! Ausable Chasm should have been a National Park because it is such a wondrous place, but it is privately owned and maintained in a pristine and beautiful way…not trashed with commercialism as Niagara Falls is. Open from mid-May through mid-October, this is a place not to miss! Bus trips from New York City come here on Thursdays and Sundays.
We were there on a rainy day, but we wore our ponchos and were so glad we didn’t back out. In fact, in the rain we pretty much had this place of wonder to ourselves. The Visitor Center is beside the enormous falls, discovered by Mather Adgate who settled here in 1792 and named it for himself. The name was changed to Birmingham Falls in 1824 by James Pilling who said it reminded him of Birmingham, England. In 1877 the falls were purchased for tourism and named Rainbow Falls. The entire area has been kept completely natural and beautiful trails are for the comfort and safety of visitors. The car and pedestrian bridge is the best vantage point for the overwhelming water falls. Then you can choose whether to walk on the mostly flat trail on the rim of the Chasm or on the solid rock trail with excellent iron rails for safety right beside the rushing Ausable River. Both are magnificently beautiful pathways.
The rim trail is spongy-soft with a deep bed of wood chips, so it is dry even in rainy weather. You are in a sweet-smelling tall and thick forest of many hardwoods and evergreens, with each species named and explained with good signage. There are carefully planned overlooks for good views of the chasm below. The lower, rock trail is, of course, down in the chasm and has the best views of the rushing river and the huge canyon walls; however, it requires descending and climbing many steps. If you are physically able, this is well-worth the effort. We spent several hours enjoying ambling along both trails and taking many photos. Pedestrians can walk beside the gentler rafting part of the river. This section of the river, when the water is the right height for safety, is a wonderful place to experience Class 1 rapids in rafting, kayaking, or tubing. You can spend longer on over 1,000 acres of interconnected hiking and biking trails in this gorgeous area. This is one of the most spectacularly beautiful and awe-inspiring places we have ever been and a memory we’ll carry with us always. President William McKinley in 1897 said it best when he said, “No prose, photograph or painting can do justice to the beauty of the natural wonder of Ausable Chasm; you must see it to appreciate it.”
From Ausable Chasm we spent a lovely half-day driving about 30 miles Northward on Hwy 9 beside Lake Champlain on the New York side, which has beautiful scenery all along the way. After stopping in Plattsburgh at the Former Fort Scott Army Base, we took the 12 minute ferry across to Vermont. We enjoyed ambling Hwy 2 to the top of Grand Island and there we took Hwy 78 East to Hwy 7 South to return to Burlington, a beautiful drive with many historic 18th and 19th century townships along the way. We enjoyed dinner in the impressive old town of St. Albans.