Gilford, New Hampshire houses a gem: Ellacoya State Park. Ellacoya State Park is located in Gilford on the southwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire's largest lake. The 600-foot long sandy beach, with views across the lake to the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains, is a great place to spend with the family for a full day of swimming and picnicking. An accessible bathhouse, with showers and a changing area for swimmers, is located near the swimming area. A small park store offers refreshments and souvenirs for sale. An area to launch small boats, such as canoes and those carried on car rooftops, is located to the side of the beach area.
Due to this lake’s fame, there’s no doubt this is a popular place for visitors to congregate. Whether you’re here on a romantic outing, a peaceful getaway, or out with the whole family, Ellacoya State Park is the perfect place to wind down for a while. It's a great place to go camping, spend a full day of swimming and/or go picnicking.
The park’s location faces a northeasterly horizon, right over the broads, making for a nice, breezy spot to park. Even on the hottest of days, that breeze will keep you cool and comfortable. It can be quite strong at times, so be wary! The water is so inviting, but an RV stay means you also get the chance to take in what else this park has to show.
Embark on an adventure in and around Ellacoya State Park. There are many trails that lead away from the shoreline and into the trees. It’s a whole other world to explore. While certainly not the largest of the Nation’s state parks, Ellacoya grants its own unique charm in a quaint, New England setting.
RV Rentals in Ellacoya State Park
Transportation in Ellacoya State Park
Location: Route 11, Gilford
Most of Ellacoya State Park’s visitors come for the day-use of the beach and venture only as far as the shoreline. However, when you want a place to park your rig, you couldn’t ask for a better setting. This park seems like it was made for RVs. The roads are easy to navigate and are quite level, with ample space for larger vehicles to make it through without any gritted teeth. Have a big rig? It’s no problem! The park is suitable for RVs and trailers up to 50 feet in length.
Typically during peak seasons, day-use visitors will take up most of the day-use parking area, as this is a public beach that is open to those outside of the campgrounds. You won’t have to worry about finding the perfect spot, though. If you’re camped at the park’s campgrounds, you’re only a short walk from the beach. The whole park is laid out in a rather straightforward manner. 37 sites at Ellacoya’s campground will provide accommodation for your RV, so you won’t have to fight with the day crowd to earn your spot on the shoreline.
Campgrounds and parking in Ellacoya State Park
Campsites in Ellacoya State Park
The peak season for camping at Ellacoya State Park’s campground is from May through October. These dates require reservation in order to secure a spot at the campground. All reservations are to be completed online. You can expect to pay a reservation fee on top of the camping fee. The park is well worth it, though. It is one of few that are so close to a beach setting, making this an ideal location for those who love the sun, the sand, and the water.
Ellacoya State Park RV Campground is conveniently located for day trips to nearby Lakes Region attractions. The RV campground includes 37 sites available by reservation only, and offers three-way hook-ups, a park store, a common campfire pit, a laundromat, and a bathhouse. Tents are not allowed at the RV park. Pets are not allowed in the RV campground or in other areas of the park.
Rates cover two adults and two children on the site. Each additional adult and each additional child is charged an additional fee per night. The maximum number of adults per site is 4, except in designated areas.
With RV full hookups for campers, 600 foot sand beach area, and an accessible bathhouse, with showers and a changing area for swimmers, the campground has all you need for a summer vacation.
A small park store offers refreshments and souvenirs for sale. An area to launch small boats, such as canoes and those carried on car rooftops, is located to the side of the beach area.
Technically, you can still camp here during the off-season, however, you’re looking at certain inherent risks when deciding to participate in any outdoor activities. None of the trails, or much of the state park’s grounds, are patrolled during the off-season and day-use fees are no longer collected. During peak seasons, Ellacoya State Park is an extremely popular outing. You’ll find that your stay is accompanied by many other day-use visitors. So, if a quiet getaway is what you’re seeking, you would do best to come when the weather isn’t quite as welcoming for the daily crowd.
While Ellacoya State Park’s campground is advertised as reservation-only, there are certain applications where first-come, first-served sites are available. If you’ve made really good time on your trip, and just so happen to arrive a day earlier than what your online reservation window allowed, be sure to call in to the park and speak with a staff member. You may just be able to get in a whole day earlier than anticipated. Don’t sweat it, though. Several other RV camping opportunities lie just outside of the park.
If you decide to not spend your overnights within the park, or are just looking for something a little different than what the campgrounds have to offer, you can rest assured that there are several other choices just outside the grounds. Surrounding campgrounds and resorts are RV-friendly and just a few minutes down the road from the park’s entrance. If you didn’t bring your rig and don’t feel like breaking out the tent, you’ll also find nearby hotels to accommodate your stay.
Seasonal activities in Ellacoya State Park
Lake Winnipesaukee is quite a popular location for boating of all types; from paddling to motor boats. The boat ramp is actively utilized, as many of the park’s visitors come to soak up the sun on the water. With such a large lake, how could you not want to get out and enjoy it? Rentals are available at nearby locations.
The shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee makes for a perfect beach setting. Picnic tables and grills are dotted along the beach, with a small convenience store and bathrooms also available nearby. Getting to the beach is just a brief trek from the campground, as it, too, is situated close to the water. Luckily, this day trip doesn’t require having to pack everything back up in the car to get here. It is a public day-use beach as well, so expect heavier crowds during peak season months with sublime weather. The lake views are worth talking about, as is the overall feel. It’s clean, casual, and a great spot to set up for some beach volleyball, build a sandcastle, or just soak up some of the sun’s rays.
This quaint playground is the perfect spot for any little ones to burn off some energy while the rest of the family soaks up the sun or enjoys a pleasant picnic. Swing, climb, slide, and more! Ellacoya Campground’s playground is sure to keep the kids busy for the afternoon.
Lake Winnipesaukee makes for an ideal setting to get your feet wet. As New Hampshire’s largest lake, you’re sure to see plenty of other visitors enjoying its waters. Swimming is a favorite pastime for many who frequent the shoreline. It’s a perfect day activity that just about anyone can enjoy.
Kayaking & Canoeing
The lake brings all sorts of visitors, but it’s not just big boaters that get to comb its waters. Lake Winnipesaukee also sees a lot of kayaking and canoeing. The water is so clear and calm, making it an ideal setting for these excursions. There’s nothing quite like paddling along with the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains in view across the lake. Such a serene landscape only amplifies the feeling of openness on the water.
This is one of those recreational activities that plays a pretty big part in the winter scene here. The deep woods are so much more fun to explore when atop such a fun and thrilling means of transport. Snowmobiling allows visitors the opportunity to explore areas of the park that would otherwise be untouchable in the colder months. There are only certain areas where snowmobiling is permitted, so it is best to check in with park officials before heading out.
As the official state sport for New Hampshire, skiing is avidly enjoyed by many. Ellacoya State Park takes great pride in offering some of the best skiing areas in New England. Winter visitors can enjoy this recreation, and much more. Usually, this part of New Hampshire sees a decent amount of snowfall, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being without the white stuff.
Need an excuse to get outside in the heart of winter? Ice fishing is a unique experience where you can embrace the quiet solitude of the off-season and really enjoy the thrill of a good catch. There are several protected coves and bays on Lake Winnipesaukee that freeze over as early as the end of December. The rest of the lake tends to take much longer to obtain a safe ice layer, so fishers should err on the side of caution when choosing a spot.
The quiet and seclusion you can expect to experience at the park during off seasons is a welcome time for native wildlife. It is the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the rest of this area’s residents. Several species of mammals and birds still call this park “home” when the ground is blanketed in white. See who you can discover, but remember to always remain at a safe and respectful distance.
The lake is such a serene setting, worth capturing in a moment forever. Many who travel here take the time to snap a few photos of their day, and for good reason. The surroundings are awe-inspiring and worth sharing. Add in the beautiful colors of Fall or a crisp Winter’s day, and you have the makings of something out of a storybook.