Situated on the eastern shore of the Housatonic River is the quaint and peaceful state park you've been looking for, Kettletown State Park. Straddling the towns of Southbury and Oxford, Kettletown State Park was originally established in 1950 and has been an escape into nature and outdoor recreation ever since.
The physical boundaries of the park stretch for nearly 600 acres, but its history stretches back for hundreds of years. The land was used by the Pootatucks prior to 1758 for fishing, hunting, and farming. They were an agriculturally rich tribe but eventually migrated northeast after settlers claimed right over the land. Today, not much is left of the tribe or the area they called home because it was covered in water in 1919, creating Zoar Lake, which is the main focal point of the lake today.
The lake still provides great fishing and boating opportunities for RV visitors. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, picnicking, swimming, biking, and more. There are more than enough activities to keep you busy for more than one day. Luckily, there are also 61 campsites you can set up camp at and enjoy a longer stay at Kettletown State Park. The park is also located in Paugussett State Forest, which is a beautiful woodland space with hiking, biking, fishing, and boating to enjoy.
This Connecticut park is located off of an adjacent road to Kettletown Road and can be easily found with any GPS enabled device. Most people choose to use I-84, take Exit 15, and then navigate their way to the park from there, but your route might be slightly different. The park is just 18 miles from Danbury, which is a small town about 50 miles northeast of New York and a great place to visit.
To keep the park as close to its natural state as possible, there are only a few paved roads, so you'll need to bring some other mode of transportation with you or be ready to do a lot of walking. Many visitors choose to bring bikes or scooters, while others choose to make it a hiking trip, but neither is a bad choice.
You shouldn't have any problems navigating the roads that are there, especially since only relatively short RVs are allowed to begin with, so towing an extra car isn't totally necessary. The roads don't have any especially tight turns, but some areas are a bit narrow. Make sure you have your park pass on your vehicle before entering and be ready to pay an additional parking fee on the weekends if you aren't a resident of Connecticut.
Since the number of paved roads is limited, parking is also limited within the park, but there is parking at the campground and where you really need it.
The campground at Kettletown State Park offers 61 campsites within walking distance to the beach along Lake Zoar. Unfortunately, the sites do not have hookups, except for the one ADA-accessible site with water and electric hookups. On the bright side, you get spectacular views of the lake. There are restrooms and water stations throughout the campground, as well as one dump station.
Some of the sites are well shaded, while others are more open, but they can all be reserved so you can have your choice of shade level. The sites can only accommodate trailers and RVs up to 28 feet long, so if your rig is bigger, it is suggested to camp in one of the nearby parks or possibly rent a smaller one for your trip. The campsites do not have paved parking spurs either, but don't let that make you miss out on this phenomenal park.
None of the sites at Kettletown State Park are set aside for local sale only, so if you want to ensure you have a campsite you should make reservations before you arrive. The campground is open from late May through early September, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. It is important to note that pets and alcohol are not allowed in the campground at all so don’t bring your furbaby or your booze with you.
If you are a youth group leader, Kettletown State Park has a large youth group campground for qualifying groups. The site is designed for teaching young people to experience camping and nature. Your group must have an adult with up to 50 children under the age of 18 who have an interest in educational, social, or religious work. You can also be a non-profit group affiliated with a church, school, or other recognized organization such as scouts.
There must be one adult per 10 campers and an adult must be with the campers the entire time. In addition, at least one of the adults must be trained in first aid and carry a first aid kit. Leaders have to apply for the site at least two weeks before the date needed, which can be done online. The park has three youth group campsites across the lake from the family campground. Two of these are right along the water and the other one is a bit further in on the road. They all have campfire grills, picnic tables, and room many tents.
If you were thinking about staying indoors for a change on this trip, check out Kettletown State Park’s six cabins for rent. Located in the campground right along the shores of Housatonic River’s Lake Zoar, these cozy cabins are perfect for you and five others to stay the night in comfort. Each of the cabins has two bedrooms, one with bunk beds and one with a double bed and bunk beds.
You’ll be able to relax at the picnic table outside the cabin as you cook dinner on the provided barbecue pit or fire ring. After dinner, pull up a chair on the deck and watch the sun go down over the lake. Be sure to bring your own bedding, cooking needs, and water. The cabins do have electricity but no potable water. However, you can find restrooms with showers, potable water spigots, and an RV dump site nearby.
There's no need to stay indoors all winter when you could still get out and explore Kettletown State Park. If you take an RV visit to the park during the winter, you can enjoy activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. None of the trails are groomed specifically for cross-country skiing so you should practice extra caution, but it is allowed. Snowshoeing may be a better option for people who still want to explore the park when it is snowy but who don't have the right equipment or experience to ski.
The trails in Kettletown State Park are good for more than just hiking and biking; they also provide a great setting for horseback riding. Since the trails are more likely to be busy during the summer and spring, many riders choose until the off-season to take advantage of the riding opportunities. Not only is it cooler, but it is also quieter, and if you take your RV visit during the winter the snow-capped trees are arguably even more beautiful.
Nature lovers love Kettletown State Park year-round due to the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The best place to see animals are on the trails, but it certainly isn't the only place. Common sightings at the park include squirrels, rabbits, shorebirds, and even some deer and bears have been seen by campers. There are several more species of both plants and animals that call the park home, it can be fun to see how many you can spot in just an hour.
Pack your swim trunks and sunscreen in the RV because swimming is allowed in the lake, but certain precautions should be taken. You should always check the water quality report before getting in the water to make sure the water is safe to swim in (luckily this can be found on the park's website). If it says you're good to go, you can enjoy an afternoon, or even a whole day, of splashing, swimming, and relaxing along the beach. Just be sure to keep an eye on children because it is an unguarded beach.
There are about six miles of trails throughout Kettletown State Park that are perfect for hiking as well as biking. There are five distinct trails, which vary in difficulty, that will take you throughout practically the entire park and to several designated scenic overlooks. Whether you choose to explore them all or just pick one or two is up to you. The trails also provide a great look into the fascinating geology of Kettletown State Park.
Freshwater fishing is available at Kettletown State Park, so be sure you have your fishing poles and bait in the RV with you. The constant flow of the Housatonic River all but ensures that Lake Zoar will have plenty of fish when you visit. The lake is home to over a dozen species of fish, including both largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, trout, catfish, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappie, and a few different kinds of sunfish. As the fifth-largest freshwater body in the state, it would almost be a sin to leave without fishing.