Rutland State Park is named for the closest town, Rutland, MA, which was officially established in 1713. Rutland State Park is best known for being the site of several prisons. During the Revolutionary War, Americans captured Hessian spies and soldiers, which were hired by the British, and established a prison camp in the area. In 1903, Massachusetts built a prison to house minor criminals. These prisoners were required to maintain a small dairy and chicken farm as well as plant crops (primarily potatoes) while carrying out their sentences. A small hospital used to treat tuberculosis patients was added to the grounds. However, due to poor drainage, the entire facility was abandoned in 1934, and the state of Massachusetts converted it to a state park in 1963 for outdoor recreation use.
Though the closest town to Rutland State Park is Rutland, MA, for greater variety in retail and dining options, Worcester, is the best bet. Worcester also has a handful of hospitals equipped to handle medical emergencies. Worcester is reputed to have one of the largest and most festive St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the state. Search for an RV in Worcester County and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime RV camping trip.
Though Rutland State Park is a smaller one with about 300 acres to its name, there’s plenty of things to do at the park. Hit the trails and meander through the deep, thick woods. Underfoot, the dirt trails are soft and loamy from generations of fallen leaves. Overhead, the leaves are bright green and lush. Veer off-trail to explore the abandoned ruins of the 1903 prison, which has been thoroughly marked by graffiti paint. If one is inclined, enter the ruins and dabble in urban decay photography, though caution is highly advised.
One of the trails passes by Whitehall Pond, which is popular with the local fishermen for both its quiet beauty and robust fish population. Anglers can expect to catch largemouth bass, chain pickerel, rainbow trout, and black crappie, to name a few.
Another trail leads to Central Mass Rail Trail, which spans over 100 miles from Boston to Northampton, MA. The trail passes through scenic farms, meadows, and old-growth woods. Following a long-defunct railroad track, patient hikers will find ancient railroad tunnels lined in massive stone blocks and moss-clad bridges as well as white-tailed deer and an occasional black bear trundling across.
3,000-acre Wachusett Mountain State Reservation offers even more opportunities for recreational fun. In addition to hiking along nearly 20 miles of trails, these same trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winters. The park is also the site of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, a small family-friendly ski resort with around a dozen slopes for downhill skiing.
Camping at Rutland State Park
Due to its small size, RV camping at Rutland State Park isn’t an option. However, there are several campgrounds within 15 miles that may be good candidates to consider. Pine Acres Family Camping Resort in Oakham boasts oversized lots able to accommodate large rigs, full hookups including WiFi, and a swimming pool. The on-site convenience store and bait shop make it even easier to enjoy the beautiful wilderness without having to leave the campground.
Alternatively, RV camp in Barre, MA, at Coldbrook RV Resort. In addition to several family-friendly activities, Coldbrook RV Resort has its own private par-three golf course, an on-site tavern, and laundry facilities.
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area near Monson could be a contender. Situated on an old apple orchard and farm, Sunsetview Farm Camping Area has several amenities like hot showers, a laundry room, and several ponds for swimming or fishing.
Exploring the Area
The small towns scattered across the backwoods of Massachusetts state are full of history, charm, and friendly locals. Worcester has several homes and buildings registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking through the town is akin to stepping back into time. It’s also well-known for its Mechanics Hall, which is one of the oldest concert and opera halls in the country. The city also boasts several classic car diners that are found in the downtown area. Ecotarium is one of its more popular draws. Half a nature museum, half a planetarium, the center boasts live animal habitats, planetarium shows, and several interactive exhibits geared toward both children and adults.
Among its many attractions, one of the stars of Harvard, MA, is Fruitlands Museum. Fruitland Museum is an art museum that houses five distinct collections of some of the finest artists from around the world. The farmhouse-turned-art museum once housed the famed author, Louisa May Alcott, and her family.
Craft beer is a time-honored tradition in Massachusetts. Hop into a rental motorhome and tour the countryside in search of the perfect beer. Though new craft breweries and microbreweries pop up every year, there are a few long-time mainstays. Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster, MA, was founded in 1994, and in the ensuing years, has won several awards and glowing reviews for its growlers, ales, and IPAs.