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Once a prized hunting spot for the Algonquin Native Americans, “Sunapee” roughly translates to “wild goose water.” Lake Sunapee, which sits at the foot of Mount Sunapee, in New Hampshire, regularly draws hundreds of thousands of waterfowls on their biannual migratory trips. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the north side of the mount was razed by overzealous logging companies. The local residents, alarmed that their beloved view of the mountain would be damaged for generations to come, rallied together and raised around $2,000 (around $50,000 in today’s dollars) to buy a few hundred acres from the company in 1911. In subsequent years, they continued to fundraise and purchase more acreage. Volunteers also blazed trails, built lean-tos, and groomed the shore of the lake to create a beach. In 1939, the residents’ years of effort were rewarded when the state of New Hampshire officially established the park as a state park.
The closest town is Newbury, which has a handful of shops, restaurants, and outdoor recreation agencies. However, the closest town with a hospital, which is always handy for health emergencies, is Newport, NH, roughly eight miles to the northwest. The small-but-bustling town also has several churches, a greater variety in shops and restaurants, and grocery stores.
Mount Sunapee State Park’s informal slogan is “a park for all seasons.” Indeed, this park has a bounty of recreational fun that persists year-round. Hike and fish at any time during the year. Sunbathe and boat on Lake Sunapee, which has over 4,000 acres of surface area. Hike or go driving in the woods in autumns to enjoy the fall foliage. In springs, watch newborn wildlife take their first tottering steps. Winters, embark on the iced-over lake for ice-skating adventures and spontaneous games of hockey or drill holes into the ice and catch a string of fish.
Not much for hiking, but wish to enjoy the views? Mount Sunapee State Park has a glassed-in gondola lift, which was one of the first in the state that carries visitors up to the high summit. There, visitors are rewarded with a sweeping, grand view of the valleys below and neighboring mountain peaks. If one is so inclined, one can embark on a short one-mile trek to a nearby alpine lake, which glistens and shimmers in the sunlight.
The thousand-foot beach at Lake Sunapee also has a small boat launch that allows for lightweight watercraft to be launched onto the lake. Fishermen can expect to catch spotted trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and landlocked salmon. The state of New Hampshire also operates a small boat-rental concierge stand at which one may rent kayaks, canoes, and other small crafts.
The real star, possibly, is the Mount Sunapee Ski Resort, which is owned by New Hampshire. The ski resort is one of the best-known in the state in part because it was the first ski slope to be established in the state. From its humble beginning with only one lift and one slope in the 1940s, it has since then grown to 66 world-class trails ideal for beginners and experts alike.
Mount Sunapee State Park is also a part of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway, which is a 75-mile loop trail. If hikers want to take on a long challenge but are not quite ready for the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail, this may be a good step. Hikers can enjoy views of mountains, lakes, and airy meadows along their journey.
RV camp at the foot of Mount Sunapee and wake up surrounded by nature. Birds will alert everyone nearby that the sun has risen. Crickets and bullfrogs herald the coming of night. Mount Sunapee State Park RV campground is a small facility with eight sites. The upside is, due to its diminutive size, visitors have fewer neighbors to share beautiful nature with. Though it’s largely primitive, there is access to water via faucets and pit toilets.
There are several other campgrounds nearby, all with varying degrees of amenities and features ideal for those wishing to RV camp near Mount Sunapee State Park. Crow’s Nest Campground boasts a swimming pool, mini-golf course, and wifi. They also hold several family-friendly activities like horseshoe tournaments, ice cream socials, and live music.
Renting a motorhome is only practical. It not only grants you access to a world of outdoor recreation and adventure but also to the small towns scattered across remote New Hampshire. Hop into an Airstream rental and go explore the towns’ charms and attractions. New Hampshire International Speedway, based in Loudon, regularly hosts motocross and NASCAR races. One of the top tracks in the country, its nickname is “the magic mile” because the track is a simple oval, and yet it’s somehow one of the more challenging tracks for drivers to contend with.
Many small towns host festivals, fairs, and other events in a way to not only bolster the local economy but also to boost a sense of community and pride. The town of Gilsum holds an annual Gilsum Rock Swap in June. Rockhounds and fossil hunters will enjoy browsing the vendors’ tables in search of unusual stones to add to their collections. The League of Craftsmen’s Fair has been held annually since 1939. This fair is unique in that it requires all vendors to sell handcrafted goods, rather than commercially-made items. Attendants can find anything from hand-blown glass ornaments to jewelry and carved sculptures to pottery. Workshops and demonstration events are also offered.
Kick up your heels outside a camper rental and enjoy the crackle of a campfire as the stars appear in the night sky. Book an RV in Merrimack County and enjoy your perfect RV camping adventure in New Hampshire.