Family Attractions Abound in New Hampshire

canobie-lakeThe campsite is set up and you’ve finished the first round of hot dogs and s’mores — time to see what is happening in your part of New Hampshire. From the mountains to the ocean, there are a range of New Hampshire attractions that run the gamut from natural to built-specifically-for-your-amusement. Here are a few options:

In the southwestern corner of New Hampshire, a popular family attraction is Stonewall Farm, an organic farm overlooking the Connecticut River. Stonewall Farm features trails, animals, a nature-playground, gardens, and traditional cheese-making demonstrations.

In the Merrimack Valley, attractions include the Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester, where you can explore the river environment and play an interactive salmon game; or visit the Budweiser Clydesdales at the beverage company’s facility in Merrimack (at least one member of party must be age 21 +). Canobie Lake Park in Salem has over 85 rides, games, and live entertainment — fun for all ages.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast offers miles of sun and sand including classic Hampton Beach with the state park on the “sand & shore” side of Route 1 and the fun, food and action facing the water. You have your choice of two large waterparks, the Casino Cascade Waterpark (Hampton) and Water Country (Portsmouth).  Or you can hop on a fishing boat and return to your campsite with an ocean catch that will make your neighbors wonder where you dropped a line!

Camping in New Hampshire’s Lakes and Mountains regions? From waterfalls to waterparks, mountain hikes to aerial rides, trained bears to train rides, there are several options to choose from. Find the closest attractions to your campground at VisitWhiteMountains.org and LakesRegion.org.

Recharge and Refresh–Go Camping!

lantern-resortWhen you want to get away from it all, nothing beats camping for providing a clean break from everyday life. For a few days, a week, or more, you can enjoy the outdoor lifestyle on your terms. Let nature and the beauty of New Hampshire refresh your outlook, rebuild your energy, or rekindle relationships with family and friends.

Camping can be deluxe with an RV that provides all the comforts of home… and then some, or out in the wilds with the sounds of crickets, birds or the crackle of a campfire.

For some, their campsite is a launching pad for any number of activities, from hiking to attractions to special events; others find a campground with all the vacation amenities they are looking for.

Camp meals are the definition of comfort foods: whether cooked over the coals of a campfire or prepared in your RV. Everything tastes better when you are surrounded by New Hampshire’s natural beauty and operating on camping-time.  And when it comes to dessert, well that’s easy: a campfire-roasted marshmallow ‘smore. Start with a marshmallow and customize with your favorite crackers and sweets!

Everyone has their own idea of getting close with nature and New Hampshire campgrounds provide a variety of settings, services and amenities that complement your camping traditions, whether you are hitting the road with your motor home, pulling a trailer, have the tent packed in the back of your car, or bring only what you can carry on your back.

From camping resorts with on-site laundry and recreation amenities to sites that are accessed only by canoe or hiking, visit www.nhlovescampers.com to find a campground for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Campfire Recipe: Corn on the Cob

pexels-photo-132976Corn on the Cob with Herb Butter (serves 4-6)

Corn is an easy option for camping—not least of all because you don’t need to refrigerate it. If you’re not in a spot with running water to soak the corn in its husks, just shuck, wrap in foil and follow the recipe from there.

  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons minced herbs like parsley, chervil, marjoram or a mixture
  • Zest of ½ lemon, minced
  • 4–6 ears of corn, in the husk

DO AHEAD: With a mortar and pestle or with the side of your knife on a cutting board, mash the garlic and salt together into a paste. Transfer to a food processor with the butter, herbs and lemon zest. Pulse until well combined. Place on a piece of parchment and form into a log about ½-inch in diameter. Fold the parchment to cover and wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap or place in a lidded plastic food storage container. Refrigerate until ready to pack the cooler.

AT THE CAMPSITE: Bring the butter out of the cooler to soften. Light a fire and let the wood burn until it’s white-hot (but not blazing). Meanwhile, peel back the husks (leave them attached to the base of the cob) and remove the silk. Wrap the corn back up in its husks. Use a piece of husk or a length of string to tie around the corn and keep the husks in place. Soak the corn in a bucket of cold water for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Whether you do this or shuck the corn and wrap in foil, place the prepared corn in the coals. Use tongs or a shovel to place a few coals on top of the corn. Cook for 15–20 minutes, until the corn is cooked through. Move it to a cooler spot in the fire if you need to wait to serve it. Remove the corn from the fire, rub with herb butter and serve.

Recipe from Leigh Belanger and Edible Boston magazine.

 

 

ATV Riding in New Hampshire

nehaca-atvnewhampshireAll-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riding is one of the fastest growing activities in New Hampshire. From tip to base, Coos County to the Massachusetts border, there are ATV trails and terrain for your enjoyment.

One of the southernmost trail networks is in Pisgah State Park in Hinsdale.  Easily accessible to campgrounds in the Monadnock Region, Pisgah offers trails suitable for all levels of riders.  The trails may be a little smoother riding than experts are seeking, however they offer great views and a good parking area for larger trailers.

Another popular and easy to reach trail is the Rockingham Recreation Trail in Derry. This multipurpose trail is open to other recreational users including runners, cyclists and horses. Well-graded surfaces make it less challenging than power-specific parks. That said, the ability to combine ATV action one day and a trip to Hampton Beach the next, make the Rockingham Recreational Trail a nice option for campers in the Merrimack Valley and Seacoast regions.

Close to the White Mountains and the Lakes Region are three networks centered around the town of Warren: the Mount Moosilauke ATV Club, the Warren Trail and the privately operated Rock Pile Motorsports Park. Collectively these three are a true magnet for campers in the region and offer the chance to get in some track riding with man-made features, the chance to ride with local enthusiasts, visit a charming small town (with an original NASA rocket!) and have a true mountain experience.

Ride the Wilds is the name of the game when it comes to big mileage OHRV action in New Hampshire. It has 1,000 miles of trails, numerous on-site camping venues and easy access to all of Coos County. From sweeping vistas to narrow mountain passages, farmlands to forests, you will park your trailer once and ride like you’ve only imagined. Ride the Wilds connects with the Jericho Mountain Trails (Berlin) and Perry Stream Trails (Pittsburg). Ride the Wilds invites you to tour the North Country as only an OHRV rider can.

Things to Remember

Register your ATV in New Hampshire, wear a helmet, follow the laws and individual park and trail network rules, and be courteous. The local OHRV communities have worked tirelessly to provide trail access; please respect their dedicated efforts as well as the efforts and contributions of landowners, town officials, safety professionals and volunteers who make this all possible.  Consider joining a club, or multiple clubs, as an inexpensive way to say “thank you” for the great riding you are about to enjoy!  Happy Trails!

Websites for more ATV Riding information

New Hampshire ATV Clubs

New Hampshire regulations relating to off-road vehicles

Map of New Hampshire ATV Trails

 

Classic 4th of July Recipe — Salmon, Potatoes, and Peas

neheca-salmon-recipe

While hamburgers and hot dogs are typically part of every July 4th barbecue, consider this classic New England 4th of July menu of salmon, peas and potatoes, dating back to almost Revolutionary times.

This menu is not only fresh and readily available at this time of year, but it’s very easy to cook in a camp setting.

  • Salmon cooks nicely on the grill; unlike other “fall apart fish,” salmon holds together nicely and can also be wrapped in foil to keep the meat moist.
  • New potatoes make the best potato salad with very little boiling, and for a festive touch you can splurge on a variety bag of red, white and blue potatoes. Add some chopped onion and a few dollops of mayonnaise and you will soon wish you had made twice as much.
  • Fresh peas can be eaten raw or flash-boiled. Pop them into the potato salad or eat them by the forkful with butter and salt. Yum.

And for dessert, serve fresh strawberries – perfect on their own or with ice cream.

From East to West, South to North, You’re Sure to Find Fun on the Fourth!

nehaca-julyfourth-mascoma-lakeIndependence Day is right around the corner and New Hampshire’s towns are keeping the night sky hopping and popping all weekend long, right through July 4. The Union Leader gathers a comprehensive list of Independence Day fireworks shows, starting as early as June 28. Click here and find the show closest to you.

Here are a few that pop out at us!

  • July 1: Franconia has combined the uniquely New Hampshire holiday, Old Home Day, which encouraged city dwellers of the late 1800s to revisit their ancestral towns, and Independence Day, for a bang-up celebration that starts with pancakes at 9:30 am and wraps up with fireworks 12 hours later.
  • July 1: Pittsburg hosts a celebratory Steak & Lobster Feed. Learn more here.
  • July 1 – 4: Waterville Valley, a delightfully authentic mountain resort, features a friendly town square where day visitors, residents, and vacationers can select from a menu of celebration activities that would put a cruise ship to shame. From a parade (including decorated bicycles, the best), to outdoor family movies, family sporting events, dancing, and yes, fireworks, this one location truly has it all.
  • July 2: Jackson, the gateway village to Pinkham Notch, invites you to enjoy a free fireworks show. The show begins around 9 pm, but you’re invited to come to town early, find a good place to park, enjoy free popcorn and stroll the village.
  • July 1 and 4: Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke, a living history museum located between downtown and the Piscataqua River, celebrates national achievements starting on Saturday with vignettes of American history from the 1700s through Victory Gardens of WWII. On Tuesday, July 4, the public is invited to witness a US Naturalization Ceremony and hear Governor Sununu read the Declaration of Independence (1:30 pm). There will be Old-Fashioned lawn games and much more. Thanks to BAE Systems, there is no admission fee on the 4th of July. Learn more here.
  • July 3: Portsmouth delivers stunning fireworks, year after year. Many viewing sites throughout town.

 

Setting up Your Campsite

campsiteWant to make your camping trip go smoothly? Plan ahead for your campsite set-up. If you haven’t been camping in a while, consider doing a dry run with your tent and other camping components. If you have a backyard, start there. If you don’t have a backyard, borrow a friend’s or book a site at a local campground or recreation facility and give it a try. For fun and as a teaching tool, have someone video the process, including the dismantling and storing of tent pieces.  If possible, don’t just set up the tent, but stay overnight (or take a nap!) and cook a meal.

If you decide to skip the trial process, plan to arrive early at your destination campground. This will give you some leisure to set up your campsite in an orderly manner. In all likelihood everything will go smoothly and the extra time will be enjoyed sitting around your campfire.

Speaking of your campfire, one aspect of camping that actually is best left until the last minute is firewood. While it’s economical to bring the bulk of your food and dry supplies from home, the one thing you definitely want to buy on-site or nearby is firewood.  New England’s forests are under siege by a variety of tree-eating insects (learn more here); federal, state and private industry foresters are working to isolate and control these pests. Click here to locate places to buy firewood near your campsite. Consider packing a “campfire” tote, a sturdy canvas bag, fireproof gloves, matches, some fire starting blocks, and some small fireplace tools (your hardware store will have these near woodstove supplies.) An open, natural fiber, tote bag is suggested over a closed box in case you decide to bring any item that requires ventilation.

A few other ideas to help make your tent-site comfortable over a long weekend:

  • Unless you are skilled at cooking over a wood fire, you may wish to bring a small gas or charcoal grill, too.  It takes a while for a wood fire to reach cooking temperatures, generally only after a deep bed of coals has been achieved.  Many experienced campers have the campfire for entertainment but use a cooking-specific stove to prepare meals.
  • Pack two big coolers: one that you plan to open only infrequently, for “deep freeze” items, including blocks of ice and pre-frozen food for consumption such as frozen chili, frozen squeezable yogurt, milk, frozen hot dogs and hamburgers, plus frozen rolls and bread.  Use a separate, well-labeled cooler, chilled by blocks of ice that you can replace at the camp store, for less temperature-sensitive items such as fruit, fruit salads and slaws, condiments, personal water bottles and recreational beverages.
  • A small toolbox is an asset to any car camping trip. In addition to the basic tools, it’s a great idea to include a roll of good duct tape, some masking or painter’s tape and several large, bold markers, for labeling everything from coolers to storage totes.
  • Everyone in the group should have a flashlight. If the flashlights are not solar-rechargeable then you need to bring extra batteries.
  • Make sure that every cellphone and other electronic device has a means for recharging.  If the car is going to serve as the giant battery charging station; are there enough charging converters/cords for every device to charge at the same time? Bring enough high quality ziplock bags for every cell phone and tablet.
  • Be sure to pack some non-electronic entertainment, such as books, playing cards and board games.
  • Clothing and laundry:  If you are camping for just a few days, bring plastic bags for dirty clothes. If you are on a longer camping trip, use the plastic bags to pre-sort laundry, so that when you go do the laundry room you can easily pop the clothes into their respective washers: separated by temperature, fabric weight and/or colorfastness. Possibly bring a clean tote for clean clothes.
  • Camp sandals and lots of socks (not worn together): They say an army wins a war on its feet. Pack as many pairs of socks as you think you need, and then thrown in another pair or two.  You will never regret having warm, dry socks.  And you may want to bring sport sandals for around the campground.

While you are kicking back around the campfire, take a minute to take stock of your situation. What could you have done better? What are you missing?  What did you over-pack?  Have some fun with this, as with the tent set-up process, a video can add some humor to this recreational debriefing, or keep a camping journal and write your ideas there. The video or journal becomes part of your family lore and legend.

Campfire Quesadillas

Easy to make and fun to eat, quesadillas are the perfect camping food. All you need is some foil and a campfire grate. The recipe below is for Mushroom and Corn Quesadillas, but you can substitute other vegetables that you like.

Homemade Cheese and Bean Quesadilla with Corn and Salsa

Campfire Mushroom and Corn Quesadillas
Makes 4 quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Tools

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Grate (for campfire) or grill
  • Tongs or spatula

Cooking Instructions

For Veggie Mixture:

  1. Lay out a piece of foil and center onion, mushrooms, and corn on the foil. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bring up the sides of the foil and double fold the ends to make a packet. Place on the grate and cook until veggies are tender.
    Alternately, you can cook the veggies on your camp stove. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and saute until softened and lightly browned. Add corn and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper, to taste.
    Note: The veggie mixture can be made a day or two ahead of time.

For Quesadillas:

  1. Lay out four pieces of foil and place a tortilla on top of each piece. Divide half the cheese among the four tortillas, sprinkling it down the center of each. Divide the veggie mixture evenly among the tortillas, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the veggies. Fold the two sides of the tortilla toward the center and then wrap the quesadilla in the foil, sealing the edges to make a packet.
  2. Place the packets on the grate and cook for a few minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla crisp.

Thanks to dirtygourmet.com for the recipe.

Go Fish!

fish-3-1561336-1280x960It’s a heartwarming sight on a sunny day, a child hunched over a handheld device with laser-focus, oblivious to others. Hey, we are talking about fishing here, but you knew that.  Fishing is one of those time-and generation-transcending activities that serves as the linchpin for camping memories in many families.

One way you do not want to transcend time is on the wrong side of the law (OK, there is a vacation-genre that includes life on the run, but the outcomes are generally better in Hollywood, and even then it’s not a sure thing, just ask Butch, Sundance, Thelma and Louise.) So get a fishing license. New Hampshire takes its fish seriously, and if you plan to take fish you should, too. Get a license; they are available online and at locations throughout the state. You can get a license for the full season or for one day.  Various rates apply based on your age and whether you are a New Hampshire resident.

The good news about the state taking its fishing resources seriously is that New Hampshire’s fishing stock is robust. You, the fishing public, have free access to every natural body of water that measures 10 acres or more. In every nook and cranny of the Granite State you can find a place to drop a line. The state also tracks these locations and the fish you will find there. This guide offers information on ADA accessibility, a useful tool for making fishing more inclusive.

For the camping family, fishing is a great way to inspire kids with hands-on learning about weather, seasons, habitat and scientific observation.  It could be said that fishing is the cure for an instant-gratification society; there is something very humbling about the amount of time and mental energy it can take to “outsmart” a creature. Fishing with live bait is generally a better starting point for those who are very young and/or new to fishing; and it is the preferred method for fishing for certain species (see this guide).  Fly fishing is a more nuanced method of fishing, requiring a firm understanding of fish habits and habitat.

Hit the water for fishing fun

Great North Woods — Lake Francis: At nearly 2,000 acres, Pittsburg’s Lake Francis (22 miles from the Canadian border and 14 miles north of “downtown Colebrook”) offers multiple fish species and well-maintained access points with convenient parking.

White Mountains — Conway Lake: A large lake (1,300 acres), Conway Lake is easy to reach for campers in the Mount Washington Valley and features a range of species and a convenient boat launch.

Lakes Region: Almost every town in the Lakes Region features a pond or lake with public boating access.  In addition to the “big ones,” popular fishing sites include bridge fishing at the point where Lake Winnisquam becomes the Winnisquam River (Rt. 3), just a hop, skip & jump from I-93 and outlet shopping!

Dartmouth/Sunapee — Mascoma Lake: Enfield’s Mascoma Lake (1,150 acres) is home to more than nine species of fish and offers two public boat access points.

Merrimack Valley — Lake Massabesic: With multiple access points and a completely undeveloped shoreline, Lake Massabesic (2,500 acres) is a quiet spot for anglers. The lake serves as a water source for Manchester; swimming and waterskiing are not allowed.

Monadnock — Spofford Lake: Spoffford Lake (700+ acres) in Chesterfield offers one of the most diverse fish populations in the region.

Seacoast — Lamprey River: Traveling through Deerfield, Epping, Newmarket and Raymond, the Lamprey River features numerous access points for fishing from boats and/or bridges.  It’s diverse route provides habitat for many species.

Take me to the river

Take me to the river: Canoe, kayak and paddleboard the rivers of New Hampshire

Kayaking-new-hampshireThe history of New Hampshire is written on its waterways. Before the roads and highways, before the railroad, heck, before the invention of the wheel, native residents lived and traveled with ease via rivers, lakes and ponds. Today we paddle for fun, fitness, and to get a closer view of nature. In almost every corner of the state you can find a boat launch and place to rent a person-powered vessel (canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard, or SUP) if you don’t already own one.

Please note: New Hampshire lakes and streams can vary in terms of water depth and flow. Personal flotation devices for each adult are required on all vessels: for children the law is that they must be WEARING the personal flotation device. See details.

Here is a brief overview of the rivers and some outfitters that you can explore. Click here to see a list of the state’s water access sites.

Great North Woods: The Connecticut River originates at the outlet of the Fourth Connecticut Lake which abuts the Canadian border. It flows through the Third, Second and First Connecticut Lakes (listed North to South), all of which offer easy boating access. A recommended Connecticut River launch site for downstream paddling is just over the state line in Canaan, VT; with a take out side in Colebrook, N.H. Click here for boat rental information.

White Mountain Region: To the east of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, the primary river for canoe and kayak activity is the Saco River which flows through Maine to the Atlantic Ocean. Check out this outfitter for a canoe/kayak pick up and delivery service. See additional outfitters here.

In the Western White Mountains, the go to rivers are the Connecticut and the Pemigiwasset,  Outfitters include Ski Fanatics and Outback Kayak.

Lakes Region: The Bear Camp River, not far from Lake Ossipee, travels through farmland and forests. Outfitters include Canoe King and Plymouth Ski and Sport Shop.

South Central Merrimack Region: Paddle the mighty Merrimack River with help from Quickwater Canoe in Boscawen, or explore the Contoocook River with help from Contoocook River Canoe Company.

Mondanock Region: The historic Ashuelot River is home to a multitude of fish species and feeds into the Connecticut River. Explore the Ashuelot with help from the Ashuelot River Campground’s rental shop.

Seacoast Region: This region has a variety of rivers, several of which feed into New Hampshire’s Great Bay, a tidal estuary of more than 6,000 acres. Seven Rivers Paddling offers rental, livery service, and tours.

Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region: Explore the part of the Connecticut River that winds through this scenic area. The Ledyard Canoe Club in Hanover offers rentals of canoes, kayaks and SUPs.