Dolly Copp Campground -One of the Best Campgrounds in North America?

Dolly Copp Camground has been dubbed one of the best campgrounds in North America but does it deserve to be among these ranks? Let’s take a closer look.

Dolly Copp Campground is the largest campground within the White Mountain National Forest. It includes 177 campsites scattered along 3.5 miles of many twisted roads and spurs.

The White Mountain National Forest is a haven for many outdoor activities like camping, hiking and biking. Anybody searching for these kinds of adventure finds it at Dolly Copp Campground.

It is situated north of Mount Washington, about 6 miles south of Gorham, New Hampshire and right off NH Route 16.

Lush green forests, picturesque mountain views, and scenic road trips draw travelers to this vast site. This historical campground is over a century old but dubbed one of the best in North America by Adventurous Moms.

Background

Dolly Copp Campground was originally a farmland and home to a couple named Hayes and Dolly Copp. It was in the late 1800s when it was first used for camping. In 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was formed, which indicated that hiking was a developing interest.

More trails opened and hikers searching for overnight shelter found themselves as the first campers on the Copp farm grounds. It was formally opened to the public in 1921.

Features

Dolly Copp Campground has an administrative service area aside from the log visitor center, a gatehouse and accommodation for seasonal employees. There are 12 flush toilet buildings, running water and trash recycling bins near the campsites.

The campsites each have picnic tables and fire rings with grill. The registration area also sells firewood and ice. There are coin operated showers at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, about 5 miles south, though.

Dolly Copp Campground is located at the base of Mount Washington, New England’s tallest peak and in the middle of a dense mixture of fir, pine, and spruce forest. The Peabody River and Culhane Brook cut through the facility.

Summer temperature is always ideal but forest weather can switch instantly and can put campers at risk of cold, rain or even snow exposure.

Areas to Camp

Dolly Copp Campground has the campsites distributed among 9 separate areas each having more than enough space. There are some more isolated areas like the Brook Loop where they don’t allow trailers.

The roads here are narrow, lined with dense trees which give the feeling of being deep into the forest. These loops are ideal for pitching tents.

The Big Meadow area is where most of the open sites are and thus, where motorhome campers stay. There are also loops dedicated for big groups. For some who want peace and quiet, a few more set off loops are available to use.

The Big Meadow Loop of Dolly Copp Campground.
The Big Meadow Loop of Dolly Copp Campground. Image credit: Sarah C. on thedyrt.com

The Spruce Woods Loop is one area in the campground where trees are more crowded. The forest filters sunlight, making the forest floor cool even during the hottest summer days.

In addition, seeing your neighboring campers here is also almost impossible. With the forest being thick with trees, campers won’t be able to have a favorable view of the night sky for stargazing.

Recreation

Hiking

Aside from camping, adventurers come to Dolly Copp Campground for hiking.

By the Kancamagus Highway and up Route 16 are a number of trailheads ranging from long to short and steep to gradual. One can find something that suits the mood, time and energy level of a hiker.

Being at the foot of Mt. Washington, the campground is a great base camp, especially for hikers heading the Presidential and Carter ranges.

The summit of Mount Madison can also be reached from Dolly Copp by trailing the Daniel Webster Trail. There is also the Imp Trail to the North Cater Mountain to the Imp Face.

The Peabody River

Culhane Brook is part of the Peabody River where campers can cool themselves down. The water here remains freezing even if the air temperature is high.

Families often go here, sit on the rocks and dip their toes into the water. Camping near the brook is a great way to experience the calming sound of the gushing water.

Freshwater fishing is also something to try in the Dolly Copp Campground. One can be lucky with a brook trout in the creek or in the river.

Flora and Fauna

Viewing the fall foliage towards the end of the camping season is a great opportunity at the campground as well.

The national forest is a natural habitat for various species of northern wildlife. These include moose, white tailed deer, and the American black bear. There are also about 200 bird species living in the white mountains. These include the rare Bicknell’s Thrush.

Wildlife sighting is common at the Dolly Copp Campground and an encounter with the American black bear is a possibility but campers are advised not to feed them. Food odors attract bears and feeding them may lead to conflict and result in injury or death of both the camper and the bear.

Do not keep food in tents but keep it in locked vehicles instead. Never leave food outdoors or near the campsite and never scatter leftovers or burnt food.

Dolly Copp Campground Reservations

Campground hosts stay at the campsites. They are full of useful knowledge and additional useful information on regulations and more activities in the facility. Some visitor programs and interpretive walks are also offered during the season.

Dolly Copp Campground is operated by Pro-Sport, Inc. Online reservations of several sites can be made through US National Forest Reservation Center, especially during the peak season.

Other sites are available on a first-come-first-served basis. You can call 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) to reserve. The site map is available for download here.

Site with one vehicle costs $25 per night. An extra vehicle is $5 per night. Hookups for water and electric are $12 with no discounts on hookups. Showers have recently become available for $2.50.

Conclusion

Dolly Copp Campground has certainly earned the ranking of one of the best campgrounds in North America. With abundant hiking in the mountains, fall colors to see, and plenty of wildlife, it’s easy to fall in love with this special place. Camping is very affordable and the facilities at the campground are great!

Looking for more great destinations? Consider checking out North Carolina’s Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Heading to the west coast? Consider hiking to Alamere Falls from Palomarin Trailhead or camping at Lake Almanor.

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