CT River Camping

Connecticut River Camping

There are six legitimate camping areas along the Connecticut River.

Four provided by the state at River Highlands State Park, Hurd State Park, Gillette Castle, and Selden Neck State Park.  And two provided by the Connecticut Chapter of the AMC at Kings Island and Chapman Pond.  Each offers “primitive” riverside sites with fireplaces and outhouses for individuals and groups traveling on the river.

  • State sites are available from May 1 through September 30.  The length of stay is limited to one night.  All have a fee of $5 dollars (plus a $9 “transaction fee” to Reserve America).  The entire process is done online: Create an account on Reserve America, select your camping area, choose your stay using an availability calendar, pay, and receive a confirmation email.  I always carry a printout on my trips, but haven’t needed it yet.
  • AMC sites are free and first come first served.  They hope to create a chain of campsites, one every five miles along the length of the river.

The Six Camping Areas (North to South)

  • Kings Island
    • Single area with two wooden platforms on the eastern side of the island.  There is also a bear box as a safety precaution.
  • River HighlandsReserve America reservation link
    • 2 sites with a max of 6 campers at each – One site near the shore and another set back amongst the trees.  Both are low along the water so may occasionally flood during high water
  • Hurd State Park Reserve America reservation link
    • One site for a maximum of 12 campers. River campers must break camp by 9 a.m. There are no ground fires allowed and fire pits are not provided. There are pedestal grills and picnic tables.
  • Chapman Pond Preserve
    • A bit hidden from the river by Rich Island and a short paddle across the pond, the site has two tent platforms which can accommodate up to 10 people or four tents.
  • Gillette CastleReserve America reservation link
    • One site for a maximum of 20 campers in the clearing next to the boat launch. River campers must break camp by 9 a.m. There are no ground fires allowed on the Castle grounds and fire pits are not provided. There are pedestal grills and picnic tables.
  • Selden NeckReserve America reservation link
    • Cedars Camp – Down the north end of Selden Creek is the wide and clear Cedars Camp.  There is a small beach, fire pit, picnic tables, and a pit toilet.   At the western side of the camp is access to the white Paul Robertson trail. Maximum of 20 campers.
    • Hogback Camp – This camp is easy to access and sits on a low bluff named Hogback overlooking the river.  At low tide it can be a muddy/silty walk to get to water deep enough for boats.  The sloping site has a flat area with room for a couple tents and there are two picnic tables, a fire pit, and an outhouse.  Short paths lead to overlooks facing southwest.  Short of bushwhacking there is no access to the trails from this site. Maximum of 6 campers.
    • Spring Ledge Camp –  A nice semi-secluded spot right next to the river and easy to access.  It has a fire pit with stone seating, picnic tables, and a pit toilet.  There is a trail heading uphill that connects up main trails near the red/white junction. Maximum of 8 campers.
    • Quarry Knob – This site is the most difficult to access.  There is a small break in the growth along the bank where as tree has fallen.  Even at low tide it can be difficult to get secure footing and your boat up the bank over the log.  There is an easier spot to access a couple hundred feet south.  Once up on the bank there are 2-3 flat areas with fire pits and a nearby pit toilet.  This site has easy access to the red, blue, and white trails. Maximum of 12 campers.

Kings Island


41.954496, -72.612596

Kings Island Eversource Land Trust 120 acres in Enfield and Suffield, CT Parking: Access by water only, nearest boat launch is Kings Island Boat Launch Boat launch… Read more…

River Highlands State Park


41.619244, -72.630702

River Highlands State Park Connecticut State Park 177 acres in Cromwell, CT Parking: Medium sized lot near 115 Field Rd Cromwell, CT Trail Map      Trails: 8…

Hurd State Park


41.521777, -72.543105

Hurd State Park Connecticut State Park 991 acres in East Hampton, CT Parking: Small lot near 1 State Hwy 439, East Hampton, CT Trail Map      …

Selden Neck State Park


41.400831, -72.418437

Selden Neck State Park Connecticut State Park 607 acres in Lyme, CT Parking: Accessible by water only closest access is from the Hadlyme Ferry Boat Launch near… Read more…

Chapman Pond Preserve


41.445753, -72.435977

Chapman Pond Preserve The Nature Conservancy and East Haddam Land Trust Property 700 acres in East Haddam, CT Parking: Medium sized lot near 187 River Rd, East…