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Rediscover nature at these 10 awesome New York campgrounds

Here are the best spots to pitch a tent and get your fix of the great outdoors within a three hour drive of the city

Sometimes when the buildings of New York start to close in on you, that distinct-yet-nebulous haze of garbage-stink feels a little thicker, and none of the beautiful people you pass by make eye contact with you, it's time to get away. Axe the anxiety of city life; go where eyes can stretch beyond 100 feet, smell smells that don’t set off alarms in your brain, and make eye contact with some trees. Lucky for you, this kind of escape is less than a two-hour drive from the center of Manhattan.

RECOMMENDED: All of the best day trips from NYC

Photograph: Courtesy NPS Photo

Fort Wadsworth

40mins by car

Just a hop, skip and a 40-minute drive down to Staten Island is good ol’ Fort Wadsworth. Most people know it as “that old fort by the Verrazano Bridge” or “the place where the marathon starts,” but as of 2012 it’s been known as one of the most accessible campgrounds in New York City. What other campground can boast thousands of acres of wilderness, an unmatched view of an historic New York bridge and an old military base? Not many, and this one only has 7 campsites, so you better call ahead. Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island (nps.gov, 718-354-4655)


Floyd Bennett Field

40mins by car

If you’re driving to Fort Wadsworth but suddenly your friend decides she despises revolutionary-era military forts and would prefer to camp near a WWII naval air base, make a hard turn towards Floyd Bennett Field. Purposefully sleeping under the stars and cooking over an open flame has never been easier in New York City thanks to this sprawling, fully-equipped campground that features hiking, kayaking, fishing and many of the other –ings associated with camping. 50 Aviator Road, Brooklyn (nyharborparks.org, 718-338-3799)

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Bettyx1138

Harriman State Park

1hr by car

Take the Palisades Parkway up to Bear Mountain and after a scenic 30 miles, you’ll be surrounded by roughly 200 miles of hiking trails, 31 lakes and unbridled Instagram potential of the NYC skyline far off in the distance. At Harriman State Park, you can flat-out unroll your sleeping bag next to Lake Tiorati and sleep there, find a stone lean-to sprinkled along the park and call that your home, or opt for more civilized camping in one of the park’s many cabins. Seven Lakes Dr / Bear Mountain Circle, Ramapo, NY (nysparks.com, 845-947-2444)

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Stacylynn

Fahnestock State Park

1hr 15mins by car

Boasting more than 75 campsites and a huge beach surrounding Canopus Lake, it’s no wonder Fahnestock State Park is one of the most popular city escapes in New York. Work up a sweat hiking through 14,000 acres of forest, then top it off at the beach by diving into the freshwater Canopus Lake. Plus, in the winter, it’s a top cross-country ski spot, but we won’t talk about winter. 1498 NY-301, Carmel, NY (nysparks.com/parks/133, 845-225-7207)


Malouf’s Mountain Sunset Campground

1hr 30mins by car

If the sudden urge to escape the city is so strong you need to leave literally everything behind and take the first train out, then Malouf’s is the campground for you. Once you train there via Metro North Hudson River Line, you can only get to the campground by hiking to it. Then rent a tent and enjoy private campsites with covered platforms, fire pits and all the cooking amenities you’ll need. 1 Ferry Plaza, Beacon, NY (maloufsmountain.com, 845-831-6767)

Photograph: Courtesy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

North-South Lake Campground

1hr 50mins by car

Reigning in as the biggest campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve, North-South Lake allows for quiet, secluded areas for you to set up camp in one of its 219 campsites. Upon pitching your tent, hike along the Escarpment Trail that leads you past historical, breathtaking sites like Kaaterskill Falls, the Scribner Saw Mill and Newman’s Ledge…plus less breathtaking sites such as Alligator Rock, which is, you know, a rock that kind of looks like an alligator. Haines Falls, NY (dec.ny.gov, 518-589-5058)

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Chris Martino

Kittatinny Campground

2hrs by car

The Kittatinny Campground offers 350 secluded campsites nestled into the Catskills Mountains. Set up camp in the thick Catskill forest, or adorn your tricorn hat and pitch a tent along the Delaware River. Much like George Washington crossing the Delaware en route to war, you can cross the Delaware en route to zip lines and paintball at Kittatinny’s Adventure Center—bravery is bravery, in our book. 378 Route 6 and 209, Milford, PA (kittatinny.com, 570-296-5890)

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/KFCasper

Macedonia Brook State Park

2hrs by car

Macedonia is a bit more of a trek than the other campgrounds listed, and being located on the Connecticut side of the Catskill Mountains, it’ll cost non-Conn residents a little extra cheese to camp. That being said, it’s worth it—especially if you want to escape both the city and its beloved inhabitants. Each of the 51 campsites in Macedonia is private, unique and without a whisper of that haunting cellphone service that beckons you back to work emails and the grid. Check out Kent Falls, Hilltop Pond and, of course, the Macedonia Brook when you’re there. 159 Macedonia Brook Rd, Kent, CT (ct.gov, 860-927-3238)


Taconic State Park

2hrs 10mins by car

Taconic State Park is one of the more popular state parks for camping in New York and is great for casual campers looking to grill out, breath some fresh air and see the unblemished night sky like you’ve only seen on your iPad. A few of the campgrounds can get a little crowded, so depending on the experience you’re looking for, make sure to call ahead. Nevertheless, being able to stand under Bish Bash Falls, hike up Brace Mountain and step foot on the historic Appalachian Trail is worth the stay itself. 253 NY-344, Copake Falls, NY (parks.ny.gov, 518-329-3993)


Peekamoose Mountain

2hrs 15mins by car

The campgrounds in Peekamoose Mountain are for those who really want to rough it in the wilderness. Since the camping comes free, don’t expect the usual amenities that come with those other namby-pamby campgrounds. No, at Peekamoose, few of the sites are accessible with a vehicle, there are no pre-installed grills, and don’t even think about asking for hot showers. This is primitive camping, so go here if you feel the need to remind your friends that you were almost an Eagle Scout. Catskill Park, Ulster, NY (nynjtc.org)