North America’s Best Campgrounds: Dolly Copp Campground in Gorham, NH

One of our favorite campgrounds – Dolly Copp –  is tucked away in the White Mountain National Forest, just outside of Gorham, NH. Kendra camped here as a young kid with her parents and brother. She introduced it to me before we were even dating, and I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the woods. After I got over my initial trepidation (as an inner-city kid, I rarely spent time in the woods as a child), I fell in love with camping (and Kendra), and we became Dolly Copp regulars. Addie’s first camping trip was at Dolly Copp, making her the third generation in the family to experience this beautiful, historical campground.

Camping at Dolly Copp Campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Three generations camping at Dolly Copp Campground – me, Kendra, and Addie in our tent, Kendra’s parents in their RV.

Originally the homestead and farmland of Hayes Copp (1806-1889), and his wife Dolly Emery Copp (1807-1891), the land was first used for camping in the late 1800’s. The formation of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876 signaled a growing interest in hiking the White Mountains. As more trails were cut, hikers sought overnight refuge, and many of they found it on the Copp homestead. In 1915, the land became protected by the United State Forest Service, and not long after, in 1921, it was formally recognized as a public campground.

Old Dolly Copp homestead.

Old Dolly Copp homestead.

Culhane Brook, an offshoot of the Peabody River, cuts though the campground, providing a great place to cool down during hot summer days. Keep in mind, no matter how high the air temperature, the water is always freezing. We like to sit on the rocks and dip our toes into the frigid water.

Addie swimming in Culhane Brook at Dolly Copp Campground.

Addie swimming in Culhane Brook at Dolly Copp Campground.

Our favorite campsites are along the brook – #82-#84 in the Brook Loop, and #104-#107 in the High Woods Loop. All of these sites are relatively secluded, are a quick walk to the water, and best of all, the rushing sounds of the brook lull you to sleep each night.

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Madison, and a short drive from Mt. Washington, Dolly Copp is a great home base for day hikes in the Presidential and Carter ranges. You can reach the summit of Mt. Madison by following the Daniel Webster Trail from the campground.

Daniel Webster (Scout) Trail in the White Mountains of N.H.

We often hike the Imp Trail, a moderate-to-strenuous 6.6 mile loop that follows the Imp Brook up North Cater Mountain to the Imp Face – an outcropping of rock that can be seen from the Dolly Copp Campground. On a clear day, you can see the entire Presidential Range from that vantage point.

Navigating with Addison across the Imp Brook, which can be difficult when the water is high.

Following the Imp Trail across the Imp Brook.

The Presidential Range as seen from the Imp Face.

The Presidential Range as seen from the Imp Face.

If you’re at Dolly Copp for a long stay, and craving civilization, nearby Gorham provides a rustic, New England feel. There’s a small coffee shop, diner, bookstore, a few gear shops, and a number of gift shops. A 30-minute drive in the other direction takes you to North Conway, home to theme parks, ice-cream stands, mini-golf, and tourists. We like to drive through here on the way home from Dolly Copp so we can hit up the outlet stores.

Planning Ahead

Each campsite features a fire ring with a grill top and a picnic table. There are no showers at Dolly Copp, but there are flush toilets and running water. (There are coin-operated showers at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center just 5 miles down Rt. 16.) Firewood and ice can be bought at the registration desk.

Season: Mid-May through Mid-October

Reservations: Call 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or reserve on-line at Recreation.gov

Cost: $20 per night (includes one car – an additional car is $5/night)

There are frequent wildlife sightings in the campground. Last year we saw a moose! Be aware of the local wildlife – black bears, moose, deer, and other wild animals.

A moose on the loose at the Dolly Copp Campground in New Hampshire!

A moose on the loose at the Dolly Copp Campground in New Hampshire!

Directions

From Gorham, NH: Travel south 6 miles on NH Route 16. Turn right onto Dolly Copp Road, travel 1/2 mile to campground.

From North Conway, NH: Travel north 23.5 miles on NH Route 16. Turn left onto Dolly Copp Road, travel 1/2 mile to campground.

More of North America’s Best Campgrounds

Check out these great reviews of other campgrounds in North America!

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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17 Responses to North America’s Best Campgrounds: Dolly Copp Campground in Gorham, NH

  1. Lisa Stott May 14, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing. You always post informative stuff. I never knew about this place.

  2. Janeiack May 14, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    We have wonderful memories here. Fantastic moose picture. All we usually see of moose is the sign!

  3. livelylittlecampers March 16, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Planning our trip to the White Mountains this summer…any favorite 3-5 mile hikes in this National Forest? We have 2 five year olds and a 1 year old.

  4. Samantha July 31, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    What was your site number? Looks like a nice site, trying to book a trip to dolly copp!

    • Jen August 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

      We love #82-#84 in the Brook Loop, and #104-#107 in the High Woods Loop.

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