Campground Review: Camden Hills State Park, Maine

Campground Review: Camden Hills State Park, Maine
                                                   Camden, Maine

I pulled up to the ranger station at Camden Hills State Park with the usual site-anxiety that grips me upon entering each new campground.  Would our site be spacious? Would there be room for the boys to play and scream?  Or would we be staring at a 50 foot RV’s sewage lines all week and yelling at our boys to get out of our neighbors dirty fire ring?  It may seem greedy for me to always expect a really big site–but when your kids wake up at 5 am each morning with 1000 AMP energy you don’t want to be 10 feet away from your (temporarily) sleeping neighbors.

We don’t want a huge site because we don’t like other campers.  We want a huge site because we really do like other campers and we want them to like us.  Waking strangers up at 5 am is no way to make new friends–if you don’t believe me try it sometime.

After I filled out the registration forms the ranger pointed to a huge field to the right of the station and said, “your site is all the way at the end of that field.”  “Field,” I thought.  I don’t want to camp on no stinkin’ field!  When I reserved the site in March the ranger told me that we were at the edge of the woods.  I assumed that this meant that we were in the woods and the field was right past that. Here we go again–another stinky site reserved months ago after extensive research.

It was a warm July day and I suddenly had images of sitting around the campground and sweating profusely all week.  I could also hear the non-stop cries for “milk, ,milk, milk” ricocheting across the campground from the boys bright red faces..  My boys sweat bullets like I do.  I imagined lots of sweating and the boys pounding down milk by the gallon.  A gallon of milk is still more expensive than a gallon of gas, right?

I grumpily drove through the woods and pulled onto the single lane of sites on the field at the edge of the woods.  Our camping buddies had already arrived and set up their Jayco pop-up and their kids where playing on the grass.  Then I started to lighten up a bit.

It was just one single row of sites.  No campers in front of us. No campers right behind us.  We had the site at the end of the row.  So no campers to the right of us either.  Our camping buddies had the site to our left.  Then I really started to lighten up. Our campsite was huge!  This was no pie slice of a site, this was a genuine piece of central Maine real estate.  I could have built a home on this site and started a new life.  These sites were about three times the size of a site at a private campground.  The photo below is of just the two sites that we occupied with our friends and the field in front of us!

We also realized that, at 3 pm, the entire row of campers was in complete shade while the rest of the field was bright and sunny.  While I set up the camper the boys began to romp across the vast lawn.  They had never had so much room to run and wrestle and bonk each other over the heads with their Styrofoam pool noodles at any other campground.

As I raised the roof up and extended the bed-ends on our pop-up I could only hear shrieks of laughter and pure joy.  My first impression was dead wrong.  This place was heaven.  The sun was very intense in the mornings–so we did leave early for each mornings activity to avoid the heat.  We returned from each activity at about noon to feed the boys lunch and give them a nap.  When they woke up from nap time each day our site was shaded and cool and the filed was warm and bright.  Perfecto!

We loved Camden Hills State Park.  There was nothing not to love.  Loads of open space, spotless bathrooms with hot showers, a quick drive into a lovely town, ice-cream up the road, great swim spots a short drive away, and at 40 bucks a night with electric and water, it was a great bargain.  But most importantly, the campers loved the magic drainage grate in the middle of the field. This drainage grate made a terrific, clanging sound when jumped and danced upon–and our lively little campers jumped and danced until their hearts (and the campground)  were filled with that joyful sound.
If you cross Belfast Road to the other side of the park there is another world to explore.  There is a long, sloping grassy field with Adirondeck chairs and an ocean view.  If you walk down to the edge of the park there is a pretty path along the water with grills and picnic tables.  Not appropriate for campers our age, but perfect for a family picnic with older kids.  There is also a path that leads right down to the rocks with a spectacular view of the sea.  There is group camping back up the hill and clean bathrooms and showers.  What a lovely, lovely place to camp.  I know our family will be back.

Oh, and did I mention the panoramic view at the top of the park from Mount Battie? It’s just a short hike or an even shorter drive from your campsite to one of the most famous spots in Maine.  It’s not as cool as the magic drainage ditch, but you can jump and dance up there too, and you won’t wake up any of the other campers if you do.

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