Monday, August 6, 2012

West Thompson Lake Campground, North Grosvenor Dale, CT

We had yet another great trip up to West Thompson Lake campground late in July with good friends!  The weather cooperated, Sarah's "mystery camping illness" stayed away, we had water and electric hook ups and the kids had a blast - who could ask for anything more?

Run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (making it a Federal campground, not State owned), West Thompson Lake campground consists of 24 campsites (11 basic sites, 11 sites with water and electric hook ups and 2 lean-to shelters).  They offer bathrooms with hot showers, interpretive hiking trails, a fantastic play ground for the kids, a dump station, a basketball court and horseshoe pits and even sell firewood for a mere $3 a bundle (no ice though!).  While swimming in the lake is prohibited due to water quality issues, a public boat ramp affords boating and fishing enthusiasts access to the 200 acre lake.  The sites can accommodate anything from tents to 45 foot long motor homes.  Basic sites are $15.00 a night, sites with hook ups are only $30.00 a night and the lean to's are $20.00 a night.  Very reasonable!  Reservations (which are offered 6 months in advance) can be made by visiting

This campground is pretty close to immaculate.  We saw the bathrooms being cleaned twice daily by the campgrounds hosts, and while most campground bathrooms come standard with spider webs/moths/creepy crawlies I found myself searching and searching the bathrooms for insects of any sort and would often come up empty handed.  I'm not sure how they do it, but I think they even clean the vaulted ceiling in there.  The Army Corps members are also very attentive to the park - they patrol the campground regularly and are extremely helpful and friendly.  It was obvious our site had been meticulously raked and cleaned before we arrived.  All of the sites here are very level, private and super easy to get into, particularly the ones on the water/electric side.  The sites with no hook ups are a smidge smaller but still a nice size.  And one of my favorite things about this campground is the interactive campground map offered on their website - they have pictures of all the campsites!  It's every trip planner's dream!  Click here to check it out:  West Thompson Lake Interactive Campground Map

The playscape at West Thompson Lake campground

We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday, driving through some pretty heavy rain.  But by the time we pulled into the campground the rain had stopped, meaning we didn't have to get soaked while setting up - always a plus!   Our friends Jen & Art and their 2 boys had arrived just before us and the kids were thrilled to see each other.  We were on Site 5, the same site we stayed on last year.  We like it because it's extra large, close to the bathrooms and close enough to the playground that we can still see the kids from our campsite.  Jen & Art were nextdoor to us on Site 7 with their 33 foot travel trailer and still had a ton of space.

Our set up on Site 5
All 24 campsites were booked this weekend, mainly due to the fact that there was an antique camper club rally going on.  We had a great time watching all the unique campers come in and set up and the club members were very friendly.  On Friday night we walked the campground loop and I couldn't help but take some pictures!

A flag pole and an entire set of Scottish plaid luggage set out in front!

Quite a few very cool tear drop campers!
This one was so small it fit under an EZ up tent!

The dads took the kids fishing every day down at the nearby boat launch and they caught a TON of fish!  This was particularly exciting for my kids - though we had tried and tried on previous trips, they had never caught any fish before this weekend!   Big thanks to Art for bringing REAL worms - I think that did the trick!

We hiked along the lake on Sunday, saw some great scenery and ended up tracking down a couple of geocaches.  These were the same 2 caches we had found last time were there, but it was fun to track them down again and see all the new "swag" that had been placed inside since the last time were there!  Jen, Art and the kids had never gone caching and thought it was great - who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?

Sifting through the geocache goodies

Scenery hiking along West Thompson Lake
Sunday night one of the Army Corps members came around and told us they were going to be hosting an outdoor movie ("Up", complete with a campfire and s'mores) at the amphitheater, so we headed down there with the kids just as it started to get dark.  We didn't make it through the whole movie because the kids were wiped out from the days' activities, but they loved it nonetheless!

And every evening right around dinner time we were visited by this gorgeous guy - a red-tailed hawk that must live in the area and be pretty used to the campers because boy did he let me get up close and personal for a good picture!  The other birds in the area definitely were not happy that he kept stopping by, but we thought it was pretty cool.

I really can't say enough good things about West Thompson Lake - this one is a must do for us every year.  The only thing this place is lacking is swimming and waterfront sites, but there are so many other great things to see and do that you almost don't even notice it.  This is the only campground we visit that has water and electric hook-ups so it is always a treat for us!  We'll be back next year for sure!


  1. Boy did you bring back memories of campground bathrooms. We even stayed at one location where you had to put quarters in for hot water!

    1. They are still like that at Burlingame State Park in Rhode Island! Those were by far my least favorite bathrooms to date!

  2. Nice blog I know that his kind of activity can enhance the bonds and relationship, keep it up. Any way I like also the blog of sebago lakes campgrounds.

  3. Haha! That's funny that I JUST stumbled upon this blog from 2012 (I'm writing this in 2016). That is my vintage camping group that camps there every year!

  4. This little Army Corps of Engineers campground is an old favorite, but with our fish boy we tend to go other places since you can't swim here in the dammed lake (as in dam to hold the water back, not damn, LOL) Since Theo was off at scout camp for the week and we were taking Friday off to pick him up, we decided to go on a little overnight on Thursday after work.

    We had hoped that Friday's weather forecast would be wrong and that we'd be able to get out to play a round of disc golf and get out on the water to try our new inflatable SUP, but alas the rain came and didn't stop. We did take a nice little rain hike, though!

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