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Kid & Dog Friendly Camping in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

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Summit of Artists Bluff
View from the top of Artists Bluff overlooking Echo Lake

Overview

Family Adventure

Camping in the White Mountains with a baby and two dogs

New Hampshire’s White Mountains never fail to impress. The White Mountains are less than 2 hours from our home in southern New Hampshire and we try to visit multiple times a year.

The past two years we didn’t get to visit the White Mountains due to my rough pregnancy and long labor recovery after delivering my daughter in the summer of 2022. So, a trip to the White Mountains was overdue.

This time around we would be visiting with a baby AND our two dogs. That meant special planning, packing and preparing our vehicle to haul us all there with all of our gear for a weekend getaway in the White Mountains.

Peak foliage in the White Mountains starts around the first week of October through the end of the month and I wanted to be there for the start of it. So we prepared my Jeep for the adventure, packed our things, and set off to the White Mountains as a family.

Artists Bluff White Mountains New Hampshire
Seasons Change and so do the mountains

Visit The White Mountains in the Fall

I have fond memories of hiking in the summer with my husband and our two dogs. This year was the first time we all went as a family with our daughter who is now about 15 months old.

My two favorite seasons for visiting the White Mountains are summer and fall. I have hiked and camped in every seasons but summer and fall have the best weather.

Fall in the White Mountains attracts people from all over the world. Seeing the mountain trees go from green to yellow, orange and red is absolutely stunning. Even if you don’t hike, you can appreciate the foliage driving through the White Mountains in your car. There are plenty of scenic lookout points along the Kancamagus Highway.

We went the last weekend in September which is the start of the leaves changing in the White Mountains. There are only a couple of weeks to see the peak foliage in the White Mountains so if you plan to visit try to go in the middle of October.

Even if you miss the foliage the mountains are always beautiful to see.

Packing & Planning

What to bring when camping with two dogs and a baby in the White Mountains

Base Camp & Vehicle Gear

You could bring a backpack, hiking shoes, water, granola bars, a tent and sleeping bag and get by just fine in the White Mountains if you are traveling solo. There are plenty of stores and shops to grab a bite, pick up some gear, or get whatever else you need or forgot at home.

My husband and I packed a lot lighter when it was just us and the dogs. Now that we have our daughter, we have a bit more to bring but it’s still manageable! Before I get into the specific dog gear and baby gear we bring, I want to talk about a few upgrades we did to make this trip easier and more organized.

With two dogs and a baby, you need enough room in your vehicle to have everyone ride comfortably and safely along with all the gear you bring.

I have a 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L and that’s what we used for this trip. It’s got a lot of room inside, but not enough to hold all of our camping gear, two dogs, a baby, and two adults to sit comfortable without bags and gear strewn about. I could’ve crammed everything in but the dogs would’ve been buried in gear or my husband would’ve been buried in gear so I made a few changes.

We purchased some things to make our vehicle better equipped to store all of the camping gear we were bringing with plenty of room in the back for the dogs along with gear that made camping with a baby more comfortable.

Our gear upgrades this year:
Snailfly Crossbars for 2021-2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Crossbars are essential for carrying large cargo on the roof of your vehicle. If you kayak or just want to carry extra cargo on your roof, you need a good set of crossbars.

I actually ordered a Gobi roof rack and hadn’t received it before our trip and decided to purchase these Snailfly crossbars to use in the meantime.

I lucked out and found an unused pair on Facebook marketplace for $50 down the street from my house! The install was easy very fast and easy.

If you are traveling with dogs, babies, or just more people, having a set of crossbars allows you to utilize the roof of your vehicle for storage of any kind with the right roof rack accessories.

iKamper Sky Camp 2.0 Roof Top Tent

We purchased a rooftop tent ahead of our trip so we would have a more comfortable place to sleep with our daughter. We’ve always slept on the ground with traditional tents, but we wanted something easy to setup and comfortable to sleep in.

No assembling tent poles, unfolding tent tarps or rain covers, no hammering in stakes, no fastening or assembling of any kind with this rooftop tent.

The iKamper SkyCamp 2.0 pops up in minutes with no assembly aside from locking the ladder in place and propping up the front flap with a couple of metal rods. It has a 1.75″ padded foam inside that is large enough to sleep 3 adults or in our case, myself, my husband, our 15 month old daughter, and our two dogs with plenty of room for another person.

There was so much room inside we were able to bring our bags in there and our daughter could walk around with plenty of space. The inside of this tent felt bigger than our king sized bed at home!

I love this tent and will talk more about it later in this post.

Folding Crate

I searched everywhere online for a camp cook kit and no one had what I was looking for. I didn’t want anything fancy I just wanted a box of some kind that could store all of our camp kitchen gear and double as a table.

I also wanted a crate that would allow me to stack things on top of it in the trunk of my Jeep but still allow me to access what was inside if I needed to.

This crate was the closest thing I could find and it worked better than I expected. It’s plastic and upon opening it I was skeptical of its quality. Now that I have camped with it and put it to the test, I am confident that this little crate will be with our family for a very long time.

Some key features are that it can collapse when you aren’t using it and it can be stowed away very flat to save you space. When it’s closed with the lid on it can be used as a seat. My daughter loved climbing it. The lid is not real wood but I don’t care and it’s easy to clean and can double as a cutting board.

The biggest thing for me was that this crate has 3 access points to get inside: the top and both sides. If you have things stacked on top of this crate in your trunk like I did,  you can still access what’s inside by using the side doors. Both sides and the top have little latches to keep the doors locked and there is even a spot to put an actual pad lock if you wanted to prevent anyone from gettin into the crate from the sides.

98CC7C29-5CB9-4723-8402-67E5116C7410_1_105_c

I wanted to get a cargo carrier so I could store our camping chairs, tables, backpacks, and rooftop tent accessories without taking up trunk space so the dogs would have plenty of room.

The Mockins folding cargo carrier was the perfect accessory for my Jeep. It folds up when not in use and allows you to open the trunk when it is in use.

It can hold up to 500lbs and it came with a waterproof storage bag the size of the carrier, a cargo net, a bunch of tie downs, a locking pin with key so no one can steal the carrier, a stabilizer, and a lock for the cargo bag zippers.

It’s easy to install and remove and I will be using this cargo carrier for so much more in the future.

Mockins Folding Cargo Carrier Hitch Mount 500lbs

I love this cargo carrier and it’s perfect for any size SUV with a standard 2″ hitch receiver.

We have a YETI cooler and we love our YETI cooler but it’s a cooler and it needs ice in order to keep everything cold. With a baby, we need to store milk at a safe and consistent temperature so we got the BogueRV 12V fridge for my Jeep.

We also feed our dogs raw meat and were able to bring some with us on this trip. We would normally bring canned tuna or chicken for them to eat instead but I was happy we could bring their normal food on this trip with the BogueRV.

It can plug into a regular outlet or a 12V cigarette charger in your vehicle. I had a 12V port in the trunk of the Grand Cherokee so we put it back there and it ran the entire time by my car was on. When I turned the Jeep off we plugged it into our Goal Zero batter (read about that next).

BogueRV 12V Portable Dual Zone Car Fridge & Freezer

This fridge/freezer plugs into the 12V in your car and is perfect for any camping trip or road trip.

We’ve actually had our Goal Zero battery for awhile so it wasn’t really new, we just never needed to bring it on a camping trip before until now.

In the second row of my Jeep Grand Cherokee L is a 110V outlet. We used that to charge the Goal Zero while we were driving and when we weren’t driving we used the Goal Zero battery to power the BogueRV fridge in the trunk.

Camp Gear for Dogs

The dogs are easy to pack for. Collars, harnesses, leashes, dog food, water bowl, and poop bags. They don’t need much other than their family and food to eat.

Having a proper harness on your dog is important for hiking and camping. It’s so much easier to pick a dog up with one hand under their belly/rib cage and one hand on their harness and it’s safer for everyone.

We’ve done some hikes where the dogs needed helping climbing up rocks and we are always able to help them by pulling them up by their harnesses.

Things I look for in a good harness 1) comfortable for the dog 2) easy on and easy off 3) reflective pipping or tape of some kind 4) breathable and easy to clean 5) a handle or easy way to grab the harness to lift the dog up if you need to.

Ruffwear Web Master Dog Harness

We love these durable dog harnesses by Ruffwear and they are perfect for hiking with dogs day or night.

Ruffwear Web Master Dog Harness

I did bring a giant carabiner which I highly recommend to anyone camping with a dog. It serves multiple purposes but it made attaching the dogs leashes to various things very easy.

For example, look at this photo:

Jeep Grand Cherokee L with cargo rack and dogs
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L with iKamper SkyCamp 2.0 and Mockins Cargo Carrier (plus dogs)

When you are dealing with a fussy baby, dogs barking at other dogs, traffic, etc. you need all that chaos to become organized chaos. I was able to attach the giant carabiner to our cargo rack and had the dogs close by while we changed diapers, packed bags, and did whatever we needed to do at the car that required both of our hands.

Giant Carabiners

Great for attaching dog leashes to things and for holding bags on a stroller.

The carabiner is actually for holding bags on a stroller, but it works well for dog leashes on a cargo rack. Click the picture or button above to get a pair for yourself – they come in handy a lot!

Camp Gear for a Baby

You need your typical baby things when camping with a baby: diapers, wipes, extra clothes, milk, bottle warmer, and food. The only tricky part is figuring out how to clean bottles and warm bottles in the woods.

I packed my OXO travel size drying rack with bottle brush to wash bottles at the campsite. I love that the brush has two tips: the tip of the brush is for cleaning bottles and the handle of the brush comes off and has a smaller pointed brush for cleaning bottle nipples. Both parts of the brush fit perfectly inside the drying rack and it closes shut like a book.

I bring dish soap in a travel soap bottle and bring a kitchen towel from home to dry the bottles faster. I put all of that in a waterproof zipper bag and bring it to the bathroom with me when I go to brush my teeth at night.

I always bring our Tommee Tippee travel baby bottle warmer for when our Phillips Avent bottle warmer can’t be used (due to not having enough electricity to run it). I boiled water in a pot over the fire and filled the Tommee Tippee for our travels.

To boil water faster make sure you use an aluminum pot of some kind. We brought a cast iron dutch oven to cook over the fire with but for boiling water for the baby an aluminum pot works best. Most backpacking cookware pots and pans are made of anodized aluminum and will work just fine.

oxo baby bottle brush and drying rack
OXO Travel Size Drying Rack & Bottle Brush
Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle Warmer
Tommee Tippee Travel Baby Bottle Warmer
Our Campgrounds

Lost River Valley Campground in North Woodstock, NH

We were going to grab a first come, first serve campsite in the national forest but our friends had just come back from a White Mountain family camping trip themselves and spoke very highly of this place so we thought we’d give it a go!

We called to reserve a spot a couple of days before our stay. Normally, campsites book fast in the White Mountains but our trip was planned outside of the busy season so we didn’t have any issues finding a spot at this family campgound.

It was so adorable and perfect for us.

There is a creek that passes through the property and tons of sites for tents and also cabins. You’re surrounded by trees, can hear the sound of the water flowing from the creek, and are far enough away from any many roads that you can’t hear cars at night or see any lights. It was peaceful.

The campground had showers, bathrooms, electricity and a little store that sold snacks, drinks, some camping essentials, firewood, lighters, and more.

It was $50 a night which is more expensive than most campgrounds but it was well worth it.

Lost River Valley Campgrounds Campsite
Lost River Valley Campgrounds Campsite
Setting up Camp

Rooftop tent camping with the iKamper SkyCamp 2.0

This was our first time camping with both of our dogs and our daughter. We have always camped with tents on the ground but we were looking for something easy to pitch, large enough for all of us, and great year round – through rain, snow, and summer heat.

We decided to purchase the iKamper Sky Camp 2.0 and I am in love with it.

I found our rooftop tent on Facebook marketplace at a discount from a very meticulous owner who only used it a few times. It have purchase some accessories for it like shoe racks, insulated walls for winter camping, an attachable annex and a large awning.

I have an entire post about how and why I purchased the iKamper Sky Camp 2.0 that you can read about here if you are looking to get a rooftop tent – I love everything about ours.

We got to our campsite after sundown during some serious rain so we had to set up in the dark and in the rain.

With one working headlamp and a tiny lantern, we got the tent set up in under 5 minutes. It took longer to set up the awning but it was necessary and worth it to keep us and the dogs dry while we made dinner.

Getting the dogs up into the tent was tricky. Our black lab, Koda, is just heavy and our smaller dog, Obi, is not as heavy but is very afraid of a lot of things.

My husband is a lot stronger than I am so he carried them both up into the tent. I think if you have a smaller and lighter dog it’s not even an issue, but larger dogs are going to be challenging to get up and down from a rooftop tent.

Getting them down was a little more challenging because they didn’t want to get down. My husband had moved a picnic table to the base of the ladder to make the descent seem less intimating for them and also, to make it easier for my husband to get them in and out.

Andrea carrying Indi in the Nuna Cudl Carrier
(Echo Lake Beach) Indi strapped into the NUNA CUDL Carrier about to hike Artists Bluff
Exploring the White Mountains

Kid & Dog Friendly Adventure in the White Mountains

The White Mountains are for everyone. Dogs are everywhere, families are everywhere and people of all ages come to see the White Mountains all year long.

In the fall, these are our top 4 places to see, hike, and explore with kids and dogs.

Note: Not everywhere in the White Mountains is dog friendly (like the popular Flume Gorge) but most places are. Make sure you check before you bring dogs and keep in mind the seasons when you bring them!

Artists Bluff White Mountains New Hampshire

1. Artists Bluff

Two words: THE VIEWS. This is why you do this little hike. Park at the parking lot by Echo Lake Beach, walk towards the road, take a right and you will see a little sign in the woods that says “Artists Bluff Trail”.

Follow the trail to the right for a challenging little steep hike to the top of Artists Bluff or take the trail to the left for a more varied hike to Bald Mountain that cuts across to Artists Bluff. The whole loop is about 1.5 miles out-and-back. I suggest hiking both trails – we like to hike the steep side (the trail to the right when you start your hike) on the way up and take the trail to Bald Head on the way back down.

Dog at the Basin White Mountains New Hampshire

2. The Basin

If your dogs love water you need to bring them here. There are tons of little pools of water for the dogs to splash around in. There is also heavy flowing water in some areas so be mindful of where you let your dog enter and wander off to in the water.

There are two parking lots for the Basin one on each side of the highway so no matter which way you are traveling you will pass by the Basin on your way while driving in the White Mountains.

There are beautiful hikes that break off from the Basin like the hike to Lonesome Lake (next on the list).

Dog in the lake at Lonesome Lake

3. Lonesome Lake

This is a cute out-and-back hike perfect for the dogs, children, and the whole family.

We like to pack a lunch and have it out by the lake. Unlike most hikes, this one is to a lake and not a mountain but the views are amazing and the lake is really shallow and peaceful. Your dogs will like to splash around and have a swim here.

Lincoln Woods, NH

4. Lincoln Woods

This is a very popular trail in the White Mountains. You need to wake up early to park here because the lot is always full! It’s mostly flat and follows an old train track through the woods. You’ll walk along the Pemi River and be surrounded by trees. You could bike this with mountain bikes if you wanted to.

In the summer, on really hot days, it’s the place to swim. The best days to swim are when the temperature outside is over 80 because the water flowing in the Pemi is always cool. In the fall, it’s nice to just sit by the river and admire its breadth and beauty.

More photos from our trip

Photos from Camping in the White Mountains

about the author:

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Andrea

Andrea is the voice behind Living Like Lacasse. She is a mom, designer, and all-around creative who loves good food, good company, and good design.

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