For their wedding weekend, Mike and Amy shared their summer camp tradition with us: A stay at Rockywold Deephaven Camps, a family resort in Holderness, New Hampshire. Below, a review of our stay and the best things to do around Squam Lake.
Getting to celebrate the love of one of your oldest friendships is already the best ever. Getting to experience Rockywold-Deephaven Camps Squam, her legendary New Hampshire summer family camp spot of 30+ years is... well, see for yourself.
Staying at the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps
Rockywold-Deephaven is a historic family camp founded in 1897. There are two sides of camp: Rockywold and Deephaven, which were originally two separate resorts before they merged in 1918.
The cabins are generally reserved for weeklong stays from Saturday through Saturday, so given our long weekend schedule, we spent two nights in one of the Rockywold lodges before making our way over to our lakeside cabin on the Deephaven side for the remainder of the weekend.
Rockywold-Deephaven Check-in Time
Our wheels touched down at Boston Logan close to midnight, so it was dark by the time we arrived at Rockywold-Deephaven. Though check-in is normally at 4 pm, because we got in so late in the evening, we located our room on our own and made ourselves at home. We simply stopped by the next morning to pay for our stay (via cash or check only—they don't take card!)
We pulled up to our cozy waterside cottage by boat, tied our pontoon to the dock, and unloaded our bags.
The cabins had beautiful, old floor to ceiling pine—and they were stocked with books and board games for your evening fun.
Keeping with tradition, all of their cabins feature twin beds, which we happily pushed together.
RDC's Vintage Ice Boxes and Annual Ice Harvest
In lieu of a refrigerator, each cabin has a vintage ice box that hold huge blocks of crystal clear lake ice harvested from Squam each winter during the Annual Ice Harvest. Each day, RDC staff would come by and refresh our lake ice (while it looks cocktail-ready, it's not for consumption).
A few years ago, Rockywold-Deephaven experimented with buying three mini-fridges, but no guests actually wanted them. And so the ice boxes are still going strong!
To my surprise, the ice boxes stayed very cold and were completely effective at chilling our cheese, wine, and... fishing bait.
Each cabin has its own working fireplace, with firewood and kindling restocked each day, so you can simply take a match to it and have your own roaring fire in minutes.
After a day on the lake, it was a blissful way to end the evenings with a little wine and scotch.
What's Included in the RDC Squam Stay
Each cabin has private dock access on Squam Lake, a fireplace, a screened in porch, and an old-fashioned ice box. The rooms had bed linens, towels, extra blankets, but no toiletries or hair dryers. The heavily international camp staff came by each day to clean, make up our rooms, and reset the fireplace and ice box.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were included at set times in the dining hall daily. It really did feel like summer camp! There are also facilities like tennis/basketball courts and organized activities like yoga and square dancing (most of which we didn't have time to enjoy).
During peak season, our rate was $139 per person, plus New Hampshire's 9% lodging and meals tax.
Our cabins were the epitome of rustic—with no heat, air conditioning, locks, or kitchens. Wifi is (intentionally, I suspect) spotty. But the simplicity, tradition, guest camaraderie, and natural beauty of Rockywold-Deephaven was unlike anywhere else I can think of.
Location : Holderness, NH 03245
Phone : 603 968 3313
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.rdcsquam.com
Things to Do at RDC on Squam Lake
1. Hike up Rattlesnake Mountain.
On the Saturday morning before Mike and Amy's wedding, a couple bridesmaids and the bride took an early morning hike up to west Rattlesnake Mountain. It's only 45 minutes or so up and down, with a few steep but brief inclines that get your heart pumping... just in time for 8 am breakfast at the dining hall.
The views up top of Squam and Lake are gorgeous—fall foliage here would be a dream!
2. Rent a boat to explore the lake.
Since we got in to New Hampshire on Thursday evening before the Sunday wedding, we rented a pontoon all day Friday and Saturday.
Rockywold-Deephaven doesn't allow boats over 25hp to dock on their property in order to retain the quiet calm of the lake. There’s a speed limit of 40 mph during the day, 20 mph at night, and no rafting is allowed, so you don't get the cabin cruisers that jam up the popular Lake Winnipesaukee nearby.
On most lakes I've been on, speedboats, wakeboarders, and jetskiers are constantly making waves. But Squam was very much a tranquil oasis, with only the occasional boat passing by. This also means it's perfect for smaller kayaks and sailboats, which you can rent from RDC.
After dinner on Saturday, we took the boat back out as the sun was setting, a hazy pink shimmering on the water. Once the sky darkened, we wrapped ourselves in blankets and looked up at an incredible display of stars.
We thought the rental prices in New Hampshire were incredibly reasonable compared to what we've paid at similar places in Colorado and Montana.
River Edge Marina
Phone : 603 968 4411
riveredgemarina.com | TripAdvisor
Price : We rented the 25hp 18' pontoon boat for $225 per day,
plus a $50 overnight fee so that we could return it in the morning
instead of 4:30 pm. There was a $1500 day-of security deposit—and no taxes!
How to book : Call within 1 week to do daily weekend rentals,
otherwise, weekly rentals can be booked in advance.
3. Visit the Church Island chapel.
Recognized as the home of the first summer youth camp in America, Chocorua Island is home to a stunning open-air chapel created by the camp's first season of boys. It's also a breathtakingly beautiful wedding venue, where my friend Amy held her ceremony.
In 2016, Chocorua Island was named to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
During the summer from June to September, worship services are still held on Sunday mornings. The island is only reachable by boat (you can take your own), but open to all respectful visitors.
Roundtrip pontoon boat shuttle transportation to Sunday services is offered for $10 per person. The island is closed between sunset and sunrise.
4. Fish for smallmouth bass and blue gill on the lake.
We bought some night crawlers and crawfish at AJ's Bait & Tackle in the next town over, and had a great few fishing days catching smallmouth bass and blue gills on the lake.
Well, mostly the guys. Brittany and I spent more time pretend-driving the boat, drinking rose, and enjoying the sun.
5. Check out the Squam Marketplace.
Just a few minutes outside of RDC is the Squam Marketplace, which feels like a little specialty shop pulled right out of wine country Sonoma. Stop by for your morning pick-me-up: They have plenty of fresh pastries and a full coffee bar.
Though it's a small shop, there's a wide selection of deli items and quick groceries, with lots of options for those with dietary restrictions.
You can also find local beer and small production wine. We've often had difficulty finding shops with a decent wine selection in semi-remote areas or small towns like Holderness, so we were excited that Squam Marketplace was just down the road!
A wall of cute, high quality Squam apparel and other Squam memorabilia make for great souvenirs or gifts.
The marketplace is the only convenience store in the area that has a dock, so you can even drive over by boat and stroll up to shore.
Above all—RDC Squam is about relaxing and appreciating the serenity and simplicity of life on the lake.
One morning, I happened to wake up as the sun was rising, and stepped out barefoot onto our own dock for a 15-minute meditation. It was the most quiet my mind has felt all year.
In the evenings after the (very early!) dinner wraps up, stillness envelops the lake and you only hear the haunting cry of Squam's loons. Whether reading, writing, meditation, or sun salutations is how you reset—this is the place.
P.S. A canyon slot trail through with views of unreal tent rocks in New Mexico and the off-the-beaten-path towering rocks of Meteora, Greece.