Squam Lakes Association Camping - Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated 7/9/2020

SLA's Frequently Asked Camping Questions


For information and policies regarding COVID-19 view the (COVID-19 UPDATE) link on the main camping page. 


Making a reservation?

On SLA's camping page click the link under RESERVE A CAMPSITE. This opens a new tab. Navigate the calender: a clear block represents open availability whereas a pinetree marks closed. Click within the box then click "Reserve this date." This is your Reservation Inquiry, fill out all required information and submit. You'll receive an email imminently after submitting: THIS IS NOT YOUR CONFIRMATION SHEET. This email is just a placeholder/receipt letting you know your spot is reserved. 

Following year reservations.

General reservations open the second week of February. Camping reservations cannot be made for the following year, for example, if the current year is 2017 you cannot place a reservation for 2018. See camping lottery below. 

Camping lottery.

The annual SLA camping lottery takes place January to February. Only current members can participate, you may join or renew on the form. All participants must complete the lottery form, which is made available on our website January 1st. You can mail, email, or fax us your completed form by the date listed on said form. You get the chance to choose your five (5) preferred campsites and dates. Reservations will be selected at random and winner / losers will be notified by the first week of February. If payment info is not provided you'll have three (3) days once notified to get us a payment or your spot will be terminated.   

Confirmation email?

It may take three working days to receive your camping confirmation sheet, via email, after submitting a reservation inquiry. Reservations made on a Friday may not appear in your inbox until Monday. This sheet includes a three digit number at the top right. Have this sheet, physically or digitally, with you during your stay. If you do not receive any notification from us after seven days, please check your spam folder. 


Payment information provided in your Reservation Inquiry will be charged the full amount one to three days after submitting. If you receive a Confirmation Sheet/email your card was charged. For any reason a payment cannot be processed, card declined or information not provided, we will contact you via email and phone. You have one week to respond or your reservation will be removed. 

Checking in?

On the day of your camping reservation, you may go directly out to your site.  Have a copy (physical or digital) of your completed camping confirmation form with you. SLA caretakers will make multiple stops throughout the evening to check you in. Check-in 12:30pm. Check-out 11:30am.


Parking is free with your stay. You may park here at the SLA (534 US-RT 3, Holderness). If staying at any of the Wister campsites, parking can be found just off College Rd in Sandwich. There are two small lots, East & West.

Switching a camping reservation site or date?

If you would like to change a site or date, a camper must ask for a cancellation in writing to info@squamlakes.org. Then reserve the desired site/date through our website as a separate transaction. This "new" reservation guarantees the site is still available. Our site is the more up-to-date information on availability.  

Inclement weather?

Like many campgrounds, the Squam Lakes Association does not offer refunds for inclement weather.  If it rains you may choose to cancel your camping reservation, refunds will be in accordance with our cancellation policy.

Cancellation policy?

The SLA camping cancellation policy is to offer a full refund, less $25 handling fee, if a cancellation is 14 days or more prior to camping date.  50% refund if cancellation is 7 days or more prior to camping.  No refund with less than 7 days notice. Cancellations must be made in writing to info@squamlakes.org.

Cancellation fees?

The closer to your camping reservation date the higher the cancellation fee. See cancellation policy above.

Why can’t I rent more than one site per island/area per night?

Over time it has become clear that large groups renting sites next to each other have a significant impact on the local environment. This regulation was put in place to ease environmental impacts and to preserve the experience for all to enjoy.

Max number of people per site?

The SLA maintains eight "small" campsites (6 person max) and three "large" campsites (12 person max). You will be fined $35 for every person over the age of two that exceeds this limit, no exceptions. 

Does the SLA have a camping waiting list?

No.  The Squam Lakes Association does not maintain a waiting list for cancellations.  Once a cancellation is made we update our website to reflect its vacancy. To find out the availability of a certain campsite or date, please view our availability online page.

What amenities are available on site?

Our backcountry campsites include fire rings and composting toilets nearby. We do not offer electricity, trash receptacles, wifi, running water, picnic tables, grates for fire pits, tents, or shuttle service to island campsites.

Tent platforms?

Bowman #1: (6 person max) has no platforms
Bowman #2: (6 person max) has 3 raised 10x10 wooden platforms
Bowman #3: (6 person max) has three 10x10 pea stone platforms
Bowman #4: (12 person max) has three raised 10x16 wooden platforms
Moon #1: (12 person max) has 3 raised 10x16 wooden platforms
Moon #2: (6 person max)has 3 10x10 pea stone platforms
Moon #3: (6 person max) has no platforms
Wister #1: (12 person max)has 3 raised 10x16 wooden platforms
Wister #2: (6 person max) has no platforms
Wister #3: (6 person max) has no platforms
Wister #4: (6 person max) has no platforms
Heron Cove: (6 person max)has 3 raised 10x10 wooden platforms

Tents must be set up on platforms where provided to prevent ground compaction.


Bowman Island: 2 docks (North & South)
Moon Island: 2 docks (located on southwestern shore)
Wister: 2 docks (East & West)
Heron Cove site: 1 dock.
Review the "campsite map" on the camping tab for a better understanding of location. All docks will generally be installed mid May and removed early October. Plan your visit accordingly. Installing/removing docks is an extremely labor intensive job dependent on a variety of conditions. If we are unable to get docks installed by the time listed on our webpage we'll contact campers. Docks are on a first-come-first-serve basis we cannot guarantee the availability of dock space. We encourage all kayaks and canoes to use beach/shore access closest to your site. Larger boats should have gear to properly moor if needed. Each site does not have its own private dock. All SLA docks are available for public use.

Cell phone coverage?

Cell phone coverage is spotty throughout the region. Depending on the carrier you may get reception but no guarantees. Plan for no or very limited coverage.

Ticks, Spiders, Mosquitos, and Bugs?

It is very likely you will encounter one or possibly all four during your stay. Reminder, you are camping outdoors in a near wilderness environment that is home to many species of biting insects, spiders, and ticks. SLA staff are not trained medical professionals, we cannot verify if you have contracted Lyme disease. If you feel ill after a tick bite consult your primary care physician or hospital.We cannot control insect populations, bugs are just a part of camping, plan accordingly and bring along your preferred repellents, candles, and/or mesh.


Pets/dogs are allowed on Bowman & Wister campsites ONLY. Pets must be leashed at all times, no exceptions!

No pets on Moon Island.


This is a Pack It In, Pack It Out facility. No trash receptacles are available at camping locations or SLA's main building. Remove all trash and dispose of properly.

Transportation and parking?

The SLA does not provide shuttle service to campsites. Kayak and canoes rental are available through the SLA. Personal watercraft can be used; boats under 25hp can launch from our location, over 25hp must launch from the public boat ramp in Holderness. Dock space is on the first come first serve basis. Do not tie your boat to or move any swim lines. Field parking is available and free of charge for overnight campers (boat trailers included) at the main SLA building at 534 US-RT 3, Holderness, NH 03245. Parking for Wister campsites can be found at the East and West lots off of College Road.

Can I drink the water?

We do not recommend that you drink unfiltered water.

Fire wood?

Camping fees include 1 bundle of wood per night, which will be available near dock locations. Additional bundles can be purchased for $3/bundle at the SLA main building or $5/bundle near docks. Additional bundle payments can be made to SLA caretakers, the store, or by calling us at 603-968-7336. Do not collect firewood from your campsite or the surrounding area.

Can I bring my own firewood?

No.  To protect the area from firewood gathering and to prevent the spread of invasive pests, do not bring firewood to our campsites.

Wildlife encounters?

Remember that you are in a near wilderness location with many types of wildlife. Most encounters are harmless but avoid unpleasant interactions by running a clean camp. Do not feed wildlife. Do not approach wildlife. Report wildlife encounters to SLA staff. Hanging a bear bag has not been necessary in the past but do so at your discretion. Camping presents certain dangers and there is no guarantee of safety. 


 The SLA does not have emergency response units or the capacity to adequately respond to rescue situations.

 In the event of an emergency contact 911. 

 Holderness Police dispatch: 603-536-1626 

 Marine Patrol dispatch: 603-293-2037

 Squam Lakes Association: 603-968-7336