In continuing my series of offering reviews of frugal camping vacations, I present to you my review of Shawme-Crowell State Forest. My girlfriend and I visited this park last year towards the end of the summer. We spent a total of 5 nights here and had a great time. The park is located in Sandwich, Massachusetts and it is right over the bridge to enter Cape Code. It is basically as far west as you can go and still be within Cape Cod.
You can rent normal campsites, yurts (canvas tent-like structures), and there are also sites big enough to accommodate RVs, trailers, and pop-up tents. The park is very large with over 200 campsites available! The park itself is not that impressive when it comes to things to do – but that was not a downside for us at all. There is a playground if you have kids, there is hiking (over 10 miles of trails), and there is a small camp store that will sell firewood, ice, and some other small necessities like bug spray, cold drinks, sunscreen, etc that you may need during the summer months.
We stayed at campsite 15C in Camping Area 1. Every campsite comes with a picnic table and a fire pit, pretty standard for most campsites. We were able to fix a tarp over our tent for increased protection from the rain as well. From some of the reviews we read online some of the campsites in Area 2 are much closer to Route 6 so you can hear the traffic at night when trying to sleep. There are also more bathrooms in Area 1, and they are supposedly newer than the ones in Area 2. We had no complaints as this seemed to be true and the bathrooms themselves were very clean (fully stocked with soap and toilet paper) for campsite bathrooms. There was hot water and even some individual showers further away from our campsite. Our actual campsite was nice and secluded, with plenty of room. We could see our neighbors across the way but we were not right on top of them. Some campsites along the main road have less privacy – so I would avoid those if that is what you are looking for.
The great advantages of this park is the location itself. Where else can you stay in Cape Cod for only $12+ a night (around $15-16 for out of state)?! When you are booked at a campsite at Shawme-Crowell State Forest l it gives you free day access to the nearby Scusset Beach. This is a great little beach on the Cape Cod Bay, with the Cape Cod Canal just below the beach. We took advantage of this and made several day trips to the beach which is a short 10 minute drive. We also took a day trip on the hottest day to Orleans, Massachusetts to visit Nauset Beach so we could get an actual Atlantic Ocean beach as opposed to one just on the bay. The beach and waves were awesome and we were even able to see all the seals! I will warn you though that the water is quite cold at both of these beaches if you are used to going further south (I am), but on a hot day it doesn’t feel bad at all once you adjust.
There is plenty to do right nearby, as you are in the historic town of Sandwich but you are still in Cape Cod – you are definitely not in the middle of nowhere camping here. The town is not as busy as other resort towns on the Cape, which we though was kind of nice. If you are into history there are plenty of houses and museums to visit within the town as well.
We stocked up on groceries at a local supermarket about 5 minutes away and we were also able to get some bigger bags of ice as well for the same price as the camp store. There’s also a mini-golf course in town, a boardwalk through the marshes, as well as a few small ice cream places that will sell their homemade ice cream “sandwiches.”
Honestly I feel that this park gives great value and a great location and the free parking/day access pass to Scusset Beach is what really sold us on going here. If you are looking for an all-inclusive campsite I would not recommend this but otherwise I highly recommend it. Think of Shawme-Crowell as your “base camp” and before going research what you want to do in the surrounding area. It clearly beats any other prices on Cape Cod and you have the fun of camping!
If you have any additional questions about the park that I may not have covered in my review, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll try to answer them as best I can.