Located in Fitzwilliam, Rhododendron State Park encompasses over 2,700 acres of native plants, with a 16-acre stand of native rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum), the largest grouping in northern New England. The grove was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982. The park is also home to wild mountain laurels, heathers, mayflowers, wintergreens, blueberries, and cranberries, all growing under the shade of densely-packed deciduous and evergreen trees. There are several short hiking trails; the main trail is wheelchair accessible; one trail leads to the top of Little Monadnock Mountain, which is within the park. Click here for trail maps.
The wild rhododendrons are usually at their peak in mid-July; check the state park’s bloom report by clicking here. Please do not expect to see masses of flowers, the way you might see them in a man-made garden; these plants are wild, and receive no fertilizer, cultivation, etc., so blooms may be scarce even in their peak season. But you will be seeing plants as the first settlers might have found them hundreds of years ago, surrounded by native flora and fauna. Click here for some tips on the best way to experience the park.
For a short video showing the park in bloom, click here.
The area was originally given to the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1903 as an area to be preserved in its natural state; it was turned into a state park in 1946. A short history of the park is available online. The park is easily accessible from Rhododendron Road off State Route 119 between Fitzwilliam and Richmond.