The Phoenix Nest

Sunsetview Farm Camping Area, near Springfield, Massachusetts

Sunsetview Farm Camping Area, near Springfield, Massachusetts

A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

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Abstract

I spent a week at Sunsetview Farm Camping Area, near Springfield, Massachusetts. I was attracted not only by a chance at my first stay in western Massachusetts, but also by the well-reviewed Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. There was also the Nash Dinosaur Track Site, which was intriguingly name Nash Dino Land when I was doing my research.

Page Prerequisites
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2018_0508
Title Sunsetview Farm Camping Area, near Springfield, Massachusetts
Subtitle A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Springfield, Massachusetts, Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL https://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Development Began: 2018/5/9
Last Revised 2018-06-22

Monson, Massachusetts

Arrived 2018/5/8
Day of Tour 290
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2018/5/15
Map miles from last stop 66
Mileage on arrival 36,779
Actual miles from last stop 529
Accumulated miles for trip 18,262

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I spent a week at Sunsetview Farm Camping Area, in the town of Monson, near Springfield, Massachusetts. I was attracted not only by a chance at my first stay in western Massachusetts, but also by the well-reviewed Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. There was also the Nash Dinosaur Track Site, which was intriguingly named "Nash Dino Land" on its web site when I was doing my research.

Page Contents

Western Massachusetts

I stayed in a cluster of towns in west-central Massachusetts. The nearest was Monson, the largest, Springfield, the most interesting, Amherst, with Holyoke and Palmer in the mix, all arrayed in that quasi-rural, quasi-urban (but definitely not suburban) style of land-management peculiar to New England. The countryside and towns were like something out of a Currier and Ives print, except that the horses were under the hoods. Amherst and Holyoke together house some half a dozen institutions of higher education, the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College among them.

The Journey

One benefit of traveling through the states of New England is that the drives are short: only a couple of hours from my Rhode Island campground to Sunsetview Farm Camping Area in Monson near Springfield in western Massachusetts.

Or at least it would have been. When I reserved my site at the campground, the lady I spoke with warned me not to take the Route 20 that my GPS was likely to direct me onto. They sent me very precise instructions about what route to take to avoid big rig unfriendly roads and a flea market up on Route 20 in Brimfield. And I followed those instructions. I studied the map intensely the night before, and I studiously avoided the bad roads. BUT then I missed the last, crucial turn. And there was no place on that road to make a U. So I ended up on Route 20 anyway, crawling through two miles, TWO MILES! of flea market. Apparently, as I learned later, it was the opening day of their season. I finally got through, and tried to find a way back to the campground on the winding roads of Massachusetts, and finally ended up - you guessed it - going back through the Brimfield flea market again. Ah well, no harm done. It was still early in the afternoon. I got to the campground with another story of misadventure.

The trip was scenic. Like Connecticut and Rhode Island, Massachusetts is hilly and rocky, but the hills seem softer and more rounded, with a deeper layer of soil on the rock, an effect heightened by the arrival of spring and the leaving of the trees. Ents have definitely begun their annual gardening.

Around Springfield

 

Photo Gallery for Springfield

Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield PHOTO CAPTION

Sunsetview Farm Camping Area

Aside from being somewhat difficult to get to, at least on that day of the year, Sunsetview Farm provided a pleasant, relaxed week. The campground is laid out on a rolling hill, so the lanes wind around, but they are wide enough, so I had little difficulty with my big trailer. The park is mostly sunny (probably testimony to its roots as a farm), with an ample scattering of big, shading trees. My site itself was just big enough. The staff were quite friendly and helpful, and quite ready to warn me off roads that were not friendly to big rigs. Were I to pass through that part of Massachusetts again, I would not hesitate to return.

Photo Gallery for Sunsetview Farm Camping Area

Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Sunsetview Farm Camping Area
Address 57 Town Farm Road
Monson MA 01057
Home Page https://sunsetview.com/
Phone ‭(413) 267-9269
Associations
Rate (net US$) $33
Pros
  • Attractive campground
  • Sunny, but with a smattering of old, shading trees
Cons
  • Somewhat difficult to get to the first time
Reviews (as of 2018/1/27)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews   10
Good Sam   10
KOA   5
Tripadvisor   5
Phoenix 7 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 7 10
  Ease of Access 7 10
  WiFiPhoenix 8 10

Points of Interest

I toured around the huge campus of the University of Massachusetts, then parked near Amherst College to visit its Beneski Museum. I then visited the Nash Dinosaur Tracks, a commercial attraction that traffics in 200-million-year-old trace fossils from its own slate quarry.

Beneski Museum of Natural History

The collection of fossils here is a small but representative, providing a magnet for field trips from schools all over the region. I competed for viewing space with at least one of those trips during my visit. Unique among the museums I have visited, Beneski houses a very large collection of dinosaur tracks from the Connecticut River Valley that runs nearby.

Photo Gallery for Beneski Museum of Natural History

Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Baltoeurypterus tetragonophthalamus
Silurian Period
Beneski Museum of Natural History
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Baltoeurypterus tetragonophthalamus
Devonian Period
Beneski Museum of Natural History
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Phillipsastgraea gigas
Devonian Period
Beneski Museum of Natural History
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Sillimanite-garnet migmatite
Devonian Period
Beneski Museum of Natural History
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Beneski Museum of Natural History
Dinosaur Tracks
Jurassic Period
Beneski Museum of Natural History
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)

Nash Dinosaur Tracks

After leaving the Benesky Museum, I stopped by what amounts to a prototypical roadside attraction, Nash Dinosaur Tracks, except that, unlike the ordinary tourist trap, the road to the site is hard to find and the owner has done his homework. He has a slate quarry behind his shop, where he lifts layer after layer of slate, looking for tracks of dinosaurs that walked in the mud around a lake, back a couple hundred million years ago, when New England lay much nearer the equator. He's left a few clear specimens out in the quarry, and a few more that I couldn't be sure about. Trace fossils, and fossils in general, look obvious when they're mounted in a museum. Out in the field, it takes a trained eye to recognize any but the most obvious of them.

Photo Gallery for Nash Dinosaur Track Site

Nash Dinosaur Track Site
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)
Nash Dinosaur Track Site
(Click photo to view highest resolution image.)

Fossils in Western Massachusetts

The fossil collection at the Beneski Museum of Natural History was definitely worth my time, and the quarry of dinosaur tracks at Nash Dino Land was unlike anything I had seen before. I took lots of photos. As of right now, however, I am unable to show you more than the above sampling of them, since I have begun planning a major consolidation of my fossil photo collection, and the time it would take to organize a temporary local collection, for each of the museums I have not yet shown to you, would impede that redevelopment. But I'm not allowing myself to work on it until my weekly blogs are up to date. The photos will come, I promise you, though I suspect it will not be until next fall.

Onward

My next stop after leaving Springfield was New Hampshire, from which I visited my brother, my stepson and their families, as well as a token few of the sites of Boston.

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