Our 12 Best Camping Destinations In The US
Picture this: after a day of meandering through forest trails, jaw-dropping vistas, and dipping your toes into a babbling brook, you cozy up around a blazing campfire to bask in the glow of the stars. Crack open a cold one, and indulge in some gooey s’mores – ahh, tranquility at its finest.
Yet, there’s more! Studies have revealed a myriad of benefits linked to spending time in nature. From sharpened focus and elevated mood to faster recovery and improved sleep patterns, venturing into the great outdoors can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being.
Today, we’ll look at places that permit wild camping, unveil the most picturesque camping spots in the U.S., and highlight destinations where camping is lawful. Read on!
1. Yosemite National Park, California
With its towering granite cliffs and waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic camping destinations in the United States.
The park boasts 13 campgrounds and over 1,400 campsites. Each offers a unique, excellent experience.
It offers a variety of camping options, including tent sites and R.V. hookups. And it’s also famous for its stunning beauty and extensive trail system.
Some of the best campgrounds in Yosemite include Upper Pines. This one is centrally located and has easy access to hiking trails. There’s also the Tuolumne Meadows, which offers stunning views of the High Sierra, making it an excellent spot for stargazing.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
Nestled on the rugged coasts of Maine, Acadia National Park is known for its stunning coastline, mountains, and forests.
The park has two campgrounds- Blackwoods and Seawall. These two offer easy access to hiking trails, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
Blackwoods is the larger of the two campgrounds, though. It is located near the park’s main visitor center. Seawall, meanwhile, is located on the quieter western side of the park and offers stunning ocean views.
Various camping options include backcountry camping, tent camping, and R.V. camping.
While camping in Acadia National Park, visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails. For instance, the famous Cadillac Mountain Trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.
3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is another awe-inspiring natural wonder that offers a unique way to experience the great outdoors.
There are several campgrounds within the park- although Mather Campground is the most popular, located in the South Rim area of the park. It offers easy access to hiking trails, ranger-led activities, and stunning canyon views.
Overall, this destination offers breathtaking views alongside spectacular natural wonders. And with campgrounds located within the park, you can experience the Grand Canyon’s beauty from sunrise to sunset.
4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the place to be if you love wildlife. It is one of the oldest and most iconic national parks in the U.S.
The park is home to various wildlife, including bears, elk, and moose. This means you will have quality time being close to these magnificent creatures.
That means you will have quality time being close to these magnificent creatures. The park boasts 12 campgrounds, with over 2,000 campsites.
Some of the best campgrounds in Yellowstone include Madison. This one is strategically located to access the park’s major attractions easily. There’s also Bridge Bay, which is located on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Looking for an excellent camping destination for families with young children? Look no more. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recognized for its lush forest, wildflowers, and wildlife. And perhaps that’s why it is one of the most visited parks in the U.S.
You will get to enjoy some stunning mountain views and wildlife. Another great thing about this par is that it has 9 campgrounds and over 800 campsites- each offering a unique experience.
Some of the best campgrounds in the park include Elkmont and Cades Cove. The Elkmont, in particular, is located in a historic district and offers easy access to hiking trails. Cades Cove is located in a valley that provides stunning views of the mountains.
You can also go fishing in one of the park’s many streams or take a scenic drive along Cades Cove Loop Road.
6. Zion National Park in Utah
Famous for its stunning red rock formations and narrow canyons, Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is a fantastic place for camping enthusiasts.
One thing we loved about the park is that it offers a variety of camping options, ranging from backcountry camping, and R.V. camping, to tent camping and other outdoor activities.
Some popular campgrounds you’ll find here include the Watchman Campground; located near the South Entrance, and South Campground; situated near the park’s Visitor Center.
While camping in Zion National Park, visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, like the iconic Angels Landing Trail- which offers stunning canyon views from above.
The shuttle service also helps visitors access different areas of the park without having to drive. Popular activities include rock climbing, canyoneering, and horseback riding.
7. Glacier National Park, Montana
Hailing from the Rocky Mountains of northern Montana, Glacier National Park is renowned for its breathtaking mountain vistas. And, of course, valleys carved by glaciers.
This park has an array of camping options and notable campgrounds, such as Many Glacier Campground (close to the park’s eponymous glacier) and Fish Creek Campground (nestled on the shores of Lake McDonald).
While staying in Glacier National Park, visitors can explore numerous hiking trails. These include the world-famous Highline Trail, which provides mesmerizing views of the park’s alpine landscape.
Another exciting activity is driving along the park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road or observing wildlife in its verdant meadows and valleys.
8. Joshua Tree National Park in California
In Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park boasts a distinct desert landscape with iconic Joshua trees. It is a beautiful place to be, thanks to this park’s camping options, such as backcountry camping, R.V. camping, and tent camping.
Notable campgrounds include Jumbo Rocks Campground, right in the park’s heart. There’s also the Black Rock Campground, found near the park’s north entrance.
Here, you can explore various hiking trails, including the world-renowned Ryan Mountain Trail, which delivers breathtaking views of the park’s rock formations and valleys.
Additionally, visitors can indulge in thrilling rock climbing. Or better yet, enjoy a memorable stargazing experience in the park’s dark, clear night skies.
9. Grand Teton National Park
Snuggled in the northwestern region of Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is a perfect place for all campers. Thanks to its towering mountain peaks and glistening alpine lakes.
Popular campgrounds within the park include Jenny Lake Campground. This is one situated near the park’s main visitor center. You’ll also find the Gros Ventre Campground- which is located on the park’s eastern side.
Not to forget camping options such as backcountry camping, R.V. camping, and tent camping. They are all available at the park. That means you’ll have plenty of outdoor activities at your disposal.
You can explore many hiking trails, including the famous Cascade Canyon Trail, which presents mesmerizing views of the Teton Range.
Additionally, visitors can enjoy a relaxing fishing experience or take a scenic boat ride on one of the park’s stunning lakes, creating unforgettable memories.
10. Rocky Mountain National Park
In the heart of north-central Colorado lies Rocky Mountain National Park- a breathtaking natural wonderland that boasts soaring mountain peaks and a rich diversity of wildlife.
Here, visitors can choose from a range of camping options. This park has got you covered, from backcountry camping to R.V. camping and tent camping.
You can explore the park’s many hiking trails. They offer unparalleled views of the rugged mountain landscape. The famous Longs Peak Trail is a must-see, providing hikers with panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
The scenic drive along the park’s Trail Ridge Road is a gem for a more leisurely pace. This awe-inspiring road is the highest continuous paved road in North America. And it offers incredible views of the Rocky Mountains from above.
11. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in the Northeast? Look no further than the rugged terrain of the White Mountains. The Appalachian range offers a thrilling hiking experience, not for the faint of heart. But the breathtaking sights you’ll witness are worth every step.
As autumn descends upon the mountains, the surrounding foliage erupts in a stunning display of reds, oranges, and yellows- sure to leave you spellbound.
And if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the wilderness, the 8 walk-in state park campgrounds in the forest’s northern region offer the quintessential camping experience.
Reservations are required for developed campsites, but backcountry tent camping is permitted (except for specified no-camping zones).
For those seeking a truly rustic experience, log lean-tos are scattered throughout the trails, though a small fee may apply. You can find rail conditions and additional information through the Appalachian Mountain Club.
The forest is open year-round, though visitor center hours may vary. Prepare for an unforgettable adventure at the White Mountains in the heart of nature’s splendor!
12. Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York
The Minnewaska State Park Preserve boasts a captivating landscape that will take your breath away. With its soaring Shawangunk Ridge, cliffs, and winding footpaths, it’s no wonder this park is one of the oldest climbing spots in the country.
The Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths to take you through natural rock formations. You’ll find three crystal-clear lakes and dense forests.
And for those who want to stay overnight and experience more of what the park offers, the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway is the perfect place to pitch a tent.
This minimalist yet high-quality campground offers tent-only sites with access to a pavilion and cooking area, a bathhouse, restroom facilities, and trails.
With 24 drive-in spots and 26 walk-in spots, each accommodating up to two tents and four people, reservations are highly recommended.
Remember to plan and follow park rules and regulations. This will help to ensure a successful trip while enjoying the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors.
Otherwise, the great outdoors is an incredible playground full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s a hidden waterfall, a stunning vista, or a secret trail, there’s always something new and exciting to explore.