Looking for some camping inspiration in the United States?
It's camping season. The days are getting longer. The temperatures are warming up. It's time to start planning that summer getaway. And one of the best (and relatively) cheap ways to get away this summer is to plan a camping trip.
If you've been here a while you know I love to go camping but with the help of a few of my fellow bloggers, I put together a list of some of the most amazing camping destinations in the United States so you can be inspired. I know I am.
Where can you camp in the USA?
Spencer Beach, Hawaii
Photo Credit: This Hawaii Life
Probably one of the most fun and scenic places to camp in the USA is in Hawaii. There are lots of places around the islands where you can go camping which makes it the perfect camping destination.
There are many campsites run by the Hawaii State Parks systems. Many of them are located close or right on coastal and beach areas which are a fantastic way to camp and enjoy the landscape of the islands. You can easily bring your own equipment or opt for buying the essentials when you arrive on the islands. Take your pick of one campsite or choose to bounce around. Each island offers unique advantages to traveling and touring around.
One of my favorite places to camp would be on the Big Island. With so much area to travel around and explore, camping is a popular and inexpensive way to visit the many wonderful attractions around the island.
One of the best oceanfront campgrounds is Spencer Beach on the Kohala side of the island. With perfect weather, gorgeous sandy beaches and wonderful historic and cultural sites to explore in the immediate area, you definitely will enjoy staying and camping in the area.
You can even pick some spots right on the coastline with magnificent views of the area and a very short walk right up to the beach. They also have fantastic public facilities which is a huge plus.
If you are planning on visiting the Big Island soon, check out this post on a family-friendly visit to the Big Island and seeing the best places to visit and explore around the island.
Recommended By Noel from This Hawaii Life
Death Valley, Panamint Springs, California
Photo Credit: Travel Made Simple
Death Valley is a unique park with interesting landscapes unseen elsewhere. It is also known for being one of the hottest places in the world. Even in the late fall, 100F by noon is not uncommon. Just outside of the park boundary to the west lies Panamint Springs. It is less a town than a gas station, hotel, and campground with a shared name.
The campground is 1000 feet higher than the Death Valley basin and cooler at night. It overlooks a wide flat basin toward the mountains into Death Valley. While you can't see the park from here, there's almost nothing else around, so the nighttime sky is amazingly clear. Enjoy the campground at dusk to watch the desert view to darken and spend the evening watching the stars.
Panamint Springs Campground has spaces for tent campers, campervans, and RVs, and even has some tent cabins with cots. There are full bathrooms with toilets and showers, plus a few toilet-only bathrooms. The temperature here is roughly 10F degrees lower than in the park itself, so it's still warm at night, but more comfortable.
The Death Valley visitor center at Furnace Creek is about an hour's drive from Panamint Springs. If you want to explore every nook of Death Valley National Park, then you might prefer to stay in the park, but if you want a quiet peaceful place to enjoy the warm desert breeze at night and see more stars than you've ever seen than Panamint is a good choice.
Recommended By Andy Couch from Sleep in the Woods
Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado
Photo Credit: Fox in the Forest
Pitch Your Tent Near Denver, Colorado by Camping at Lost Creek
When it comes to finding free camping near Denver, Colorado, Lost Creek Wilderness is top-notch. Located just 45 minutes from downtown Denver, the Lost Creek Wilderness is nestled right off of Highway 285 in the Front Range. For the best sites, head up Stoney Pass Road or check out the camping near Wellington Lake (there is a paid campsite with facilities here too).
Keep in mind that free camping in Colorado means there is no access to facilities. In order to camp at Lost Creek Wilderness, you should be well-versed in fire safety and Leave No Trace. Dispose of human waste appropriately, pack in all of your water, don’t cut live trees for firewood, and pack out all of your trash (this includes dog poop and toilet paper).
The best time to camp in Lost Creek is from May to October. In the fall, you’ll be treated to a stunning array of fall colors as the aspens begin to turn. In late spring, you can camp in Lost Creek without having to worry about too much snow or cold weather like you would in the higher elevations of Colorado.
If you’re up for the adventure, camping in Lost Creek Wilderness offers a variety of activities. You can hike along the iconic Colorado Trail, go off-road scenic driving, or fish. There are a few ATV trails outside of the wilderness area worth exploring too. You can also make the quick drive into Denver for an urban adventure too. Overall Lost Creek Wilderness is an excellent place to enjoy camping in Colorado.
Recommended By Meg Atteberry of Fox in the Forest
Wahweap Campground, Arizona
Photo Credit: Unearth The Voyage
If you are looking to visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend and plan to camp while you visit the area I would highly recommend checking out the Wahweap campground on Lake Powell.
The Wahweap campground is a great place to stay as it has all the amenities that you could need while camping such as water, electricity, and sewer. They also have tent sites if you are tent camping.
The campground is located up on a hill so if you have the right spot you will have a view out over Lake Powell. Right across the street is the Wahweap marina where you can rent boats and take them out on Lake Powell. There is also a really nice restaurant right next to the marina that has a gorgeous view out over the lake and is a great place to watch the sunset.
The Wahweap campground is right outside of Page, Arizona so you are not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a town but there are grocery stores and restaurants a few minutes drive away if you need it. Horseshoe Bend is only a 20-minute drive from the campground and Antelope Canyon is only 30 minutes.
If you are looking to camp close to the lake while still having access to amenities, The Wahweap campground is your best choice!
Recommended By Jessica from Unearth The Voyage
Sugar Pine Point State Park, California
Photo Credit: Free to Travel Mama
Lake Tahoe is nestled in the basin of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains and spans across the California and Nevada border. While beautiful all year round, summer brings mild, warm temperatures and sunny days that lead to camping adventures on the lake at Sugar Pine Point State Park.
Sugar Pine Point State Park is located on the west shore of the lake, about 10 miles north of Tahoe City, where you can conveniently fill up your gas tank or pick up ice or groceries. The campground offers 120 family campsites and 10 group spots. All sites are generous in size with a combination of tall shady trees and afternoon sun. They are also equipped with metal bear boxes for storing all food with strict fines if not used properly as black bears are very active in this area.
A paved path winds through the entire campground which makes for a perfect morning stroll through the trees or for children on bikes and scooters. A walk across the main road will lead you to Hellman-Ehrman Mansion which is preserved in the days of early Lake Tahoe residents. Historic tours are available here as well as a gorgeous beach for swimming and kayaking. The crystal clear blue water of Lake Tahoe will take your breath away (the temperature might too as it is a mountain lake so pretty chilly)!
The drive around Lake Tahoe will reward you with beautiful views and adventurous hikes and swimming holes. The view from Emerald Bay State Park can’t be beat, and the hike down to the Vikingsholm Mansion and swimming area is well worth the steep hike back up. Meeks Bay is a great swimming beach located near the campground. Sand Harbor is located on the north side of the lake so it is a bit of a longer drive, but the charming coves will make it worth the trek.
Reservations for California State Parks are made through Reserve California and open up exactly 6 months before your arrival date. This popular campground does sell out, so have your quick fingers ready to type at 7:00 am PST on the dot, especially if you hope to snag a holiday weekend spot!
Recommended By Sierra Schmidt from Free to Travel Mama
Flathead Lake, Montana
Photo Credit: Travel Montana Now
Flathead Lake in western Montana has an enviable location in the Big Sky state. It's just an hour south of Glacier National Park and has a deep blue color from the glacial water that fills it. The lake is nestled among soaring mountains and is adjacent to delicious cherry trees and wide-open plains.
For those who enjoy camping, especially with an air of adventure, Flathead Lake's many activities make it an ideal spot to camp. Campsites are located along the banks of the lake, some of which are only accessible via canoe or kayak or other non-motorized watercraft. These campsites are part of the Flathead Lake Marine Trail, which features waterways and interesting stopping points all outlined on a detailed map you can likely find in your campsite's office or at one of the watercraft rental stores around the lake.
If you prefer to drive to your campsite, there are several Flathead Lake campsites that have sites for both tents and RVs. You'll find most of these campgrounds are located close to the lake's main towns of Polson (located on the southern end of the lake) and Big Fork (on the northeast end).
Some popular campgrounds to stay at along Flathead Lake include Yellow Bay State Park located about halfway between Bigfork and Polson, Wayfarers State Park in Big Fork, and Finley Point on the southeast end which also has boat slips available for campers.
No matter how you prefer to conduct your camping while in Flathead Lake, you'll quickly see why it's such a coveted campground in the United States.
Recommended By Gina from Travel Montana Now
North Rim Grand Canyon
Photo Credit: Yonderlust Ramblings
When people reference the Grand Canyon, what they may not realize is that this National Park is home to two distinct “rims”. The South Rim is by far the more visited and well-known area of the park, but there are several reasons that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon really shines, and camping here is just one of those reasons!
What exactly are the advantages of camping on the North Rim versus the South Rim?
First, camping at the North Rim places you directly adjacent to some stunning, and far less crowded, canyon and forest hikes, like the North Kaibab Trail, the Widforss Trail, and the Bright Angel Point Trail.
Secondly, camping at the North Rim is far more secluded and has a distinctly more local and natural feel to it than the South Rim.
Thirdly, visitors can camp in the North Rim Campground with developed tent and RV sites, or opt to camp for free along any of the forest roads in Kaibab National Forest, which surrounds the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Camping in undeveloped locations in the National Forest is referred to as dispersed camping and is a great way to add a little adventure to your North Rim camping experience.
Either way, camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon exposes visitors to a completely new, different side of this famous natural phenomena, and who does not like discovering a new way to enjoy a well-known favorite!
Recommended By Kristen from Yonderlust Ramblings
Photo Credit: Trees and Tents
Catalina Island may be only 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, but it is like a different world. As soon as you step off the ferry you’ll be enchanted by the island’s rugged, tropical paradise. The beachfront campgrounds are routinely ranked as some of the best camping in California.
The most popular campsite on the island, Two Harbors Campground, is perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Catalina’s adorable miniature foxes are routinely seen frolicking through the campground and seals can be seen playing in the surf. Campers can walk a quarter-mile into the quaint town of Two Harbors for dinner and a drink and return to camp for s’mores around the fire. The campground has 44 traditional tent sites, or if you need a little more luxury you can opt for one of the tent cabins.
If you want a more rugged experience, opt for a campsite on the beach at Parsons Landing or Little Harbor. To reach these campgrounds you’ll need to walk 7 miles or 5 miles, respectively, or hire a service to drive you on the island’s rutted dirt roads. Getting to these camps is an adventure in itself! Once you reach camp you have the whole day to hike, stroll the sandy beaches, or even snorkel in the clear turquoise water.
Ultimate adventurers who want to sample all the island’s beachfront campgrounds can backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail. This 40-mile trek showcases the island’s pristine beauty and usually takes 3-4 days to complete.
Recommended By Katie Cook from Trees and Tents
Rialto Beach, Washington
Photo Credit: The Wandering Queen
One of the best places to camp in the USA is at Rialto Beach. This beach is located in the Olympic National Park in Washington State. What makes this beach so unique is the sea stacks, tide pools, wildlife, moody vibes, and driftwood. And the best part is you get to experience this fantastic place underneath the stars in your tent!
Camping on the beach is not as easy as you would think. You can't drive cars on Rialto Beach, so the best way of setting up your tent is by backpacking to the camping area. The camping area is called “The Hole In The Wall” area, and this is one of the most photographed areas in the Washington Coast.
The hole in the wall area is about a 2-mile trek one way. Don't worry, the trail is flat with no elevation gain. Once you are in the area, explore everything surrounding you. There are two fantastic sea stacks jutting out of the water. There is also “The Hole In The Wall,” where you can take pictures of the rocky arch when the tide is low. There are many chances to see the sea critters as well as bald eagles. It is a fantastic area to explore and to experience. Don't forget to bring your camera as the Washington Coast is known to have some of the best sunsets. The bright sun glows astonishingly with the water reflection. Camping on the beach in Washington should be added to your bucket list!
Recommended By Michelle from The Wandering Queen
Daisy Farm Isle Royale, Michigan
Photo Credit: National Park Obsessed
Isle Royale National Park is one of the most remote national parks in the lower 48. The park is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Once on the island, visitors have the option of staying in the rustic and expensive hotel and cabin or camping. Most visitors come prepared to camp. Isle Royale is home to 36 different campgrounds. Most of the campgrounds are reached in by hiking or boating. One of the most popular and largest campgrounds in the park is Daisy Farm.
Camping on Isle Royale is a little different than many other national parks. All of Isle Royale’s campground has some combination of shelter sites and tent sites. The shelter sites have a 3-sided lean-to that protects campers from the wind, rain, and mosquitos.
Daisy Farm is located on the south side of the island on Rock Harbor. Daisy Farm has 25 sites – 16 shelters, 6 tent-only sites, and 3 group sites. Daisy is popular because it is a day’s hike (7 miles ) from the ferry and seaplane drop-off point and it can be reached by boat and a water taxi drop-off can be arranged. There is a consecutive night stay limit of 3 nights from June 1 – Labor Day.
Daisy is centrally located to some of Isle Royale’s best hiking. There is easy access to hiking trails that lead to Moskey Basin or Mt. Ojibway Fire Tower.
Recommended By Jennifer from National Park Obsessed
Seward City Campgrounds, Alaska
Photo Credit: TheHotFlashPacker
Alaska is one of the best states to camp in the USA. It’s difficult to pick a single best campground in the state, but one of the contenders is the Seward City Campgrounds.
The city of Seward has 100’s of campsites for tents, vans, and RVs spread over 11 campgrounds, with prices ranging from $10-40 for dry spots for tents to RV sites with utilities. Many of the campgrounds are in town and along the waterfront of Resurrection Bay. From the bay, there are views of mountains, glaciers, and fishing and cruise boats that pass by the campground. It’s especially exciting to see the sea otters that like to play just off the shoreline by the campgrounds.
A benefit of staying in town is to leave your vehicle and walk to the many attractions in town. You can walk to the library, Alaska Sea Life Center, several museums, and the Kenai Fjords National Park visitor center. You can also walk one of the hikes around town including the start of the Iditarod trail.
A real highlight is taking one of the glacier and wildlife cruises from downtown Seward to Kenai Fjords National Park where you will see marine birds, including puffins and auks, sea lions, sea otters, and whales or Orcas if you’re lucky. There are lots of restaurants around town and dive bars like the Yukon Bar (bonus: no driving if you’re camping in town!). If you have a car, it’s not far to drive to the Exit Glacier just north of town for some hiking.
Recommended By Lisa from TheHotFlashPacker
What is the most popular camping destination in the United States?
The national parks make for some of the most popular camping destinations in the United States.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Located on the border of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers approximately 522,000 acres of wilderness in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Recommended by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Photo Credit: Ruhls of the Road
Grand Teton National Park, located just north of Jackson, Wyoming, is one of the most stunning camping destinations you can visit. In Grand Teton, you'll camp beneath an enormous sky full of stars, in addition to being a stone's throw from some of the most awesome hiking trails and alpine lakes in the whole USA.
Wyoming is an incredibly beautiful place, and one of the things that helps this state hold its beauty is the lack of crowds. When you camp here, you will likely be able to find a site that is out in the open, with just your campsite as the only man-made item in site. The stars in the sky shine so brightly, and the Teton mountain range is an incredible site during sunrise and sunset. On top of that, you'll have the opportunity to spot some of the native wildlife, perhaps a few deer or a small herd of elk. Camping is for getting out into beautiful natural settings, and Grand Teton National Park offers just that.
In addition to the awesome setting, there are tons of opportunities for adventure in Grand Teton. The entire National Park is full of awesome hiking trails and stunningly beautiful alpine lakes. Jenny Lake and Taggart Lake were 2 particularly incredible lakes, and the Death Canyon hike to the Patrol Cabin was awesome as well. There are hikes for experts and amateurs, with distances ranging from a short walk in the park to a full-blown journey!
Grand Teton National Park is without a doubt one of the best camping destinations in the United States. The sheer beauty of this place is enough to leave your jaw on the floor. Add in the fact that adventure awaits around every corner, and you can see why this is such a perfect camping destination.
Recommended By Julie & Zach from Ruhls of the Road.
Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana
Photo Credit: Where in the World is Nina
If you’re heading to Glacier National Park, then you’ve likely heard of Many Glacier. This area is one of the most sought after places to stay in Glacier National Park. Once you arrive, you’ll understand why.
Towering above you are some insane mountain views and just below, the stunning Swiftcurrent Lake. Here, you’ll find Many Glacier Hotel facing a majestic view just over the lake. Many flock to this hotel due to its excellent location on the lake, the surrounding beauty, and access to hiking trails.
But for those on a budget, no worries. You have Many Glacier Campsite just down the road!
During my visit, we posted up camp for two night but I could have stayed for a week. There are tons of trails just outside your tent. Some favorites are Swiftcurrent Pass to Redrocks Trail, Iceberg Trail, and the Cracker Lake Trail. You could easily stay here a week and still not make it to all the trails.
This makes Many Glacier one of the coolest and most well position campsites. We didn’t have to move the car for two days, just our sore legs.
Some tips for staying at Many Glacier:
– Get here VERY early, like 8-10am early. It’s when a lot of people are leaving and if you come much later, this popular campsite could be full.
– Bear spray is not a recommendation, it’s a MUST. not only for the trails but for staying at the campsite too. We actually had a bear come through at 2am. He was sniffing around the tent just across from us. Ekk!
– Don’t forget to bring cash to pay for your campsite.
– During shoulder season going into winter, the stores close for the season so be sure to bring what you need. Even the places that stay open start running out of items (like beer! Ah!).
– Speaking of shoulder season, it’s a great time to go! It’s when I went (September) and while this park is still a bit busy, it’s still pleasant. I couldn’t imagine what this spot would look like in high season.
Recommended By Nina from Where in the World is Nina?
Devils Garden, Arches National Park, Utah
Photo Credit: Travel Collecting
Devil’s Garden Campground has one of the best locations of any campground in a U.S. national park. It is at the end of the road in Arches National Park and has no showers or restaurants, so staying here does involve some roughing it, but it is worth it.
Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit and there are toilets and dishwashing facilities. You can also buy firewood from the campground supervisor (like all national parks, you can’t bring firewood into the park, as you may be inadvertently bringing in bugs from a different area that can play havoc with fragile ecosystems they don’t belong to).
Campsites are nestled in trees and some are right next to sandstone fins. You can walk along the ridges of some fins at dusk for spectacular sunsets. You can even see a rear view of Skyline Arch from the campground. There is also an amphitheater for nighttime ranger talks and slide shows.
Several incredible hikes start at or near the campground. The longest and, in my opinion, the best hike in Arches National Park, Devil’s Garden Trail starts nearby. Allow a full day for this epic hike. The trail to Broken Arch, Tapestry Arch, and Sand Dune Arch starts next to the amenities block right in the campground.
It really doesn’t get much better than this! Reservations are possible (and necessary) from March 1 to October 31. It’s the only campsite in the park, so book early.
Recommended By James Ian from Parks Collecting
Looking for meal ideas to make the most of your camping experience. Check out these budget friendly camping recipes.
Photo Credit: MindfulTravel
Joshua Tree is definitely one of the must-visit camping destinations in the US. Camping inside the park is the best way to get the best feel for space at all times of the day.
You can visit Joshua Tree National Park at any time of the year. If you are looking for starry nights, better to visit the park during the summertime, but days can be very hot. The best time to visit Joshua Tree is in autumn, with mild temperatures and less crowded than in spring.
If looking for where to stay in Joshua Tree National park, camping is the best option. There are 8 campgrounds in Joshua Tree with more than 480 campsites, so you have plenty to choose from. The campsites near Hidden Valley are the most popular as they are close to Joshua Tree’s famous rock formations. Some of the most popular campgrounds are Hidden Valley Campground, White Tank Campground, and Black Rock Campground. The last one needs a reservation and has water.
Recommended By Sara from Mindful Travel
Best Campgrounds in Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Photo Credit: RovingJo
Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-visit camping destination in the USA. It is remote, hard to access and has only 11 campsites on the island. But that is part of the appeal and what makes Dry Tortugas so special.
It is one of the most secluded and natural camping experiences in the USA and you will have one of the world’s largest barrier reefs right outside your tent. Additionally, with light pollution being so low this is one of the few places on the East Coast where you can actually see the Milky Way.
With the majority of the National Park being underwater you will want to spend some time snorkeling enjoying the beautiful coral reef and abundance of marine life. For those culturally inclined go on one of the guided tours of Fort Jefferson and learn about its history. And if you like birds, then bring your binoculars because Dry Tortugas is home to around 300 species. Even some rare birds stop here yearly during their migration periods in Spring and Fall. For more information on the Dry Tortugas including how to get there and what to pack click here.
Important tips for campers: Since there is limited availability for camping you need to reserve early. I recommend a minimum of 6- 8 months in advance. Camping is limited to 3 days and you must take your trash with you when you leave. Another important thing to note is that while there are changing rooms and public toilets on the Island, everyone including campers must use the facilities onboard the Ferry while it is docked.
Recommended By Joella from RovingJo
Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World, Florida
Photo Credit: Courtesy Walt Disney World Resort
I grew up camping all over the United States, and Fort Wilderness at Disney World is my all-time favorite place to go. There aren't many other campgrounds that allow you to watch nightly fireworks from the beach. Not only is it right in the middle of all the magic at Disney World, but you also get all the same perks guests at the much more expensive hotels like free buses and boats, Magic Bands, early FastPass and dining booking, and Magical Express transportation to and from the airport for half the cost. It also features the cleanest campground bathrooms I've ever seen. Fort Wilderness has sites for everything from tents to full-size RVs, and local companies even rent RVs and will set them up at your site on check-in day. There are also some log cabin-style rooms for rent. Reservations are a must, and the campground will fill up far in advance for the most popular tourist seasons.
In addition to its proximity to the Disney World parks, there are plenty of other recreational opportunities at the campground. Horseback rides and Segway tours are a great way to get outside and I've frequently seen deer along the trails or you can rent boats at the marina. For a more stationary activity, you can try your hand at archery. You can also just relax by one of its pools. In the evening, check out the campfire singalong and nightly Disney movie complete with a visit from Chip and Dale. If you're hungry, you can attend the Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show, or just hit one of the restaurants or snack bars located at the campground. Christmas and Halloween are extra special times to visit as guests decorate the campsites with over-the-top decorations for the respective seasons.
Recommended By Kris from Nomad by Trade
Best Places to Go Camping Near Me
You will be surprised at how many hidden gems you can find right in your own backyard. Since starting our camping adventures we have visited several campgrounds in New York State (our home state). While each is different and has its pros and cons we have been delighted with almost all the campgrounds that we have visited. So here are some spots that we have gone here in New York.
Campgrounds in New York State
Wildwood State Park
Located in Long Island and a short distance away from wineries, farms and all that the North Fork has to offer, Wild Wood State Park is the perfect camping spot right outside of New York City.
Lake Taghkanic State Park
Also located just two hours outside of New York Lake Taghkanic State Park is a great weekend getaway for those looking to escape the city. This campground has both tent sites as well as cabins. What is great about this campground is the access to the lake where in the summer you can go swimming, boating, and kayaking.
Mills-Norrie State Park
If you're looking to spend a weekend in the Hudson Valley, then check out Mills-Norrie State Park. This is the perfect spot for those that love to start their day with hiking and end with a sip of wine or a tasting at one of the breweries or distilleries nearby.
Sampson State Park
If you're headed to the finger lakes then opt for a rustic cabin at Sampson State Park. Located on Seneca Lake, this campground offers plenty of sites with views of the lake. And who wouldn't to wake up to a beautiful view of Seneca Lake? What's even better. With wineries a short distance away and fresh food markets close by you can stock up for an amazingly yummy dinner paired with some of the best wines in New York State.
Looking for more inspo in the US. Check out our list of cheapest places to the travel in the US.
Let's go camping in the US
Are you ready to go camping? Do you feel inspired? Next time you are looking for a fun adventure then consider checking out one of these camping spots right here in the United States.