The 30 Best Camping Spots In The USA

Posted on Posted in Destinations

Looking for somewhere to camp in the USA this year? Whether you’re a first time camper or a seasoned pro travelling alone or with a family, we’ve got you covered in our extensive, varied and exciting list of the 30 best camping spots in the USA. From jaw-dropping trails in Utah to amazing beaches in California, we give you a rundown of the best that this great and expansive country has to offer for campers.

But first, let’s remember what makes camping so great. Camping is about exploring dense forests during the day that lead out to jaw-dropping views of nature’s miracles. It’s about lighting up a campfire, roasting some food, cracking open a beer and gazing up at the night sky. It’s about the nostalgic wisp of burning wood that adds atmosphere, the cackle of the fire in the open air, and the chirping birds which remind you that the small pleasures are everything in life.

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Best Camping Spots

 

All the camping spots rounded up in our list can be enjoyed with a tent or a hammock. Some spots are strictly only available during the summer, while others are best enjoyed in the winter. Without further ado, let’s take a look.

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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(Photo: Paxson Woelber)

What’s It Got For You?

If we have to give you a reason to and camp at the Grand Canyon, there is something wrong with the world.

“Why should I go to the Grand Canyon?” said nobody ever.

It’s the Grand Canyon. The holiest of holies. The star of stars. The canyon of canyons. The views are out of this world, the weather is almost always awesome, and the backcountry hiking here is some of the most challenging and rewarding in America.

Where & When Should You Go?

The South Rim gets really busy, but if it’s seclusion you’re looking for, the North Rim has got your back. It’s harder to get to, but it’s quieter and more peaceful.

The former is open all year, but the more secluded North Rim is only open from May until October.

You can get a $30 seven-day pass per vehicle, while campground fees are available from as little as $12 a night.

 

  1. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

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(Photo:  Ken Lund)

What’s It Got For You?

At Congaree National Park in South Carolina, you can hike, fish, kayak, canoe, or just explore the classic Southern landscape.

Indeed, it’s really the classic Southern landscape that draws the campers here. Unfortunately, the chances that you’ll actually spot a gambler on a riverboat are a bit slim. Still, at least you can check out the hardwood forest!

Where & When Should You Go?

There are a pair of campsites to choose from here:

  • Longleaf – $10 a night
  • Bluff – $5 a night

The national park itself is open 365 days a year, but the best time to visit is in either the spring or the fall. You can go backcountry camping for free.

 

  1. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

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(Photo:  Rich Moffitt)

What’s It Got For You?

One of the Green Mountain National Forest’s best attractions is its Long Trail, and we recommend that you do your best to find a camping spot as near to it as possible. You’ll really benefit if you plan on doing some hiking!

As well as offering some spectacular views of the surrounding country, the Long Trail is famous for being the oldest trail of its kind in America. Starting out from Vermont, it leads you all the way to Canada.

Where & When Should You Go?

There is a quintet of developed campgrounds here at the Green Mountain National Forest, but none of them offer dump grounds or electrical hookups. As such, you should arrive properly prepare!

Moreover, accessibility to the campground varies from season to season, so you will need to decide on what your priorities are before heading out. There is always at least one site open, though.

The best thing? Entrance is totally free!

 

  1. Big Bend National Park, Texas

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(Photo: daveynin)

If you’ve seen (and loved) the movie Rio Grande, you’ll be interested to know the river of the same name runs through this Texan national park.

The best way to explore it is via a canoe, raft or kayak trip that takes you deep into the heart of one of nature’s greatest achievements. Mammoth natural structures dominate the scenery, making you feel as helpless and as in-awe as an ant as you drift along the river.

 

Where & When Should You Go?

You have a choice out of three campgrounds, and the national park is open all year round. A seven-day pass is available for just $25 per vehicle, while you can camp for $14 a night.

 

  1. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

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(Photo:  Rudi Riet)

What’s It Got For You?

Pine Grove Furnace State Park is to be found in south-central Pennsylvania in an area called South Mountain. It’s home to one of the most famous foot trails in the world, the Appalachian Trail, which runs deep through the forest.

Hiking the whole trail is a daunting task, and only two-thousand people attempt it each year. Out of those, roughly a quarter actually finish it its 2,186 miles!

However! We like to think that making an attempt is something to chalk off your bucket list anyway, as not many people can say they’ve done just that.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are around seventy trailer and tent sites altogether, none of which are available in January and February. You can reserve your place up to eleven months in advance.

Campgrounds are closed during the winter once December has set in and don’t reopen until April. There is no entrance fee to the park, while your cheapest campsite is just $15 a night.

 

  1. Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York

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(Photo:  weskaniaphotography)

What’s It Got For You?

The Minnewaska State Park Preserve is found just over 90 miles north of NYC, and offers a great escape for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Sitting on the theatrical Shawangunk Ridge, it’s not the faint of heart – the Ridge itself rises to over two-thousand feet above seal level. Moreover, it’s surrounded by stretches and stretches of rocky terrain. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll love it.

There is plenty of space to walk, hike or ride your bike. 50 mils of foot pages and 35 miles of carriage roads means you’re free to explore from dawn until dusk, while awesome feats of nature include:

  • Waterfalls
  • A trio of crystal clear lakes
  • Sheer cliffs
  • Masses of wooded forests

Where & When Should You Go?

For a quiet, almost minimalist experience, we suggest checking out the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway. This site accepts tents only, and offers a bathhouse, cooking area, trails and plenty of restroom facilities.

The site it is open from May until November, but will be unavailable if the weather is bad.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

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(Photo:  Todd Van Hoosear)

What’s It Got For You?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park clearly has a lot to offer campers, because it’s the most visited national park in the USA.

Rich in a variety of plants and animals, it also offers unprecedented mountain views that offer hints to the stories from its ancient past.

Breathtakingly, there are still seventy prehistoric structures here. If being in the presence of ancient history inspires you, this is the place to go camping.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are a dozen campgrounds altogether, each of which can offer toilets and running water. Nine of them operate on a first come first served basis. Some of them close during the winter, but others remain open all year.

 

  1. Denali National Park, Alaska

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(Photo:  faungg’s photos)

What’s It Got For You?

There is a staggering amount of land here at Denali National Park – six million acres of it, in fact!

There is also an amazing amount of wildlife, as well as trails that will excite both beginner and seasoned trekkers.

Denali is this spots biggest draw. It’s so awesome that a light-rock band even named themselves after it! It’s the tallest peak in North America, and the trails vary from moderate to difficult. So it’s all about choosing the trail which is best suited for your level of experience.

However experienced you are, though, it’s important that you always do your research first!

Where & When Should You Go?

There are 291 campsites in total which are gathered across six campgrounds. Backcountry camping is also on offer.

The easiest campground to reach is Riley Creek – it’s the only one which can be reached by car. Another two are reachable by bus only, with one of them charging no fees during the winter.

The best time to go is between April and November, although the bus service doesn’t begin until May 20.

 

  1. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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(Photo:  Jim Bauer)

What’s It Got For You?

Badlands National Park offers a somewhat fearsome climate that may put the less seasoned trekkers off, but if you love gorgeous, breathtaking scenery, this is a great place to set up camp.

Grass prairies sit between a number of rock formations, many of which still hide lots of fossils. In fact, the Badlands of South Dakota have one of the biggest and most complete fossil accumulations in the U.S.

Moreover, if you’re into stargazing, pitching up your tent beneath the blanket of stars is a spectacular, one-of-a-kind experience here.

Where & When Should You Go?

Badlands National Park is home to a pair of campgrounds:

  • Cedar Park
  • Sage Creek

Sage Creek is fairly primitive, and there is no on-site water access, while Cedar Pass is slightly less primitive and does offer electricity and water.

The campgrounds and park are open all year. As you might expect, Sage Creek is totally free to camp, while you will need to pay up to $30 if you want the full electric treatment at Cedar Pass.

 

  1. Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

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(Photo:  Marco Becerra)

What’s It Got For You?

The Ozark National Forest in Arkansas is known locally for serving as the setting for The Beverly Hillbillies. Here, there is lots to do, with 9 swimming beaches available alongside over four-hundred miles of hiking trails and a variety of camping and picnic sites.

The real highlight, though, is the two-hundred and eighteen mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are 23 campgrounds available, with a total of 320 campsites. If you prefer, you can just pitch up a hammock, such as this lightweight portable hammock from Dilly Outdoors, and camp anywhere in the forest (unless a sign tells you not to!).

 

  1. Joshua Tree National Park, California

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(Photo:  Don Graham)

What’s It Got For You?

Famous for being the title of a U2 album, Joshua Tree National Park is also famous for offering campsites in the middle of a desert! While this might not sound immediately appealing (sunburn, anyone?!), there is a LOT to love about this place.

There are a dozen mountain peaks to enjoy, which is great if you like rock climbing, as well as a choice between a hot desert – the Colorado Desert – and a cooler, wetter desert – the Mojave Desert.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are nine campgrounds to choose from in total, with some requiring reservations from October to May. The others operate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

If you want to go background camping, you need to register in advance.

The place is open all year round, but some campgrounds will close during the winter. Entrance fee to the park is $20.

 

  1. Yosemite National Park, California

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(Photo:  Emmanuel DYAN)

What’s It Got For You?

If you love sparseness, nature, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Yosemite National Park could be the campsite for you. 95% of it is actually designated wilderness. What does this mean? It mean zero roads, zero cars – and zero electricity.

After you’ve slept in your tent or hammock in the warm night air, you can spend your day hiking up Glacier Point, which offers unparalleled views of the High Sierra Peaks. The trail isn’t too much of a challenge, and should be covered by a beginner in around four hours.

The Panorama Trail, however, will take around eight hours to dust off.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are a total of thirteen campgrounds here, all of which get busy. During the summer season, it’s recommended that make you make prior reservations.

However, there are 7 campgrounds which offer places of a first-come-first-serve basis.

 

  1. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California

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(Photo:  Harold Litwiler)

What’s It Got For You?

If you’re into American literature, you’ll probably already know a thing or two about Big Sur. Writer Henry Miller saw out his last days here, while King of the Beats Jack Kerouac was sent spiralling into madness by the place, before writing a book about his experiences (aptly titled Big Sur).

Located over a hundred miles south of San Francisco, it offers jaw-dropping views and sounds, such as mighty waves crashing against the rocks in the dead of night.

The weather is usually awesome, too.

Where & When Should You Go?

For the best views, we recommend that you pitch your tent or hammock next to the fearsome Big Sur river. With almost 200 tent and RV sites to choose from, you certainly will be spoiled for choice.

All the spots are really popular, though, so you will need to book ahead to get a good one. Peak season lasts during the summer, but you can camp anytime of the year you like.

 

  1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

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(Photo:  joevare)

What’s It Got For You?

The sequoias here are HUGE. They will dwarf even the tallest person you know!

The gigantic trees here, in fact, grow here and only here – you won’t find these wonders of nature anywhere else.

As well as the magical forests, the scale of the spot is epic and ancient, and exploring it is akin to journeying into a land of pure make-believe. There is literally no ever camping spot like it in America. The scenery is ghostlike and majestic, and there is plenty of solitude to be had if you’re looking to get away from it all.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are fourteen campgrounds here in total, most of which are operated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For a more secluded experience, we suggest leaving the tent at home and heading down to a an isolated area with a trusty hammock. There are private groves that are ideal for privacy, as well as a remote section of the Kings River.

The spot is open all year round, but the peak of the summer is the best time to visit – but it’s also the busiest!

 

  1. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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(Photo:  Andy Melton)

What’s It Got For You?

Okay, here is the deal: Crate Lake National Park is basically a sleeping volcano.

Now, who among you wouldn’t want to pitch up in a sleeping volcano?!

Moreover, this national park in Oregon is also home to the deepest lake in the USA, with scientist saying that it’s also one of our cleanest bodies of water.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are two sites to choose from:

  • Mazama
  • Lost Creek

Lost Creek is your only option if you want to pop along with a tent or a hammock, as Mazama is strictly for RV’s only. Both have electric amenities, and both allow backcountry camping (permit required).

Mazama opens early June and closes early October, while Lost Creek doesn’t open its doors until July, before closing in October, too.

Backcountry camping is only permitted for a shorter period of time, due to the amount of snowfall the spot receives from October until spring.

 

  1. Olympic National Park, Washington

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(Photo:  Ralph Arvesen)

What’s It Got For You?

If you’re really into learning more about the environment, you should enjoy Olympic National Park in Washington, as it’s home to a trio of ecosystems.

It can also boast the biggest Sitka spruce tree on our humble planet, as well as a fairly daunting thirty-mile road that penetrates deep into the vast rain forest.

To top things off, it also has a beach!

Where & When Should You Go?

There are close to a thousand different campsites here, as well as 16 campgrounds. You need a $5 permit for backcountry camping, and the rustic lodges are suitable for anyone who isn’t really a big fan of tents or hammocks.

The availability of camping sites varies according to the season, but some of the really basic ones are open all year.

To get into the park, you need to pay a $20 entrance fee.

 

  1. Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

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(Photo:  David)

What’s It Got For You?

If you like your trails, we think you’ll like the sound of Gunnison National Forest, Colorado. Home to over three-thousand miles of trails, as well as almost two-million acres of land, it’s as expansive as they come.

Not only is there so much to explore, but there is also so much to do, including fishing in the densely populated streams.

The scarily steep Black Canyon is also worth checking out, too.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are 30 campsites to choose from, but not all are open all year round. You will need to take your time before deciding which one to pitch up at, as each one offers different views and access to different features. For example, some are close to meadows, others are close to lakes, others are close to forests, and others are closer to the mountains.

 

  1. Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

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(Photo:  Ron Cogswell)

What’s It Got For You?

Haleakala National Park’s biggest draw is arguably its super deep sleeping volcano. Stand atop this beast of nature, and you’ll be afforded some dramatic views of the surrounding landscape.

This national park is perfect for nighttime stargazing, and is indeed popular with amateur astronomers. The scenery is gorgeous, though the weather is notoriously volatile. Make sure to check the forecast before arriving.

Where & When Should You Go?

The park is open all year round, although some parts will close whenever the weather gets too extreme.

You can get a three-day pass for just $20 a vehicle, or you can pay $25 for an annual pass.

Campsite places are offered on a first come first served basis, but you can’t stay any longer than three nights in a row at a time.

 

  1. Glacier National Park, Montana

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(Photo: jankgo)

What’s It Got For You?

Glacier National Park in Montana is home to over seven-hundred miles of wondrous trails that take you through the forests, mountains and meadows. It’s a slice of paradise for seasoned hikers, with one of the highlights being the 50-mile stretch called the Going To The Sun Road.

The park is surrounded by heavenly alpine lakes, and while some of the trails are suitable for hiking, some are enjoyed better when you’re in a car.

Where & When Should You Go?

With thirteen campgrounds and over a thousand campsites to choose from, there is something for everyone at Glacier National Park. Out of the campgrounds, only three require reservations, and a permit for backcountry camping is necessary for all.

The spot is open 365 days a year, but the visitor facilities are only open during the summer. It’s cheaper to camp during the winter – but also much colder!

 

  1. Zion National Park, Utah

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(Photo:  Stuart Seeger)

What’s It Got For You?

Zion National Park in Utah is considered a national treasure by many. Searing blue skies, huge sandstone cliffs, and a wide variety of animals are big draws which capture the imagination of campers each year.

You get to sleep in the woods, before hiking the Kolob Canyons the following day. There are two possible trails, with the shortest one taking around four hours to complete, and the longest taking up to eight hours.

Where & When Should You Go?

We recommend that you pop along to Zion National Park in the summer time and score yourself a $5 permit that allows you to go and explore an enchanting tunnel structure called The Subway.

There are three campgrounds in total here, all of which get REALLY popular during the summer months. If you’re on an overnight backpacking trip, you will need a permit first.

A recreational seven-day pass is available for $30 a vehicle, while wilderness permits cost no more than $20.

 

  1.  Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

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(Photo:  Murray Foubister)

What’s It Got For You?

Capitol Reef National Park is either home to a miracle of nature or a crease in nature – it depends how you see it.

Basically, here you will find a warp in our planet’s crust that stretches out for a hundred-miles.

Formed around 70,000,000 years ago, it’s possibly the oldest wrinkle on earth (yes, even older than mine!).

Where & When Should You Go?

There are 71 campsites to choose out of the Fruita campgrounds, which is a developed campground.

If, however, you don’t mind roughing it, you might want to check out some of the more remote parts of the region, such as Cathedral Vally. Wherever you choose to stay, you just have to pop along and hope you can get a spot as neither site accepts reservations.

If you want to go backcountry camping, you will need a permit.  

 

  1. Arches National Park, Utah

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(Photo:  MoabAdventurer)

What’s It Got For You?

Arches National Park in Utah is a red-rock fantasia that looks like nothing else on this list. Nature’s work of art, it’s home to over two-thousand natural stone arches, as well as a number of trails that range from easy to moderate.

The Delicate Arch Trail is one of the most popular with campers and hikers alike, and it leads you to the stunning Delicate Arch (as you might expect!).

Alternatively, you can get a range to take you on a tour of the Fiery Furnace. It’s as amazing as it sounds.

Where & When Should You Go?

There is only one campground here, the rather intriguingly (okay terrifyingly) named Devils Garden. This devilish garden is home to a further 50 campsites.

If you can’t get a reservation, there are also a few campgrounds dotted around nearby.

The park is quite small, so don’t expect to do too much backpacking.

We recommend taking a trip during the winter when the white snow intensifies the red-coloured rocks. The visitor centre, however, shuts down during Christmas hours.

 

  1. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

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(Photo:  James Jordan)

What’s It Got For You?

Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin pretty much has something for everyone. If you guys like to stay active when you go camping but want to do something other than just hiking a trail, here you can try your hand on the volleyball course, the golf course, or you could even hop on a boat!

Alternatively, you could just chill out and enjoy the serene tranquility of the great outdoors.

There is also a lengthy stretch of shoreline, as well as miles an miles of bike trails for if you’re feeling really adventurous.

Where & When Should You Go?

There are five campgrounds to choose from. Some are electric, but some are not. We recommend that you make a prior reservation to reduce your risk of missing out. Background camping isn’t permitted.

Campers stay overnight, but if you’re just visiting the park, you have to be out for 11PM. You can’t enter without a vehicle admission sticker, which are available from $7 or per day.

 

  1. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

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(Photo:  daveynin)

What’s It Got For You?

Everything! From boating to skiing, so many outdoor activities are offered at Voyageurs National Park.

The park is mostly water, and you have to arrive via a vessel. If you don’t have your own, you can hop on a guided boat tour.

As well as water-based activities, there are also hiking trails.

Where & When Should You Go?

When you choose to head down to the Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota will really depend on what you want to do here. For example, if you want to partake in the water activities, it’s recommended that you visit during the summer or spring.

If, however, you want indulge in a bit of cross-country skiing or ice fishing, you’d be best popping own during the winter.  

There are over 200 campsites all in all, and each one requires a boat to access.

 

  1. Acadia National Park, Maine

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(Photo:  Lee Coursey)

What’s It Got For You?

Covered in almost 20,000,000 acres of forest, Maine has earned itself the moniker the Pine Tree State.

Thankfully, it doesn’t just do sprawling trees. It is also home to over six-thousand blue lakes and ponds, as well as a combined stretch of thirty-two thousand miles of streams and rivers.

For campers, it’s basically paradise.

Acadia National Park is your go-to hotspot. Found on the rather comically named Mount Desert Island, it’s ideal for seasoned campers, as well as first-time campers. There are plenty of hiking trails nearby, including the popular Cadillac Mountain, which offers stunning views at dawn.

Where & When Should You Go?

We recommend checking out Acadia National Park during the fall if you want to experience the golden colours of the forest, but the BlackWoods campsite is your best bet if you’re not sure when you want to go just yet. It’s open all-year round. It costs just $30 per night during the warmer months and $15 during the wintry seasons.

 

  1. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

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(Photo:  U.S. Department of Agriculture)

What’s It Got For You?

Not all of the Northeast is ideal for camping, but if its a rustic vibe you’re going for this autumn, the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is a solid option.

You might find the terrain a bit rugged for hiking, but if you guys arm yourself with the right hiking boots, you should be just fine. The sights offered by the awesome Appalachians are mighty awesome and majestic – even more so during the fall!

Where & When Should You Go?

The National Forest offers an incredible 800 campsites to choose from out of twenty-four drive-in campgrounds, so you’re gonna be a bit spoiled for choice. We prefer the northern part of the state, which is home to eight walk-in state park camp sites.

The forest is open to the public all-year round, and you can camp for a night from as little as $18 or as much as $24.

 

  1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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(Photo:  daveynin)

What’s It Got For You?

Located just 75 miles from DC, the Shenandoah National Park is home to over five-hundred trails, and whole host of stunning features, including waterfalls and exquisite viewpoints.

And if you’re seeking a bit of peaceful wilderness from your next camping trip, you can get that here, too.

For seasoned hikers, the 8-mile hike to Old Rag Mountain must be done. It’s a challenging route, but the magnificent views at its gift to mankind.

Where & When Should You Go?

There is a quartet of campgrounds here, and each one closes during the winter. It’s recommend that you make prior reservations, as all four are really popular with the public.

It’s advised that you don’t stay out too late in your car during deer-hunting season, as parts of the road are shut off. Visitor services, meanwhile, are normally out of action from late November until the start of spring.  

Entrance fee to the park is $20 a vehicle and your pass lasts for seven days.

 

  1. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

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(Photo:  David Saddler)

What’s It Got For You?

If you like to camp by the beach, this spot could be the one for you. Found off the coast of Virginia and Maryland, Assateague Island is a barrier island which is full of forests, golden beaches, salt marshes, coastal bays, and total wonder.

You’ll even find a community of wild horses here, too!

The beach stretches for a whopping 37 miles, and is perfect for hiking during the day or watching the sunset in the evening.

Then, at night, you can pitch your tent or hammock and sleep under the stars while the waves gently crash nearby.

Where & When Should You Go?

The winter storms get VERY ferocious around these parts, so much so that a few of the campsite locations have actually moved. As such, we recommend exercising a bit of caution and checking out the weather forecast before you head down to the island.

The spot is open all year round, though the ranger station hours change according to the season. You need to pay a campsite fee of $30 per night.

 

  1. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

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(Photo:  Matt Zimmerman)

What’s It Got For You?

Glacier Bay National Park is surrounded by a LOT of water, with the bay leading to an awesome glacier.

After a night’s sleeping, you can cruse the bay on a private boat, a charter, or even a tour.

Backpacking around the place is fairly testing, even if you have packed light. This s because there aren’t any marked trails.

Alternatively, you could go rafting instead! If you do, make sure to go with an experienced head.

Where & When Should You Go?

There is just one campground here, and it comes with a warming shelter, outhouses, as well as a safe food storage. You will need to a permit from May 1 to September 30, but they’re totally free.

The spot is open all year, but services and accessibility is severely reduced during the winter.

If you want to go rafting, boating or – of course – camping, you will need to make a reservation.

 

  1. Everglades National Park, Florida

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(Photo:  Miguel Vieira)

What’s It Got For You?

The Everglades National Park in Florida is America’s third biggest among the lower 48 states. With so much area to explore, it’s going to be pretty impossible to get bored.

There are plenty of hiking trails to keep you occupied, as well as biking trails, too. You can also kayak or canoe if you want, or pop along to the Florida Bay.

As you’re probably aware, it’s important that you keep an eye out for alligators and crocodiles!

Where & When Should You Go?

There are a pair of drive-in campgrounds, with prices starting out from $16 per night and rising to $30.

You will also need to pay a $10 entrance fee, which lasts for up to seven days.

 

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