There’s something about camping that just puts a person at ease. It might be all the fresh air, open skies, or falling asleep to the sounds of the landscape. Regardless of what it is, time spent outdoors has some major positive impacts on both our physical and mental health. Camping is something that’s often overlooked as a vacation, but once you get out there you’ll wonder how you’ve gone so long without taking part in this classic American getaway.
Fortunately for Americans, this country is full of amazing camping spots in nearly every ecosystem imaginable. If you want to camp in the forest, on the side of a mountain, beside a lake, in the desert, or even in the snow, you can do it all in the States. To help you pick where to head to next, Here is our list of the top 12 camping locations in the USA.
12. North Rim Campground, Arizona
The North Rim Campground is located in Grand Canyon National Park. The North Rim is more rustic and natural than the more frequently visited South Rim. The more remote location gives way to abundant wildlife, solitude, and different views of the Grand Canyon than most visitors will get. Camping at the North Rim Campground is a great way to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
11. Apgar Campground, Montana
Montana is home to some of the most beautiful landscape in the country. Apgar Campground in Glacier National Park does not disappoint. Located on the shores of Lake McDonald and in the shadows of Mt. Stimson, the views surrounding this site are stunning. A drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must as it takes you along the lake and through the mountains. Many trailheads branch off from this road allowing you to explore on foot if you like to hike.
10. Letchworth State Park, New York
One of the most beautiful areas in the Northeast USA is Letchworth State Park. Dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East, this park features the Genesee River complete with waterfalls, cliffs as high as 600 feet, and a sprawling green, forested landscape. There are many hiking trails in the park and opportunities for a multitude of outdoor activities just some of which include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and kayaking. In the winter, enjoy the trails via snowmobile or cross-country skis.
9. Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Hawaii
Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park finds itself on the Northwest coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The landscape here is absolutely breathtaking, and you won’t believe that you are still in the USA. Jagged cliffs, pristine coastline, roaring waterfalls, and deep valleys are waiting for you here. All of this on a Pacific Island paradise. One of the most beautiful coastlines in the world is definitely on our list of top places to camp in the USA.
8. Hidden Valley Campground, California
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to camp in the desert, but that’s exactly what the Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park presents. A rugged, arid landscape dotted with large rock formations and peculiar trees will make you feel like you’re on a different planet. The view of the stars at night in a place as remote as Joshua Tree is difficult to beat. However, there is no running water here so make sure you are well equipped before venturing out.
7. Havasu Falls Campground, Arizona
The Havasu Falls Campground may be the most difficult to access, but for campers that can make it here they will be rewarded with the unnatural beauty of the crystal-clear green-blue waters set against red rock landscape. Securing a permit and reservation to camp here is best attempted months in advance. If you are lucky enough to get a spot, it will be a 10-mile hike with all of your gear to the campsite, causing it to fall under the backcountry camping label. All of the hassle to get here though is most definitely worth it according to the lucky campers that have spent nights here under the stars.
6. Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, Illinois
What might be Illinois’ best kept secret, the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area in Shawnee National Forest will have you wondering if you’re still in Illinois. The forest-covered rolling hills and impressive rock formations at this location are an amazing spot to wake up in the morning. Beautiful hikes surrounded by cliffs and forest are tucked away in this Southern Illinois campground.
5. Blackwoods Campground, Maine
Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island just off the south coast of Maine. Acadia National Park is a nature lovers dream. Woodlands, granite peaks, shoreline, tranquil lakes, and plenty of hiking trails are awaiting your arrival in Maine’s serene wilderness. All campsites here are by reservation only and they tend to book up quickly, but if you can plan ahead, it’s worth the drive to Maine.
4. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park’s main feature is that of its namesake. A picturesque lake in the crater of a sleeping volcano, accompanied by a little island on the lake is an amazing place to see with your own eyes and makes quite the postcard picture. The lake itself can often be covered by clouds, but the hike is incredible and the view can’t be beat.
3. Many Glacier Campground, Montana
This is the second campground on our list that resides in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Many Glacier Campground offers you a much different view of the park on the other side of the mountains that you can see from Apgar. There are plenty of breathtaking trails to hike. The only question is which Glacier National Park campground will you visit?
2. Watchman Campground, Utah
Located in the Southwest corner of Utah, and inside the famous Zion National Park is the Watchman Campground. The rugged red mountain formations are a sight to behold when the setting sun brings them to life. The Virgin River runs through the park offering campers some respite from the scorching sun during the summer months. Campsites fill up very quickly so reserve yours well in advance.
1. Denali National Park, Alaska
We couldn’t pick just one campground in this park, and we couldn’t put them all on this list either. We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. If you’ve never been to Alaska, you are robbing yourself of some of the most incredible natural beauty you could ever experience, chief among which is Denali National Park. With six established campgrounds, each offering something different depending on your camping style, you can enjoy nature at whatever your level of comfort is. A quick glance at some pictures of this park and you’ll soon be planning your trip to Denali.