July 19, 2024

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There are over 3.5 million square miles in America, and there isn’t enough time to see every bit of it.

Our large and glorious country has a lot to offer, but if you want to see the best that the United States has to offer, you have to be picky.

We’ve compiled the best 25 camping destinations in the country, ranked by number of campsites, local amenities, dispersed camping leniency, and so much more.

Let’s look closer at these stellar spots that you simply need to visit.

1. Mount Washington State Park, New Hampshire

Home to some of the most glorious mountain views in America, New Hampshire boasts a plethora of recreational activities in and around Mount Washington.

You can visit the Lakes Region, which includes towns like Laconia and Belmont, go fishing on the lake, visit local music shops and Irish-inspired eateries, and still be within a short driving distance to your campsite.

Mount Washington State Park is excellent for campers because of its late closing times.

Enter the park from anywhere up to 10:00 p.m. and enjoy lengthy stay times ranging from ten to twenty days, depending on the season.

Pets are welcome, and park maintenance staff make sure you abide by leash laws and other rules.

It’s one of the reasons that Mount Washington State Park is a clean and protected camping ground, which keeps campers and hikers coming back year after year.

2. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley isn’t the most inviting name, but after you lay out under the stars in these excellent campgrounds, you won’t think twice about where you are.

Death Valley National Park includes long seasons for camping reservations, and if you’re into RV camping, there are sites with every hookup you could need.

If it becomes one of your favorite spots, you could even sign up for the lifetime pass to get lower fees forever. The Furnace Creek campground is open year-round, with a large maximum party size.

You could easily get lost in thought for hours, staring out every night as the sun sets, and feel as though even after you’ve conquered every hiking trail, there’s still more to see.

The maximum period for dispersed camping is thirty days per calendar year, giving you plenty of time to enjoy Death Valley and still visit the other fantastic locations on our list.

3. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia offers tantalizing views of Maine’s highest points, with some trails allowing you to see right into the Gulf of Maine onto crystal water.

Acadia is the ultimate spot for campers who want to enjoy long stays and primarily hike during their trip.

The number of trails is insane, giving you weeks upon weeks of different avenues you could take to tame the hills and peaks and truly experience everything that Acadia National Park has to offer.

Acadia has a lot of rules in place, so you won’t find dispersed camping spots here, but instead there are plenty of campgrounds for you to take full advantage of.

One of the best things you can do after a long hike is visit one of the locally owned restaurants, such as the Side Street Cafe or Burning Tree Restaurant, and experience authentic New England food like you’ve never had before.

These spots, as well as others, are in close proximity to Mr. Desert Island (which is somewhere you have to stop by before you leave).

4. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Prepare your four-season sleeping bags and sturdy tents, as you should visit this location while the snow is still on the ground.

Crater Lake National Park isn’t just a fun name; it’s a mystical spot that aesthetically changes every single day.

Some days you’ll see the central peak in the middle of the lake popping over the misty clouds, and some days you’ll have full clarity to enjoy the sights completely unprohibited.

Crater Lake is a relatively small spot, which is why it’s so excellent for intimate camping trips.

You’ll enjoy lengthy hiking trails that peak over various spots on the lake side, as well as full access to live webcams of different spots, including the Steel Visitor Center, at any time of day.

If you’re bringing the kids and are worried about interactions with wildlife, Crater Lake is wide open and safe for all ages to enjoy.

5. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

It’s where that unique coffee brand gets its name, but it’s also where you can get a cabin and stay for a while.

Dispersed campers love Green Mountain National Forest because of its lax regulations, which allow you to enter at any time of the year as long as you take care of your site and the environment.

There’s no specific season or crazy fees to take into account, making it a popular destination for locals to escape for the weekend. Despite this, it won’t feel crowded.

Nothing kills the joy of camping more than finding a campground riddled with far too many other families, so instead of that, enjoy making your own campsite within the boundaries of nearby trails.

You’ll witness some of the most stunning views of reflected treelines on the clear waters, narrow rivers, and excellent hiking spots to get the most out of your trip.

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is a favorite spot for red-blooded Americans everywhere, which is why making a reservation can be a little tight.

The positive news is that you still have six first-come, first-serve campsites that nobody can make reservations at, so the trail is wide open ahead.

Yosemite features some of the tallest trees and manageable hiking trails, which lets you feel like you’re conquering your own portion of nature without any competition.

Yosemite is also rich with wildlife and stunning waterfront views.

Yosemite also has some of America’s richest history, including a long line of presidential influence and major events that helped define the United States and how they protect their national parks.

One thing you absolutely must see is the husk of the Waterfall of Fire, a once-glorious attraction that now serves as a place to meditate and enjoy your surroundings.

7. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

If you’re looking to relax above all else, to finally get away from the stress of the day-to-day, Badlands has the perfect calming solution for you.

You can either camp out in Sage Creek or Cedar Pass and enjoy nothing but wide open plains, or you can stick to backcountry camping.

Badlands National Park has extremely loose stipulations on what you and can’t do, so as long as you’re at least a half-mile from main roads, you can camp just about anywhere you’d like.

There are over 64,000 acres to explore with your backpack, and we highly doubt you’re going to run out of hiking trails.

Thanks to the complete protection and lack of development, there are untapped high peaks and intense natural terrain-created pathways to traverse through, or some standard roads that lead into the Stronghold Unit, if that’s more up your alley.

It’s impossible to run out of trail in Badlands, just be sure to pack for the occasion.

8. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Apart from being on some of the most glamorous lakes in the United States, Isle Royale also has a more scenic, slow way for you to enjoy the sights.

Join one of the boat tours, available from early June to September, or explore the year-round ranger-led walks.

Even with that assistance, there is still a vast amount of unexplored wilderness that campers haven’t yet seen.

There’s a lot of land to sprawl out on, and fairly lenient dispersed camping regulations are in place.

If dispersed isn’t your preference, there are a whopping thirty-six campgrounds, including one off the coast of Lake Superior, with amenities such as clean water and sanitary restrooms.

Isle Royale is an excellent place to get your feet wet if it’s been a while since you went camping or you’re bringing along a first-timer.

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Are you thinking about carrying everything you need in your backpack?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomes you, so long as you travel a few miles inland before setting up shop.

Their lenient policies on dispersed camping and backcountry exploring make them one of the best places in America to get the full outdoor experience.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more controlled, there are plenty of group campgrounds available to still have amenities nearby without worry.

The Great Smoky Mountains, as you might have imagined, offer a ton of hiking trails that zig-zag across the 500,000+ acres of park.

There are strict regulations on food and firewood, but nothing threatens any amount of fun.

10. Ludington State Park, Michigan

Are you bringing your RV, fifth wheel, or multiple vehicles?

Ludington’s about to be your best friend.

Not only do they have inexpensive campground rentals and a ton of spots, but each of them lets you see a unique perspective of this rather small park.

You’re only working with about 5,300 acres, which keeps everything controlled and very family-oriented.

You’re not going to find much in the ways of dispersed camping, but what you will find is a friendly atmosphere of regular visitors that have turned this park into their second home.

To enter, a recreation passport is required.

Lugington is often a first-time spot for new campers to begin embracing the outdoors without the daunting size of other national parks.

11. Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne Park can be a bit pricier for daily stays, but it shows you the very best side of Florida.

Bring your tent and fishing gear, and get ready to rent a boat and head out on the water. Boating around the islands, fishing off the coast or out on the water, snorkeling, diving, canoeing, and a few other activities are all available.

Think of Biscayne as the ultimate clear-water destination for outdoors enthusiasts.

Biscayne is also home to one of the world’s longest coral reefs in existence, which not only attracts an insane number of multicolored tropical fish that you can see through the water but also makes it a lot more enticing to put on the wetsuit and head down.

There are 173,000 acres to explore, and while you won’t find much in terms of hiking, you’ll be getting the perfect blend of the outdoor experience and a vacation on white sandy beaches.

12. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

If you don’t own an ice fishing shanty, now would be the time to get one.

Yellowstone has a reputation for being one of the oldest parks in America, but it’s also filled with tons of activities for four-season campers.

Ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, skiing, and an observatory where you can look at grizzlies and wolves are excellent attractions for kids.

But it isn’t all about winter sports. Yellowstone is brimming with over three hundred camping sites in backcountry territory, so even though it’s a popular spot, you’re never bumping elbows with other campers.

Take a boat out on the water, get a permit to light a bonfire, and fish during the appropriate season. Yellowstone has a little bit of everything for just about every type of camper out there.

13. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad is somewhere you can only stay for seven consecutive nights at a time, but don’t let that get you down.

This iconic cavern system and park is something you absolutely need to see before you hang up your hiking boots for good.

There are fairly strict rules on what you can do while camping, but there are plenty of hiking trails to keep you enthused throughout your stay.

If you want to grab a bite to eat, there’s a cafeteria, or you can take a brief drive into the actual town of Carlsbad to find more options. One of the things that you can’t miss is the bat flight program.

You’ll find the cave-dwellers that helped put this cavern on the map in the first place flying through the sky from Memorial Day through late October.

Photographs of this event don’t do it justice; you need to see it to believe it.

14. Adirondack Park, New York

This is one of those places that’s on everybody’s camping bucket list.

From the Adirondack Waterfalls to the hiking trails that entwine them to the six million acres of space for you to conquer, you’ll never be in short supply of camping spots again.

There are tons of campgrounds to choose from, each with lenient rules revolving around your stay. Pick up after yourself, and for the most part, everything else is fair game.

To enhance your outdoor experience, consider setting up a tent on the Saranac Lake Islands in the Adirondacks.

Choose between Knobby Island, Eagle Island, Sable Island, and more, especially if you enjoy lengthy trips with minimal interruptions from tourist season.

These large islands ensure that no matter where you go, you’ll have immediate access to a lake shore.

15. Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

Sawtooth boasts over 750,000 acres of rocky terrain, brimming with high peaks and excellent hiking trails as far as the eye can see.

Even if you make it a habit to visit this spot every year, it’s going to take ages to see every sight that Sawtooth has to offer.

As you climb the mountain through seven hundred miles of trails, you’ll land on 10,000-foot peaks and witness over three hundred alpine lakes on the cliffs.

You can find numerous first-hand accounts of the wonders that Sawtooth has to offer, talking about the view of five separate small waterfalls pooling into the Snake River and the amazing amount of unique landscape you’ll take in after just a few minutes on the trail.

If you’re exhausted after a long day of hiking, you can visit the Warfield Distillery and Brewery to get a taste of local craft beers and take a load off.

16. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier Park may have some more strict rules and regulations to follow, but that’s what keeps this excellent landscape alive and well.

Most campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis, though some are available for reservations.

You’ll get a glorious view from the Avalanche campground, looking down on Cut Bank, Fish Creek, and Quartz Creek, among the other half-dozen spots throughout the ridge.

Hiking trails can be a bit steep, so be certain to bring along a quality pair of hiking boots. If you’re into sightseeing, cresting the peaks near Many Glacier will take your breath away.

Bring either a high-quality camera or binoculars to enjoy the view properly.

The last thing we want to mention is that you’re only paying a maximum of $26.00 per night (for larger parties), though with reservations, you can usually grab lower bulk rates.

17. Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

On paper, Gunnison looks like a tactical military map with strategic crags and outcrops everywhere you look.

The reality? You have access to some of the finest hiking trails your feet have ever traversed.

With hundreds of miles of trail, as well as paved and unpaved roads, you’ll be able to explore every angle that Black Canyon in the Gunnison National Forest has to offer.

There’s over 2,000,000 acres of untamed wilderness waiting for you to adventure through.

There’s a total of five wilderness areas to enjoy, maintaining some of America’s last truly protected landscapes from development.

There are trails for ATVs and dirt biking, some for standard mountain bikes, and some for standard cycling and running, each of which shows you a different side of Gunnison that you’ll remember forever.

18. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sequoia and Kings is a very active park, meaning there’s wildlife and dense forest as far as the eye can see.

We provide you with food storage lock boxes and ample campsites that accept reservations up to six months in advance.

Whether you come with an RV, fifth wheel, or just a good old-fashioned backpack, there’s a spot for you at Sequoia and Kings.

You can hike on trails that lead up to 15,000 feet, giving you a magnificent view of east-central California.

You’re a few hundred miles north of Los Angeles, simply looking into the untapped beauty of nature.

This is a common spot for outdoor enthusiasts who like to spend weeks or months at a time out in the wilderness, but don’t worry, there’s more than enough space for everyone to have their own slice of California.

19. Lake McConaughy, Nebraska

Like other midwestern states, people frequently overlook Nebraska for its camping potential.

Lake McConaughy is a gem of America, featuring over 35,000 acres of land to traverse, and if you visit their visitor center, you’ll get in-depth information on the best hiking trails around.

But there’s more to do than just camp. You can plan your visit around additional activities, such as eagle viewing, birdwatching, and renting a jet-ski to head out on the lake.

You’ll make Lake McConaughy a yearly destination with its abundance of high-octane thrills and exciting hiking trails.

20. Denali National Park, Alaska

We couldn’t just leave it to the continental United States, especially when a gem like Denali National Park exists.

If you don’t mind flying or driving through Canada, Denali offers one of the most extreme camping experiences.

Enjoy wide open plains, four-season terrain, and valleys sprouting with wildlife that bring you one step closer to nature. If the sights and simple stargazing at night don’t entice you, there’s a lot to do in Denali.

Hop in a plane for an aerial view and tour; hit the trail for dog sledding, ski, and snowboard; and visit some of the nearby shops to get a quality cup of coffee.

Denali blends family-friendly vacation destinations with dispersed camping, so regardless of your camping style, there’s something to enjoy everywhere you look.

21. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Assateague isn’t the cheapest spot to camp, but it does offer something that nowhere else in America can.

Every year, horses cross the water between this island park and the vehicle-accessible island of Chincoteague in an annual event that has locals (and tourists) swarming.

If you’re not into the tourist trap idea, you can camp in your tent with a few rules and regulations in place.

You’ll be between Virginia and Maryland’s coasts, which promises a spectacular view no matter what time of year you visit.

There isn’t much to this series of campsites, apart from a rich history when President Lyndon B. Johnson created this new national park to protect some of what he referred to as “a nation’s real treasure.”

22. Olympic National Park, Washington State

Olympic National Park in Washington, perhaps one of America’s most iconic parks, is predominantly on a first-come, first-served basis, with only two campgrounds accepting summertime reservations.

If you’re bringing a fifth wheel or an RV with you, you’ll encounter extremely reasonable fees, amenities, and plenty of space in wide open spaces.

Olympic does allow you to light campfires at night, so long as you use dead, fallen wood that you find within the forest.

Olympic also has some crazy weather from time to time, making it a fun ride for four-season campers who want to put themselves in more close-to-nature situations.

You’ll get to enjoy Ruby Beach, audio hiking trails, and the most breathtaking view of Hurricane Ridge when you climb over the hills. If you plan on staying for a while, be sure to check out the tree of life north of Kalaloch Lodge.

23. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Pine Grove takes you through part of the Appalachian Trail, just like our next pick does, while still letting you enjoy the boundless beauty of Pennsylvania.

It’s one of the last states that people think of for camping destinations, but that’s why it’s so perfect: you enjoy a peaceful quiet time with nothing but trails and cycling paths around you.

If you like to make the most of your camping trip, you’ll be in close proximity to Gettysburg, home to some of America’s most interesting civil war monuments and history.

Those of you who enjoy getting quality photographs will have to head up the Pole Steeple Trail and take in the picturesque view from atop the many rocky outcrops.

There’s ample dispersed camping space and lenient laws, letting you stay for as long as you’d like and enjoy the untapped, undeveloped beauty of Pennsylvania.

24. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah is a must-see area not only for the beautiful views of Virginia’s forests, but also for the exclusive feeling.

Even if you’re on one of the five campgrounds, you’ll have access to over 200,000 acres of park space, with beautiful views every which way you look.

The real treat is the wide-open, year-round dispersed camping spots that coincide with numerous hiking trails that show you the best parts of Virginia.

Trek through over one hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail, or the other four hundred miles of pathways that curve around the 4,000-foot elevation peak.

As an added treat, you can also visit Skyline Drive at mile 42.5 and partake in one or two-hour horseback riding sessions.

No matter what way you like to camp, Shenandoah has something for you.

25. Arches National Park, Utah

Last but not least, Arches National Park (named for the grand stone arches) is one more place you absolutely have to go.

There are over fifty-one campsites spread across an eighteen-mile stretch of land. You can set up reservations, but there’s also a first-come, first-served way to enjoy it between November and February.

Amenities include picnic tables and grills, clean drinking water, and different-style restrooms.

Camping under the night sky is relaxing, but when there’s nothing in your way out in the clear plains of Utah, you get a whole new appreciation for nature.

At Arches, RV and structured camping are the preferred options, but if you obtain a permit, you can backpack through the numerous trails.

Much of the land is undeveloped, giving you plenty of spots to pitch a tent and enjoy some of the steepest hiking trails in America.


Get your bags, EDC gear, and tent all picked out for the road trip.

Pick a few of these destinations and consider them your camping highlights for the rest of the year. There’s a lot to see, even more to do, and only so many days to get it done. 

You’ll experience the many facets of this glorious country in all its splendor. The only question that’s left is: Where will you go first?