Best National Park Camping

Pitch a Tent in a National Park


Oleksandr Buzko

Embrace nature, and sleep under the stars in one of the country's great national parks. The parks' 1000s of campsites offer something for everyone. Families unload minivans or RVs and create a home away from home with multiroom tents and campfire feasts at well-appointed campsites, while backpackers rest their achy bones at isolated backcountry spots. Here are some of the best places to go camping at national parks.

Beach Camping
Assateague Island, Maryland
At Assateague Island you can feel the sand under your feet -- and under your sleeping bag, too -- when you pitch your tent at an ocean-side site on this barrier island. The campsites are just steps from the water where you can spend the day swimming, fishing, collecting shells or just lounging in the sand. Although the park is located in both Maryland and Virginia, camping is only available in Maryland. You may park your car right next to your tent at the drive-in sites while the walk-in sites are just 200 yards from parking. In addition to the camping basics, bring along firewood, long tent stakes to steady your tent from strong breezes and extra bug spray as the mosquito populations thrive during the warm summer months.

Backcountry Camping
Glacier National Park, Montana
Serious hikers rave about the looming mountains and alpine lakes that make up Glacier National Park's million-plus acres of natural wonderland. To fully appreciate the park's beauty, load your backpack for a multiday backcountry adventure. Each year, the park updates its Backcountry Camping Guide, a necessary accessory for backpackers who plan to spend the night at one of the remote campsites. Primitive campsites have a spot for a tent, pit toilets, as well as an area to prepare and store food. Backcountry camping takes serious preparation, including applying for a permit ahead of time, planning for weather, packing in clean water and finding ways to secure food from resident wildlife, including bears and mountain lions. Pack lightly, because you'll need to hike out with whatever you bring, including trash and even scraps of food.

Forest Camping
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its tall rocky spires known as hoodoos, but its elevation creates 3 unique forest areas. As the park reaches 2,000 feet, there are distinct forest areas with spruce, Ponderosa pines and Pinyon pines. There are 2 campgrounds in the park, and the Sunset Campground is located just west of some of the park's best easy-to-moderate hiking trails that begin at Sunset Point. There are 100 campsites here, and 20 of these may be reserved in advance for $15. The paved trail along Rim Trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points has minor elevation changes and easily accessible paths that offer great views of the park's rocky amphitheater.

RV Camping
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is a great option for car campers and road-tripping RVers who don't want to leave behind all of the comforts of home. The park has 10 campgrounds with ample space for RVs and trailers. There are no utility hookups at any of the sites, but you will find bathrooms, fire pits and food lockers. Get your reservations as early as possible as campgrounds fill up quickly during prime tourist season from April through September. In Yosemite Valley, RVs can unpack and settle in Upper, Lower and North Pines campgrounds and enjoy great views of the towering rock formations and easy access to hiking trails to Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls.

Isolated Camping
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
If youre searching for a remote campground with few neighbors, Voyageurs National Park just might be your spot. However, you will need your own boat to access any of the 200 remote campsites. Each site is equipped with a food locker, fire ring and picnic table so you can enjoy dinner under the stars. Be sure to double-check your packing list as there are no nearby shops to pick up forgotten essentials at these isolated camping spots. There are no fees, and reservations are not accepted except for the 2 large sites available for groups. However, you do need a permit to spend the night and can pick it up at a visitor center or a self-register station near any of the boat-launch facilities.

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