Best National Park Camping Sites in America

Embrace nature, and sleep under the stars in one of the country's great national parks. Whether you're looking for beach, backcountry, RV, forest or isolated camping spots, we've got something for everyone!

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Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

It's not likely you'll plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park: It requires serious planning to venture into this wild Alaskan spot above the Arctic Circle. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Remote river in Gates of the Arctic) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

The remote park is accessible by bush plane, air taxi and, for the truly hardcore, on foot. Hikers may approach the park from Dalton Highway, but there are multiple river crossings along the way and no trails. 960 1280
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Once in the park, visitors are rewarded with sweeping valleys and rugged mountains, the tallest rising 8,510 feet at Mount Igikpak at the headwaters of the Noatak River. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Noatak River) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Washington state has its share of glaciers with more than 300 mountain glaciers in North Cascades National Park. Get your bearings at any of the park's 6 visitor or service centers where maps and exhibit rooms can help you plan excursions.  960 1280

By Walter Siegmund (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a popular starting point for the 400 miles of trails that meander through the valleys and cut through the mountains with switchbacks and rocky terrain. 960 1280
North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The mountains are dotted with the glaciers as well as more than 127 alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls. The most popular waterfalls can be found at Gorge Falls along State Route 20 in between Newhalem and Diablo and Rainbow Falls in Stehekin Valley. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is a diverse spot with quiet deserts, caves and dense forests filled with 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines. It's remarkable that this is one of the least-visited national parks, often dismissed as a wasteland. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Go underground at Lehman Caves, an ornate marble cave filled with stalactites, stalagmites and over 300 rare shield formations. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Stargazers will delight in the view from Great Basin, one of the darkest spots in the country after the sun goes down. You'll want to spend the night so you can marvel at the Milky Way and constellations in the deep night sky, a rare treat as light pollution blocks the view from many cities around the country. 960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The state of Florida gets hordes of visitors each year, but somehow Dry Tortugas plays host to only a small fraction of them. This cluster of 7 islands is just 70 miles west of Key West, but its quiet island pace sets it apart from its nearest neighbors. 960 1280

By Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA (Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The waters around the islands are filled with coral reefs teeming with interesting marine life that are perfect for a snorkeling trip.  960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Scuba divers explore the Windjammer Wreck, a complete wreck site featuring an impressive sailing ship that sank in 1907. Back on the beach, sea turtles build nests in the sand where they lay their eggs along these protected sandy shores. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan's remote Isle Royale National Park is accessible only by boat or seaplane, so leave your car behind, and set sail from Houghton or Cooper Harbor in Michigan or Grand Portage in Minnesota. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Once there, get ready for a day of backcountry hiking or navigating the lakes, bays and islands in a kayak or canoe. If you're not an experienced paddler, avoid the frigid water and possible squalls on a guided boat tour. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

To extend your trip, spend the night at the Rock Harbor Lodge, found in the island's northeast corner, with simple rooms and cottages overlooking the lake. 960 1280
Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic

Hop aboard the Coastal Classic in Anchorage for a scenic four-hour ride to Kenai Fjords National Park. Along the coast you'll pass a stretch of Cook Inlet known as the Turnagain Arm, before greeting the snow-capped Kenai Mountains. 960 1280

By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA (Our Alaska Railroad train to Spencer Glacier) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic

Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic

After a series of tunnels and a harrowing single-track switch, it's onward through the land of glassy lakes, waterfalls and glaciers to the end of the line in Seward. 960 1280

By Nils Öberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon Railway

Your 65-mile, two-hour journey to the Grand Canyon on this vintage steam train starts in Williams, Ariz. 960 1280

By DXR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon Railway

Coach seats are bench style in Pullman cars from the roaring 1920s, the club car has a mahogany bar, first class enjoys captain-style seats, and a double-decker dome car offers passengers a bird's-eye view. 960 1280

By Drew Jacksich [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Amtrak's Empire Builder

Amtrak's Empire Builder

This giant diesel-engine locomotive begins its journey at Chicago's Union Station and runs west along the original route of the Great Northern Railway to Glacier National Park in Montana. 960 1280

Douglas Rahden [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons  

Amtrak's Empire Builder

Amtrak's Empire Builder

During the next two days, you'll stop at the Glacier Park Lodge & Resort, the  Historic Belton Chalet and the Izaak Walton Inn. 960 1280

By Andrew Balet (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight travels the coast between Los Angeles' and Seattle. The first park on the route is the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area with over 153,000 acres of beaches, mountains and a working movie set, Paramount Ranch. Klamath Falls, Ore., is the jumping off point to visit Crater Lake National Park. The train stops at Portland's historic Union Station before ending in Seattle, an hour and 45-minute drive to Mt. Rainier National Park 960 1280
Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight

First-class ticket holders can enjoy the luxurious Parlor Car, and there's also a car designated just for kids. 960 1280

By donielle (Flickr: pacific parlour car) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Alaska Railroad's Denali Star

Alaska Railroad's Denali Star

Your 7 1/2-hour trip to Denali National Park on this refurbished blue-and-yellow train begins in Anchorage. 960 1280

By Nils Öberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Alaska Railroad's Denali Star

Alaska Railroad's Denali Star

Equipped with a dome car, a fine dining car and student tour guides, the Denali Star travels through seven tunnels and over 8 miles of bridges. Other stops include Wasilla, Talkeetna, Nenana and Fairbanks. 960 1280

By Len Turner from Lufkin, TX, USA (Alaska 02-013Uploaded by Arsenikk) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

Just 35 miles northwest of San Francisco, Point Reyes is a popular escape for hiking one of its many trails and kayaking the shores of Tomales Bay and the coast. It's also known for wildlife -- making it one of the best places for bird watching and spotting Northern Elephant Seals (during winter months). 960 1280

Getty Images   

Juan Bautista de Anza Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza Trail

The Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded in 1771 and is a designated stop on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. In 1775, Anza led more than 240 men, women and children from Nogales, AZ, to settle in San Francisco. 960 1280

Ed Bierman, flickr  

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

Sunlight shines through 240 acres of Coastal Redwood trees at Muir Woods, 12 miles north of San Francisco, and one of the few remaining forests in the Bay Area. 960 1280

Justin Kern, flickr  

Fort Point

Fort Point

Constructed during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point's master masonry has been called "the pride of the Pacific." Overlooking the majestic Golden Gate, Fort Point protected the San Francisco harbor from attack during and after the Civil War. 960 1280

California Bear, flickr  

Port Chicago Naval Magazine

Port Chicago Naval Magazine

WWII's worst homefront disaster took place on the evening of July 17, 1944, when 320 Americans were instantly killed by an explosion of 2 ships loaded with ammunition. Reservations are required to visit the site and must be made at least 2 weeks before your visit to the Memorial. 960 1280

Bruce C. Johnson Jr.  

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

The infamous federal prison often overshadows the natural side of "The Rock," but whether you go for the fort's storied history, the West Coast's oldest operating lighthouse or unmatched Bay views -- it's worth the ferry ride. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Golden Gate National Rec Area

Golden Gate National Rec Area

How's this for impressive statistics: The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest urban parks in the world with nearly 60 miles of California coastline, over 13 million visitors a year and no access fees. Of course, the crown jewel of the Bay area's "backyard" -- and its most beautiful and recognizable landmark -- is the bridge itself. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Tao House, located in Danville, CA, is the Monterey Colonial hillside home of America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill. While O'Neill and his wife only lived in the home for 7 years, it was where he wrote his final and most memorable plays: The Iceman Cometh, Journey Into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten. 960 1280

Eugene O’Neill Foundation  

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