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!
Backcountry Camping: Glacier National ParkEach year, Glacier National 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. 960 1280
Backcountry Camping: Glacier National ParkSerious 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 multi-day back-country adventure. 960 1280
Forest Camping: Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce 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. 960 1280
Beach Camping: Assateague IslandAt 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. 960 1280
Beach Camping: Assateague IslandAlthough the park is located in both Maryland and Virginia, camping is only available in Maryland. 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. 960 1280
RV Camping: Yosemite National ParkYosemite 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. 960 1280
Isolated Camping: Voyageurs National ParkIf you're 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. 960 1280
Isolated Camping: Voyageurs National ParkEach 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. 960 1280
Gates of the Arctic National Park and PreserveThe 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
North Cascades National ParkWashington 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
North Cascades National ParkThe 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 ParkGreat 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 ParkStargazers 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 ParkThe 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
Dry Tortugas National ParkScuba 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
Paddle the Pacific
Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to some of the best kayaking on the West Coast. Rich with marine life and boasting the much-photographed Arch Rock, Anacapa is the perfect day trip or overnighter for the city dweller looking to get into some rough water. It’s a cliff island, so beware of winds, currents and fog.
Float the BorderThe mighty Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park in Texas, but it also represents the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Rafting down the river not only takes you through some eye-widening scenery, like 1500-foot deep canyons, but will also toss you back and forth across the border. 960 1280
Hit the Sandy Slopes
Colorado has Aspen, one of the most famous skiing destinations on the planet. It also has Sand Dunes National Park, one of the only sandboarding and sandsledding destinations on the planet. Slalom down the granular slopes like some diabolical combination of Jean-Claude Killy and Lawrence of Arabia. Hit the dunes early in the morning or late in the evening, lest you roast in the 150° midday heat. And don’t forget the lip balm.
Cold StorageThe upper regions of Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park have over 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow, providing a year-round paradise for hearty souls who consider ice camping a pleasure. If you’re going to stay the night on the mountain, securely lock your vittles to keep them from the clutches of foxes and other aggressive winter wildlife. 960 1280
Take in the LightsMinnesota's Voyageurs National Park sits just below the Canadian border and offers campers a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. Voyageurs encompasses 270 campsites only accessible by watercraft, but we recommend the remote Echo Lake Campground for best visibility. Check a variety of weather services to determine your best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 960 1280
Yosemite GlidingIt may seem crazy, but people have been leaping off Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park for decades. Hang gliding was once sanctioned and overseen by park employees. These days the private Yosemite Hang Gliding Association coordinates it. 960 1280
The RaftersIf a weekend of seething whitewater just doesn’t cut it anymore, try an eight-day Grand Canyon raft trip down the Colorado River. There are a host of operators who will happily guide you down 200 miles of rapids. By the end of it, you’ll have seen Native-American ruins, mile-high cliff walls and countless eagles. 960 1280
Hit the Heights
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park boasts rock formations that will set a climber’s mouth to watering. The 415-square-mile park is a full-service climbing destination, featuring opportunities for scaling rock, wall, ice and snow. Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak are favorites of local and international climbers. Whether you are an experienced sport climber or a beginning boulderer, be safe and leave no trace of your visit.