Looking for an unforgettable camping experience? From hidden spots on both coasts to campgrounds near iconic landmarks, this group of campsites promise unforgettable views and lasting memories.
The promise of a great adventure is usually the primary motivation for taking a camping trip—but incredible scenery is always a welcome bonus. That’s what makes the finalists on our list of top US campsites so special: These jaw-dropping destinations provide campers with opportunities to see glaciers, redwood forests and iconic national monuments.
Many Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park, Montana
Don’t expect a lot of privacy at Many Glacier Campground, a popular campsite in Montana’s Glacier National Park. However, dealing with other campers is a small price to pay for stunning mountain views, wildlife-watching opportunities, and close proximity to several of the park’s glaciers. The first-come, first-serve campground fills up fast, so arrive as early as you can. Ecologists report the majority of the park’s glaciers will melt away within the next 20 years – perhaps as soon as 2020 – so don’t delay your visit!
Belle Fourche Campground, Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
How amazing would it be to peek out your tent in the morning and see Devil’s Tower, the Wyoming national monument that rises 1,267 feet/386 meters above the surrounding terrain? Several campsites (mostly in the A Loop) in Belle Fourche Campground allow visitors to do just that. Open from April to October, the campsites are surrounded by cottonwood trees and are just a short walk from trails that lead to the Belle Fourche River and to the base of the imposing rock formation.
Duck Harbor Campground, Acadia National Park, Maine
If you’re after a more secluded nature experience, check out Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut, an island in Maine’s Acadia National Park (connected to the mainland only by passenger ferry). The rugged isle has just five primitive campsites, which are open from May to October and feature three-sided shelters and fire pits. Whether you spend time hiking or just chilling out at camp, a Duck Harbor experience is all about getting away from the crowds.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California
With towering redwoods, an 80-foot waterfall, and ocean views of migrating gray whales, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has earned a reputation as one of the most amazing camping spots in California. Try to score one of the two hike-in environmental campsites, which require a half-mile trek into a cypress grove just above McWay Falls. Site #1 provides especially gorgeous views of the rocky Big Sur coastline.
Boulder Beach Campground, Lake Mead, Nevada
Camp among the palm trees at Boulder Beach Campground, which sits only a half-mile from the warm waters of Nevada’s Lake Mead and a short drive from the Hoover Dam. Many of the 154 camping sites have views of the lake. Who would have expected to find such an amazing site just 30 minutes outside Las Vegas? Another reason to visit this year: Renovations to add new RV parking spots and modern restroom facilities—along with plans to remove non-native plants—will finish in February 2013.
White Wolf Campground, Yosemite Valley, CA
Some of the country’s best campgrounds require you to spend half a day—or sometimes more—backpacking in to just to set up your tent. This isn’t one of them: The 74-site White Wolf grounds, located in a sub-alpine meadow off a quiet back road, offers high country views and welcome extras like running water, excellent trails to Lukens and Harden Lakes and tasty meals available at the nearby lodge. Be sure to time your stay correctly though: this special site is only open from July until early September.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at quirkytravelguy.com.
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