If you’re looking for rugged mountain ranges, desert landscapes, and sunny coastal spots, the USA has some of the most scenic campgrounds in the world. And, whether you’re pitching a tent in these stunning places or camping in a camper, you’ll have easy access to hiking and biking trails, climbing routes, water sports, and wildlife observation locations. The United States and its varied landscape are a paradise for avid campers and nature lovers.
Although there’s no shortage of campgrounds in the USA, you might struggle to decide where to go first. If you need a little help planning your next big adventure, take a look at our top 10 campground recommendations for camping in the United States.
#1 – Joshua Tree National Park, California
Named after the unique Joshua trees found in this barren region, Joshua Tree National Park offers some of the best campgrounds for stargazing in the country. The park is between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert in Southern California but only a couple of hours from Los Angeles and San Diego. You could visit for a weekend or think about planning a road trip.
Within the national park, there are eight designated campgrounds. Hidden Valley Campground is located right in the heart of the park amid massive boulders. Here, you’ll find no facilities or cell phone service, so it’s a fantastic place to escape from daily life. A less remote campground, but super popular, is Jumbo Rocks Campground. You’ll need to book your campsite in advance if you want to sleep here in the peak season.
- You can reserve a site at most campgrounds from September to May.
- Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
- The low season is from June to August.
#2 – Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Frozen over in winter and a hotspot for hiking and scenic driving in summer, Crater Lake in Southern Oregon, was formed around 7,700 years ago by volcanic activity. The crater of the sleeping volcano is now a freshwater lake that’s surrounded by the peaks of the Cascade Mountains and slopes of thick pine forest. While camping next to Crater Lake, you can hike sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, drive or cycle around the perimeter, or swim in the lake.
There are two main campgrounds within the park. The larger of the two, Mazama Campground, is suitable for RV’s and tents and you can book it in advance during the busy season. While the smaller, Lost Creek Campground, has 16 sites for tents only. All are first come first serve so it’s best to arrive in the morning.
- Campgrounds are open from June to late September/early October (weather dependent).
- The northern entrance to the park is usually closed from November to June.
#3 – Napali State Coast Wilderness Park, Hawaii
If you’re looking for a Pacific Ocean paradise then camping on the Napali Coast will probably tick that box. It’s considered one of the most beautiful coastlines in the US (and perhaps in the world). Napali State Coast Wilderness Park is located on the northern shores of Kauai Island, offering trekking routes through valleys and waterfalls as well as ocean surfing.
There are three basic campgrounds within Napali State Wilderness Park, but the one on Kalalau Beach might be the most stunning. This secluded beach is an 11-mile hike from the park entrance. Alternatively, you can get there by renting a kayak and following the coastline. You’ll need to buy a camping permit in advance to pitch your tent inside the park and this campground is limited to 60 guests, so guarantees some peace and quiet.
- Camping permits for Napali State Coast Wilderness Park are available up to 30 days in advance.
- There is a shuttle service to the Kalalau Trailhead.
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#4 – Adirondack Lakes Region, New York
For anyone living in the Big Apple, the Adirondack Lakes Region is fantastic for a weekend break. The region has many freshwater lakes where you can get out with kayaks and paddleboards or just take a dip in the cool mountain waters. Otherwise, there are many forests to explore and quaint mountain villages to visit.
Plus, the Adirondack Region is full of tent and RV campsites. Many are on the islands on Lake George, and some are only accessible by paddling across the lake. There are also several campgrounds located on the banks of Saranac Lake and Indian Lake. The best thing about camping in the Adirondack Region is waking up to mountain views and freshwater wildlife (if you’re up early enough).
- Many campgrounds are closed in wintertime due to snow.
#5 – Big Bend National Park, Texas
Crossing the Mexican-American border in Western Texas, Big Bend National Park covers a massive area and a variety of landscapes. Inside the park’s boundaries are waterfalls, stretches of desert, forests and mountains. Plus, the Rio Grande runs through the center of the park. There’s plenty of wildlife to see as well as outdoor activities.
Because the park is so big, it’s best to make your base at one of the onsite campgrounds. There are three developed campgrounds in Big Bend National Park and one backcountry campground. Chisos Basin Campground is in an open woodland 5,400 feet above sea level. Watching the sunset from this elevation is one of the highlights of camping in Big Bend National Park.
- You need a reservation to camp at Chisos Basin Campground or Rio Grande Village Campground.
- Campgrounds are open all year round.
#6 – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon National Park isn’t just one of the most famous camping locations in the USA; it’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. It certainly deserves a place on our list of the top 10 campgrounds in the USA.
For the best views over the canyon and the epic landscape surrounding it, we recommend camping at North Rim Campground. The North Rim is on the Utah side of the Grand Canyon, and fewer travelers make it to this hard-to-reach spot. That’s why we like it. However, due to the elevation, roads are often blocked by snow in winter. For this reason, the campground is closed from mid-October to mid-May. At this time of year, camping is available at Mather Campground on the South Rim. The views are still magnificent from the south, but, as this side of the canyon is easier to reach, it tends to be more crowded.
- Campsites can be reserved on either side of the Grand Canyon throughout the summer months.
#7 – Letchworth State Park, New York
Another fantastic camping place for New Yorkers is Letchworth State Park in the Finger Lakes Region. Although it’s far greener than the deserts of Arizona, Letchworth State Park is often called the ‘Grand Canyon of the East’. In this park, the Genovese River carves a route between cliffs and drops over three dramatic falls.
Camping at Letchworth State Park is an excellent idea for families because the area offers such a vast range of activities. But it’s also a fantastic starting point for hiking and cycling from spring to fall, or snow sports throughout the winter season. The park’s campground is just 4 miles from the nearest town, Perry, and provides lots of onsite facilities.
- Activities at this state park include white water rafting, cross-country skiing, hiking, and hot air ballooning.
#8 – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Located on the coast of the Gulf of Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park is home to gorgeous and almost untouched landscapes. In this icy region in the USA, there’s no shortage of photo opportunities. The park hosts a combination of glaciers, coves with mirror-like water, and treeless mountains. There’s also a chance to spot whales, wolves, and grizzly bears in their natural habitats, although I’d personally prefer not to get too close to any of these species!
In the summertime, the ice melts and camping is possible at Bartlett Cove. The campground sits on a former glacier under the shade of a rainforest canopy. It’s protected from grizzly’s and, luckily, only foot traffic is allowed inside the campground, so there are no noisy engines to disturb calm.
- You need to apply for a permit to camp at Bartlett Cove.
# 9 – Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The landscapes in Badlands National Park are some of the most rugged in this part of the states. At the same time, the region is one of the most historically interesting. It’s full of ancient geological formations, fossils, and prehistoric paintings. The prairie lands are also home to a delicate ecosystem, and you might spot bighorn sheep, bison, and buffalo roaming the fields.
Inside the park, there are two campgrounds; Cedar Pass Campground, which can be reserved online and has sites for RV’s, and Sage Creek Campground which is first come first serve. Badlands National Park makes it into our top 10 because of its spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and clear night skies. You just can’t catch those moments without camping in the park.
- Sage Creek Campground can host motorhomes up to 18 ft in length.
- Watch out for snakes and other critters when you’re hiking in the park.
#10 – Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park in Northern Montana is the final (but not the least impressive) destination to add to our USA camping bucket list. The park has a huge trail network, over 700 miles, and multiple ice-fed lakes. Plus, the Going-to-the-Sun scenic road passes through the middle from east to west so you can see the entire park.
This icy wonderland isn’t for the faint-hearted. You’ll be sharing the forests with grizzly bears, black bears, and mountain lions. But don’t worry, there are 13 designated campgrounds in Glacier National Park, all of which are accessible by car. Only Apgar Campground, 2.3 miles from the west entrance, stays open throughout the winter season.
- Campground facilities are limited, and you should bring your own water for drinking and washing.
- Most campgrounds are closed in wintertime.
Let’s go camping!
Whether you’re going camping for a long weekend or you’re beginning an overland adventure, these are some of the best campgrounds in the United States. There are plenty more that aren’t on our list, but these should give you a taste for the wonders of the USA.
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