Camping can be a pretty daunting activity, especially if you’re used to certain everyday comforts such as a soft and comfortable bed, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi. Before I started camping, it was such a big mystery to me how people can enjoy spending their nights outdoors without electricity and a proper bathroom. Once I actually experienced a good camping trip, I realized that this activity is so much more than walking in the woods and sleeping in a tent.
Camping is a great way to escape from the stress and monotony of everyday life. A good camping trip will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged and ready for everything that life has to offer, especially if you’re coming from the city. Camping allows you to disconnect from your hectic life, even for just a moment, to relax your soul and enjoy some quiet times, surrounded by nature.
Camping can be as simple as setting up a tent in your backyard, building a fire, and making smores. If you want to take it to another level, you can go on a camping trip in a campground in the mountains, near the ocean, or wherever may suit your fancy. If there’s one thing that I like about the USA, it’s definitely the multitude of unique and interesting campsites that are scattered all over the country.
If you’re not sure which campsite you should choose for your camping trip, we’ve listed the top 10 best campgrounds in the USA that you should definitely check out.
The heart of your campsite is your tent. No matter how comfortable your camp may be, if you do not have a good camping tent, your camping experience will not be as satisfactory as you want it to be. If you want to invest in a good tent, check out our article on the best tents for camping where we listed and reviewed the top tents available in the market today.
How do I find a good campsite?
Before we get to our recommendations, here are our tips and tricks when looking for the perfect campsite.
Your campsite will be the backbone of your camping trip.
It will be the base camp for everything that you plan on doing, which is why it is important to find a location that will suit all your needs. To find the perfect campsite, keep the following criteria in mind: location, cost, and specific activities.
Location should always be your first consideration when choosing a campsite.
Do you want to go to a different state or are you fine with staying in your home turf? Are you looking for a campground that has easy access to a mountain, a lake, or the ocean? Do you prefer a place that needs to be reserved beforehand or are you looking for one that accepts walk-ins? Once you have answered these questions, it will be much easier for you to narrow down your choices.
Your next consideration should be the cost of the campsite.
There are locations that are totally free to use but most require a fee. For example, if you’re planning on camping on a campground that is located inside a national park, you’ll be required to pay an entrance fee as well as a per night campground fee. If you don’t mind paying, your choices will be much more extensive and diverse.
Last but not the least, choose a campsite that has the specific activities that you want to check out.
For example, if you want to visit the ocean, pick a campground that is located near that area. The more specific the activity that you want to do, the easier it is to find the perfect campground.
These three criteria always help me in choosing the perfect campsite for every camping trip. But sometimes, when I feel quite daring and spontaneous, I just wing it and leave everything to chance. It’s always fun to explore an area that you know little to nothing about. This, though, can be stressful at times so stick to the criteria if you want to enjoy a trip without fuss.
When you’re packing for a camping trip, you should make sure that you’ll bring everything you need. It’s very annoying to discover that you’ve forgotten something important when you’re already in the middle of the woods and nowhere near a store to buy the item that you forgot. To help you avoid this situation, we came up with a list of all the camping items you’ll need for the great outdoors.
Top 10 Best Campgrounds in the USA
Among the thousands of campsites to choose from all over the country, here are our top 10 best campgrounds in the USA.
1. Camping in Acadia National Park: Blackwoods Campground
Fee: $30 – $60 per night
Spanning over a total of 49,052 acres and encompassing mountains, coniferous and deciduous woodlands, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and an ocean coastline, Acadia National Park is definitely one of the nation’s most beloved national parks.
Acadia National Park is divided into three main regions: Mountain Desert Island (MDI), Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle au Haut. MDI is the main and largest region of the park, where you will find Bar Harbor, Cadillac Mountain, and other top activities in the park. The Schoodic Peninsula, located up north is small but definitely scenic. Isle au Haut is a remote island down south that can only be reached by a ferry.
Our favorite activities to do in Acadia National Park is to catch the first rays of the sun that touch the country in Cadillac Mountain and to watch and hear the waves crashing and thundering in the Thunder Hole. If you want, you can explore MDI in the comfort of your car by going on a scenic drive on Park Loop Road. Make sure to stop by the various locations that you will pass by, like Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond. And of course, don’t forget to check out and explore the park’s beautiful coastlines as well.
In this camping trip, we recommend that you stay at the Blackwoods Campground in Mountain Desert Island. Blackwoods is Acadia’s most popular campground and for a good reason. Located only a short distance away from Bar Harbor, Park Loop Road, the ocean, and several of the best hiking trails in the park, Blackwoods’ location is definitely prime and favored by most park visitors.
All in all, the campground has a total of 306 campsites, including sites that are allocated for RVs. Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the site, especially during peak season. All of Blackwoods’ campsites are wooded and come with a picnic table and campfire ring. There are no showers in this campground but there are bathrooms with flush toilets nearby.
The campground fees are as follows: $30 – $60 per night.
2. Camping in Assateague Island National Seashore: Oceanside Walk-in Campground
Fee: $30 per night
Travel to the edge of the continent to explore the sandy beaches, salty marshes, maritime forests, and coastal bays of the Assateague Island National Seashore. Live your life on the edge and explore this barrier island that is predominantly untouched by human development.
What’s special about the Assateague Island National Seashore is its very different setting in comparison to most camping places. People usually go camping in the mountains but for this location, it’s all about the shore and the ocean. What’s more, there are a ton of wild horses in this area that are just very mesmerizing to look at.
The beauty of Assateague Island’s white seashores attracts a lot of visitors, especially during the summer months. Aside from gallivanting in the beach, there are a lot of other activities to do in this area, such as viewing the island’s wild horses, going bird watching, going on a hike, and just appreciating the island’s unspoiled beauty.
Camping is only allowed on the Maryland district of Assateague Island. Set up camp on the Oceanside Walk-in Campground, which is located 100-200 feet from the parking areas. Since you’ll be pitching your tent in the sand, make sure to prepare for both wind and sun exposure. Don’t forget to bring bug spray to keep the mosquitos away. From this campsite, you’ll be able to access water activities such as swimming, fishing, paddling, exploring bike trails and going on several interesting hikes. Wildlife visits are also pretty common, just make sure to keep your distance for safety purposes.
The Oceanside Walk-in Campground is divided into 60 sites that are tents only. Each site can comfortably fit six guests and is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. Camping facilities include chemical toilets, cold water showers, and drinking water. Reservations are required from March 15 to November 15. For the rest of the year, the campsite operates on a first-come first served basis.
The campground fees are as follows: $30 per night.
3. Camping in Denali National Park and Preserve: Savage River Campground
Fee: $24 – $46 per night
Spread over six million acres of wild lands, exploring Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska is an amazing and one of a kind experience. Visit the tallest peak in North America, explore the rugged wilderness, and enjoy a time of solitude and tranquility in the wild.
Flightseeing is a very popular activity that allows you to see the national park from above in its full glory. If you’re not a fan of aerial travel, explore the area on foot with the help of a guide. Wilderness tours and interpretive hikes are also famous among visitors. For dog lovers, head over to the kennels of the park’s canine rangers that have been working alongside their human counterparts since the 1920s.
Camping is definitely a must do activity in Denali National Park and Preserve. Since only 15 miles of the park road is open to the public, most campsites can be reached via the park shuttle system. Our campground of choice is the Savage River Campground, located at mile 13.
The Savage River Campground is the last campground in the park that is accessible by a private car. It is also the first campsite with a view of Denali. Savage River, the campground’s namesake, is located only a short walk away.
The campground has a total of 32 sites that can accommodate both tents and RVs. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made as early as December 1, before the year you want to visit. The campground is nestled in a small spruce forest that provides both shade and privacy for campers.
The campground fees are as follows: $24 – $46 per night.
4. Camping in Glacier National Park: Apgar Campground
Reservations: Not allowed
Fee: $20 per night in the summer
Tucked up in a corner in Montana near the border to Canada is Glacier National Park, also known as the Crown Jewel of the Continent. This national park spans over a million acres and is home to and shaped by its namesake, glaciers. Camping here is extra special because once the sun sets, the sky transforms into something out of a fairy tale.
Hiking is definitely the top activity in Glacier National Park, with over 700 miles of hiking trails available for hikers of every skill level to enjoy. Hike to see the park’s massive glaciers, stunning mountain vistas, serene alpine lakes, impressive waterfalls, and awe inspiring wildlife. If you want, you can also enjoy some water fun in one of the many lakes of the park. If you’re going camping, stay up a little past your bedtime, to catch a glimpse of the clear night sky that is lit up by millions of stars.
The Apgar Campground is our base camp of choice in Glacier National Park. It’s the biggest campground in the park and it’s located in a very scenic and convenient location. Apgar Village and shuttle services are within a short walking distance from the camp. The same goes for Lake McDonald.
Lake McDonald is an amazing location and sight to see in Glacier National Park. The banks of this lake are filled with colorful stones that can be easily seen through the lake’s crystal clear waters. If you want to catch a stunning view of the sunset, the lake is the perfect location. From this vantage point, you can also enjoy the amazing and mesmerizing dark night sky of the park. Before going to bed, take a short walk to the head of Lake McDonald to view the Milky Way.
The Apgar Campground has a total of 194 sites. Group campsites are available in this location as well. If you’re bringing an RV, there are 25 available sites that can fit rigs of up to 40 feet. The campground is open year-round and offers free primitive camping in the winter. Due to its popular location, sites are filled pretty fast, especially during peak seasons. Reservations are not available for this site so arrive early if you want to secure a spot.
The campground fees are as follows: Summer fee: $25 per night.
5. Camping in Grand Canyon National Park: Mather Campground
Fee: $18 – $50 per night
There are no words that can describe the beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyon. This amazing wonder of nature, which was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, is Grand Canyon National Park’s central feature along with a gorge of the Colorado River. Situated in the northwestern quadrant of Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States.
Make the most of your visit to Grand Canyon National Park by thoroughly exploring the area from both above and below. Step into the Grand Canyon Skywalk for an amazing view of the canyon and its vertical abyss in its full glory. The view from above is definitely breathtaking, but the view from below is just as good.
For a change in perspective, you can go on a hike to the canyon floor. There are multiple hikes available in the park that allow you to explore as much as you can on foot. If you want, you can also explore the bottom of the canyon through the Colorado River. Going on a whitewater rafting trip through the canyon is an amazing experience that you definitely don’t want to miss.
It is always recommended to stay for more than a day for a full Grand Canyon National Park experience. Our favorite campground in the park is the Mather Campground, located in the South Rim of the park. Despite it being a fairly busy campground, the Ponderosa pines, Pinyon, and Juniper trees that nestle the campsite provide ample privacy and shade. The view of the night sky is beautiful from this location and wildlife visits are frequent as well.
There are 327 sites available in the Mather Campground. Each site is equipped with a campfire ring with cooking grate, a picnic table, parking, and room for three tents. RVs can also access the campsite but there are no available hook-ups. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons due to the amount of park visitors.
The campground fees are as follows: $18 – $50 per night. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Knowing how to start a fire is an essential skill for any camper. Starting a fire may seem like an easy task, but it is surprisingly difficult to do, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to know how to properly and safely build a fire, follow our step-by-step guide on starting a campfire.
6. Camping in Grand Teton National Park: Jenny Lake Campground
Reservations: Not Allowed
Fee: $13 – $32 per night
Open year-round and filled with amazing activities for each season, Grand Teton National Park is more than snow-capped picturesque peaks. The Wyoming park covers over 310,000 acres of lush valley floors, mountain meadows, alpine lakes, and towering mountains.
Each season in Grand Teton National Park has its own signature activity and scenery. Summer is Grand Teton’s most vibrant and most crowded season. Hiking, mountain climbing, and wildlife viewing are this season’s highlights. Fall is a colorful season that attracts photography enthusiasts that are completely enamored by the stunning hues of the landscape. Winter is the time for primitive camping, skiing, and snowshoeing. Come spring, it’s time to watch the great migration of the park’s wildlife.
Nothing beats camping in an environment as beautiful as Grand Teton National Park. Our favorite campground in this park is the Jenny Lake Campground. The location of this campsite is both central and aesthetically pleasing. From this site, Jenny Lake and an amazing view of the Teton Range are only a few hundred yards away. The Jenny Lake Store, which provides goods like firewood, snacks, and ice, is located nearby. The central location of the campground provides easy access to the rest of the park.
The Jenny Lake Campground has a total of 59 sites. Each site can accommodate two tents, one vehicle, and six guests. All campsites include a picnic table, fire pit, nearby restrooms, and a bear box. The campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis and campers can stay for up to 7 nights.
The campground fees are as follows: $13 – $32 per night.
7. Camping in Green Mountain National Forest: Moosalamoo Campground
Reservations: Not Allowed
Fee: $10 per night
Often referred to as the “granite backbone of Vermont”, Green Mountain National Forest is an amazing location that is often overlooked. Nearly 400,000 acres big, this national forest is teeming with history, wildlife, and breathtaking sceneries. Even though the forest is open year round, fall is definitely the best time to visit in order to see the trees ablaze with color.
There is no shortage of waterfalls in this area and they are definitely one of the top sceneries in the forest. Explore more of Green Mountain through hikes where you’ll be able to observe the unique local flora and fauna. In winter, seasonal activities such as snowboarding and skiing are available for visitors to enjoy. Spend a night or two surrounded by the lush forest for an even better experience.
Among the four developed campgrounds in the national forest, our top pick is the Moosalamoo Campground. This campground is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty and tranquility of the forest. Going here in the off-season with no one else around is a soul searching experience that you’ll be glad to have experienced.
Because of its location, Moosalamoo Campground has access to various hiking trails that are perfect for every hiker. The trails include the challenging Oak Ridge Trail and the more relaxed Goshen Trail. Trails that are open for mountain cyclists are also located nearby.
The Moosalamoo Campground has a total of 20 sites that are open to both tents and RVs. The campground operates on a first-come, first served basis. Amenities include fire grates, toilets, picnic tables, and potable water. Visitors are allowed to stay for a maximum of 14 days.
The campground fees are as follows: $10 per night.
8. Camping in Joshua Tree National Park: Hidden Valley Campground
Reservations: Not Allowed
Fee: $15 per night
The land where two deserts meet, Joshua Tree National Park is located in a stunning crossroad, where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado Desert. Sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain, the park boasts of a unique ecosystem that is home to a variety of plants and animals, including the distinctive trees that the park was named after.
Hiking through the desert among the Joshua trees and climbing the numerous rock formations that are scattered throughout the park are the top activities to do in Joshua Tree National Park. Due to the park’s landscape of varying elevations, there are areas filled with lush trees while some are completely devoid of vegetation. If you’re a fan of cacti, head over to the Cholla Cactus Garden, where these prickly flora dominate the entire area.
Another top activity in the park is camping. All campgrounds are located in beautiful areas surrounded by massive rock formations and unique desert vegetation. Located near the most scenic portion of Joshua Tree National Park is the campground of our choice, the Hidden Valley Campground.
Spread around huge rock formations and dotted with mature Joshua trees, the Hidden Valley Campground is the most famous campground in the park. The reason for this is the site’s convenient location. The campground is located near the park’s West Entrance Station, numerous day hikes, and the best climbing sites that the park has to offer. Because of this, the campground is always busy, even in the winter.
The Hidden Valley Campground has a total of 44 available campsites that operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is open to both tents and RVs, though some sites have limited parking spaces. Arriving early is highly recommended if you want to secure a camping spot.
The campground fees are as follows: $15 per night.
9. Camping in Olympic National Park: Hoh Campground
Reservations: Not Allowed
Fee: $20 per night
Looking for a great camping spot with an amazing environment diversity? Look no further than Olympic National Park. Located on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington, the park encompasses over a million acres of glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rainforests, and over 70 miles of the wild Pacific coastline.
Explore the park’s snow-capped peaks and alpine meadows, dotted with wildflower patches by going on a hike. Go on an adventure in a unique temperate forest in search for towering trees covered in moss. Spend a day marveling at the gorgeous sights of the rugged Pacific coastline and try to spot whales without the need of going in the water. With Olympic National Park’s beautiful and diverse wilderness, you’ll never run out of amazing things to do.
Spending a few days in the park is ideal. Camping in one of the park’s 14 available campgrounds is even better. We’d usually go for a campsite with an amazing view of the night sky, but for this park, nestle yourself under the canopy of the giant moss-covered trees in the Hoh Campground, located in the Hoh Rain Forest.
In the summer, various ranger programs take place in this campsite. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is located nearby as well as several great hikes. The campground is a great base camp for exploring the Hoh Rain Forest. Also easily accessible from the campground is the Hoh River Trail, one of the best hiking trails in the park.
The Hoh Campground is open year round and has a total of 78 sites that are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. RVs that are 21 feet to 35 feet in size can access the campground but there are no dump stations available on site. Campground facilities include fire pits with grates, picnic tables, potable water, accessible restrooms, and animal-proof food storage lockers.
The campground fees are as follows: $20 per night.
10. Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park: Moraine Park Campground
Reservations: Allowed up to 6 months in advance
Fee: $30 per night in the summer; $20 per night in the winter.
Located within the front range of the Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts of towering mountains, alpine lakes, diverse wildlife, and various climates and environments ranging from forests to tundra’s all in one location.
Activities in Rocky Mountain National Park are diverse and endless. Due to the location of the park, there are different environments that offer different activities that you can enjoy. You can ride horses in the forest, hike in the tundra, or even climb a mountain that is 14,259 feet tall. If you prefer a more chill exploration, you can go on a scenic driving on Trail Ridge Road.
Our campground recommendation in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Moraine Park Campground. Nestled in ponderosa pines on the east side of the park near the Beaver Meadows Entrance, the beautiful Moraine Park Campground offers a stunning view of Longs Peak, the tallest peak in the park.
From this campground, you can access the park’s free shuttle service that takes visitors to the Bear Lake Road area and Estes Park. Moraine Park Discovery Center and Moraine Park area trails are within walking distance from this location.
The campground has a total of 244 available sites in the summer and 77 available sites in the winter. The sites are properly spaced apart so you don’t have to worry about being too close to the other campers. During peak seasons, it is better to reserve a site in advance. In the winter, the campground switches to a first-come, first-served policy.
The campground fees are as follows: $30 per night in the summer; $20 per night in the winter.
Nature is amazing and one way of celebrating this greatness is by engaging in activities like camping. When you’re out in the wild and disconnected with the hustle and bustle of your daily life, you get to truly appreciate and experience everything that nature has to offer. It may be a daunting activity at first, but it will definitely change your life.
The campgrounds that we mentioned above are only a small portion of all the amazing camping locations in the country. There are tons of other locations waiting for you to enjoy and explore. Begin your journey in a familiar place and slowly expand your horizon. Soon, you’ll know these places like the back of your hand and you’ll be itching to explore and discover more.