Scenic Places to Go Camping in the United States

Woman setting up tent by lake below Mount Rainier Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.
Woman setting up tent by lake below Mount Rainier Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. | © Brad Mitchell / Alamy Stock Photo
Leena Kollar

For adventurers who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, camping is a popular recreational activity. And when you go camping somewhere that has scenic views, the experience is even more enjoyable. Here’s where to take in some of the most stunning views at campgrounds in the United States.

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Acadia National Park

When you visit Acadia National Park in Maine, you have almost 50,000 acres of mountains, pine forests and ocean views to explore. There are several different campgrounds within the park, including Blackwoods Campground, Seawall Campground, and Schoodic Woods Campground. On Isle au Haut, an island off the coast of Maine, there is also a campsite called Duck Harbor Campground, which is reachable by mailboat only.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park’s Mount McKinley dominates this stunning Alaskan wilderness worth visiting

The highest mountain in North America, reaching 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) above sea level, is Denali, located in Alaska. It’s here where you’ll find Denali National Park and Preserve. While certain parts of the park and preserve are inaccessible, there are four camping areas within the interior of the park. Camper buses are available for visitors who have reservations at the campgrounds; otherwise, access to the mountains is only available via air taxi from the Kantishna Airport.

Yosemite National Park

Merced River from El Portal Road in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park

Spanning portions of several counties in Northern California, Yosemite National Park reaches across the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is internationally recognized for its biological diversity. Among the 13 campgrounds located inside the park, you’ll find stunning views of waterfalls, lakes, glaciers, and Sequoia groves. Most campgrounds at Yosemite require a reservation, especially during the peak season, which is between the months of April and September.

Saranac Lake

Contrary to its name, Saranac Lake is actually a village in New York named after the nearby Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes. The village lies within the boundaries of Adirondack Park, west of Lake Placid, and the edges of the village do not touch the shores of any of the three lakes. There are more than 85 campgrounds available in the area, and some are only accessible by boat.

Big Bend National Park

While it might be one of the least-visited national parks in the United States, Big Bend National Park in Texas has several different campgrounds, including the Chisos Basin Campground, which sits near some of the park’s most popular trails. There is also the Rio Grande Village RV Campground, complete with 25 campsites, and Cottonwood Campground, which is close to Santa Elena Canyon. Visitors to Big Bend National Park are limited to 28 nights of camping in the park per each calendar year.

Sawtooth National Forest

In the state of Idaho is Sawtooth National Forest, which has more than 81 campgrounds. Backcountry camping is available and requires taking hiking trails and then either backpacking or horseback riding to remote locations. Redfish Lake in Sawtooth Valley has a lodge with a marina, and hot springs across the forest are open to the public, including the 111°F (43.9°C) pool at Baumgartner Campground.

Arches National Park

In eastern Utah, four miles (six kilometers) north of Moab, is Arches National Park. It is where you’ll find over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, which is the highest density of natural arches—including Delicate Arch—in the world. The Devils Garden Campground has 51 campsites available for reservation and is in close proximity to mountain bike trails and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Between October and May, the eight campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park in California fill up quickly on the weekends. Between the off-season months of June through September, campsites are easier to reserve. Some campgrounds, including Ryan Campground, are closed during the summer, but no reservations are needed for summertime camping. Ryan is one of two campgrounds (the other is Black Rock) at Joshua Tree National Park that has a designated horse camp.

Zion National Park

Near Springdale, Utah is Zion National Park. With canyons, rivers, mountains, mesas and natural arches, Zion lies at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. Zion Canyon sits within the park and cuts through reddish-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. Halfway through the canyon is Zion Lodge, which has motel units and cabins, as well as three campgrounds. Zion Lodge is open year-round, and the only campground that takes reservations is Watchman. Permits are required for overnight camping in the backcountry.

Carson National Forest

From Agua Piedra Campground to Elephant Rock to Fawn Lakes, there are plenty of camping choices within Carson National Forest; however, visitors may camp anywhere within the forest, with a 14-day camping limit, as it has a “mixed use” policy that allows anyone to use it for recreation, grazing, and resource extraction. Carson National Forest is not only home to Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico, at 13,161 feet (4,011 meters), but also many big game animals, including elk, black bears, and cougars.

Assateague Island National Seashore

Off of Maryland’s eastern shore is Assateague Island, where the Assateague Island National Seashore occupies half of the land. There are more than 140 campsites, with options for oceanside or bayside camping. There are also six backcountry camping sites, four of which are accessible by kayak or canoe. The main attraction at Assateague Island is the herd of wild horses that inhabit the land. The horses are descendants of late 17th-century horses brought by colonists who were trying to avoid paying livestock taxes. To the north of the island is Assateague State Park, which features two miles (3.2 kilometers) of beaches.

Grand Canyon National Park

Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a gorge of the Colorado River and lies within Grand Canyon National Park. While there is no camping allowed in the canyon, the park does have several campgrounds available. On the south rim is Mather Campground, which is open all year, and on the north side is North Rim Campground, which is available May 15th through October 31st. There are also several lodges along the south rim, as well as the Trailer Village RV Park.

Bahia Honda State Park

Several campgrounds offering waterfront camping are available at Bahia Honda State Park in Florida. Buttonwood Campground can accommodate small tents and RVs, due to it having the largest sites in the park. Sandspur Campground, located in a hardwood hammock, has small sites for tents and small pop-up campers under eight feet tall. Bayside Campground, the smallest campground at the park, has just eight campsites, and all vehicles must be able to go under the Bahia Honda Bridge to access the campground. The park also has a marina with boat slips for overnight rental and vacation cabins.

Mount Rainer National Park

If you’d like to camp out near glaciers, head to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Just through a rainforest in the park is a trail that leads to Carbon Glacier, the largest glacier by volume in the contiguous United States. South of the glacier is Mowich Lake, which has a campground and picnic area. There is also Ohanapecosh, a campground with 188 campsites that is open from May through October. Also in the area are Silver Falls, Grove of the Patriarchs, and the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

On the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which stretches for 42 miles (67.5 kilometers) and features a scenic shoreline full of natural archways, rock formations, sand dunes, and waterfalls. There are three campgrounds at Pictured Rocks worth checking out. Little Beaver Lake Campground is small, with just eight campsites and a one-mile (1.6-kilometer) self-guiding trail. Hurricane River Campground has 21 campsites and a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) path that leads from the campground to Au Sable Light Station. Twelvemile Beach Campground has 36 campsites that lie on a sandy plateau above Twelvemile Beach. Both White Birch Interpretative Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail wind through Twelvemile Beach Campground.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Several different types of camping are available within the park. Backpackers can enjoy backcountry camping through Mt. LeConte Shelter, Kephart Shelter and Laurel Gap Shelter. There are also campsites that can be reserved in a developed campground, as well as horse camps that offer primitive camping facilities. For a more refined camping experience, you can stay at the LeConte Lodge, which sits on an open glade below the summit of Mt. LeConte and is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United Staters.

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests

Located in Arkansas, Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are two separate forests, Ozark and St. Francis. Between the two forests, there are 23 campgrounds along the rivers and lakes or in the mountains. Primitive camping is allowed anywhere in the forest where signs aren’t posted prohibiting it. The campgrounds include swimming areas and nearly 400 miles (636 kilometers) of hiking trails. Some campgrounds are available year-round, while others are only available from May through October.

Badlands National Park

Made up of open prairie grassland, Badlands National Park in South Dakota offers overnight camping at Cedar Pass Campground or Cedar Pass Lodge. The two are within walking distance of each other and are open year-round. Campsites feature shaded picnic tables, nearby showers and bathrooms, evening programs in the summer at the National Park Service amphitheater, and electric service for RV sites.

Crater Lake National Park

The fifth-oldest national park in the United States is Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and it’s the only national park in the state. There are two developed campgrounds within the park: Mazama Village Campground and Lost Creek Campground. Mazama can accommodate tents and RVs, and Lost Creek is a tent-only campground. Both are only open in the summer and are located in forests south of the lake. Every campsite features a picnic table, a fire ring equipped with a grill, and a metal bear box for food.

Gunnison National Forest

Covering more than 1,672,136 acres, Gunnison National Forest lies in parts of five different counties in Colorado. Almost every forest service road in the area has dispersed campsites where people camp out on side roads. Some are tucked away in secluded areas, while others are nestled in meadows of wildflowers off the beaten path. There are developed campgrounds in the forest, and most can accommodate campers, tents, and small trailers. The limit for most campgrounds is 14 days, and signs are posted on bulletin boards at each campground with information.

Glacier National Park

Located along the Canada-United States border is Glacier National Park in Montana. It encompasses over one million acres, including parts of two mountain ranges and over 130 lakes. Most of the campgrounds at the park sit near the larger lakes and are usually open from mid-June until mid-September. Two campgrounds, St. Mary and Apgar, are open year-round. However, during the off-season, camping conditions at the sites are primitive, with no running water or accessible restroom facilities.

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