17 Most Beautiful Places Everyone Should Camp At least Once

Published Tuesday, Aug 10

There’s nothing quite like waking up next to an alpine lake and listening to sweet birdsong in the breeze!

If that sounds like the perfect morning wake up call to you, then you’ll love this list of beautiful places to visit and camp in the United States.

Camping is one of the best ways to enjoy nature and the relaxing, peace and quiet it provides.

You can finally take some time to breathe and hear yourself think! (For more excellent places to camp, check out these camping adventures for the whole family.)

In many cases, camping in the great outdoors looks like pitching a tent near a lake and enjoying all the lake has to offer – fishing, swimming, canoeing or simply sitting on the dock with your feet in the water.

For some, a night of camping looks more like sleeping out in the warm, desert air with nothing but the stars to light your way.

Whatever style of camping you love most, this article will tell you about 17 of America’s most beautiful places for the ultimate camping experience.

These scenic spots are perfect for day trips, lake camping and fishing, or even longer vacations.

So, grab your tent and get ready for some memorable outdoor fun!

1. Acadia National Park


Acadia National Park

They don’t call this national park the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast for nothing! Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever set your eyes on.

While traveling through this national park in Maine, you will come across 125 miles of trails to hike.

Each one will take you to a different adventure, from lakes to lighthouses. You can swim in the ocean, explore tide pools, and discover historic structures.

Camping here will have you stargazing and birdwatching for days!

There are four campgrounds to choose from in Acadia National Park- the more touristy Blackwoods Campground, the less crowded Seawall Campground, the newest Schoodic Woods Campground, and the only accessible by boat Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut.

2. Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree National Park 

Located where the Mojave and Colorado Desert meet, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular parks in all of California.

With 800,000 acres of park to explore and over 400 campsites to choose from, this park is the perfect place to pitch your tent!

Camping here will give you plenty of opportunities to hike and climb through desert terrain.

Some of the best trails to explore include Ryan Mountain, Lost Palms Oasis, and Hidden Valley Nature Trails.

If you’re planning to visit in the winter or spring, check out Barker Dam Loop for a nice water view!

You can also climb around the Wonderland of Rocks- one of the most popular things to do here in Joshua Tree National Park!

3. Sawtooth National Forest


Sawtooth National Forest 

Searching for some excellent lake camping near you?

This lakeside destination in Idaho is one of the most scenic areas in all of the United States.

Sawtooth National Forest looks like it came straight out of a famous painting, making it the perfect place for sightseeing and peaceful strolls through nature!

The Sawtooth National Forest offers over 3,000 square miles of forest to explore.

With that much land, you’re sure to find a camping experience that will fit your needs and wants.

Be sure to check out Sawtooth National Recreation Area for one of the best spots to stay at!

4. Ozark National Forest


Ozark National Forest

You might not think of Arkansas as a great place to camp but visiting Ozark National Forest will definitely change your mind!

Here you’ll find 400 miles of hiking trails, acres upon acres of lakes and streams, and nine gorgeous beaches!

You can enjoy tent camping near the lake or stay the night in your RV.

Either way, you’re sure to find some of the most beautiful spots to explore in Arkansas!

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can enjoy all four seasons at Ozark National Forest.

There’s something special about the glow of the campfire during the winter months. This park truly has a year-round charm to it!

5. Grand Teton National Park


Grand Teton National Park

You’ll find this wildlife wonder just north of Jackson Hole!

Grand Teton National Park is one of the most jaw-dropping tent camping locations with over 300,000 acres of magnificent mountain views.

Camping here will give you access to over 485 square miles of stunning scenery and native wildlife.

You can spot bears and their cubs, beavers, bison, and elk- especially with the National Elk Refuge nearby.

You can find some of the best lake camping near Jenny Lake, with mirror-like waters and a snow-capped mountain backdrop.

There are six campgrounds you can stay the night at, although Signal Mountain is the most highly reviewed.

6. Arches National Park


Arches National Park 

You have to visit Arches National Park at least once in your lifetime!

Here you’ll experience some of the best hiking trails, scenic views, and photo opportunities.

Arches National Park gives you access to over 2,000 sandstone arches, including the must-see Delicate Arch.

What else could you ask for?

The only place to stay overnight is at Devils Garden Campground but be sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time because they fill up fast!

You’ll love waking up to the soft, morning sunlight glowing upon the red rocks all around. It’s definitely worth checking it off your bucket list!

7. Crater Lake National Park


Crater Lake National Park 

Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake found in the United States. It also features a sleeping volcano!

This is a great place for nature lovers, campers, and photographers alike to visit.

You can choose to camp in an RV or tent at the Mazama Campground or stay at the tents-only Lost Creek campground. Backcountry camping is also available here with a permit!

Experience stunning views of Crater Lake along Rim Drive, take a boat ride to Wizard Island, or watch the sunrise from the Cloud Cap Overlook. You’ll be amazed by all that this national park has to offer!

8. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 

Set up camp under some of the biggest trees in all of North America at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks!

Between the parks, there are 14 main campgrounds you can stay at and explore.

Looking to cast your line and get some fishing in while you’re here?

Hume Lake is an excellent location for camping and fishing. Another great fishing option is Lewis Creek.

Camping here will give you access to over 1,000 miles of trails, rock climbing, and wilderness to explore.

Don’t forget to check out Big Trees Trail and Generals Highway for some epic sights while you’re in the parks!

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

Tennessee, North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

Have you been searching for a place to horse camp near you?

This might be the place for you! Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park and it’s not hard to see why.

There are over 5 horse camps in the park that provide easy access to backcountry trails.

These horse camps have picnic tables, fire rings, and hitch racks for your equine friends.

Other camping and adventure opportunities include sleeping under the stars at Cades Cove Campground or paddling in Fontana Lake.

There’s so much to do and enjoy here. From black bears to wildflowers, you can see a little bit of everything!

10. Big Bend National Park


Big Bend National Park

Experience a piece of the Wild West at Big Bend National Park!

You’ll love kayaking, canoeing, and rafting along the Rio Grande River while staying at this national park.

For some of the best and less extreme weather, be sure to visit during the spring months.

You’ll find a variety of landscapes to explore, from desert to mountain to river locations.

Spend the day hiking the hills, backpacking, or camping in the backcountry.

You won’t want to miss soaking in the hot springs or hiking Santa Elena Canyon!

11. Haleakala National Park


Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park in Hawaii takes camping to a whole new level!

This park gives you the opportunity to adventure near a 10,023-foot dormant volcano, where you’ll find some of the best landscape views of Hawaii!

Take the scenic route through a tropical rainforest setting on Hana Highway.

Swim beneath waterfalls and bamboo trees at the Pools at ‘Ohe’o. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, zip lining, helicopter tours- these are all a possibility on your trip to Haleakala National Park!

You also won’t want to miss watching a sunrise and sunset while you’re there! It’s a Haleakala favorite.

12. Grand Canyon National Park


Grand Canyon National Park 

Talk about awe-inspiring views!

Formed by the Colorado River millions of years ago, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is full of deep canyons and colorful rock formations.

The different hues of gold, pink, orange, and purple are sure to amaze you!

There are 3 developed campgrounds you can stay at- Mather, Desert View, and North Rim Campgrounds.

Each one books up early, so plan to reserve a spot ahead of time.

You can also backpack and camp in the park with a permit.

There are two main areas of the park where you can take in the amazing canyon views, North Rim and South Rim.

South Rim is more accessible but North Rim is far higher and less crowded.

You can hike, drive, or take a mule ride tour of the park.

If you’re up for it, you can even set out on a 21-mile trek via the Kaibab Trail to hike from one rim to the other!

13. Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park 

From meadows and mountains to forests and lakes, Glacier National Park has it all!

Has the phrase, “where’s the best lake camping near me,” crossed your mind recently? Because if it has, look no further!

Choose from over 1,000 campsites to set up camp at within the tree-lined and mountain-filled park.

One of the best places for tent camping near a lake is at Cracker Lake.

Its aqua waters and the surrounding lush hills are truly a sight to behold!

Take a drive on Going-to-the-Sun-Road, practice your photography skills, or frolic through the wildflowers.

Get ready to fall in love with nature all over again with endless outdoor activities!

14. White Mountain National Forest

New Hampshire and Maine

White Mountain National Forest

For more of a rugged camping and hiking experience, check out White Mountain National Forest.

With over 145,000 acres of land and 64 campgrounds, you’ll be able to enjoy the wilderness with as few distractions possible!

If you’re hankering for a hike along the Appalachian Trail, check out Garfield Ridge Shelter for a campsite with a natural spring nearby.

You’ll love the towering trees and crystal lakes found in this Appalachian Valley setting!

15. Minnewaska State Park Reserve

New York

Minnewaska State Park Reserve

You’ll love camping and tenting at Minnewaska State Park Reserve, located just 94 miles outside of New York City!

You could easily spend all day hiking the rocky terrain and discover plenty of magnificent views along the way!

The Samuel F. Proyer III Shawangunk Gateway Campground offers a tent-only, minimalist camping experience.

You’ll have access to showers, restrooms, and a pavilion.

Camping here is open mainly throughout the summer months.

Camping isn’t the only thing you can do here. Enjoy horse trails, rock climbing, swimming, hiking, biking, picnicking, boating, and even scuba-diving!

You can also bring your dog along for the adventure, just be sure to keep them on a leash.

This park will have you marveling at the scenery in no time!

16. Shenandoah National Park


Shenandoah National Park

You’ll find Shenandoah National Park just a short drive from the well-known capital city, Washington D.C..

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and dive into a world of waterfalls, wildlife, and wonder!

With five campgrounds to choose from, you can stay in the park and explore 500 miles of hiking trails.

Be sure to head up Old Rag Mountain for a wholehearted hiking experience.

Pay a visit to Shenandoah in the summer and your camping trip will be one for the books!

17. Assateague Island National Seashore


Assateague Island National Seashore

Here at Assateague Island National Seashore, you can camp along the ocean and enjoy 37 miles of sandy beaches.

With all that room, you’ll have no problem swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and camping!

If you have a love for horses, then you’ll love Assateague Island National Seashore!

This destination offers 2 campsites for horse camping.

And don’t forget to keep your eye out for majestic wild horses throughout your stay!

Grab Your Bucket List and Go!

These 17 destinations should be on your must-visit list, if they aren’t already!

There’s no reason to miss out on all the camping, fishing, hiking, and horse trails near you.

The memories you make will last a lifetime!

Be sure to check out Destinations Travel Guide for more camping adventures!


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