We love camping all over the US. We love combining camping and a road trip, and find that the kids have a lot more fun (so do the adults), and it’s cheaper than paying for hotels everywhere you go. National parks like Yosemite or Grand Canyon always have great camping choices, but it’s also important to find state parks and spots near fantastic places to sightsee and explore, like Albuquerque, Billings, or Memphis.
We’ve asked our travel friends who love to camp where some of their favorite camping destinations in the US are, and here are their responses. Where do you like to go camping?
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Denali National Park, Alaska
Best Time to Go: Summer, hands down.
What is special about this camping spot? Wildlife viewing as well as Alaska-type activities such as learning about sled dogs.
Alaska during the summer is amazing, and Denali National Park is one of the best places in the state to really experience all that Alaska has to offer. A very popular park, with mainly three months of visitors, needless to say it’s busy. However the upside is that visitors are well taken care of with food, facilities, and fun.
Our main reason to go to Denali has always been to experience the wide open views and the wildlife. I have never been there and not seen bear and moose and ptarmigan. However some wildlife are harder to find than others, like the caribou, marmots, and lynx. However, we never leave disappointed.
We try to get to Denali every year during the camping season. There are plenty of camping opportunities from RV camping to back country, hike in camping. We’ve always stayed at the largest, most convenient campground, Riley with our kids and camper. That way we can easily drive in and out of the park for dining options.
Three of the campgrounds allow RVs, but the important thing to remember is that you cannot drive past Savage River. The road is only open to the official park buses, which are frequent, but it does add time to your agenda.
Denali is so popular, and because of its short open window, they take reservations up to eighteen months in advance. Perfect for the planner, and my advice is to just make sure to do complete research before booking.
Badlands of South Dakota
Best Time to Go: Late spring or early fall.
What is special about this camping spot? Wildlife viewing and hiking.
For an awesome weekend camping trip in the Midwest, head to Badlands National Park. The Badlands are beautiful, colored hills and filled with lots of wildlife. There are plenty of hikes of varying length. The wildlife I saw in my weekend trip included prairie dogs, an American Badger, wild sheep, bison, and cute little burrowing owls peeking out of their holes.
You have three options for camping in the Badlands. The most developed of the campgrounds is the paid Cedar Pass campground near the main visitor center, with running water and bathrooms.
For free camping, head down the gravel road to the Sage Creek Campground. This campsite has picnic tables and vault toilets and not much else except the occasional bison that wander thru the grounds.
The third choice is free back country camping as offered by most national parks, but you must get a permit and camp more than a mile from the nearest road. The Badlands are conveniently located off of I-90 and in the center of South Dakota. The largest, nearest airport is in Rapid City, SD. Make sure you stop in the quirky Wall Drug before or after your visit. You can’t miss the billboards.
by Lisa Marquardt of The Hot Flash Packer
Door County, Wisconsin
Best Time to Go: Summer and fall.
What is special about this camping spot? It’s a great choice for first-timers to the area.
Located in the Door Peninsula, stemming on the east side of the state of Wisconsin you’ll find Door County. It is a top vacation destination for locals and visitors alike and makes for the perfect camping weekend.
Depending on what kind of camping you’re interested in, Door County has plenty of options, from remote campgrounds, camping resorts and even log cabin rentals. The camping possibilities are endless! One of the most popular campgrounds is located in Peninsula State Park and is a great choice for first-timers to the area.
Since Door County is located on a peninsula, you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful Lake Michigan, so there are plenty of water activities to check out. We always like to do a sunset cruise and rent kayaks.
The nature in Door County is incredible. Our favorite must-see stops are Cave Point County Park, Peninsula State Park, and Whitefish Dunes State Park. The area also has several lighthouses to check out, like Cana Island, Plum Island and Eagle Bluff lighthouses.
There really is no bad option when it comes to camping in Door County, and there will always be so much to do around you. We hope you make your way to our home state soon and discover how great the peninsula is!
By Adam of Getting Stamped
Best Time to Go: Anytime but middle of summer. It gets way too hot.
What is special about this camping spot? It’s right on the banks of gorgeous Lake Powell.
One of my favorite places for camping in the west is Moab, Utah. Located in the eastern part of the state, there’s so much to do here, you’ll want to trade your weekend camping trip for a weeklong road trip to see everything there is.
Moab is probably best known for the red hued, Arches National Park. Besides Arches, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park are both close enough for day trips. At Canyonlands, hike the eerie hoodoos and see Mesa Arch. From Dead Horse Point, you get a dramatic view of Canyonlands and the often photographed bend in the Colorado River.
Is white water rafting something you always wanted to do? Then you have your choice of the nearby Green River or the mighty Colorado, which flows right beside the town of Moab. When you are ready to escape the red rocks of Arches, head east about 20 miles to the La Sal Mountain range where you can hike, trout fish or drive the 60 mile loop road that takes you through a variety of scenery.
All of these things can easily be accessed from Moab, whether you choose to stay in a campground in town or in one of the campgrounds outside the city. Wherever you decide, you’ll find Moab to be one of the best locations for camping and sightseeing in the state of Utah.
By Lori at Southerner Says
Best Time to Go: Spring and fall; It’s cooler and less crowded.
What is special about this camping spot? You won’t run out of things to do here.
One of the best areas to camp in Arizona is in or around Page. This is because Page, Arizona is the town located closest to two of the best sites to see in Arizona, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
If you are looking for a specific campground, check out Wahweap Campground. Wahweap Campground is located right on Lake Powell. We had a great time staying at Wahweap Campground and visiting the marina right down the road from the campground.
We were able to eat dinner at the marina while watching the sunset over the lake. There are also some great views of Lake Powell from some various places in the campground.
The campground offers nice facilities, and somewhat private camp spots. During the days, we had a wonderful time visiting Upper & Lower Antelope Canyon, as well as going on a private tour to see Horseshoe Bend.
If you are looking to splurge a little bit, we would highly recommend taking a private tour to watch the sunset over Horseshoe Bend. The private tour takes you to a different spot to view the canyon away from the crowds and the viewing spot is much better than the public viewing area. Overall, we would highly recommend choosing Page as your next camping destination.
By Jessica at Unearth the Voyage
Sonoma Coast State Park, California
Best Time to Go: All year! Summer is busiest, but weather is temperate and good for camping in all seasons.
What is special about this camping spot? Seals, whales, and seabirds, oh my!
Located right on Route 1 going up the California Coast, the Sonoma Coast State Park is full of things to do for the nature lover. The park follows 17 miles of coastline that is home to all kinds of wildlife. If you like long sandy beaches and huge rock formations rising out of the sea, this is the place for you.
Some of the things you won’t want to miss while you are in the area is visiting Jenner, searching for whales off of Bodega Head, watching seals at Goat Rock, swimming with the kids in the lagoon at Salmon Creek (only at certain times), hike and beach comb along the wide expanses of beach. The only thing is there is not much swimming due to rip tides.
There are four campgrounds in the park, good for RVs and tent campers. Each campground has its own set of rules, some dogs are allowed, some you can make reservations, just research the type of site you want to reserve on their website before committing.