Whether you’re the rugged outdoors type or prefer the glamp life, there’s nothing quite like a night (or three) spent sleeping in the wilderness.
And hey, summer’s fast approaching, which means two things: vacation time and hot weather.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled our choices for the top US camping destinations for this summer season. Whether you prefer “roughing it” in an RV, a cabin, or a tent, there’s something here for everyone.
Olympic National Park – Washington
Would you rather camp in the mountains, by a lake, on the coast, or in a rain forest?
That’s not a trick question: Olympic National Park has them all. At nearly one million acres, it encompasses all of the ecosystems listed above, with views of the Pacific Ocean on one end and snowy mountain peaks on the other.
Of course, this makes for some great exploring too.
Sequoia National Park – California
Every nature lover should see giant sequoias, also known as redwood trees, up close at least once. Their size is awe-inspiring, and their seemingly impenetrable shade will help keep you cooler in the summer.
And well, while you’re there, why not set up a tent and stay the night? You’ll have fourteen different campgrounds to choose from at Sequoia National Park.
Denali National Park – Alaska
If you really want to escape the heat, try heading north. Way north.
Alaska’s Denali National Park is the coolest site on our list weather wise, with average summer temps of just 53°F. But it’s “cool” in a lot of other ways, too.
Including the park’s namesake, Denali aka Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America. And it’s surrounded by six million acres of unspoiled wilderness, with six beautiful campgrounds to choose from.
Waiʻānapanapa State Park – Hawaii
Even if you can’t pronounce it, Waiʻānapanapa, which means “glistening fresh water”, still deserves a spot on your camping bucket list.
After all, where else will you find this kind of scenery, which combines lush green jungle with a volcanic black sand beach? Located in Maui, it’s a little more rugged than some of Hawaii’s other parks, but there are both cabins and campervan permits available.
Glacier National Park – Montana
Glacier National Park’s 700 miles of trails means you’ll never run out of new areas to hike. And when you get tired, just hop in the car for a ride down the park’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic highway with amazing views of the area.
A few of the park’s campgrounds with be closed for summer 2021 because of Covid, but with 13 in total, there will still be plenty of space for you and your tent.
Great Smokey Mountain National Park – Tennessee
“Wish that I was on ol’ Rocky Top, down in the Tennessee hills.”
Here, in the heart of Appalachia, you’ll find over 800 miles of trails to explore. They’re crawling with a variety of wildlife, from black bears to over 200 species of birds. The fishing is great, too.
As night falls, you have a choice between frontcountry camp sites with basic amenities, roughing it in one of the backcountry sites, or camps with a place to hitch your horse. Giddy up!
Acadia National Park – Maine
Honestly, it’s hard to beat Acadia as far as national parks go. It’s located off the coast of Maine on Mt. Desert Island.
But don’t let the name fool you: this ain’t no desert. In fact, the park boasts 17 million acres of forest, laced with 32,000 miles of rivers and speckled with over 6,000 ponds and lakes.
It’s a lot cooler than the desert too. Just make sure to reserve your camping spot in advance, given Covid restrictions and how popular this place is.
Shenandoah National Park – Virginia
Not everyone has the time to fly to Wyoming or Alaska for their next camping trip.
Fortunately, Shenandoah National Park is located just 75 miles outside of the nation’s capital, Washington DC, making it easier to reach than some of the other parks on our list.
Yet it stills has all the essentials of a great camping trip, including beautiful scenery and several campgrounds to set up your gear.
Bahia Honda State Park – Florida
If you’re having trouble deciding between camping and beach vacations this summer, don’t worry: this next destination will let you do both.
Bahia Honda State Park is located in the beautiful Florida Keys, giving you easy access to clear blue water for snorkeling, kayaking, and other activities during the day. At night, cozy up at one of the coastal campsites and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
Last but not least, we’re headed to the Rocky Mountains. More specifically, Grand Teton, the highest peak in the Teton Range.
You’ll have wonderful views of the mountains from your campsite, of course, but there’s lots of wildlife watching too. The National Elk Refuge is just next door, and otters, beavers, bison, moose, and antelope are common as well.
Plus, summer temps rarely get higher than the 70s.
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