One of the best things about traveling around the U.S. during the summer is that there are so many easy and picturesque places to camp. Nature lovers can enjoy the fresh mountain air, magnificent mountains, and clear lakes and streams during a weekend (or longer if you’re lucky) camping trip. Not only can you pitch a tent at these scenic locations, you can also enjoy plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails, fishing, swimming, and more activities in the great wilderness.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses more than 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline to offer a scenic backdrop to your hiking and camping. The park has three campgrounds to set up your tent: Blackwoods (close to Bar Harbor), Seawall (less touristy), and Schoodic Woods (on the Schoodic Peninsula).
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
If you live in the Northeast and you want to escape the city lights and go camping in the countryside, the White Mountains are a beautiful choice. Hike your way up to a campsite or drive. Franconia Ridge Loop is one of the most picturesque hikes in the country — a nine-mile trail along the second highest range of peaks in the White Mountains. However, you need to make a reservation if you want to stay at the developed campsites. Tent camping in the forest, which is accessible year-round, is an option.
Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York
Located 90 miles north of New York City and situated in the Shawangunk Ridge section of the Appalachian Mountains, the Mohonk Preserve is home to miles of paths that connect to incredible bike routes, hikes, and swim holes in Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
A short drive from Washington D.C., Shenandoah National Park has 500 miles of trails, including an eight-mile hike up Old Rag Mountain that’s a must-do for avid hikers. There are four campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park but most of the park, including its wilderness, is open to backcountry camping (for which you need a permit).
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas
Arkansas has loads of beautiful countryside that is often overlooked when it comes to choosing vacation destinations. At Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, you’ll find nine beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and streams, and 400 miles of hiking trails. Campers can choose between a number of developed campgrounds for RV and tent camping.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the U.S.
The climate may be rough, but it’s still gorgeous. There are two choices of campgrounds: Cedar Pass (with amenities like running water, electricity, etc.), and Sage Creek (with no running water — but you can often see bison wandering around).
Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho
There are dozens of campgrounds at this national forest, but one of the best spots is Sawtooth National Recreation Area. This mountain town is home to art festivals and hundreds of miles of singletrack—if that isn’t enough of a reason to visit, the scenery might help. The town best known for its ski mountain has a whole lot to offer in the summer too. Explore the surrounding mountains by bike, paddle the nearby Salmon River or climb some of the best granite in the country
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is not your average camping destination. It’s ideal for backcountry camping fans. You have about a million acres at your disposal and plenty of chances to go deep. Weeks of exploring the unmarked trails, some of which are remote and hidden, won’t be enough. With 13 different campgrounds and more than 1,000 sites to choose from, options are abundant. Most campgrounds are first-come first-served with the exception of Fish Creek, according to NPS.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park protects stunning mountain scenery and a diverse array of wildlife. It’s also located next to the National Elk Refuge, where you can spot hundreds of elk, depending on when you go. You can stay at one of the six campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park, but Signal Mountain in particular has the best reviews.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Kalaloch is the only campground that accepts reservations in the summer. All other campgrounds are first-come, first-served, according to NPS. Consider camping at Deer Park, which boasts mountain views worth the climb and starry skies like few other places since it’s at 5,400 feet in elevation. If you want to experience secluded tenting, Dosewallips Campground is your spot. Go hiking and explore the rugged glacier-capped mountains, wild Pacific coast, or lavish rainforest. The views at Olympic National Park are worth the trip.
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
Located at the 7,000-foot summit level of Haleakalā National Park, Hosmer Grove Campground is a stunning campsite that features a self-guided nature trail, which makes for a beautiful early-morning hike as the area’s native birds begin to awaken. Despite its tropical location, the high elevation of the campground makes for chilly nights, so campers are encouraged to pack accordingly.
Yosemite National Park, California
If you have an RV and want to go on a long camping trip, Yosemite is your destination. It has 13 popular campgrounds. Reservations are recommended for many of them, especially if you plan to go between May and September. You won’t see cars or roads in most of the park. Go on a hiking trip to Glacier Point for a stunning view of the famed Yosemite Valley and Half Dome.