Top 10 national park camping destinations in the US

The Top 10 Best National Park Camping Destinations in the US

Camping in one of America’s spectacular national parks is the ultimate way to experience the beauty of nature and disconnect from everyday life. Waking up to epic mountain views, listening to birds chirping in the trees, and gazing at the stars around a campfire are just a few of the magical moments you can have. With over 400 national park sites across the country, choosing where to pitch your tent can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the top 10 best national park camping destinations in the US. 

Whether you prefer to sleep in an RV, a cabin, or a simple tent, these parks offer amazing scenery and amenities to make your camping trip unforgettable. From the rocky peaks of the Rockies to the volcanic landscapes of Hawaii, you’ll find incredible biodiversity and adventures in these world-class parks. Follow along as we explore each incredible destination and provide planning tips to help you start organizing your next national park camping getaway!

1. Take in Iconic Vistas While Camping in Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks for camping in the United States for good reason. Its towering waterfalls, sheer granite cliffs, and groves of giant sequoia trees create iconic vistas around every corner. Over 1,200 square miles of diverse landscapes are packed into this California gem. 

When you go camping in Yosemite, you have your choice of 13 campgrounds, each with their own unique scenery. Stay in Yosemite Valley to be close to sights like Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, or camp along the scenic Tioga Pass Road overlooking Tuolumne Meadows. Reservations for campsites often fill up 6 months in advance, especially in summer, so plan ahead. 

No matter which campground you choose, you’ll be surrounded by the park’s wonders. Go for a dip in the refreshing Merced River, roast marshmallows under the stars, and wake up to fresh mountain air. Yosemite has over 800 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging ascents up granite domes and peaks. You can also rent bikes, go horseback riding, or take photography classes through the park’s outdoor recreation programs.

2. See Yellowstone’s Famous Geothermal Features While Camping in the World’s First National Park

As the first national park in the United States, Yellowstone holds a special place in the history of our country’s protected lands. Spanning 3,500 square miles primarily in Wyoming, this park contains more geysers and hot springs than anywhere else on Earth. 

When camping in Yellowstone, wildlife viewing is almost a guarantee. Keep your eyes peeled for bison, elk, moose, bears, wolves, and over 300 bird species while exploring different regions of the park like thermal areas, mountains, lakes, canyons, and meadows. 

With 12 campgrounds to choose from, you can immerse yourself in this gorgeous landscape. Reserve your campsite and RV/tent site in advance, especially if visiting in summer. Some campgrounds are open year-round if you want to experience Yellowstone’s winter beauty. Must-see attractions within the park include the iconic Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the thundering Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

3. Bond with Nature While Camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park lives up to its name with lush forests that shroud the landscape in a smoky blue hue. As the most visited US national park, you won’t be alone in wanting to experience its natural beauty. Luckily there are 10 frontcountry campgrounds and 100+ backcountry sites to accommodate everyone.

With over 800 miles of trails, this is a hiker’s paradise. Challenge yourself to climb up to rocky vistas or take easier walks through cool, shaded woods. The streams cascading over the park’s waterfalls provide the perfect foreground for photos. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, deer, fireflies, synchronous frogs, and over 1,600 other species that call this biodiverse park home. 

Plan your camping trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for spring or fall when the crowds thin out. Summer is peak season. You can make campground reservations up to 6 months in advance online. No matter when you visit, you’ll love bonding with nature during camping adventures in this beautiful park.

4. Be Awed by the Views While Camping in Zion National Park, Utah 

With iconic red and white sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and hanging gardens, Zion National Park packs incredible scenery into its 229 square miles. Located in Utah’s southwestern corner, this park will amaze you at every turn. Gaze up at massive formations like The Watchman, Angels Landing, and The Narrows while camping in Zion. 

Zion has three campgrounds to settle into, with options for tent and RV camping. Watchman Campground is a great pick since it’s near the park’s southern entrance, visitor center, and canyon shuttle system. During your visit, challenge yourself on one of the park’s iconic hikes like Angels Landing or Observation Point. Soak in the scenery on scenic drives, go canyoneering or rock climbing, or wade in the Virgin River on hot days.

With its red cliff beauty and wealth of outdoor adventures, it’s easy to see why Zion is high on many travelers’ national park bucket lists. Reserve your campsite up to six months in advance to secure a spot in this popular destination. 

5. Experience Coastal Beauty While Camping in Acadia National Park, Maine

On the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park packs miles of hiking trails and scenic roads along with pristine beaches and Atlantic Ocean views. Cadillac Mountain, at 1,530 feet, is the tallest mountain on the United States’ Atlantic coast, offering panoramic vistas of the ocean and nearby islands.

Four campgrounds allow you to wake up surrounded by Acadia’s natural beauty. Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds take reservations, while Duck Harbor is first-come, first-served. Each campground provides a unique home base for exploring Acadia. Paddle a kayak along the shore, ride the historic carriage roads on a bike, or snap photos of wildlife like hawks, whales, and peregrine falcons. 

With both ocean and mountain landscapes, Acadia National Park feels worlds away from everyday life. Plan your coastal camping retreat in Acadia for late spring through fall when the weather is mildest. With fresh lobster nearby and sunsets over the sea, Acadia is a dream camping destination on the East Coast.

6. Sleep Under the Stars While Camping Near the Grand Canyon, Arizona

A night spent camping on the edge of the most spectacular natural wonder in the world is an experience like no other. Grand Canyon National Park’s immense size, colorful rock layers, and incredible depths draw over 6 million visitors per year. With 11 campgrounds to choose between on the North and South Rims, you have ample opportunity to sleep under the stars next to this iconic landmark.

The South Rim is more accessible and popular, with campgrounds like Mather and Desert View. These provide easy access to scenic overlooks and visitor facilities in Grand Canyon Village. For more solitude, head to the North Rim where you’ll be rewarded with lush forests and peaceful meadows. Make reservations far in advance since campsites fill quickly, even in shoulder seasons. 

No trip to the Grand Canyon would be complete without a hike inside its depths. Consult with rangers to find a trail that matches your ability, or take a guided tour. When night falls, bundle up and gaze at the Milky Way shining bright over the canyon’s ridges. The views make camping at the Grand Canyon an unforgettable national park experience.  

7. Be Surrounded by Glaciers and Peaks While Camping in Glacier National Park, Montana

Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Over 1 million acres hold sparkling lakes, alpine meadows, vanishing glaciers, and craggy peaks. Located in northwest Montana adjacent to Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, this rugged wilderness has over 700 miles of hiking trails plus scenic drives like Going-to-the-Sun Road spanning its interior.

With 13 campgrounds to choose from, you can sleep surrounded by Glacier’s beauty and easily access trailheads each morning. Apgar, St. Mary, and Many Glacier campgrounds are popular picks. Or backpack into remote sites accessible only by trail for a true wilderness experience. Keep an eye out for wildlife like mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, and bears while exploring Glacier’s diverse ecosystems. 

Summer is peak season, so make reservations early. But spring and fall have mild weather and fewer crowds if you don’t mind occasional snow at the higher elevations. With glacial-fed streams, wildflower meadows, and towering peaks, Glacier National Park is a magical destination for camping adventures.

8. Admire Diverse Landscapes While Camping in Washington’s Olympic National Park

From rugged Pacific coastline to temperate rainforests to the glaciated Olympic Mountains, Washington’s Olympic National Park packs incredible biod

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *