Three Amazing U.S. National Parks for Camping
No matter what type of scenery you're imagining, you'll find what you're looking for at one of the 419 incredible national parks in the United States. From the mountains to the oceans, the deserts to the lakes, campers have 84 million acres of potential tent sites at their disposal. When you're planning your next adventure, refer to this list of the best U.S. parks for travelers who are serious about the camping lifestyle.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Forests, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and mountains abound in this versatile New England landscape. You'll immediately see why this coastal retreat is one of the top ten most popular national parks. Acadia has three main dedicated campgrounds. The Blackwoods campground, located 5 miles south of Bar Harbor, has tent, group tent, camper and motor home sites. This area is slated to reopen for camping on August 1, 2020.
Schoodic Woods, which is much more primitive than the Blackwoods area, will also reopen on August 1. This area on the scenic Schoodic Peninsula offers primitive hike-in tent sites as well as group tent and small RV sites. The Seawall campground will remain closed for the 2020 season.
For a rugged experience, you can also make a reservation to camp at the remote Isle au Haut. This area off the Maine coast can be assessed only by boat. Five primitive campsites that accommodate six campers each are open from May through October 15 each season. Each site has a lean-to shelter, fire ring, composting toilet and hand pump.
Olympic National Park, Washington
This park gets our vote because of the extensive camping options and the challenging terrain. With a backcountry camping permit, which costs just $5, you can pitch your tent anywhere in the forest. The expansive Daniel J. Evans Wilderness offers backpacking opportunities. During the day, watch whales off the coast or engage in a heart-pounding mountain hike.
While most campsites at Olympic National Park are first-come, first-served, you'll need reservations to secure a site at Mora, Sol Duc and Kalaloch. Other options here include:
Deer Park Campground, which offers tent camping among the stars in a mountainous location
Dosewallips Campground, a secluded hike-in area for tent camping only
Fairholme Campground, which has lakeside tent and RV sites as well as a boat launch
Graves Creek Campground for streamside tent camping in the rain forest
North Fork Campground, a remote location for tent campers who want peace and serene solitude
Queets Campground for remote riverfront tent sites
South Beach Campground, which welcomes tent campers and those with small RVs to a towering bluff over the Pacific
Staircase Campground for a primitive experience in an old growth forest
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
This East Coast spot is best-known for its population of wild horses. You're sure to catch a glimpse of these beauties when you opt to camp on the beach at Assateague Island. Stay right on the ocean either in a walk-in tent site or a drive-in site that allows tents, trailers and RVs. Bayside drive-in campsites are also available. If you're part of an organization such as a hiking club or scout troop, you can reserve a year-round group camping site. Assateague also has two sites that accommodate six horses and six humans.
Camping at the national seashore is first-come, first-served in the off-season, but requires reservations from March 15 through November 15. Every site has a shower, drinking water access and a chemical toilet. You can also purchase a backcountry camping permit for just $10 per person, which allows you to camp anywhere on the island outside of designated sites.
We're just scratching the surface of the countless camping options available at U.S. national parks. Whether you prefer to grab the whole family and travel by RV or hike out alone to a remote primitive camp, start planning your next itinerary.