S’mores, sleeping bags, barbequing and bug spray are all part of a quintessential camping trip. But maybe even more important than all the gear and goodies you’ll need to create the perfect overnight outdoor adventure, is an ideal location to set up camp.
Our national parks offer access to some of the nation’s most scenic and stunning landscapes, which makes each the perfect backdrop for a picturesque camping trip. Not that other campsites across the country aren’t worthy of visits from overnight adventurers, but when it comes to a truly memorable camping experience, what could compare to a night spent watching the sunset amidst tremendous rock formations in the California desert? Or waking up to a beachside sunrise shaded by palm trees?
Plus, our national parks are so diverse that each has something to offer for every type of camping personality. Sleep directly under the stars or seek the shelter of a rustic log cabin. Pitch your tent among magnificent mountain ranges or set up sleeping bags on the beach.
No matter how you prefer to spend your overnight stay in the great outdoors, chances are there’s a national park campground that you’ll find has everything you’re looking for and more.
Last year, we set out to rank the 12 best national park campgrounds in America, and we still stand by our picks on that list. But this year, we wanted to highlight even more spectacular sites so that you can catch an even greater glimpse of some of the best camping spots that the U.S. national park system has to offer.
This round-up was constructed based on suggestions from employees of the National Park Foundation. After all, it is there job to know the parks intimately. These 16 parks offer a wide range of exciting camping adventures, so if your s’more supplies and sleeping bags are packed all that’s left to do is figure out where you’d most like to spend a night under the stars. Click here for all of the spectacular campgrounds.
Manzanita Lake Campground, Lassen Volcanic National Park— Calif.As its name conveniently notes, this campground sits next to Manzanita Lake which means campers are presented with plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, kayaking and a host of other water sports. With an elevation of 6,000 feet, the grounds are known for featuring cool summertime temperatures. RVs and trailers are welcomed here and the National Park Service says this site is particularly ideal for families. nps.gov
Sentinel Campground, Kings Canyon National Park— Calif.
“Sentinel Campground is located in an incredibly beautiful section of the park, nestled along a creek and surrounded by canyon walls,” says Kupper. A camping trip here will set you amidst evergreen tree forests and offer easy access to wide meadow grasslands, several small waterfalls and plenty of popular hiking trails. nps.gov
Juniper Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park— N.D.
This badlands campground might feel secluded at first but campers here will share the land with a wide range of wildlife including bison, wild horses, buffalo, cotton-tailed rabbits, deer and longhorn steer… Just to name a few of the mammals that call this national park home. The grounds are located along the Little Missouri River and the park’s 50 sites are open year-round. nps.gov
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