Last updated on November 27th, 2023 at 09:26 pm
National Parks have some of the most incredible campgrounds in the country, providing an opportunity for roadtrippers to take in the natural surroundings and make lasting memories. In this article, we have compiled a list of the best campgrounds that are a must-visit for any National Park enthusiast. Let’s dive in and explore!
- Arches National Park – Devils Garden Campground
- Badlands National Park – Sage Creek Campground
- Big Bend National Park – Rio Grande Village RV Park
- Death Valley National Park – Furnace Creek Campground
- Denali National Park – Teklanika River Campground
- Dry Tortugas National Park Camping
- Dunewood Campground (Indiana Dunes National Park)
- Everglades National Park – Long Pine Key Campground
- North Rim Campground (Grand Canyon National Park)
- Grand Teton National Park – Colter Bay Campground
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Cosby Campground
- Joshua Tree National Park – Indian Cove Campground
- Mount Rainier National Park – Cougar Rock Campground
- North Cascades National Park – Colonial Creek Campground
- Olympic National Park – Fairholme Campground
- Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Campground
- Shenandoah National Park – Loft Mountain Campground
- Wind Cave National Park – Elk Mountain Campground
- Yellowstone National Park – Grant Village
- Yosemite National Park – Curry Village
- Zion National Park – Watchman Campground
Arches National Park – Devils Garden Campground
Devils Garden, Arches National Park’s only campground is located right in the middle of the park and is only minutes away from some of the best vistas and trails the park has to offer. The view from each campsite is absolutely gorgeous with red rocks jutting up right next to your campsite. Another reason why this campground is amazing is that you can experience some of the most epic Arches National Park sunsets right from your campsite. Besides the views, being so close to the trails gives you an advantage because you can wake up early and head straight to the trail and not have to worry about finding a parking spot. Open year-round, the campground has 51 sites (no hookups) suitable for tents or RVs. The campsites’ length ranges from 20 to 40 feet.
– Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage
Badlands National Park – Sage Creek Campground
Sage Creek in Badlands National Park is one of my favorite campgrounds, despite its minimal amenities – just vault toilets and picnic tables in a flat, oval field. What makes it special? The presence of magnificent bison, Badlands’ iconic inhabitants. Getting close (but not too close) to these massive, quick creatures as they graze around the campsite is a thrilling experience. Prairie dogs also add to the charm.
My husband and I went camping in Badlands National Park during a 35-day road trip, and one of my favorite memories of the entire adventure was awakening to find these incredible creatures enjoying their breakfast across from our tent.
Sage Creek Campground is free and first-come, first-served, so plan to arrive earlier in the day to get a spot to pitch your tent. Be aware that recreational vehicles greater than 18 feet in length are prohibited. If your camper is longer, the Cedar Pass Campground is an alternative.
– Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist
Big Bend National Park – Rio Grande Village RV Park
With four campgrounds and 61 primitive campsites, there are plenty of options for your Big Bend National Park adventure. The Big Bend Village RV Park is the only campground with hookups, so if you’re looking for water, power, and sewer at your site as well as a camp store, showers, and laundry this is the best choice for you. Located near the Rio Grande on the east side of the park, the campground is close to some of our favorite sites in the park including Boquillas Crossing and the natural hot springs trailhead.
The best part about camping in Big Bend National Park is the ability to gaze up at the stars and see the Milky Way right from your campsite. As part of the largest National Day Sky Reserve in the world, Big Bend has some of the best night sky viewing to be found!
– Recommended by Sean & Julie of Chickery’s Travels
Death Valley National Park – Furnace Creek Campground
Located in the heart of the desert, the Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places to camp in California! Since Death Valley is one of the largest parks in the USA, it can take a couple of days to truly explore all of the different areas and landscapes. Camping inside the park allows you to enjoy the natural surroundings in the daytime, stargaze in the evening, and go hiking in the mornings. Make sure you plan ahead and bring the correct desert hiking gear, as many months in Death Valley can carry extreme conditions. Extreme heat, strong winds, and cold overnight temperatures are all common.
Only 18 of the 136 sites at Furnace Creek have full hookups, so be sure to reserve early (up to six months is allowed). At the campground, visitors will find concrete fire rings, potable water, flush toilets, and a dump station. RV hookup sites are also available at the concession-run Stovepipe Wells RV Park about 26 miles away.
– Recommended by Monica from This Rare Earth
Denali National Park – Teklanika River Campground
Of the eight national parks located in the great state of Alaska, Denali National Park is by far the most incredible! It’s over six million acres large with one 43-mile road running through it. The first 15 miles are easy to explore, with paved roads and maintained trails, but if you camp further into the park, you’ll have access to even more beauty the park has to offer. That’s why we love camping at Teklanika River Campground at mile 29, the only one where you can drive your personal vehicle to get to!
We camped in our van for 3 nights, as that is the minimum for staying at the campground. This is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. There are buses that run continuously and will take you where you want to explore during your stay. We love how relaxing this makes the experience, as you can hop on or off the bus whenever you’d like.
The other really neat thing about staying here is that off-trail hiking is allowed and encouraged! This means you can explore any areas of the park that you want on foot. You can see incredible wildlife like sheep, caribou, and bears and the stunning scenery all around you in this extremely remote campground!
– Recommended by Adam and Kathryn of Adventures of A+K
Dry Tortugas National Park Camping
For a truly unique camping experience, you can’t beat the campground on Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park. Not only do you get to wake up right on the sand, with stunning turquoise blue water all around you, but you are just feet away from historic Fort Jefferson.
However, because this isolated campground is 70 miles off the coast of Florida, this is tent-only camping and you will need to bring everything with you including fresh water. Transportation to the island is by ferry from Key West. Campers must also arrange a return date in advance with the captain of the ferry before disembarking on the island.
This is a primitive campground with eight sites that can accommodate two or three tents. Sites are first come, first served, and have a picnic table and grill at each one. There are no bathrooms, food, or shower facilities either, however, it’s worth it to enjoy stargazing, snorkeling, and swimming at stunning beaches in total isolation since most visitors are just day trippers who depart from the island quite early.
Dunewood Campground (Indiana Dunes National Park)
For another waterfront national park, you’ll want to pay a visit to Indiana Dunes National Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. The park is comprised of over 15,000 acres of dunes, oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, prairies, rivers, and forests. It contains 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline spanning the distance from Gary to Michigan City.
The Dunewood Campground has 66 campsites (53 drive-in sites for RVs and car campers and 13 walk/carry-in sites). They are distributed among two loops with each having its own restrooms and hot showers. Please note: The campground is open seasonally from April through October.
There is plenty to do at this unique park from fishing and swimming to kayaking and boating. The park has more than 50 miles of hiking trails that traverse the various habitats and cultural history of Indiana Dunes National Park. Kemil Beach between Indiana Dunes State Park and Beverly Shores is an International Dark Sky area perfect for stargazing.
If you’re looking for a fun day trip, head east to take part in the many things to do in Shipshewana, Indiana.
Everglades National Park – Long Pine Key Campground
Long Pine Key Campground, nestled within the awe-inspiring beauty of the Everglades National Park, has become a cherished destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an immersive natural experience. Open seasonally November-May, the campground offers 108 sites surrounded by towering pine trees and lush vegetation with a peaceful atmosphere that creates a perfect haven for relaxation and introspection.
It also provides excellent opportunities for wildlife observation. The Everglades is renowned for its diverse ecosystem, and this campground serves as a gateway to explore its wonders. Whether it’s birdwatching, spotting alligators, or encountering elusive species, the campground offers an up-close and personal encounter with the natural world. And it is located in close proximity to activities such as hiking, canoeing, and biking opportunities.
– Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
North Rim Campground (Grand Canyon National Park)
The best campground I’ve ever stayed at was the North Rim Campground in Grand Canyon National Park. The North Rim is far less visited than the South Rim, and they’re a whopping 3+ hours apart by car, so you’ll actually feel like you can find a piece of the Grand Canyon to enjoy all to yourself. The North Rim campground has plenty of spaces for cars and RVs alike — 80 total and sites are by reservation only. There aren’t any hookups at the sites, but the campground has flush toilets, coin-operated showers, potable water, and a dump station.
The best part about the North Rim is the drive there — bison, a rarity to see in Arizona, actually, thrive in this part of the Grand Canyon due to the higher altitude. At over 8,200 feet, it’s a seasonal campground only open from June to December each year.
– Recommended by Allison of Eternal Arrival
Grand Teton National Park – Colter Bay Campground
One of the best campgrounds in US national parks is Colter Bay Campground in Grand Teton National Park. It is one of the most well-equipped campgrounds in Grand Teton, with 324 individual campsites and 10 large group sites. We stayed in an RV and it had an electric hookup, which was perfect for us because we preferred the extra convenience. The campsite also included a picnic table, fire pit, and nearby restrooms.
One of the biggest perks about staying at Colter Bay Campground is its walking distance to Colter Bay Village. There you’ll find a visitor center, restaurants, stores, cabins, and a marina. Showers and laundry services are also available for an additional fee. While you may think that staying so close to a visitor center might mean that you’ll lose out on serenity and natural beauty, that is not the case at Colter Bay Campground. Not only is it situated in a lodgepole pine forest, but it is a short stroll from the shores of Jackson Lake. From there, you can catch an amazing sunset or sunrise at Grand Teton National Park.
– Recommended by Sean of LivingOutLau
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Cosby Campground
If you want to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re not alone. It’s the most visited of all 63 US national parks, which is why camping in the Cosby Campground on the Northeastern edge of the park is such a treat. It is far away from the crowds, but close to some of the best hiking in the park. In fact, you can reach the trailhead of some of the most beautiful hikes right from the campground. We chose the 4.4-mile round trip to Hen Wallow Falls, a moderate hike that leads to a majestic 90 ft. waterfall. Other campers are here to hike the more difficult 11-mile trail to the peak of Mt Cammerer.
Cosby Campground is primarily set up for tents, with only 15 of its 157 sites suitable for RVs. We appreciated the spacious wooded sites, nestled on a hillside. Amenities are limited to flush toilets and potable water, with a dump station nearby. While you can usually get a tent site on weekdays without advance planning, be aware that all Smoky Mountain National Park campgrounds require online registration which you’ll want to do before arriving due to minimal service.
– Recommended by Ladona of Walking the Parks
Joshua Tree National Park – Indian Cove Campground
Located less than an hour from the desert oasis that is Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. And for those looking to spend at least a night in Joshua Tree, the best campground to do so is Indian Cove Campground!
This campground has approximately 100 campsites and is the perfect place to camp whether you plan on pitching a tent or bringing your RV. There aren’t any hookups or potable water (you can get it from a small ranger station 2 miles north), but what you do get is access to impressive rock formations right from your campsite! Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced rock climber, you’ll find a variety of official climbing routes all around the area! Some routes can be bouldered while others require proper climbing gear.
– Recommended by Kristin of Global Travel Escapades
Mount Rainier National Park – Cougar Rock Campground
Cougar Rock Campground in Mount Rainier National Park is an incredible option for campers of all varieties. It’s conveniently located in Paradise, one of the most popular sections, and just a short drive away from the trailheads of some of the best hikes in Mount Rainier National Park. The sites feel pretty spacious and, while they’re relatively close together, they also feel private, due to the thick trees and greenery in the area. There are even evening ranger programs hosted here, where knowledgeable rangers will share interesting information about the park’s history and nature.
While I stayed here in my travel trailer, it seems that most seem to be tent campers, which lends to the campground having a quieter and more chill vibe. If you happen to be using a travel trailer or other RV, don’t expect many RV-friendly amenities. There are no hook-ups onsite and, while there is a dump station and RV water fill station, they’re both pretty frequently closed and not available to campers. Nevertheless, thanks to its beautiful scenery and proximity to one of the most popular areas in Rainier, Cougar Rock more than makes up for it!
– Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
North Cascades National Park – Colonial Creek Campground
The North Cascades have little to no lodging in or around the park, making the designated National Park campgrounds an excellent way to enjoy a gorgeous area without spending loads of time driving back and forth. My favorite campground in the North Cascades is Colonial Creek, situated on the vibrant Diablo Lake. You can access water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or swimming from your campsite. Then, some of the most epic hiking trails are right around the corner, allowing you to get to trailheads before the swarms of hikers show up!
We camped in a tent, but there is RV access, though the park recommends larger RVs use Newhalem Campground, about 15 minutes west. You can reserve these in advance and weekends are usually taken months beforehand. However, you will have much better luck snagging a campsite during the middle of the week. Getting to hang out in this part of the state is fantastic, and you’ll be so happy you did!
– Recommended by Alec of Explore with Alec
Olympic National Park – Fairholme Campground
Located on the shores of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Fairholme Campground is not to be missed! Choose from one of 88 wooded or lakeside sites for tents or RVs up to 21 feet. The walk-in tent sites right on the shores of the lake allow you the distinct advantage of waking up gazing at the serene waters, surrounded by wooded hills. No matter which site you choose, you can access the trail along the shore of the clear, glacially-carved lake, so you can still enjoy some of the best views in Olympic National Park.
The campground is very convenient for the Lake Crescent, Sol Duc, and Hurricane Ridge areas of the national park. Even the Pacific Coast beaches are not too far away, making this an ideal base for your trip to Olympic National Park.
– Recommended by James Ian from Parks Collecting
Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Campground
Moraine Campground is the perfect base for your exploration of Rocky Mountain National Park. Situated near the famous Trail Ridge Road this amazing place is open all year long and offers 244 sites (101 of which are tent-only).
Surrounded by spectacular views, the campground offers flush toilets, potable water, bear-proof food lockers, and outdoor sinks for dishwashing. It provides the perfect backdrop for photography. In fact, we had a herd of elk right next to us when we stayed here, along with some turkey, mule deer, and moose.
Additionally, hikers will love that this area gives you access to the Bear Lake Corridor and some of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Just be sure to get to the trailhead early, before 8:00 am, since the lot fills up fast. Other great activities include scenic drives, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and visiting the Moraine Park Museum.
While you’re there, be sure to visit nearby Estes Park, one of the best Colorado mountain towns and the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Shenandoah National Park – Loft Mountain Campground
Loft Mountain is the largest of four campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. Situated steps from the famed Appalachian Trail, it is the perfect spot for enjoying nature walks, challenging hikes, or just enjoying some quiet moments in the woods. In fact, there is a trail directly from the campground to Jones River and Doyles Run Falls, two of the best waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.
The majority of the campsites have pull-through u-shaped driveways suitable for RVs (or cars) with a private, wooded picnic or tent area. There aren’t any hookups at the sites, but there are numerous bathrooms and water stations throughout the campground. There is also a dump station, laundry, and shower facilities, as well as a large camp store on the entry road. And if you don’t feel like cooking, the Loft Mountain Wayside is located right across from the campground entrance.
– Recommended by Sean & Julie of Chickery’s Travels
Wind Cave National Park – Elk Mountain Campground
Elk Mountain Campground at Wind Cave National Park has stolen my heart for many reasons. First and foremost, the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds the campground is unparalleled. Nestled amidst South Dakota’s Black Hills, the campground offers stunning vistas of towering pines and rolling meadows, creating a serene and picturesque environment
This 68-site campground suitable for RVs and tents is open year-round and provides visitors with the perfect blend of seclusion and convenience. While staying overnight in my tent felt like a serene escape into the wilderness, it remains within easy reach of the park’s main trails and visitor center. This made it the perfect basecamp to explore the park, while still feeling immersed in nature. Each campsite has a pull-in parking space, fire ring, picnic table, and potable water pump. The restrooms were all meticulously maintained with flushing toilets and electric outlets, and the campground hosts were more than helpful.
– Recommended by Rose Campau
Yellowstone National Park – Grant Village
There is so much to love about Grant Village Campground in Yellowstone National Park. From the stunning natural landscape to its convenient location by Yellowstone Lake on the south side of the park. It is easy to navigate the trails and not get lost.
One of the larger campgrounds in the park with over 400 sites, it is very well maintained. They also have bathrooms with flush toilets and showers which is great after a long day of hiking. While there are no hookups at the sites, there is potable water and a dump station. If you need extra supplies there is a gas station and general store within a short distance. You can also enjoy a meal at The Lake House Restaurant while enjoying views of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.
– Recommended by Nick of The World Overload
Yosemite National Park – Curry Village
Yosemite National Park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, is renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes and is one of the best weekend trips from San Francisco. Camping in Curry Village in the heart of Yosemite Valley is the best way to experience the iconic Yosemite.
Curry Village offers rustic yet comfortable lodging in the form of tent cabins, which are wooden-framed structures covered with canvas walls and roofs. We stayed in these tent cabins. They also have a few wooden cabins and basic campground sites where you set up your own tent. The campsite provides essential amenities like communal showers, dining options, and a camp store. There is a pizza restaurant here!
Curry Village serves as an excellent base for exploring Yosemite’s must-see sights. Hike to the majestic Half Dome, an iconic granite peak offering panoramic views. Visit the awe-inspiring Yosemite Falls. Embark on the Mist Trail, a popular hiking route that takes you to Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Keep in mind that reservations for Curry Village fill up months in advance, so plan ahead to secure your spot and immerse yourself in the beauty of Yosemite.
– Recommended by Anu of Destination Checkoff
Zion National Park – Watchman Campground
Located in Zion National Park, Watchman Campground is easily one of the best national park campgrounds in the USA. It’s also a great option if you’re searching for rustic Zion National Park lodging. After all, this campground is well-located near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. So, it sits right near the southern entrance of the park and is open all year round. This way, you have the option to avoid crowds and camp in the off-season. You are also situated right near the Zion Canyon Shuttle and can quickly visit some of the most stunning parts of the park.
Suitable for RVs and tents, this campground has a ton of great year-round facilities, like flush toilets, a dump station, cold drinking water, trash containers, and cell phone reception. And with 176 campsites to choose from, visitors will love that all campsites come with a picnic table and access to a fire ring. A reservation is required though so be sure to book your site in advance. Also, try and time your visit for the fall or spring since camping is best here when the weather is mild.
– Recommended by Jaimie of Photo Jeepers
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