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The most beautiful camping places in the USA

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

Looking for the best places to go camping in the USA? The options are seemingly endless. So that’s why we’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best. Prime lakefront locations, RV parks you’ll never want to leave, and our favorite hiking locales all have a place when it comes to the most beautiful camping in the States.

Many of the following spots are part of the US Forest Service campgrounds which means information can easily be found online or by phone. Please always check the local government’s guidelines and restrictions before planning a camping trip.

These are the 12 best camping places in the USA:

  1. Denali National Park, Alaska
  2. Big Sur, California
  3. Deception Pass State Park, Washington
  4. Havasu Falls, Arizona
  5. Boyd’s Key West Campground, Florida
  6. Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground, Michigan
  7. Washington, California
  8. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  9. Baxter State Park, Maine
  10. Point Reyes National Seashore, California
  11. Difficult Campground, Aspen, Colorado
  12. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
reflection of mountain in water

US Forest Service campgrounds

The U.S. Forest Service campgrounds are part of 154 national forests in 44 states. In almost every national forest, you’ll find designated campgrounds. However, campers are always welcome to pitch their tents wherever they see fit in the forests (as long as camping isn’t expressly prohibited).

Many of the below destinations are home to some of the US Forest Service campgrounds.

At the time of writing, the following campgrounds (with the exception of Havasu Falls) were open during COVID-19 restrictions but always check the current status of campgrounds before making your own plans.

Best camping in the USA for beautiful hikes

Denali National Park, Alaska

Can you really discuss campgrounds with beautiful hiking without including the Alaskan gem that is Denali National Park?

Plenty of hiking opportunities within Denali State Park include Curry Ridge, considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the United States and Little Coal Creek Trail with stunning views of Denali.

Campgrounds within Denali include Denali North and Denali South, along with Byers Lake, K’esugi Ken, and Lower Troublesome Creek.

moose in water at Denali national park

Big Sur, California

Camping at one of the Pacific Coast Highway’s most scenic stops? Yes, please!

Big Sur could technically fit under every ‘camping in the US’ category imaginable. This region has everything from oceanview private campgrounds to backcountry camping locations amongst the Redwoods.

237 miles of trail in Big Sur provides access to 55 designated trail camping spots. Enjoy the local Santa Lucia fir trees that you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. Among the many rivers and streams, you’ll find waterfalls, thermal springs, and swimmable natural pools.

Search Skyscanner if you need a rental car for your California coast road trip.

camping in the redwood forest USA

Best waterfront camping sites in the USA

Deception Pass State Park, Washington

Deception Pass State Park is located on Whidbey Island, about an hour and 30 minutes outside of Seattle, Washington. This may be Washington State’s most-visited state park, but there’s plenty of space to spread out. Over 4000 acres of land and sea include a boat launch with overnight moorage and nearly 15 miles of saltwater shore to explore.

Camping within Deception Pass State Park is only permitted in designated campgrounds. The three campground options include Bowman Bay, Quarry Pond, and Cranberry Lake.

Deception Pass State Park is full of scenic vistas. Within the park, you’ll find plenty of hidden coves and beaches to enjoy. Once back on land, don’t miss the jaw-dropping Deception Pass Bridge.

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Perhaps the most exclusive camping in the US, Havasu Falls is only accessible with a hard-to-come-by permit and a grueling 10-hour hike.

While Havasu Falls is currently closed due to COVID-19, it would be impossible to not include it on a list of the best camping in the USA. Reservations sell out well in advance for Havasu Falls, so it’s worth keeping an eye on registration for spots in 2021.

Located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, the campgrounds at Havasu Falls are certainly one of the most stunning waterfront sites for camping in the US. Turquoise rivers and waterfalls carve their way through the stunning red limestone creating a peaceful, ethereal camping experience.

Or discover more of the best camping sites in Arizona.

Havasu Falls in Arizona

RV Parks in the USA

Boyd’s Key West Campground, Florida

RV enthusiasts looking for prime oceanfront camping will find it in the south. And by south, we pretty much mean as far south as you can go in the continental US. Located on eclectic Stock Island, Boyd’s Key West Campground is perfectly located to explore the best of Key West. In short, camping in the US doesn’t get much prettier than this.

Certainly one of the most tropical campgrounds in the States, Boyd’s is surrounded by lush palm trees, mangroves, and a tiki-vibe pool area.

Water-lovers will be happy to find free boat ramp use in addition to kayak and paddleboard rentals. Foodies, meanwhile, will enjoy Deluna’s Cafe, a Caribbean/Cuban food truck tucked away in the corner of the park and serving amazing breakfast specialties like corned beef hash and Cuban toast.

Or check out some more of the best beach camping spots in Florida!

empty road going into the sunset

Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground, Michigan

Located at the tippy top of Michigan (but on the mainland!) is Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground on the shores of Lake Huron.

This stunning lakefront site was once voted “Michigan’s Favorite Campground” by a local news station. In addition, Detroit News named it one of the most family-friendly campgrounds in Michigan.

Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping has something for all kinds of campers. RV sites are available by the lakefront or there are designated tent spots and even well-stocked cabin rentals available.

From the campgrounds beaches, enjoy the views of Mackinaw Island, a perfect romantic getaway destination for those traveling with a partner. In addition, the ferry docks to visit Mackinaw Island are only five minutes away.

More top camping in the USA:

  • Washington, California
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • Baxter State Park, Maine
  • Point Reyes National Seashore, California
  • Difficult Campground, Aspen, Colorado
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Can you camp anywhere in USA?

There are rules and regulations in place around where you’re allowed and not allowed to camp. You won’t be able to camp out on the side of the road, for example. You can generally camp in the US Forest Services forests as long as camping isn’t expressly prohibited.

Can you camp for free in USA?

Yes, it is possible to find free campsites in the USA. For example, US National Forests & Grasslands and Bureau Land Management areas are open and free for campers unless otherwise stated.

Can you camp in US national parks?

Every national park has different rules about camping, so it’s important to plan your camping nights ahead of time. Many US national parks do have campsites that are available for a fee, however.

Discover where you can go

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