Best National Parks for Camping

Fitness, Healthy Travel, Outdoor Activity
on April 1, 2013

There is nothing more awe-inspiring than camping out beneath a glittering nighttime sky. By staking a tent in one of America’s beautiful national parks, you can escape from the incessant noise of city life and enjoy some much-needed R&R in the Great Outdoors.

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, TX
(432) 477-2251
With four developed campgrounds and numerous backcountry camping sites, Big Bend National Park is a hub for adventurous campers seeking a unique camping experience in a secluded desert mountain landscape. Big Bend, which spans most of the rugged Chihuahuan Desert and Chisos Mountains, offers a vast swath of undeveloped wilderness for primitive roadside camping. Flanked by majestic rocky cliffs, the remote Chisos Basin Campground is one of the park’s most sought-after campgrounds. Consider Big Bend for your next romantic getaway; the park’s clear night skies create some of the best stargazing opportunities in the nation.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 436-1200
America’s most visited park is also one of the nation’s premiere camping destinations, with four different types of campsites: backcountry, frontcountry, group campgrounds, and horse camps. Perfect for families, the camp’s 10 frontcountry campground locations are developed sites that accommodate tents, RVs or pop-up trailers. Meanwhile, adventure-seeking backpackers will discover hundreds of miles of untapped backcountry to explore. Before planning your camping trip, it is advised you review the proper safety precautions for camping in black bear country—the Smokies are famous for its active black bear population.

Assateague Island National Seashore
Ocean City, MD
(410) 641-1441
Camping at Assateague Island is a truly unique experience. At this coastal gem, you can camp on the white-sand beach among the dunes and fall asleep to the lulling sound of ocean waves crashing. The island’s campsite options include drive-in campgrounds for tent campers and RVers, oceanside walk-in tent sites, and backcountry campsites for backpackers. Campers are reminded to bring firewood, sunscreen, insect repellent and long tent stakes to anchor tents in the sand and wind.

Olympic National Park
Port Angeles, WA
(360) 565-3130
With its ancient mossy forests, sweeping mountain vistas and rugged Pacific Coastline, Olympic National Park is a truly magical place. The best way to experience the multi-faceted beauty of this Washington treasure is by camping. Olympic National Park offers 16 National Park Service-maintained campgrounds with 910 camping sites in total to choose from. In addition to countless backcountry camping opportunities, concession-operated RV parks are located within the park at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent. The best time to experience camping at Olympic National Park is in the summer months, when the weather is warmer and drier.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Medora, ND
(701) 623-4466
Located in the Badlands of North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park gives access to superb camping experiences. Theodore Roosevelt himself once referred to the remote, austere landscape as a sort of “grim fairyland,” and indeed, camping in the Badlands is a unique and beautiful experience. The park operates three campsites: Juniper Campground, Cottonwood Campground and Roundup Group Horse Campground. While the Cottonwood Campground is larger and more popular, campers seeking a more secluded camping experience should check out Juniper Campground. Nestled by the banks of the Little Missouri River, this small, isolated campsite is a great way to appreciate the mystery of the North Dakota Badlands.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, WY
(307) 344-7381
Home to the iconic Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park is one of the nation’s ultimate camping getaways, with 12 designated campgrounds and over 2,000 camping sites—not to mention miles and miles of rugged wilderness ideal for pitching a tent. By camping in the heart of Yellowstone, you’ll savor the stunning natural beauty of Wyoming’s adventure capital and possibly spot some of the park’s famous wildlife. Whether you’re looking for a developed RV site or primitive backcountry camps, the park offers something for everyone. Open year-round, Mammoth Campground has over 85 campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis and is a short distance from fishing sites and hiking trails.