Scenic Places to Camp: Ultimate Guide for Stunning Outdoor Escapes

Camping allows us to experience the great outdoors, reconnect with nature, and escape from our daily routines. One of the most enchanting aspects of camping is finding incredible scenic spots that offer a unique backdrop for your adventures. In this article, we will explore some of the most beautiful locations in the United States where you can set up camp and enjoy breathtaking views.

National Parks

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, located in California, is known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and towering sequoia trees. The park offers several campgrounds for visitors to truly experience the beauty of the natural surroundings. Camp 4 is a popular spot for climbers, while Upper Pines Campground and Lower Pines Campground provide more family-friendly options. These campgrounds provide opportunities to explore the iconic places within the park, such as El Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park, situated in Wyoming, boasts majestic mountain landscapes, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Campers can choose from a variety of campgrounds within the park. Jenny Lake Campground and Signal Mountain Campground are two notable options. Both campgrounds offer picturesque views of the Teton Range and are close to hiking trails, offering great opportunities to observe the park’s flora and fauna, such as elk, moose, and bald eagles.

Campground Amenities Nearby Attractions
Jenny Lake – Tent-only
– Potable water
– Flush toilets
– Inspiration Point
– Cascade Canyon Trail
Signal Mountain – Tent & RV sites
– Dump station
– Showers
– General store
– Jackson Lake
– Signal Mountain Summit

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, located along the coast of Maine, offers a unique combination of rocky shorelines, forests, and mountain peaks. Campers can choose from four main campgrounds within the park: Blackwoods, Seawall, Schoodic Woods, and Duck Harbor. Each campground has its own distinct features to cater to different camping preferences.

  • Blackwoods Campground: Conveniently located near Bar Harbor, this campground provides easy access to popular attractions like Thunder Hole and Cadillac Mountain.
  • Seawall Campground: Less touristy than Blackwoods, Seawall offers a quieter and more secluded camping experience. The campground is close to the beautiful Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
  • Schoodic Woods Campground: Situated on the Schoodic Peninsula, this campground puts campers in close proximity to stunning ocean views and hiking trails.
  • Duck Harbor Campground: Located on Isle au Haut, Duck Harbor is a remote and serene option, accessible only by mail-boat.

By exploring these national park campgrounds, visitors will be able to fully appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty associated with Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Acadia National Parks.

Beach Campgrounds

Assateague State Park

Assateague State Park is located in Maryland and offers a unique camping experience with its beautiful sandy beaches and wild horses roaming the area. The park provides 350 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to bathroom facilities. Additionally, visitors can enjoy various activities such as:

  • Swimming: Assateague’s beaches are perfect for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months.
  • Wildlife viewing: The park is famous for its wild horses, but also offers opportunities to spot deer, birds, and other local wildlife.
  • Hiking and biking: There are several short trails within the park for exploring the natural surroundings.

Reservations are recommended, and camping fees apply for this exceptional beach camping experience.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina is a popular destination for beach camping enthusiasts. With its pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and picturesque lighthouses, this national seashore offers a truly scenic camping experience. There are four campgrounds within the park:

  1. Oregon Inlet Campground: This is the largest campground, offering 120 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and restroom facilities.
  2. Cape Point Campground: A quieter option with 202 sites, also featuring picnic tables and fire rings.
  3. Frisco Campground: Featuring 127 sites, Frisco offers slightly more privacy with its vegetation-covered sand dunes.
  4. Ocracoke Campground: The most remote campground with 136 sites, accessible only by ferry.

Most sites are first-come, first-served, but some can be reserved in advance. Fees apply for camping in these picturesque locations, and activities such as fishing, watersports, wildlife viewing, and exploring the historic lighthouses add to the wonderful experience of beach camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Mountain Escapes

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination for camping enthusiasts. Located in Colorado, this expansive park offers a variety of campgrounds for visitors to choose from, including Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, and Timber Creek. The park is home to stunning scenery, including picturesque peaks, alpine lakes, and lush forests.

Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, and stargazing. Some popular hiking trails in the park include the Glacier Gorge Trail, the Emerald Lake Trail, and the Longs Peak Trail. Remember to plan and prepare for the park’s changing weather conditions and practice Leave No Trace principles during your visit.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, situated on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is another scenic spot for mountain camping. The park is well-known for its diverse plant and animal life, as well as the remnants of Southern Appalachian culture. There are 10 campgrounds spread throughout the park, including Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont.

Campers can explore the park’s 800 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Recommended trails for experiencing picturesque landscapes include the Alum Cave Trail, the Clingmans Dome Trail, and the Chimney Tops Trail. Additionally, visitors can participate in ranger-led programs and learn about the park’s history, wildlife, and environmental stewardship.

Desert Experiences

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique desert camping experience located in southern California. This park spans both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, offering a diverse landscape for campers to explore. The iconic Joshua Trees that give the park its name provide a backdrop for a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing. There are nine campgrounds within the park, with some sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. The park is known for its world-class climbing and bouldering opportunities, as well as its extraordinary stargazing due to minimal light pollution.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park, situated in eastern Utah, features over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the famous Delicate Arch. The park’s striking red rock formations offer a dramatic setting for camping and outdoor adventures. Visitors can explore a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes, to catch a glimpse of the park’s stunning geological features. The Devils Garden Campground within the park offers 50 campsites, with some reservable in advance and others available on a first-come, first-served basis. Arches National Park is also a popular destination for photographers seeking to capture the beauty of the desert landscapes and the mesmerizing night sky.

Forest Retreats

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks, located in northern California, are home to some of the world’s tallest trees. The parks offer a variety of campgrounds, such as Elk Prairie, Gold Bluffs Beach, and Jedediah Smith, suitable for different camper preferences.

  • Elk Prairie Campground: Known for its lush meadows and abundant wildlife, including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and a variety of birds.
  • Gold Bluffs Beach Campground: Situated along the Pacific coastline, this campground offers beach access and stunning ocean views.
  • Jedediah Smith Campground: Surrounded by old-growth redwood trees, this campground offers riverside camping and easy access to hiking trails.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park in California houses the world’s largest trees – the giant sequoias. The park offers various campgrounds, such as Lodgepole, Dorst Creek, and Buckeye Flat, to enjoy the surrounding nature.

Campground Features
Lodgepole Adjacent to the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River; walking distance to the General Sherman Tree
Dorst Creek Situated at higher elevation, providing cooler temperatures; near the Crescent Meadow and Giant Forest
Buckeye Flat Located along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River; ideal for tent camping and relaxing near the river

Both Redwood National and State Parks and Sequoia National Park provide stunning and diverse landscapes, making them ideal forest retreats for campers seeking a connection with nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top scenic campgrounds in the US?

Some of the highly rated scenic campgrounds in the US include Wonder Lake in Denali National Park, Alaska, and many locations within the national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion. Each park offers unique landscapes and breathtaking views. Research and personal preference will help you choose the right campground in any of these locations.

Which states have the most beautiful camping spots?

While beauty is subjective, some states consistently receive high praise for their camping sites. Alaska, California, Colorado, Utah, and Washington all offer diverse scenery and natural beauty that make them popular states for camping enthusiasts.

Where are the best tent camping sites in California?

California has a plethora of great tent camping sites. A few popular choices are Leo Carrillo State Park in northern Malibu, offering beachside camping, and San Clemente State Beach, which is known for its ocean views. The southern part of the state also boasts several great camping spots, such as Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

What are the ideal places for lakeside camping?

Lakeside camping is a beautiful experience, and some ideal places for it include Lake Tahoe in California, Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border, and Crater Lake in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park. The Adirondack Mountains in New York and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness also offer picturesque lakeside camping spots.

Where can beginners find easy-to-access camping locations?

For beginners, it’s essential to find campsites with accessible amenities and easy access to the surrounding area. State parks and national forests typically provide well-maintained campgrounds with facilities like running water, bathrooms, and even electrical hookups in some cases. Additionally, car camping and public campgrounds with easy road access are excellent options for people just starting their camping adventures.

Are there any picturesque car camping sites in Big Sur?

Yes, Big Sur in California has several beautiful car camping sites. Some popular ones include Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Kirk Creek Campground. Both locations offer breathtaking coastal views and easy access from the Pacific Coast Highway.