No season is more closely associated with camping than the summer. Great weather makes for great camping experiences, and whether you enjoy fishing, boating, hiking or bird watching, your active season starts around June. Of course, you need to find a great park to make the most of your experience. Here are 10 campsites that are popular, gorgeous options for your next summer trip.
The following camping spots all share a common theme of being epic “playgrounds” for the whole family. While some areas will be full in summer, there’s almost always an option to go one level deeper into the wilderness (starting with “frontcountry camping” and moving into backpacking / backcountry). Stay safe out there this summer, and let us know what other places you like to camp. See you on the road!
1. Outer Banks, North Carolina
Where: One of the four campsites at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Why it’s so cool: 70 miles of wild Atlantic coastline accessible by 4 x 4, as well as organized camping, with epic fishing, surfing, and beach camping along the way. Here’s where you can play all day at the beach with zero other people around if you want.
What makes it unique: The first of 10 National Seashores in the US.
2. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Where: Stay/start out from Sawbill Campground
Why it’s so cool: Loons and lakeside camping Every. Single. Night. Traveling by canoe affords some creature comforts the whole family can enjoy — be it a blankie or snuggie for the kids and a can of pale ale for you. Oh, and nighttime stargazing hardly gets better.
What makes it unique: The truly great thing about the BWCAW is that you can go lake-hopping, linking the area’s almost innumerable lakes via short trails, or “portages,” over any amount of nights.
3. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
Where: One of the 13 campgrounds in the park.
Why it’s so cool: Families can see three natural stone bridges up close by taking short hikes that should be easy on those with short legs. The Junior Ranger Program is a great way for both parents and kids to learn about the rich geological history of the area.
What makes it unique: First designated International Dark-Sky Park in the world.
4. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
Where: Echo Park Campground, 38 miles from the Canyon Visitor Centre.
Why it’s so cool: Spectacular river canyons, easy level hike to check out the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers, and petroglyphs and fossils that provide great historical and cultural outdoor discoveries.
What makes it unique: The lack of light pollution provides grandiose star-gazing opportunities.
5. Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Where: One of the 3 campgrounds in the area.
Why it’s so cool: The beautiful gorge in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest is a great place to introduce kids to beginner-level rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, and hiking.
What makes it unique: The Red River Gorge is home to the Natural Bridge, a sandstone rock arch that is 65 feet high and 78 feet long.