Best Car Camping Sites in the United States

There’s nothing quite like the great outdoors and from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this great nation certainly has a lot of it to offer. One of the best ways to see it, is to simply jump in your car and go! When you have a car in your driveway, there’s no need to book costly travel accommodations, rent an RV, or overload yourself with specialized camping gear. Most of the best beaches, national parks, and campsites in the country have parking spaces you can pitch a tent next to. And even the smallest subcompact sedans have space for a tent in the trunk.
So you’ve got a sense of wanderlust and an itch to rough it for a little while. You’ve got your pack loaded and your car gassed up. The only question remaining is what destination you should punch into the GPS. Read on, traveler. We’ve asked blogger, hikers, and adventurers from all over this great nation for the best car camping site in the United States. Grab the beef jerky, and take a look!

WEST

Denali National Park, AK

denali national park

Located at approximately Milepost 236 of the George Park Highway, Denali National Park and Preserve lies deep within the Alaskan Bush between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Home to Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America, and abundant wildlife — grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep and caribou, the park encompasses tundra, taiga and alpine ecosystems. Denali National Park is open year-round, with its main visitor season occurring mid-May through mid-September. Six campgrounds throughout the park offer RV and tent campers a variety of options and amenities, with varying seasons of availability and restrictions.

Suggested by:
Lindsey Gubler
Aramark Leisure

Glacier Bay National Park, AK

denali national park

Named a World Heritage Site in 1992, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve encompasses 3.3 million remote acres outside of Juneau in Alaska’s Inside Passage. It is an icy refuge for orca, humpback whales, endangered Stellar sea lions, birds, mammals and is home to majestic glaciers. The Bartlett Cove Campground features bear-resistant food caches, firewood and a warming hut.

Suggested by:
Lindsey Gubler
Aramark Leisure

Olympic National Forest, WA

olympic national forest

Staying in a rainforest has never looked so amazing! The Olympic Peninsula in Washington state is one of the best places to go car camping year-round. With their temperate climate, the Olympic National Forest doesn't receive a lot of snowfall, which makes it a great place to go car-camping in the wintertime. However, prepare for rain, wet conditions, and muddy roads! Our favorite campsites in the Olympic National Park are Kalhanie Campground and Campbell Tree Grove Campground.

Suggested by:
Berty and Emily Mandagie
The Mandagies Travel + Adventure Blog

San Juan Islands, WA

san juan islands

When you choose the San Juan Islands in Washington State for a getaway, you’ll say farewell to worry and stress and say hello to the mellow islands vibe, a temperate year-round climate, and long, lazy hours of doing just what you want. So load up the tent, the sleeping bags, and your sense of adventure for a camping trip you won’t soon forget.

Moran State Park on Orcas Island has over 5,000 acres of wilderness with five freshwater lakes (perfect for those who like a brisk swim before breakfast) and almost 40 miles of hiking trails. Whether you’re along the lake shore or tucked up in the forest, daily adventures are often only steps away. Not to mention the panorama from Mt. Constitution (the highest point in the islands) offers spectacular views of the island-dotted Salish Sea, the North Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. Orcas Island moves at a slower pace, and the abundant forests give you an almost fairy-tale feeling, especially when the morning fog curls its tendrils around the evergreens.

A neighbor to the south of Orcas, San Juan Island offers its own brand of exploration. On the Island’s west side, about 10 miles from Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor, you’ll find the popular 12-acre San Juan County Park, where you can camp on the coast of Haro Strait and enjoy views of the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island. Find your own rocky bluff, explore the gravel beaches and tide pools, watch for whales, picnic and play in the meadow or the short cliffside trails, or launch your kayak in the waters of Smallpox Bay, where the First Peoples waded to cool fevers.

Both these idyllic camping spots are along the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway, which was designated by Washington State in April 2009. The Byway is divided into three segments: the first one-third encompasses 30 miles along the beautiful, blue marine highway (Washington State Ferries routes), the second one-third is a driving tour around San Juan Island, and the last third is a driving tour on Orcas Island.

Suggested by:
Barbara
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Diamond Lake, OR

diamond lake, oregon

Diamond Lake is a lake a bit north of Crater Lake National Park. The Diamond Lake Campground is just about $20 for a night and it has plenty of lake-front campsites complete with fire pits for a stunning evening roasting marshmallows. This site also has many water pumps and clean shower facilities that are included in the price of your night's stay. It's a short drive from the National Park or Umpqua Hot Springs making it a great, affordable base to explore the area. My husband and I chose to wake up at sunrise one morning here to watch the lake and mountain peak view turn from black to pink to blue.

Suggested by:
Kara Harms
Whimsy Soul

Oregon Coast, OR

oregon coast harris beach state park

The Oregon Coast is one of the most exciting places to go car camping in the US. This is because many campsites can be found along the ocean shores, giving you spectacular views, and lulling you to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves. From the moss-covered forest of Ecola State Park to the giant trees that surround Harris Beach State Park, these are excellent campgrounds to choose on any Oregon Coast road trip itinerary. One of the newest and most luxurious places to go car camping in Oregon would be at Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay. They have several luxury RV sites right on the coast, and even include a shower house with bathrooms, laundry facilities, and fire pits at each site.

Suggested by:
Berty and Emily Mandagie
The Mandagies Travel + Adventure Blog

Deschutes National Forest, Bend, OR

deschutes national forest oregon

Forest Road 260 in the Deschutes National Forest has convenient and scenic free camping just outside of Bend, OR. It’s just a 10-minute drive west of Bend, OR, and the camping spots are located next to the trailhead for some of the best mountain biking in America.  For mountain bike enthusiasts, it really can’t be beat! In addition to great biking, there are also great hiking trails in the immediate area including Tumalo Falls and DoubleFalls.

Suggested by:
Reet & Julie Singh
TripOutside

Mount Shasta, CA

Mount Shasta, CA

We found a spot to park our van with a front-row private view of Mount Shasta's peak. It was stunning to fall asleep staring at the mountain and watching the stars come out. And come morning, cooking bacon from the back of our van with that view of Mount Shasta all ourselves was simply magic. This peak gets chilly all year-round, so if you choose to car camp here, bring blankets and coats!

Suggested by:
Kara Harms
Whimsy Soul

Big Lagoon Campground, Trinidad, CA

Big Lagoon Campground, Trinidad, CA

One of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my entire life was at the Big Lagoon Campground in Humboldt County on the coast of California. This small campground sits right on the edge of the Big Lagoon which, come sunset, turns into a still mirror-like surface to it looks like the sky is on the ground. While the bathrooms are just average here and the site’s a bit small, we found it super peaceful and a great spot to make friends with fellow campers. It's also a short drive from the cute town of Trinidad if you need to pick up supplies or simply explore a bit. 

Suggested by:
Kara Harms
Whimsy Soul

Bodega Bay Campsite, Bodega Bay, CA

Bodega Bay, CA

Ever wonder what it's like camping in sand dunes? Well, at the Bodega Bay Campsite you can do just that! This is a very large campground with over a 100 spots so it's easier to drive up day-of to grab a last-minute spot to spend the night. The bathrooms are very clean and there are plenty of water pumps everywhere to fill up. My husband and I loved wandering the scenic campground and geocaching around, as there are a few caches hidden here. Come evening, we sat in the dunes with beers and roasted marshmallows. This campsite is about 10 minutes from downtown Bodega Bay making it easy to grab supplies or even dine out if you want.

Suggested by:
Kara Harms
Whimsy Soul

Alabama Hills, CA

Alabama Hills, CA

If you're looking for an iconic spot to go car camping, you've got to check out Alabama Hills in California. Located off Highway 395, this desert site is free for public use, which means camping is free! One of the best features of this area is the famous Movie Road, which is seen in old western movies, and popular on social media. From hiking opportunities, rock climbing areas, and cool geological features, this is an excellent option for desert car camping in Southern California.

Suggested by:
Berty and Emily Mandagie
The Mandagies Travel + Adventure Blog

Santa Lucia Highlands, CA

santa lucia, ca

Similar to the unique geographical orientation of the Cru vineyards of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, the SLHs’ drape the terraced bench of the Santa Lucia mountain range. In East of Eden, John Steinbeck wrote about this slice of California as if it were part of his family: “You want to climb into their warm foothills almost as you want to climb into the lap of a beloved mother.”

Suggested by:
Greig Santos-Buch
Winetraveler

Various Sites in Mono County, CA

mono county, ca

Remote backcountry camping in California's Eastern Sierra of Mono County deservedly gets international attention, but with more than 85 campgrounds in diverse settings, Mono County is a fantastic destination for car camping too.

Just driving Highway 395, one of America’s great road trips, in either direction through Mono County is an experience in and of itself – with many opportunities to pull over and stare up into the toothy granite spires of the Sierra reaching 13,000 feet to the west, and the glistening White Mountains to the east. Whether coming from Southern California or by way of Lake Tahoe in the north, taking this trip is one of California’s best-kept secrets.

Whether visitors are looking for an inexpensive, fun family vacation or a basecamp for one of the region’s many adventures, campgrounds dot the beautiful Eastern Sierra landscape with tent and RV sites set in wooded areas, alongside streams or near lake shores. The campgrounds of Mono County are great launching-off points for hiking, biking, climbing,fishing and exploring. Below is just a small sampling of what Mono County has to offer.

Best for River Rats

Chris Flat Campground, located along the beautiful West Walker River in the Walker River Canyon, is the perfect place for campers looking for moving water. Leavitt Meadows off Highway 108/Sonora Pass is also right on the West Walker. The West Walker River is also stocked with trout for fishing.

For a Relaxing Soak in a Hot Spring

Benton Hot Springs offers a unique opportunity for campers to have their own private or shared geothermal hot tub, set in the high desert splendor of Mono County in the shadow of the White Pine Mountains.

For Anglers

June Lake Loop and Convict Lake:

June Lake, Silver Lake, Gull Lake and Grant Lake are well-stocked with rainbow trout and easily accessed along the June Lake Loop/Highway 158. Aspen and pine shade the campsites, and the nearby village of June Lake offers dining, fishing supplies and a general store. Convict Lake Campground,just south of Mammoth Lakes, is located on the shores of gorgeous Convict Lake– a favorite for fishing enthusiasts and right next to the Restaurant at Convict Lake, a pack station and marina.

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport:

Three campgrounds access Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, just a short drive from the town of Bridgeport. Annett’s Mono Village, Twin Lakes Resort, Doc and Al’s, and many public campgrounds on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest are only steps away from excellent trout fishing and hiking trails.

For Families

Camp High Sierra and Mammoth Mountain RV Park:

Set within the town limits of Mammoth Lakes, both Camp High Sierra and Mammoth Mountain RV Park are excellent family campgrounds that serve as a convenient base camp to explore the Mammoth Lakes Basin, mountain biking or zip-lining at Mammoth Mountain, and more.

Campgrounds along Rock Creek Road near Tom’s Place:

Families love the proximity of many of the Rock Creek campgrounds to the kid-friendly Little Lakes Valley Trail, Rock Creek Lake, and three restaurants that offer delicious fuel – Rock Creek Lodge (homemade breakfast), The Grill at Rock Creek Lakes Resort, and Tom’s Place Café.

Best Basecamp for Big Adventures

Reds Meadows Campground, Devils Postpile, and Agnew Meadows, located at the base of Reds Meadow Road near Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge, are all good launching-off points for high alpine adventures, accessing the John Muir Trail,Pacific Crest Trail, Shadow and Ediza lakes, Minaret Lake, and beyond.

Suggested by:
Jenny Kendrick
EastRiver PR

Glass Creek Campground is a hidden gem in the Sierras near Mammoth Lakes.  The campground is surrounded by Ponderosa pines, hot springs, mountains to climb,waterfalls just 2-3 miles away, and plenty of trails for hiking and biking.  There are fire rings, bathrooms, picnic tables, bear-proof lockers, and the best part is that it is all free. Located in the Inyo National Forest, just 15 minutes away from the mountain town of Mammoth, CA; Glass Creek Campground is a short drive down a dirt road off U.S. highway 395. There are 66 spots lined along beautiful woods and available for all campers from backpackers with tents, to families with RVs, and motor homes. There is no running water or garbage disposal within the campground.

Suggested by:
Reet & Julie Singh
TripOutside

Refugio State Beach, CA

refugio state beach, ca

One of my absolute favorite places to go surfing in California is on the Central coast. With quiet, old-school, lofty beach communities sprinkled along the coastline from Ventura to San Luis Obispo, there are plenty of lovely spots to set up camp and enjoy the waves.

Refugio State Beach is one of the best spots around and is within a half-hour drive on Santa Barbara. With all of the amenities you could hope for, it’s an excellent coastal campground for those seeking peace, quiet, and surf.

Walk down to the water about a few hundred yards from the main site and you’ll find a mellow right-hander for cruising. I highly recommend bringing a longboard along with you to make the most out of it.

Suggested by:
Chris Pomaski
Surf Researcher 

Flathead National Forest, MT

Flathead National Forest, MT

Flathead National Forest is located just west of Glacier National Park in Montana. This is a great place to go camping for so many reasons, but the biggest perk is the proximity to Glacier. With 31 developed front-country campgrounds and endless options for backcountry ones, this is a great alternative to the expensive campsite in Glacier National Park. Our favorites include Big Creek Campground and Moose Lake Campground. The best feature of these campsites? The scenic drive on the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park!

Suggested by:
Berty and Emily Mandagie
The Mandagies Travel + Adventure Blog

The beautiful Flathead River will lull you to sleep at this campsite. Thanks to the nearby glaciers, the water is a stunning shade of blue-green. You’re just minutes from Glacier National Park when you camp here, and the hiking in and around the park is phenomenal. You can also float the river for a lazy summer day activity. White water rafting with raft companies is another summer day adventure to consider. With a Montana fishing license, you can fish the river, but if you travel into the national park, you can fish without a license. Be careful to keep your food inside the vehicle when you’re not using it, though, as this campground is in grizzly territory.

Suggested by:
Melanie Musson
ExpertInsuranceReviews.com

Romsett Beach, West Yellowstone, MT

Romsett Beach, West Yellowstone, MT

This primitive campsite is perfect for car camping. It’s free and it’s right on the way to Yellowstone. You can fish on the lake or the nearby Gallatin River, which is a premier fly fishing destination. The water in Hebgen Lake is chilly year-round, but in the summer, it’s a great place for a refreshing swim. In the winter, the ice fishing is great, just make sure you bundle up and bring plenty of blankets for your night’s sleep. If you camp here, you’re only 15 minutes away from Yellowstone National Park where you can hike to hot springs and geysers and see some of the most amazing thermal features in the world. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound in Yellowstone and in the area surrounding it. If you camp in the fall, don’t be surprised to hear elk bugling during the night.

Suggested by:
Melanie Musson
ExpertInsuranceReviews.com

Carbella Recreation Site, Emigrant, MT

Emigrant, MT

This site is located on BLM adjacent to the Yellowstone River. It’s free to camp here and you’re less than a half-hour from Yellowstone National Park. Fishing on the river is great. During the summer, you might want to look into taking a white water rafting excursion beginning in Gardner, Montana. There are several rafting companies to choose from, but they’ll all make sure you have a safe and enjoyable ride. No trip to Emigrant, Montana would be complete without a visit to Chico Hot Springs where you can relax in the naturally hot, chemical-free pools after a day of fishing or hiking. Winter activity opportunities are available, as well and include dog sledding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

Suggested by:
Melanie Musson
ExpertInsuranceReviews.com

Boise National Forest, ID

Boise National Forest, ID

The Boise National Forest is a great place to go front-country car camping for its wide array of summer activities! There is a large number of natural Idaho hot springs concentrated in the area, as well as luxury commercial ones too. You can also take advantage of the many hiking, equestrian, and fishing opportunities in the surrounding area. Located just 1-1.5 hours north of Boise, Idaho, the Boise National Forest is an accessible and easy way to go camping without traveling too far from the city. Our favorite campsites for car camping are Kirkham Campground (with a hot spring right next to it!) Pine Flats Campground, and Park Creek Campground.

Suggested by:
Berty and Emily Mandagie
The Mandagies Travel + Adventure Blog

Fruita, CO

fruita canyon

Just four short hours from Denver and one of the most picturesque drives across the state is an adventure location called Fruita, Colorado. This treasured spot on the western border of Colorado offers all types of fun to be had. Known for its endless mountain bike trails for every level of rider, this playground in Colorado’s desert will leave you giddy with excitement for the days of adventure ahead. Want to take a break from the biking trails during the day? One of the best parts about this location is that each trail ends at your campsite! Camping spots are perfect for car camping and are tucked into the twisting desert trees that will gladly welcome you with open arms. Dispersed car-camping or designated camping locations with bathrooms are here. Pull up in your car camper, or set up a tent atop the soft desert sand, it’s up to you. With days warmed by the high sun and evenings spent under a blanket of stars with no city lights in sight, you’ll enjoy the peace and relaxation around your crackling fire.


Suggested by:
Camila Ramirez
Overland Discovery

Switzerland Trail, Denver, CO

switzerland trail, co

Boasting camp spots as wild as the Colorado coyote’s howling in the distance, picturesque mountain vistas, and a remoteness you seek on your adventures off the beaten path, the Switzerland Trail offers unrivaled exploring opportunities. Winding about just beyond the city limits of Boulder lies what’s left of a historic narrow gauge railroad once operating during the big mining days of Colorado’s past. Rising up and down the mountainside at altitudes between 7,000 and 9,000 feet, the trail continues through a densely forested area for 30 miles. Drive the entire trail in a day or stop along the way at any campsite suitable for car camping. While this area does not offer amenities (bathrooms, etc) it makes up for it with the peace and relaxation you will experience in this mountainous retreat. 4WD recommended.

Suggested by:
Camila Ramirez
Overland Discovery

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO

black canyon gunnison river, colorado

Not the deepest of canyons in North America but one of the most dramatic, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of many hidden gems in Colorado. With designated camping spots suitable for car camping on the north and south rim, or on the mighty river’s edge, you will find your home away from home here. Opting for a waterfront stay, make your way down to the East Portal Campground where you’ll tuck under the box elder trees while the rolling river washes away your worries. For a shaded spot within the Pinyon Juniper forest of the canyon, head over to the North Rim or the chance to tuck into an oak-brush forest, reserve your peaceful spot at the South Rim Campground.  Whether your trip to the canyon is for scenic driving, short hikes to jaw-dropping overlooks, world-class trout fishing, hiking, or camping, this national park has it all for any adventurer.

Suggested by:
Camila Ramirez
Overland Discovery

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

great sand dunes national park, colorado

The sand dunes are the tallest in North America with some dunes towering over 700 feet high. These beautiful and unique dunes live among the surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountains and prairie lands of the south west. Driving to the Great Sand Dunes and around the park is an experience in itself. The Medano Pass Primitive Road, located on the southern entrance of the park, is the perfect area for remote roadside camping. Roadside car camping is permitted in the 21 designated sites along the 5.2 mile road. Note that vehicle access to these sites is only available late spring through fall, depending on snow, creek, and road conditions, and 4WD is recommended.

Suggested by:
Camila Ramirez
Overland Discovery

Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Morefield Campground-Located in a large wooded area four miles within the park, the 300-site campground features 15 full hook-up RV sites, 17 group sites; and close to 267 dry tent/RV sites. Facilities include hot showers, coin-op laundry, access to firewood and other camping supplies, and the Knife Edge Cafe. 

Location: Located in the southwest corner of Colorado in the Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, Mesa Verde National Park lies off Highway 160 between the historic mining towns of Durango and Cortez, both accessible by daily flights. The park is open year round; coach tours, lodging and camping are available mid-April through mid-October.

Suggested by:
Lindsey Gubler
Bridges Media PR

Mt. Shavano Wildlife Area, Salida, CO

Mt. Shavano Wildlife Area, Salida, Colorado

Mt. Shavano Wildlife Area has free dispersed camping just west of Salida. This area is a great option for incredible Colorado camping among the famed 14ers, with fantastic outdoor activities nearby.  The Colorado Trail and trailhead for Mt. Shavano are only a few miles up the road from the camping sites. Nearby Salida has wineries, breweries,restaurants, and tons of hiking, kayaking, and rafting adventures, making the area a hidden gem of Colorado!   The camping area has many spots, few campers, fire rings at every site, and offers lots of space and privacy to take in the beautiful views of the surrounding fourteeners. There are no facilities or bathrooms, and the maximum stay is 14 days. Mt. Shavano Wildlife Areacamping is a great place for all kinds of campers from backpackers with tents to large RVs.

Suggested by:
Reet & Julie Singh
TripOutside

Arches National Park & Potash Road, Moab, UT

Arches National Park & Potash Road, Moab, UT

National parks are all beautiful and should be visited, and most will offer decent camping opportunities, but Arches National Park is exceptional in that respect. Arches is set up so that you can do a scenic drive through the park with plenty of pullovers to stop and take pictures. The weather might be windy, but the desert landscape tends to be warmer for longer seasons. This can make camping easier to swing, especially if you're car camping. There are plenty of places to park, to set up, and there are plenty of flatter spots to set up for the evening. Overall, it's a beautiful, colorful area that lends itself to exploring on foot or in your car.

Suggested by:
Shayne Sherman
TechLoris

Moab, Utah is one of the best places in America to car camp because of the sheer number of free BLM camping sites, endless things to do for outdoor lovers and all-around friendliness of visitors to the area. My favorite site of the three I stayed at is Potash Road. It sits on the edge of the Colorado River, overlooking mountains in the background with no light pollution at night. The lack of available internet allows you to unplug from the world, but the ease of access allows vehicles of all sizes to easily traverse the landscape.

Jarrod Heil
Ramble Around the World

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort (Zion National Park), UT

zion national park, utah

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is located within 10 minutes from the east gate to the National Park and 75 minutes away from the Grand Canyon. The campground has tent sites available at a base price of $30.00 for the first 2 people and then a 12.00 fee per each additional person. As a guest of the campground, you have access to activities like horseback riding, miniature golf, guided hiking, bungee trampoline, adult and mini ATV's, pony rides, paintball, zip lining, and more. Free activities include basketball, tennis, and sand volleyball. There's coin-op laundry available, hot showers in the shower house, picnic tables and grills, and pets are welcome in camping areas, as well as, wireless internet. 

For dining options there's an on-property restaurant that offers a big buffet-style country breakfast every morning and is open throughout the day if you want to enjoy several meals a day. There's also a poolside snack bar that offers pizza and a Dutch oven dinner that comes with a wagon ride available Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays at 5:45 p.m.

Suggested by:
Angela Worley
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Lake Powell, UT & AZ

lake powell, utah and arizona

The Wahweap RV and Campground that is located a short walk from the lake offers a “glamping” experience with their three new Airstream signature campers that are available for rent. A two-night minimum is required. The dry tent experience is self-contained with a general store, coin-operated laundry and shower facilities offered nearby.

Location: Straddling the Arizona-Utah border, the 186-mile Lake Powell lies within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and features nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, 96 major side canyons, sapphire blue water and towering red sandstone cliffs, buttes and sandy beaches. Lake Powell offers waterfront property and abundant outdoor activities including houseboating, camping, kayaking, fishing, water skiing, rafting, hiking, golfing, or simply relaxing on the shore.

Suggested by:
Lindsey Gubler
Aramark Leisure

Zephyr Cove, NV

zephyr cove lake tahoe, nevada

Located on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore within walking distance from the resort’s amenities, three new Airstream signature campers are available year-round, offering a “glamping” element.  A two-night minimum is required for booking. The campground has 93 RV sites, 57 tent sites and features complimentary showers/restrooms, snow removal service, an outdoor patio at the four seasons building, laundry facilities, and cable TV connectivity.

Location: Nestled in the South Lake Tahoe area of Nevada, Zephyr Cove Resort & Lake Tahoe Cruises are set apart from more densely populated areas around the lake. Guests are steps away from the shore, with easy access to all the adventures and activities South Lake Tahoe has to offer. The property is in close proximity to Heavenly Valley ski area and state line casinos/nightlife.

Suggested by:
Lindsey Gubler
Aramark Leisure

NORTHEAST

Lake Waramaug State Park, New Preston, CT

lake wauregan state park, ct

Located in the Litchfield Hills area of Connecticut, and consisting of approximately 95 acres, Lake Waramaug State Park offers a vast array of natural wonder and beauty. A drive through the winding roads of the Litchfield Hills reveals views of gorgeous lakes surrounded by towering Pine trees. Lake Waramaug is named after an Indian chief of the Wyantenock tribe. This tribe frequently hunted near falls on the Housatonic River, now known as "Lover's Leap.” Chief Waramaug and the Wyantenock spent winters in what is now Lake Lillinonah, which was later created by damming the Housatonic, and spent their summers at Lake Waramaug.
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Lake Waramaug offers 76 campsites with some along the water’s edge and others hidden in the surrounding woods. If you’re not ready for outdoor camping, there are also a number of cabins on site. Recreation activities include fishing, picnicking, swimming and boating (canoe and kayak rentals are available).

Nickerson State Park, Brewster, MA

nickerson state park, ma

Located on Cape Cod in Brewster, Massachusetts, Nickerson State Park is a heavenly escape that is great for anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful scenery and beaches of Cape Cod away from the touristy hassle of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Here you will find peaceful forests, meandering hiking trails, and private, white sandy beaches along glacial ponds.

The state park offers over 400 campsites and a nature center on site with a plethora of recreational programs and yurt camping options. Swimming, boating, fishing, and the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a paved bike path that winds through the park, are a few of the attractions visitors seek out in this beautiful park.

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME

acadia national park, me

Located on Mount Desert Island and surrounded by the cold Atlantic waters of Maine’s coastline, Acadia National Park is a breathtaking place like none other on earth. Hiking through Acadia offers jaw-dropping views of rocky beaches, dense woodland, and glacially-formed mountain peaks. Moose, bear, whales, and seabirds are a few of the wildlife species that inhabit the area. There are five different camping and hiking areas, each offering their own unique experiences.

Open year-round, Blackwoods Campground provides traditional tent camping facilities during the warmer months and more primitive camping experiences during the winter season, when campers must hike in to their sites. Seawall Campground, located on the Southwest Harbor, and Schoodic Woods Campground, situated in the Schoodic Peninsula just southeast of Winter Harbor, provide drive-in tent camping and RV sites.

If you’re on the hunt for a more immersive camping experience, reserving a spot at Duck Harbor Campground located on Isle au Haut, a smaller island located about 30 miles south of Mount Desert Island, is the way to go. The island is inaccessible by vehicular travel, which means to get there, you’ll have to hitch a ride on the mail boat that regularly visits this wonderful place. Five primitive campsites are available for the wilderness adventurer, each of which includes a lean-to shelter for a tent and a composting toilet. Eighteen miles of hiking trails wind their way through the island’s arresting marshes, bogs and mountains.

Wildwood Stables Campground is only open to visitors with stock animals, offering a place to camp and stable horses at night so the park can be explored by horseback during the daytime.

Finger Lakes, NY

finger lakes letchworth state park, new york

In time for 2020’s 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, the Finger Lakes region will celebrate its role as the birthplace of women’s rights with its new “100 Ways to Celebrate Women’s Empowerment” list, which can checked off seamlessly by road travel. (https://www.fingerlakestravelny.com/see-and-do/celebrate-100/)

The following four campgrounds can be used by road trippers, who may also see the related women-focused spots and add even more monumental attractions from the “100 Ways” to enhance the journeys between!

Stop 1: Travelers can start at the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park, where they’ll set up camp for the night right off the famous Genesee River, a short distance from the cliff-surrounded, 100-foot Middle Falls. The Park is also located close to the former home of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton and the home-turned-museum of suffragist Susan B. Anthony less than one hour away in Rochester, NY.

Stop 2: The next campground stop is on the lakefront hilltops of Cayuga Lake State Park, an eight-minute drive from the location of the first, 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls and the new home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Stop 3: Next, visitors can traverse to Watkins Glen State Park, voted one of the country’s most beautiful state parks that sits close to a female-led culinary tour of Ithaca, female glass blowers showcasing demonstrations at the Corning Museum of Glass, and Elmira College, the nation’s first college to grant a degree to women equal to that of a man.

Stop 4: As a final stop, Fillmore Glenn State Park is nestled among dense woods on the Owasco Lake inlet, and is within a half-hour’s drive from the new Equal Right Heritage Center in Auburn, the last home of Harriet Tubman, and the Howland Stone Store Museum in Aurora, where visitors will find a cabinet of curiosities that includes a piece of Susan B. Anthony’s 78th birthday cake (1898).

Suggested by:
Juan Brizuela
Quinn

MIDWEST

Badlands National Park, SD

badlands national park, sd

Once home to ancient mammals such as the Woolly Mammoth and the Saber-Toothed Cat, Badlands National Park in South Dakota contains some of the world’s oldest, richest fossil beds. If you’re in a rush, you can also just drive through. The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway (SD 240) will take you through the highlights in about an hour. It’s a road trip you won’t soon forget.

Ludington State Park, MI

ludington state park, mi

With beaches, dunes, marshes, wetlands, and even an iconic lighthouse, you can get a little bit of everything at Ludington State Park in Michigan. This little lumber town getaway offers all things outdoorsmen love like hiking, biking, kayaking and more. Hunters and fishermen will be right at home here and the area even offers plenty in the way of nightlife like breweries and wineries.

Devil's Lake State Park, WI

devils lake state park, wi

Located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park is The Badger State’s most popular park with more than 3,000,000 visitors each year. The great thing about Devil’s Lake and its more than 9,000 acres (which anchor more than 27,000 acres of surrounding wildlife) is the unbroken solitude you can find within it. If the goal of your car camping trip is to find some alone time to clear your head, then this should be the place.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI

sleeping bear dunes, mi

The dunes, beaches, and lakes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan date back to the ice age. And the scenic drives that crest these hills date back about as far as the automobile itself. These breathtaking views have been enjoyed by hikers and motorists from far and wide, and when you see them for yourself you’ll see why. This park features plenty of primitive campsites as well as more modern sites with full showers and electricity.

Sangchris Lake State Park, IL

sangchris lake, il

If you like fishing, then Sangchris Lake State Park in Illinois is a great place to stop and car camp. The park features inexpensive camping for cars or tents that don't require electric hookups. But if you do need electric, you can rent full service sites as well. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for walking the lake shore and fishing. You can also find launches for boats.

Since the lake is not surrounded with houses, there is no heavy resident boat traffic. This is great if you're car-topping a kayak or canoe. Overall, if you enjoy a beautiful lake on your car camping trips, then check out Sangchris Lake.

Suggested by:
Hernan Santiesteban
Reel Game

Port Crescent State Park, MI

port crescent state park, michigan

Port Crescent State Park is one of the largest state parks in southern Michigan. Located at the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron Saginaw Bay. The park offers excellent camping fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities. However, a little-known aspect of this park is that the campground sits on the location of a ghost town.

The State Park sits on the site of a former lumbering town. Just about all the traces of the former town are gone. The two exceptions are the base of a crumbling chimney near the campground and old iron bridge at the trailhead near the Pinnebog river. The modern campground is ideal for both rustic and PV camping with many sites situated steps from the beach.

The park is also home to a dark sky preserve, three miles of sandy shoreline, a modern campground and a boardwalk. As a Dark Sky Preserve, one of only seven in Michigan, there is some of the most exceptional stargazing for amateurs and astronomers.

Port Crescent State Park is located on M-25 five miles west of Port Austin. M-25 is one of Michigan’s first scenic highways. M-25 starts in Port Huron and hugs the shoreline of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay ending in Bay City.

Suggested by:
Mike Hardy
Thumbwind

SOUTHEAST

Explore Park, Roanoke, VA

Explore Park, Roanoke, VA

Road trip to this prime camping destination via the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway, frequently referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” due to its gorgeous scenery. (Explore Park is located off of mile marker 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.) Explore Park offers a variety of camping options from pod cabins and yurts to RV and primitive camping sites. Camping gear rental can be provided through Blue Mountain Adventures at Explore Park. Once you’ve arrived, there’s plenty to do around Explore Park, making it clear why Roanoke was chosen as the Top Large Adventure Town by Blue Ridge Outdoors in 2019. For enthusiasts of outdoor recreation, the park offers 14 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as an access point for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing on the Roanoke River. You can also find one of Virginia’s top-ranked disc golf courses here. For those seeking more of a thrill, try zip-lining and challenge obstacles at Treetop Quest’s aerial adventure course. Vinton-based Twin Creeks Brewing Company is coming to Explore Park to open a second location inside the historic Brugh Tavern. The company plans to eventually utilize the tavern’s full kitchen for a locally sourced menu. Accommodations at Explore Park are ADA accessible and many are also dog-friendly. Explore Park is just a 15-minute drive from downtown Roanoke which is full of unique local shops and restaurants.

Suggested by:
Kathryn Lucas
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys, FL

bahia honda state park florida keys

We recently converted a Chrysler Town and Country Van so we could go car camping across America. One of the best spots we found was the camping at Bahia Honda State Park. Not only is Bahia Honda State Park one of the most affordable camping spots in the Florida Keys ($43 USD per night) but it is an amazing waterfront camping spot, with views of the Florida Keys and the Old Bahia Honda bridge. It is a perfect spot to watch the sunset after a long day basking in the sun. Not only is it great camping at Bahia Honda, in our opinion, Bahia Honda has the best swimming beaches in the entire Florida Keys.The drive to Bahia Honda State Park campgrounds is also one of the most scenic in America, over the iconic Florida Keys Overseas Highway. As Bahia Honda State Park is one of the best camping spots in the Keys, it is recommended to book in advance however, we managed to get a prime position on the day of our stay without a prior reservation.

Suggested by:
Nadia & Mike
Couple Travel The World Bloggers

DeSoto State Park, Fort Payne, AL

desoto falls desoto state park, al

Fort Payne, AL, located in the states Northeast corner, is home to DeSoto State Park. Covering more than 3,500 acres, this sizable parkland is densely packed with waterfalls, hiking trails, and more lush outdoor beauty. In addition to its more than 90 RV hookup spots, DeSoto also features everything from rustic cabins to primitive campgrounds. You won’t want to miss the on-site restaurant located on the scenic Lookout Mountain.

Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, GA

stone mountain park, ga

Stone Mountain Park, which surrounds the titular Stone Mountain, offers breathtaking views of lakes and mountains, as well as a wide variety of other attractions. Located just a stone’s throw from Atlanta, you can spend the day at the Coca-Cola Museum and sleep soundly in the quiet hills of Stone Mountain Park. On the campgrounds themselves you’ll find skyrides, diners, and even The Lasershow Spectacular: In Mountain-vision!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN and NC

great smoky mountains national park

Straddling the line between Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is packed to the brim with streams, rivers, and waterfalls, as well as fragrant wildflowers that bloom all year round. Located along the famous Appalachian Trail, you’re sure to meet all kinds of characters on their way through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This campsite is a hiker’s delight with everything from challenging solo hikes to easier trails you can bring the kids along for.

SOUTHWEST

Chisos Basin Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX

chisos mountains big bend, tx

Located on the western edge of Texas’ border with Mexico, Big Bend National Park is truly a sight to behold. The staggering desert wilderness is complemented by glorious, wide open blue skies in the daytime and a stunning number of stars at night. There are three developed campsites, a visitors' center stocked with camping supplies, and, for those who desire an experience with more modern conveniences, 72 air-conditioned and fully furnished rooms. The Chisos Basin Campground is a great place to stay when visiting the park as it provides easy access to the trails along the stunning Chisos Mountains.

Pedernales Falls Campground, Pedernales Falls State Park, TX

pedernales falls state park, tx

A short 30 miles west of Austin, TX is Pedernales Falls State Park. 69 sites are each equipped with a picnic table, water and 30-amp electric, but text sites are also available. Overlooking Twin Falls, Pedernales Falls Campground is a place where people come for tubing, swimming, fishing, or simply relaxing on the rocks in between the Pedernales River’s turquoise water.

Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area, TX

The Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area or LLELA is a gem located in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Lake Lewisville is a large reservoir that is one of the main supplies of water for the city of Dallas. While Lake Lewisville is popular among the locals for fishing and boating, many people don’t know about LLELA. I didn’t and it’s only 10 minutes from my house until I stumbled upon it when looking for directions to something else on Google maps. It has several trails that cover the marshes and woods along the lake. It includes car-camping sites. And they even offer beginner camping where they provide the necessary equipment.

Suggested by:
Mark Wilcox
Camping Forge

Tyler State Park, TX

tyler state park, texas

Tyler is a city in East Texas. It’s an hour from Dallas. And if your idea of Texas is “dry and dusty and a giant desert,” then Tyler State Park is going to change your mind. It’s full of pine trees, 13 miles of trail, and a lake. The lake is popular for fishing and swimming. And while our summers do get hot, it will be nicer in the shade of the trees than out in the open prairie. It is so pretty out here that my wife and I are considering retiring to Tyler. The only downside to Tyler State Park is that it is very popular. So make sure to reserve your spot early!

Suggested by:
Mark Wilcox
Camping Forge

Wherever you end up on your next car camping trip, remember to enjoy the trip. With any road trip, the experience is as much about the journey as it is the destination. And don’t forget to bring a road atlas or physical map. Your phone’s GPS might not make it all the way to the campsite, which is part of what makes camping so great!

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