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Camping in America’s National Parks

Camping in America’s National Parks

Posted by Joel Kneedler on

Here are five irresistible locations for lovers of the outdoors.

#1 Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is considered by many to be the ultimate camping location in America. Originally made famous by the stunning black and while photos of Ansel Adams in the 1920s, Yosemite has won the hearts of hikers, campers, and extreme climbers all around the world. 

While most attention is paid to the sheer Granite mountains jutting on each side of Yosemite Valley, the valley itself is known for great camping spots.

There are thirteen camping locations, some of which require reservations. Check out Hodgdon Meadow, Tuolumne Meadows, Crane Flat, and Wawona campground. Keep in mind, Yosemite is located in a dry, arid region, subject to fires, so pay attention to regulations concerning campfires.

Yosemite is a very popular destination for campers and climbers alike. Be sure to plan ahead and get your spot reserved. Most recently, Yosemite was in the news thanks to an amazing free climber named Alex Honold, who, for the first time in history, successfully climbed the face of El Capitan without any ropes or equipment.

Yosemite has an abundant wildlife population, so be on the lookout for bear, deer, bighorn sheep, and foxes among other critters.

Yosemite National Park is simply a fabulous place to camp.

#2 Acadia National Park, Maine

For the next must-see camping location we head east to Acadia National Park on Maine’s beautiful rocky coast. Acadia is easily one of the most popular camping locations in North America.

Bursting with wildlife, ocean views, and thick, lush forests, Acadia is a nature lover's dream destination. It may also be the best location in the country to catch the sunrise.

Acadia National Park is filled with all sorts of campgrounds. The first one you should check out is Bar Harbor campground, it's easy to get to, close to Bar Harbor and not far from all the sites. There’s also Mount Desert Narrows Camping Resort. And of course there is a standard KOA campground as well. There are also many cottages available for rent, some right on the beach. 

As for activities, Acadia and Mount Desert Island are full of fun opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, boating, biking, dining, and shopping. And be sure to head over to Wildwood Stables near Park Loop Road for a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Acadia offers hiking trails for all levels of hikers, easy, moderate, and strenuous. One of the best and most scenic is Ship Harbor Nature Trail which is a loop and easy to accomplish.

You can’t go wrong with any camping sites in Acadia National Park. Everywhere you look there is a postcard view that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Camping in Maine will bring peace and joy to your soul.

#3 Estes Park, Colorado

In the northern part of Colorado, just west of the frontrange, lies Estes Park. Considered the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a beautiful entry point to your camping adventure.

Camping opportunities abound at Estes Park, be sure to make a reservation online before going. Check with the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District for more camping information.

East Portal Campsite Reservations. In addition to Mary’s Lake Campsite and the standard Estes Park KOA campground, you will also find cottages, RV Parks and vacation rentals.

One of the most popular times to visit Estes Park is during Elk Bugling season. Every year between September and October Bull Elk will wander through Estes Valley calling out for a mate. The mating call is so loud it echoes throughout the canyon and reaches every nearby campground.

Other things to consider doing in Estes Park aside from viewing local wildlife, are enjoying the local shops and art scene, doing a taste test at a local winery or brewery. If you are up for it, you can also check out The Stanley Hotel, the filming location of the horror movie The Shining.

As for outdoor activities there are plenty of hiking & walking trails, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fishing, skiing, climbing and biking.

#4 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

No camping list would be complete without the Grand Teton National Park on the list. This favorite spot of vacationers and campers never disappoints. Located at the base of Jackson Lake in Wyoming’s western border with Idaho, The Grand Tetons boast dramatic mountain views, abundant wildlife encounters.

Virtually every campground near the Grand Tetons offers a wonderful view. Check out Gros Ventre campground, Jenny Lake campground, or the Signal Mountain campground.

Local trails offer plenty of chances to view wildlife, including Grizzly bears, Black Bears, Pronghorn, Elk, and Moose. 

A great way to view the local wildlife is on one of the local trailheads. Check out Shadow Mountain North Trailhead, Teton Canyon Trailhead, or String Lake Trailhead.

Just north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is worth the trip. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to camp, hike, and take in the unmatched sunsets. You will want to return year after year. 

#5 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

When it comes to the Appalachian Mountains, it doesn’t get any better than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A rolling mountain range straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, The Great Smoky Mountains attract scores of campers every year.

Camp sites are scattered throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. There are locations for all kinds of campers, tents, RVs, and even horse campers. The most common campgrounds are Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont.

The Smoky Mountains offer all kinds of activities like trail hiking, mountain biking, along with plenty of fun to be had with streams, rivers, and waterfalls. You can fish for your dinner and enjoy an evening under the stars next to your campfire.

When you’re all done camping, you may want to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head north into Virginia for even more incredible views. The Great Smoky Mountains are an oasis on the Appalachian Trail.

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