Kalaloch Campground
Credit: Getty Images

There are many fine lodges within America's national parks, but to truly connect with your surroundings, pitch a tent.

Kalaloch Campground

Kalaloch, in the language of the Quinault, a Native American people from western Washington, means "a good place to land." You won't disagree when you arrive at Kalaloch Campground (pictured), a 170-site bluff-top sanctuary in Washington's Olympic National Park where the Pacific Ocean crashes against the rocky headlands and sandy shores day and night. Explore nearby tidepools, teeming with wildlife such as starfish and anemones, and see whales spout offshore in the spring. $22 per night.

Garden Key Campground

In Florida's remote and lesser-visited Dry Tortugas National Park, the tropical, 10-site Garden Key Campground sits alongside turquoise waters 117 miles from the state mainland. The site, a short walk from the island's public dock, is accessible only by ferry and comprises a more primitive camping experience—i.e. no showers—but is worth the extra effort for supreme stargazing and unbeatable snorkeling year-round. $15 per night.

Holua Campsite

Tucked into a dormant Maui volcano in Haleakala National Park, the hike-in Holua Campsite is an experience all its own. Campers have to tackle a four-mile trek from the nearest road just to reach the site, located off the Halemau'u Trail. Once there, it'll be you, serenading seabirds, the surrounding shrubland, and little else save for some otherworldly sunrises. Free with park admission.

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