From Olympic National Park in Washington to Acadia National Park in Maine, these are the best places for national park camping.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
June 27, 2020
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Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

There’s something magical about setting up camp in a national park, surrounded by impressive mountains, wooded forests, or rocky desert landscapes. National park camping allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of our country’s most stunning destinations, from the Pacific coastline of Olympic National Park in Washington to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park. Plus, with options for RV hookups, traditional campgrounds, and backcountry camping, there’s something for every level of comfort and experience in national parks across the country.

Whether you’re crossing the country in an RV on an extended road trip or simply looking for a peaceful place to get away for a long weekend, there’s a campsite for you. We’ve rounded up the best campsites in the 10 most popular national parks, but first, there are a few things to know before camping in a national park.

National Park Camping Tips

In order to have the best camping trip possible, you’ll want to plan ahead. Some campgrounds take reservations, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis, filling up early in the day. Right now, planning is especially important as some campgrounds are in the early stages of reopening and have changed their policies, reducing capacity or limiting reservations to encourage proper social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Always beware of park warnings to stay prepared for any harsh weather or hazardous conditions, research park requirements, and check for facility updates so you know what amenities will be available when you arrive. Respect wildlife, safely manage campfires, and follow the seven Leave No Trace principles, too.

Best National Park Campgrounds

1. Elkmont Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Crossing North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States, but once you visit, you’ll see why. Waterfalls, forests, and beautiful mountain views make this a must-visit for any avid hiker. The park has 10 frontcountry campgrounds (as well as options for backcountry camping), and Elkmont is a popular tent and RV campground located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It has 200 drive-up sites and nine wheelchair-accessible options (you can make reservations online). This campground is currently open, although some other areas and facilities remain closed.

2. Mather Campground, Grand Canyon National Park 

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Grand Canyon National Park is truly one of the most incredible parks in the United States. With stunning vistas, a variety of hiking trails, and unforgettable rock formations, this is a park everyone should visit in their lifetime. Mather Campground is located on the South Rim in the Grand Canyon Village, which has lodges, a visitor center, and more, and it usually accepts reservations up to six months out. The campground is currently open for campers with existing reservations.

3. Moraine Park Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park 

Rocky Mountain National Park is the third most-visited national park in the United States. Visitors flock to the park to hike among its breathtaking mountains and see its wildflowers in the spring. Moraine Park Campground is one of five campgrounds here, and it offers beautiful views of the park and mountains with 244 reservable campsites. Camping reservations are currently required, and the park is limiting capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

4. Watchman Campground, Zion National Park 

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Zion National Park is known for its beautiful canyon and red rock formations which make it Utah’s most popular national park. Watchman is one of three campgrounds in the park, and it has 190 regular sites, seven wheelchair-accessible sites, and six group sites. It’s located near the park's south entrance, plus it’s close to the main visitor center and to the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which takes guests to scenic parts of the park. This campground is currently open for campers with reservations, but access to some other park facilities is limited as Zion reopens.

5. Tuolumne Meadows Campground, Yosemite National Park 

Stunning waterfalls, deep valleys, diverse wildlife, and the iconic cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome draw visitors to Yosemite National Park every year. There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and one of the most popular is Tuolumne Meadows, which has 304 sites (including several wheelchair-accessible options). You can usually make reservations for this campground, but it’s currently closed. Only the Upper Pines Campground is open right now, and day-use or campground reservations are required for people visiting the park to limit the number of visitors.

6. Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is known for hot springs, geysers, and of course, Old Faithful. This park is packed with incredible natural beauty, so why not pitch a tent and stay for a few days? There are 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park — and Mammoth Campground is the only one open year-round. Located near the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces, this campground provides chances to spot wildlife like bison or elk. Mammoth Campground is currently closed, but four others are open.

7. Blackwoods Campground, Acadia National Park 

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Acadia National Park calls itself the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” and with miles of picturesque roads and hiking trails, it’s easy to see why. Blackwoods Campground is reservable, with a range of sites for small and large tents and RVs. There’s also an Island Explorer shuttle that can transport campers to other nearby destinations. Acadia is undergoing a phased reopening, and campgrounds are slated to open no earlier than August 1.

8. Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Teton National Park 

Beautiful lakes and mountains make Grand Teton National Park a hiker’s paradise. There are seven campgrounds in this park, including Signal Mountain Campground, which offers 81 sites with great views of Mount Moran (plus, some sites are close to Jackson Lake). The park and campgrounds are currently open, but some facilities are closed.

9. Hoh Campground, Olympic National Park 

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Washington’s Olympic National Park spans coastline, mountains, and rain forests, providing different experiences depending on what part of the park you visit. There are a number of campsites to choose from, too. Hoh Campground, complete with 78 campsites, is located in a rain forest, surrounded by trees. This campground does not offer reservations, so all of the sites are first-come, first-served. The park is undergoing a phased reopening, and Hoh Campground is open.

10. Fish Creek Campground, Glacier National Park 

Glacier National Park is known for Going-to-the-Sun Road as well as having 700 miles of hiking trails through mountains and valleys carved by glaciers. There are 13 drive-in campgrounds at Glacier National Park; Fish Creek Campground offers 178 campsites in the western part of the park. Plus, 70 species of mammals live in the area, and some sites even have views of Lake McDonald. Fish Creek Campground opens on June 26, and you can make reservations, although some parts of the park are still closed.