24 Most Scenic Places to Camp in the United States (Video)

From the piney woods of Maine to the sandy beaches of Florida, here's where to enjoy the great outdoors.

You may be wondering, "What are the best places to camp near me?" One of the greatest things about traveling around the U.S. is that from coast to coast, there's really no shortage of beautiful places to camp. Nature lovers can enjoy fresh air, glorious mountains, and clear lakes and streams during a weekend (or longer) camping trip. Not only can you set up a tent at these picturesque locations, they also come with plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails, and ample opportunities for fishing, swimming, and other outdoor activities in the great wide wilderness. From scenic forests in Maine to peaceful beaches in Florida and majestic mountains in Alaska, these are some of the most beautiful places to camp in the U.S.

While many of these parks have distinct, built-up campgrounds to choose from with features like running water and electricity for RV parking that are ideal if you're planning a road trip, more experienced and outdoorsy types can also find plenty of spots for backcountry camping, where they can really rough it in the wild. Either way, don't forget to bring your sleeping bag and check the website to make sure your desired campground is open before you head out — many sites are only open seasonally after all.

Also be aware that most of the campgrounds and national parks on this list are home to wild bears, whether black bears, brown bears, or grizzlies. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings, read up on bear safety before you go, and take extra precautions — like locking up your food carefully and keeping some bear pepper spray handy — while you're there.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

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Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the Pine Tree State's natural jewel. The park boasts nearly 50,000 acres of forests, 24 lakes and ponds, and 158 miles of hiking trails, offering a scenic backdrop for all your adventures. You'll also find five campgrounds to set up your tent: Blackwoods (close to Bar Harbor), Seawall (less touristy), Schoodic Woods (situated on the Schoodic Peninsula), Duck Harbor (located on Isle au Haut and only reachable from the mainland by mailboat) and Wildwood Stables (available to guests with stock animals only). Reserve campsites online ahead of time up to 60 days in advance. All campgrounds close seasonally during the winter, though they'll reopen in May for spring, summer, and fall camping.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

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If you're up for a rugged hike, look no further than the northernmost section of the Appalachian Valley, located near the start of the Appalachian Trail (or the end, depending on which direction you're hiking). The sights in White Mountains National Forest are particularly magical during the fall when leaf-peeping season is at its peak. You'll also find several campgrounds and cabins, offering everything from fully developed campsites fit for families to stark backcountry sites better suited to those who enjoy wilderness camping. The Barnes Field and Hancock campgrounds are open year-round — Barnes Field sites must be reserved ahead of time from mid-May to mid-October but are available on a first come, first served basis during the winter, while group sites at the Hancock campground can be booked anytime.

Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

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Just 94 miles from New York City, Minnewaska State Park Reserve sits on Shawangunk Ridge more than 2,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by rocky terrain. That's a lot of space to hike, bike, and especially enjoy the view. Reservations for the Sam F. Pryor III Shawangunk Campground can be made online starting each year in March, as it's closed during the winter months. There are 50 total tent sites (24 walk-in sites and 26 drive-in sites), as well as five car-camping sites, and amenities such as Wi-Fi, coin-operated showers, and communal fire pits and picnic pavilions.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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About a 90-minute drive from Washington D.C., Shenandoah National Park offers more than 500 miles of trails, including the popular but strenuous 9.4-mile trek up Old Rag Mountain that's a must-do for avid hikers (book your day-use ticket ahead of time online). This glorious park, spread out over 199,200 acres, offers plenty of views of lush forests and waterfalls. Its facilities are open in the spring, summer, and fall, and there are five campgrounds to choose from. Note that while most campsites can be reserved online up to six months ahead, you must actually be there to book one of the first come, first served campsites — people tend to book long weekend stays starting on Thursday or Friday, so plan your trip accordingly. Text SHENCAMP to 888777 for the latest updates on first come, first served campsite availability.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Assateague Island Campgrounds, Maryland

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The Assateague Island National Seashore campgrounds are about nine miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, with 37 miles of beaches for camping, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, crabbing, biking, kayaking, and spotting wild horses. Though Assateague Island National Seashore is located in both Maryland and Virginia, camping is only available on the Maryland side. Campers are not allowed to bring in firewood from outside Maryland and the area is currently experiencing a canine distemper outbreak, so make sure any furry friends you're bringing along are up to date on all their shots before you go. Campsites can be reserved ahead of time online from mid-March to mid-November and most come with picnic tables and a fire ring.

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

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You can have one of the world's largest barrier reefs right outside your tent when you go camping at Dry Tortugas National Park, located just off the coast of Key West in South Florida. Campers can rent snorkel gear, spend their days relaxing on the beach, or check out Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century fortress once used by the Union army to blockade Confederate shipping channels during the Civil War. This area is also great for stargazing at night and bird-watching during the day, so pack a pair of binoculars. All campers are advised to plan ahead and bring everything they'll need (including tents, fresh water, ice, food, and fuel), carry out all trash, and book their ferry transportation from Key West as early as possible, as tickets tend to sell out months in advance.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

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If you're looking for a great place to go rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande in Texas is an excellent place to go. There are also trails along the park's desert, mountain, and river landscapes for hiking or backpacking. You'll find three developed campgrounds — Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood — an RV camping area, and plenty of opportunities for backcountry camping. All require advanced reservations, while backcountry permits are required for river trips and approved backcountry use at the park's primitive sites.

Ozark–St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

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Arkansas has loads of countryside that is often overlooked. In the Ozark–St. Francis National Forests, you'll find 1.2 million acres of recreation space, home to nine beaches, many lakes and streams, and more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails. Campers can choose between a number developed campgrounds for RV and tent camping, some of which, including Cove Lake, Redding, and the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area, are open year-round. Other campgrounds, such as Long Pool, Storm Creek, Shores Lake, and Lake Wedington, are open seasonally from May through October. Primitive camping within the five wilderness areas is also permitted — just remember to bring some water (or a water filtration device) along and leave no trace.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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Don't underestimate the beauty of the Badlands. The climate may be rough, but it's still gorgeous. Between the many rock formations you'll see throughout Badlands National Park, you'll also find prairies and places to peek at ancient fossils. There are two campgrounds within the park. The first, Cedar Pass, offers 96 campsites, scenic views of the various rock formations, and amenities such as running water and electricity. The other, Sage Creek, is a smaller campground with 22 first come, first served sites and no running water, although you can usually see the bison wandering around.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

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The steep Smoky Mountains offer stunning views, reminiscent of something out of a Bob Ross painting. There are dozens of campgrounds throughout this 756,000-acre wood, but one of the best spots is Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It's a fantastic place to go hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, rafting, boating, trekking, or cycling, and just get back to nature. While half the sites are available on a first come, first served basis, reservations can be made online ahead of time, with camping season taking place each year from late-May to mid-September.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

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There are 13 developed campgrounds and more than 1,000 sites so you can stay and bask in the beautiful views of Montana's magnificent Glacier National Park. Hikers can also enjoy more than 700 miles of trails through forests, meadows, and mountains. Several Glacier National Park's campgrounds are available on a first come, first served basis, while others require advanced reservations. Check the website to see which of them will be open if you plan on doing some wintertime wilderness camping, otherwise the main camping season happens spring through fall each year.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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Just north of Jackson Hole, you can peek at the Rocky Mountains and see plenty of wildlife and lakes. Grand Teton National Park is also located next to the National Elk Refuge, where you can spot hundreds of elk, depending on when you go. While you can stay at one of the six campgrounds inside the national park, Signal Mountain in particular has the best reviews. You'll also find an RV park and a village with tent cabins, should you feel like opting for something beyond traditional tent camping. Whatever you do, reserve as far ahead of time as you can, as reservations open online for campsites up to six months out and tend to fill up quickly. Keep an eye out for roaming bison, mule deer, and moose, as well as the occasional bear.

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, Colorado

Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

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With more than 3,000 miles of trails and three million acres of public land, you're guaranteed a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains in Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. You'll see a variety of landscapes among the 59 campsites, including open meadows, evergreen forests, mountains, and lakes. Most are open seasonally, while a select few stay open all year long — check the website for road conditions beforehand if you plan to camp during the winter months.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

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Nothing beats waking up on a cold morning to see fresh, white snow set against the red rocks of Arches National Park. One of the park's most popular hikes, the Delicate Arch Trail, takes you on an amazing trek full of photo opportunities. Note that Arches only has one campground, The Devils Garden, which offers a modest 51 campsites, although there are other places to camp nearby in the Moab area. Due to its size and the number of people who visit the park during the busier months, reservations are required for stays between March 1 and October 31 — campsites are available on a first come, first served basis from November to February.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Arch Rock Campground, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Located just a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas within Valley of Fire State Park, the Arch Rock Campground is a quiet camping oasis surrounded by dramatic red sandstones. One of just two campgrounds inside the park, Arch Rock offers 29 sites that are open during the busier months (spring through fall), while the other, the Atlatl Rock Campground, has 44 sites and is open year-round. All sites are first come, first served. Established in 1935, the park is home to 2,000-year-old petroglyphs, curious rock formations, and gorgeous vistas featuring its signature red sandstone.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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There's no place like the Grand Canyon if you want a stunning view. Reservations are recommended for two of the three developed campgrounds during the summer. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit. While the South Rim is easier to get to, it can get a little crowded. For a more secluded stay, try the North Rim, if you don't mind having a slightly harder time getting there. Note, however, that North Rim campgrounds are only open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October, while several sites along the South Rim are open year-round, including the Mather Campground and Trailer Village in South Rim Village. Two other South Rim spots, Desert View and Ten–X, are only open seasonally from mid-April to mid-October and mid-May through September, respectively.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

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Keep in mind that timed entry reservations are required for anyone who wants to enter Carlsbad Caverns National Park. While ranger-guided tours at Carlsbad Caverns National Park have largely been suspended as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you can still book a spot on the 1.5-hour King's Palace Tour, which offers a look at the unique rock formations found inside the cavern, such as helictites, soda straws, and draperies, among others. It's also a great place to spot bats in the caves in late summer and early fall. Note that there is only backcountry camping available within the park, and every camper is required to secure a permit from the park's visitor center upon arrival (camping facilities and other accommodations can be found seven miles away in White's City or 20 miles away in Carlsbad). Be sure to ask about the park's seasonal Bat Flight Programs and Night Sky Programs while you're at the visitor center, as these only happen at certain times of the year.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington

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There's nothing like camping next to this beautiful coastline, marked by several sea stacks. Olympic National Park has 14 different campgrounds, some next to the ocean and others in the rain forest, so you can enjoy a variety of landscapes. Check the Campground Status page on the park's website before you go to see if there are any seasonal or weather-related closures. While most are first come, first served, you can reserve a spot ahead of time online during the summer at the Mora, Hoh Rain Forest, Karaloch, and Fairholme campgrounds, as well as the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort RV Park & Campground and Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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Crater Lake National Park is home to the United State's deepest lake (1,943 feet!) and a sleeping volcano, so there are plenty of photo opportunities for nature lovers. Campers can choose between two campgrounds: Mazama, for RV and tent camping from June to late September, and Lost Creek, which was closed for all of 2022 and but is normally open from July til mid-October for tents only. And yes, there's also backcountry camping with a permit.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park

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There are a nine campgrounds located throughout Joshua Tree National Park, including Jumbo Rocks, which is known for its big boulder rocks that shelter sites from the wind. It is highly recommended that you book your campsite ahead of time online — especially during the busy season, which happens between November and May, as well as on holidays, weekends, and any spring day — as most of them can be reserved up to six months in advance. Be aware that certain sections of the Cottonwood, Black Rock, and Indian Cove campgrounds may be closed during the summer — those campgrounds, as well as Ryan and Jumbo Rocks require reservations all year round, while the others are available on a first come, first served basis.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

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Everyone who loves nature has to go to Yosemite National Park at some point in their lives, especially for a good camping trip. Nearly 95% of the park is designated wilderness, and there are 13 popular campgrounds scattered throughout the park, as well as backcountry camping for people who really want to rough it. Note that the Tuolumne Meadows Campground is expected to remain closed for renovations through 2023 or possibly 2024 depending on the construction schedule. Visit the campground page on the park's website to learn more about when it's the best time to make reservations and enter the North Pines Campground early access lottery.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sequoia and Kings National Parks, California

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Want to see some of the biggest trees in North America? Look no further than Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, where you can set up camp among any of 14 scenic campgrounds. Choose from several different areas throughout the parks — Grant Grove Village, the foothills of Sequoia National Park, the Lodgepole and Giant Forest areas, Cedar Grove, and the Mineral King area — and make your reservations in advance. All campgrounds are open spring through fall, while just the South Fork, Potwisha, and Azalea sites are open all year long.

Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

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Haleakalā National Park is known for its 10,023-foot dormant volcano, which is a great spot for the best views of Maui's natural landscape. Designated campsites are available in the Kīpahulu and Hosmer Grove campgrounds, while additional lodging is available thanks to the park's historic wilderness cabins. Those seeking something a little more natural can try the Hōlua and Palikū primitive wilderness camping areas. No matter what style of camping you're into, you must make reservations ahead of time to camp here throughout the year and are only allowed to stay three nights per 30-day period.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska

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If you've never been to Alaska, you're missing out, as some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States can be found here. Denali National Park offers 6.1 million acres of land full of wildlife, beautiful trails, and plenty of plants, creeks, and mountains, including Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak. Choose from five established campgrounds — not counting the Wonder Lake campground, which will be closed through 2024 — and be sure to reserve your spot online as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

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