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The Top 10 Best National Parks for Camping: a Comprehensive Guide

National parks, with their unspoiled landscapes and diverse ecosystems, provide the perfect backdrop for memorable camping trips.

The parks featured in this article offer a range of camping experiences, from well-equipped campgrounds with essential amenities to more remote and rustic settings that challenge and reward adventurous souls. No matter your camping style, one thing is certain: the unforgettable memories that these national parks have in store will leave you yearning for more outdoor explorations.

In this article, we will explore 10 of the best national parks for camping.

best national parks for camping

10 Best National Parks for Camping

1. Yosemite National Park (California)

This Californian gem is known for its iconic granite cliffs, vast wilderness areas, lush meadows, and waterfalls.

With multiple camping options such as Upper PinesLower Pines, and North Pines, visitors can truly immerse themselves in the beauty of Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park is home to the breathtaking Yosemite Valley, with iconic landmarks such as Half Dome and El Capitan. RV campers can take the scenic Tioga Road, which stretches 46 miles across the park, showcasing a diverse landscape of forests, lakes, and meadows. Hikers can challenge themselves on the Half Dome hike or stroll through Yosemite Valley on the more leisurely Valley Loop Trail.

In terms of wildlife, Yosemite is home to more than 400 different species of animals due to the diversity of the habitats located within the park. This gives visitors the perfect opportunity to view and observe a plethora of different creatures.

best national parks for camping

2. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

The first national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park covers over 3,400 square miles and is known for its diverse wildlife, unique geological features, and geothermal activity.

At Yellowstone, campers can enjoy over 2,000 campsites, scenic drives, and explore the unique geothermal features like geysers and hot springs. Mammoth Hot SpringsOld Faithful, and Yellowstone Lake are must-see attractions within the park. Camping within 40 miles of these sites can lead to unforgettable experiences. However, it is important to note that all campgrounds and lodging require a reservation, so make sure to plan ahead for your visit.

Popular hikes within the park include the Geyser Hill Loop, Norris Geyser Basin, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone trails. The wildlife in Yellowstone is a big draw for visitors, and many creatures including elk, bison, bears, and wolves call the park home.

best national parks for camping

3. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

Home to the dramatic Teton mountain range, the Grand Teton National Park offers striking landscapes for camping enthusiasts. Campers can choose from various campgrounds during summer months and savor the beauty of the park’s alpine terrain.

Grand Teton is the perfect place to see breathtaking fall foliage and snow-capped mountains, but road access during the winter months is limited.

There is a plethora of winter activities available at Teton, including skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, fat biking, snowshoeing, and more. You can even take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to see the wintering elk.

best national parks for camping

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee, North Carolina)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts campers with its diverse wildlife and wildflower displays. Elkmont Campground is one of the most popular camping spots within the park, known for its easy access to hiking trails and amenities.

Spread across North Carolina and Tennessee, this park is famous for its extensive wildlife, picturesque valleys, and dense forests. With 10 front country campgrounds, including popular options like Elkmont near Gatlinburg, there are ample opportunities for both tent and RV camping.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a multitude of activities for visitors, including ranger-led events and workshops, biking, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and opportunities to view the wildlife that call the park home. There are also 90 historic structures to explore within the park.

best national parks for camping

5. Zion National Park (Utah)

With its steep red cliffs and unique rock formations and canyons, Zion National Park is a favorite among campers. The park offers multiple campgrounds, allowing visitors to experience its natural beauty up close.

The Watchman Campground offers direct access to hiking trails, like the family-friendly Riverside Walk or the challenging Angels Landing trail. Visitors can also cool off by splashing in the Virgin River or embarking on the adventurous Narrows hike.

Zion National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including several threatened bird species such as the peregrine falcon and the California condor. Visitors can also view the park’s collection of prehistoric artifacts and artwork that tells the history of the area and its earliest inhabitants.

best national parks for camping

6. Acadia National Park (Maine)

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, provides campers with a unique coastal experience. Acadia is considered a camper’s paradise, boasting two notable campgrounds – Blackwoods and Seawall. The park is well-known for its stunning coastal landscape and ample opportunities for outdoor activities.

With year-round camping opportunities, fall is especially vibrant when the leaves change colors. Popular activities include exploring the park’s carriage roads, summiting Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, or stargazing during the evenings.

best national parks for camping

7. Glacier National Park (Montana)

Montana’s Glacier National Park is a haven for campers seeking pristine wilderness and breathtaking vistas. With an array of campgrounds to choose from, visitors can immerse themselves in the park’s glacier-carved peaks and valleys.

Characterized by its clear blue lakes, rugged mountains, and over 700 miles of hiking trails, the stunning landscapes make it an ideal destination for avid campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Visitors to Glacier National Park can travel the famous 50 miles long Going-to-the-Sun road. This is the perfect opportunity to see the beauty of the park, including the epic glaciers that park is known for. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is only open seasonally, however, due to the conditions of the mountain terrain, so be sure to check for closures as you plan your trip.

best national parks for camping

8. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

Rocky Mountain National Park offers campers a unique opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystem of the Colorado Rockies. Campgrounds within the park provide easy access to scenic trails and mountain peaks. AspenglenGlacier Basin, and Timber Creek are just a few of the more popular campgrounds. Whether you’re looking to park your RV or pitch a tent, this park has the ideal location for you to make camp.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, there are plenty of hiking opportunities within the park. Longs Peak and Chasm Lake both provide hikers with thrilling experiences, but be sure to check out the difficult level of each trail before you set off into the wilderness.

One of the more popular attractions at the park is Trail Ridge Road, the country’s highest continuous paved highway. This 48 mile long road provides visitors with the most exquisite views of the unique and majestic landscape.

best national parks for camping

9. Olympic National Park (Washington)

Olympic National Park is home to over 900,000 acres of diverse landscapes, including rainforests, mountains, and rugged coastlines. Campers can enjoy a variety of campgrounds throughout the park, each providing a unique glimpse into the area’s natural beauty.

Whether you’re looking for a more coastal experience, a walk through a lush rainforest, or a heart-pounding hike up a snow-capped mountain, Olympic National Park has everything an outdoor enthusiast could ask for.

There are a variety of activities available to visitors including fishing, boating, hiking, backpacking, tidepooling, and wildlife viewing. Other seasonal activities are available including skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

best national parks for camping

10. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Last but not least, the Grand Canyon National Park presents campers with the chance to experience one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The park offers several camping options, allowing visitors to soak in the breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.

One of the unique features about this park is the rim to rim hiking that allows visitors to experience every inch of the majestic canyon. Millions of visitors come to experience Grand Canyon National Park each year and it is considered to be among the top tourist hot spots in the world.

With activities like whitewater rafting, hiking, mule trail rides, and camping under the stars, it’s easy to see why Grand Canyon National Park makes for the trip of a lifetime.

best national parks for camping

Time to Book that Trip!

Camping in the United States offers a wide range of opportunities to reconnect with nature and experience the awe-inspiring beauty of various landscapes.

From coast to coast, visitors can find stunning national parks perfect for setting up camp and immersing themselves in the great outdoors.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your camping trip to a national park today! For more information about camping in national parks, check out our page on national parks camping.