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29 Of The Best Places to Pitch a Tent Across the United States

Between all the highways and tucked away from skyscrapers, this country’s natural beauty still takes your breath away. North America has a habit of doing that, whether it’s along the sparkling coastline, in the epic forests, atop soaring mountains, or hunkered in a valley. Even as we seem to find ourselves busier with each passing year, we’re still lucky enough to have the opportunity to disappear to gorgeous stretches of land and be reminded of nature’s splendor. There are a lot of majestic parks and small towns to choose from, but we think these are the absolute best places in the country to pitch a tent.

By: Jake Kilroy
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Big Sur

California
Big Sur is a magical place, where the California coastline glistens with rural majesty. Bold forests overlook rolling seaside cliffs and you can call it home for a few days. In fact, you have a good set of options between the state parks and privately owned campgrounds. You also have proper choices to make about how you spend your breezy, shiny days. There are notable gems like Sykes Hot Springs and the Ventana Wilderness, along with plenty of beaches and woodland trails to explore. Plus, dotted throughout the paradise are art galleries!
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Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona
No matter how many times you've been here, it never fails to stun you. One of the most remarkable sights in the country, the canyon has a surrounding park that’s wonderful to explore. If you're a hiker, there's Bright Angel Trail, Rim Trail, North Kaibab Trail, and Havasu Falls to tackle. If you’re the more mellow type, there are plenty of overlooks you can drive to, along with the charming Grand Canyon Village. The two spots you can make tent reservations are North Rim Campground and Mather Campground on the South Rim. Desert View Campground, however, is first-come-first-served.
3 / 30
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Crater Lake National Park

Oregon
America’s deepest lake sparkles like crazy when the sun’s out. Take advantage of good weather by joining a Wizard Island boat tour or hiking down the Cleetwood Cove Trail to go for a swim. Drive around the rim with the windows down and make it to Toketee Falls. You’ve got a lot of gorgeous land and water to see. Furthermore, you can hit the campgrounds of Lost Creek or Mazama, or you can try your own in the backcountry.
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Yosemite

California
With how much there is to see in the valley, Yosemite is like nature's Disneyland. Behold El Capitan, Half Home, Tuolumne Meadows, and Yosemite Falls while hiking, rock-climbing, swimming, and staying at one of the national park’s 13 campgrounds. Keep in mind, reservations are available five months in advance and they fill up insanely quick from April to September. You can still hang out in the lodges and Ansel Adams Gallery though.
5 / 30
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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

California
This park's fascinating landscape can be found barren with rocky and sandy formations as well as popping with colorful wildflowers. Nature walks and night tours are a wonderful idea here. You can also explore the park’s many canyons—Slot Canyon, Coyote Canyon, Hellhole Canyon (humor also blooms here). All kinds of campers are welcome, whether you're after more environmental/primitive campsites, interested in hiking or biking campsites, or simply bringing a large group to camp and adventure through the park.
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Glacier National Park

Montana
The Crown of the Continent, responsible for water flowing into the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay, is one of the most spectacular examples of North America's vibrant and dramatic natural landscape. So get your camera ready over and over on the Iceberg Lake Trail, Highline Trail, and Trail of the Cedars. See the majestic offerings of Avalanche Lake, Lake McDonald, Logan Pass, and Grinnell Glacier. If you're looking to pitch a tent where RVs and trailer-trucks aren't plentiful, check out Bowman Lake, Cut Bank, Kintla Lake, Logging Creek, Quartz Creek, and Sprague Creek.
7 / 30
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Ainsworth State Park

Oregon
Right up on the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge, this park is "equal parts waterfall wonderland, hikers' playground, and campers' delight." Explore the lush land surrounding you by making it to Oneonta Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and, if you have it in you, the Skamania Lodge Zipline Tour. 40 full-hookup campsites are surrounded by trees and available for brief cozy living.
8 / 30
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Joshua Tree National Park

California
Known for a curious boulderous landscape that seems like you've landed on another world, the park is naturally a haven for rock-climbers and stargazers. But it delivers the goods for backpackers, birders, hikers, and mountain bikers as well. Hit places like the Barker Dam Trail, Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, Keys View, and the Cholla Cactus Garden. All campsites are first-come, first-served in the summertime and several may even close. [It gets hot!]
Photo:Joel Bear
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Zion National Park

Utah
Zion is like an exciting alien planet. It's amazing that, in the same park, you can hike The Narrows, a fun canyon route that takes you through water, and Angels Landing, a 2.5-mile trail to a lookout point that delivers the most awe-inspiring view you’re going to score in the area. There's a lot more to see, such as Court of the Patriarchs, Hidden Canyon, and Kolob Canyons. You'll find two campgrounds in the park and one an hour's drive. Reservations are a must, as campgrounds are full pretty much every night from March until November.
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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Montana
You have your run of the place here, so it’s whatever you’re in the mood for! Boat around Bighorn Lake, bike the South District Road, or explore more than two dozen miles of trails, including short walks to dramatic overlooks and tougher, longer hikes (that'll take you to a historic ghost town). You also have the opportunity to check out the park's amazing collection of ranches kept in their original state. Plus, the wildlife watching can be unreal here, given that it’s where you’ll find the country's largest herd of wild horses. Hit Horseshoe Bend Campground to overlook Bighorn Lake and the red sandstone cliffs of Sykes Mountain.

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11 / 30
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Acadia National Park

Maine
Such a diverse park to explore! There’s a tremendous amount of things to do here and the state looks heavenly in late spring and early summer. You can head to the top of Cadillac Mountain, cruise the Park Loop Road, dip your feet in Jordan Pond, mellow out at Sand Beach, and check out the wild Thunder Hole. All around you, the park is filled with adventurous tourists who are out biking, birdwatching, boating, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, leaf peeping, picnicking, swimming, and tidepooling. To stay a while, hit up the delightful campgrounds of Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods; just make sure you go with a reservation May to October.
12 / 30
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Sequoia National Park

California
For starters, this one’s kind of a twofer, since Kings Canyon National Park is right there. You can choose your level of commitment to outdoor activities, with ranger-led programs, overnight wilderness trips, and hundreds of miles of trails for day hiking, ranging from easy to strenuous. Naturally, nothing beats wandering through groves of the largest trees on Earth. You’re surrounded by epic foliage, including the General Grant Tree and the General Sherman Tree. There are several campgrounds found throughout the Foothills, Mineral King, and Lodgepole/Giant Forest Areas.
13 / 30
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Arches National Park

Utah
A geological wonderland, the park delivers every kind of hike, from very easy strolls like Balanced Rock and Sand Dune Arch to heavier hitters such as Tower Arch and Delicate Arch. Head's up, though, some areas and trails may be closed due to road construction this year, but there's always a back-up trail to explore or or ephemeral pool to behold. Hike, bike, backpack, canyoneer, and horseback ride throughout the park. For less strenuous activities, the park is epic for photography and auto tours. Finally, keep in mind that Devils Garden Campground is closed for most of this year.
Photo:Wanderlog
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Red Rock State Park

Arizona
In Sedona, you can camp beneath an endlessly starry night sky while taking advantage of the cozy, friendly town nearby. Perfect for singles, couples, and families, the red rocky area of course delivers a good number of gorgeous earth to take in, such as Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, and Cathedral Rock. But it’s also a killer place for mountain biking and horseback riding. Don't forget to take a jeep tour!
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Mammoth Mountain

California
There's plenty of adventures to be had around Mammoth Lakes. It's not just ski turf! In the spring and summer, you can hike to Devils Postpile, bike through Inyo National Forest, behold 300 species of bird at Mono Lake, or canoe about June Lake with Carson Peak watching over you. There are plenty of campgrounds to check out—Coldwater Campground, Pine City, and Sherwin Creek to name a few. For big group camping, however, check out Agnew Meadows, Pine Glen, and Pumice Flats.

Yellowstone National Park

Montana
When you hear the phrase "national park," this park's imagery might be what first comes to mind. With such notable sights as Old Faithful, Mystic Falls, and Yellowstone River, paired with wildlife that includes bears, bison, elk, moose, and wolves, it’s a seriously incredible place to behold. Grandiose and picturesque, the park delivers epic biking, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and llama packing, allowing you to even explore the backcountry. There are a dozen campgrounds to choose from throughout the park, or you always have the option to let the Yellowstone Collective Retreat pitch a tent for you!
17 / 30
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

North Carolina & Tennessee
One of the most tranquil, beautiful places in the country is perfect for hikers and drivers alike. There's just that much to see! Whether you make it to Chimney Tops or cruise the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, you’ll get to see what makes this place so magical. See the sprawling magnificence from Clingmans Dome or wander around picturesque Cades Cove. You have full days of sights ahead of you. Here, you can also enjoy the kind of camping you dig the most, whether it's frontcountry or backcountry camping, individual or group camping. There are also horse camps available.
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Dead Horse Point State Park

Utah
Found in beautiful Moab and offering one of the most photographed vistas in the world, the park is great for hikers and especially cyclists. With slickrock sections, looping singletracks, sandy washes, and of course gorgeous scenery, biking here is a special activity. There's a variety of camping options in the area too, including privately owned commercial campgrounds with amenities, more primitive campgrounds within the park, and an abundance of Bureau of Land Management campgrounds on the surrounding public lands.
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Telluride

Colorado
You can certainly get your fill of small town charm and epic nature around here! In town, you can eat and drink well around Main Street, while taking in live theater and art galleries. Out in the wild, be sure you see Bear Creek Falls, Black Bear Road, Bridal Veil Falls, and Red Mountain Pass. Plus, there’s no shortage of places to pitch a tent. Choose between Atla Lakes, Miramonte Reservoir, the Lizard Head Wilderness Area, and more!
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Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado
This part of the country is perfect for scenic drives along aspen groves, lowland meadows, subalpine forests, and swift-flowing rivers. Wildlife watching is also a spectacular activity here, with sightseers able to behold bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer roaming through the wilderness. You can also see the picturesque glory of places like Bear Lake and Sprague Lake. Pitch a tent at campgrounds such as Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, Longs Peak, Moraine Park, and Timber Creek.
21 / 30
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Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah
It's hard to believe that Bryce Canyon is not only found on this planet, but in North America. We’re pretty dang lucky. It is a stunning, breathtaking, and wholly unique landscape. Naturally, there’s a lot to learn about the surrounding scenery, so it’s in your best interest to join the ranger-led geology talks, rim walks, full moon hikes, and astronomy programs. The park has two campgrounds known as North and Sunset, and they're both located within close proximity to the Bryce Amphitheater.
Photo:Herewith
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El Cosmico

Marfa, Texas

You'll find this small high plains desert town friendly, eclectic, and accommodating. This campground is fine proof of it. Its team is responsible for sunset soundtracks, spring happenings, and movie nights, so settle in. Also, if you get sick of pitching your own tent here, you can glamp it up a bit in one of their safari tents.
23 / 30
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Assateague Island National Seashore

Maryland
If serene beaches and a colony of wild horses appeal to you, it's time to visit this coastal haven. Cycling, horseback riding, kayaking, and shell collecting can fill your days while campfire tales take up your nights. Just make sure you plan ahead by bringing long tent stakes, tent screens, and insect repellent. It's a beautiful place to camp, but the wind, sun, and bugs can sneak up on you. Also, due to earlier storms, this year's camping season has changed, so be sure you're up to date with what's available.
24 / 30
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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Colorado
In this extraordinary landscape, you'll find North America's tallest sand dunes and a whole lot more to see. While the sandy attractions are surely the main draw, they aren't everything this park has to offer. You’ll find bighorn sheep, black bears, bison, elk, and the like roaming through forests, grasslands, wetlands, and tundra. Piñon Flats Campground is your best bet for a stay, given that it's only one mile north of the Visitor Center.
25 / 30
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Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Alaska
Few places allow you to listen to whales while you sleep, but that's the deal at the free walk-in campground of Bartlett Cove. It's a tranquil setting just a quarter-mile south of the docks with seriously unreal views. Explore the sprawling magnificent waterways by boat or kayak, or do up some birdwatching and flightseeing. Just be sure to take advantage of the park rangers providing regular guided activities because this land is wild.
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Badlands National Park

South Dakota
This park has a tendency to look like the world's most curious alien-like labyrinth. It's definitely a unique landscape, paired with some seriously epic sunrises and sunsets. Between the Fossil Exhibit Trail and the Badlands Loop Road, you can fill your camera roll pretty quickly here. As for a stay beneath the wide open starry night sky, you'll find the very scenic Cedar Pass Campground welcoming and near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Meanwhile, you may find the remote and primitive Sage Creek Campground potentially more to your liking, since bison have a tendency to wander through. It’s also very pretty!
27 / 30
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Mount Rainier National Park

Washington
This park is more than ready to charm the hell out of you. The Pacific Northwest comes to spectacular colorful life in springtime and stays through summer. Explore Cascade Range, Christine Falls, Comet Falls, Myrtle Falls and the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail. Several campgrounds are available on a first-come-first-served basis, though you’re able to reserve sites at the Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Rock campgrounds.
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Big Bend National Park

Texas
This park is huge and grand, allowing for some epic canyon hikes as well as some fun “car hikes.” A perfect day would be catching early sun on a hike through Santa Elena Canyon, spending the afternoon in the Langford Hot Springs right there on the Rio Grande, and then grabbing dinner at the Starlight Theatre Restaurant & Saloon in the local ghost town of Terlingua. Reservations aren’t taken between April and November, since the campgrounds rarely fill up over summer.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio
Earth is in total gorgeous glory here, looking like the ideal postcard for America. Here, you can take in the beautiful likes of Blue Hen Falls, Brandywine Falls, and Ledges Overlook. The park satisfies everyone by being a keen place for biking, birdwatching, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and star viewing. Plus, the park encourages Earthcaching, golfing, and even “questing.” There are five campsites available to Towpath Trail and backcountry trail users from Memorial Day to Halloween.
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