Home Get Away Best Spots in the U.S. to Pitch a Tent (25 Photos)

Best Spots in the U.S. to Pitch a Tent (25 Photos)

36 min read

After spending the day wandering wooded paths, watching a family of deer leisurely grazing in a field of wild flowers, and dipping a toe or two in the frigid crystal clear creek, you curl up in a warm down sleeping bag next to a campfire to peer up at the glowing stars and enjoy a few (hundred) s’mores. Ahh, peace and quiet! You zip up into your tent for a few (mosquito-free) hours, and wake to the birds chirping and the faint hint of early morning sunlight. This is what camping is all about.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Suburban Men

Maine is called “The Pine Tree State” for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus, it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. Basically, it’s a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park makes the perfect camping destination for nature lovers of all skill levels. Looking for a unique experience? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point along the east coast) just before sunrise and be the first person in the U.S. to say hello to Mr. Sun that morning. Annual passes available for $40. Campsite prices range from $10 to $20 depending on site and time of year. Campsites vary from $16 to $22 per night. Backcountry tent camping is free, no permit required.www.nps.gov/acad

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Suburban Men

If looking for a more rustic experience in the Northeast, the White Mountains are your best bet. The hiking’s pretty rugged in this section of the Appalachian range, but it’s worth it if you’re up for the challenge. The sights here are particularly stunning in the fall, when the foliage turns to all shades of red, orange, and yellow.www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain

Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont

Suburban Men

The famous Long Trail is one of the biggest draws to the Green Mountain State, so try finding a camping spot close by to enjoy hiking a portion of the trail during your stay. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S.! It follows the ridge of the Green Mountains through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada. No entrance fees, and most of the campsites are free, too.www.fs.usda.gov/greenmountain

Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Suburban Men

Located in south-central PA, this scenic park sits at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as South Mountain (confusing, we know). The Appalachian Trail, perhaps the most famous foot trail in the world, runs through the forest, which is home to the trail’s halfway point. While only 2,000 people attempt to hike the whole 2,186-mile trail each year (about a quarter actually finish), between two and three million people hike or walk a portion of it. Whether you do two miles or 20 miles, it’s still cool to say you’ve done it! Have some time after the hike? Check out the Appalachian Trail Museum. Campsites range from $4-$5 per person, or $15-$17 per night.www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Suburban Men

If you love beaches, and you love camping, then this is the spot for you. Assateague is a barrier island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia that’s covered in sandy beaches, salt marches, forests, and costal bays. There’s even a community of wild horses (how exotic!). Enjoy relaxing on the 37 miles of beach or hiking by day, and buckle down your tent right by (err… a safe distance from) the crashing waves for a night under the stars. $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven-days. Annual passes also available for $30. Campsites range from $20 to $30 per night depending on season and location.www.nps.gov/asis

Yosemite National Park, California

Suburban Men

Nearly 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness – that means no cars, no structures, no roads, and no electricity. After a night spent under the stars, take a hike up to Glacier Point, which overlooks the park’s famous Yosemite Valley, Half Dome (a rock structure revered among climbers), and the High Sierra peaks. The hike on Four Mile Trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Glacier Point takes about 3-4 hours each way. If you’re looking for something a bit tougher, the Panorama Trail is about twice as long. $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Campsites range from $5 to $20 per night.www.nps.gov/yose

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Suburban Men

We know – camping in the desert doesn’t sound like so much fun (hello, sunburn). But the famous Joshua Tree National Park is oh so much more than just desert. The park actually sits at the intersection of two very different deserts: To the east is the low-lying Colorado Desert; to the west lies the slightly higher, cooler, wetter Mojave Desert (home to the park’s namesake, the Joshua tree). In addition to the deserts, the park also has ten mountain peaks higher than 5,000 feet in elevation. Need to get vertical? Joshua Tree is a popular rock-climbing destination. (Just be sure you know what you’re doing first.). $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes are available and national passes are accepted. Campsites range from $10 to $15 per night.www.nps.gov/jotr/

Olympic National Park, Washington

Suburban Men

The coolest thing about this park? It contains three different ecosystems, including – wait for it – a rainforest. Head to the Quinault Rainforest (one of only three in the western hemisphere) to see the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world. There’s a 30-mile road that loops through the rainforest, but we think hiking’s the better option. End your trip at Ruby Beach – where you can see the mountains, glaciers, and rainforests right from the shoreline – or at La Push, the northernmost beach in Washington, where you can see whales off the coast during migration season. $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes and some national passes are also available and accepted. Established campgrounds range from $10 to $18 per night depending on season and location.www.nps.gov/olym

Zion National Park, Utah

Suburban Men

Remember learning about the pioneers? Yeah, they walked the grounds of Zion (before it was a park). After spending the night in the woods, try hiking the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of the park. The five-mile and 14-mile trails make perfect four- or eight- hour trips. The longer trail takes you to Kolob Arch, one of the largest natural arches in the world. (There are also a bunch of backcountry campsites by the arch, and staying out there can make a great two-day backpacking trip.) If you’re traveling in the summer and lucky enough to win a permit in the permit lottery ($5), exploring The Subway of the park is an unparalleled experience. There are two ways to hike the deep valley and underground passageways, both strenuous, nine-ish mile routes. (Be warned – both trips are wet.) $25 per vehicle for a recreational use pass, valid for seven days. Annual and lifetime passes are also available. Wilderness permits are $10 to $20 depending on the size of the group. Campsites range in price from free to $20 per night, depending on the campground and location.www.nps.gov/zion

Glacier National Park, Montana

Suburban Men

The park’s probably known best for Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile road through the park’s interior that winds through the mountains – but that’s only fun if you’re in a car (and what fun is that, really?). For some fun on foot, try hiking the Many Glacier (there are a few trails to choose from, many of which offer spectacular views of alpine lakes). There’s also a campground at the glacier that accommodates both vehicles and primitive camping. Entrance fees vary by season from $15 to $25 per car, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes are also available. Campsites vary from $10 to $23 per night during the summer season.www.nps.gov/glac

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Suburban Men

Located just north of famous Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Grand Teton is home to a number of impressive Rocky Mountain peaks. There are a ton of hiking trails ranging from easy to very strenuous, so you can choose your own fate based on how you’re feeling that day. $25 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. All entrance fees are valid at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In the winter (mid-December through April 30), there is a winter day-use fee of $5. Some national passes are also accepted. The five developed campgrounds in the park charge $20.50 per night, per site.www.nps.gov/grte

Arches National Park, Utah

Suburban Men

It’s a red rock wonderland with over 2,000 natural stone arches. The park has a variety of easy, moderate, and long trails. One of the most popular, the Delicate Arch trail, takes you to the well-known arch by the same name (a photo op not to miss). There’s also the option to take a ranger-guided hike through the Fiery Furnace, an area of sandstone canyons with no marked trailheads (to go without a guide, you need a permit). $10 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available.www.nps.gov/arch

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Suburban Men

Do you really need a reason? It’s the freakin’ Grand Canyon. There are two main areas: The North Rim, and the South Rim. The South Rim is more popular, easier to get to, and busier. The North Rim is harder to get to, but offers a more secluded stay (and is actually in Utah). Both areas are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong. Hiking is one of the most popular activities, but it can be tough (and equally rewarding); know what you’re doing before setting off. Rafting trips are also very popular. $25 per private vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available.www.nps.gov/grca

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Suburban Men

The Rio Grande river runs right through Big Bend, so rafting, canoeing, and kayaking trips are common (and pretty amazing). The park is packed with hiking trails covering desert, mountain, and river terrain. One popular desert hike is the Devil’s Den, a moderate 5.6-mile trip along the rim of and down into a limestone slot canyon in the park’s northern region. Another beautiful hike is the Santa Elena Canyon trail – a moderate-difficulty, 1.7 mile round-trip hike that provides both top-down and bottom-up views of the canyon. Oh, and don’t forget to look up from your campsite at night – the park’s remote location provides gorgeous views of the night sky. A free permit is required for hiking in the backcountry. $20 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes also available. Developed campgrounds cost $14 per site, per night and reservations are available. Backcountry campsites require a $10 permit.www.nps.gov/bibe

Carson National Forest, New Mexico

Suburban Men

No, New Mexico is not entirely desert. Carson National Forest offers relatively cool summer temperatures as well as a great environment for fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking. In the winter, there’s even enough snow for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Hike the 16-mile round trip up to New Mexico’s highest peak, Mt. Wheeler, for a challenging but rewarding day hike. No entrance fee. Campsite prices range from free to $30, depending on location, time of year, and group size.www.fs.usda.gov/carson

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Suburban Men

French trappers named this land “area mauvaises terres a traverser” in the 1800s. That translates to “bad lands to travel across”. Sure, it’s a tough climate – but it’s also absolutely beautiful. Between a variety of rock formations lie a mixture of tall- and short-grass prairies. Be on the lookout for fossils – the park has one of the most complete fossil accumulations in North America, providing a glimpse into the area’s ancient ecosystems. The park also provides amazing stargazing and even hosts an astronomy festival in early August! (Fun Fact: The Badland’s apocalypse-like setting has also served as the backdrop for many well-known movies, including Armageddon, Starship Troopers, and Dances with Wolves.) $15 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes also available. Campsites at Cedar Pass Campground are $16 per night per site; $28 per night per site with electrical hook-ups. Sage Creek campsites are free.www.nps.gov/badl

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Suburban Men

This park offers something different for every season: The summer and spring are perfect for water activities; fall turns the park into a hiking paradise; and winter calls to cross-country skiers, snow-shoers and snowmobilers, and ice fishers. The park is comprised mostly of water, so for those entering the park without their own vessel, guided boat tours are a popular activity. There are also a wide variety of hiking trails accessible by both land and water. Entrance is free. There is a $10 per day fee for private boating. No charge or reservations for individual campsites, but a free permit is required.www.nps.gov/voya

Ludington State Park, Michigan

Suburban Men

This park is sandwiched right between two lakes (Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan) in western Michigan. There’s everything from sand dunes and shoreline to marshlands and forest, and there are eight separate hiking trails covering 21.5 miles throughout the park. Canoeing is also popular, and offers gorgeous, up-close views of the water. $11 entrance fee to purchase the required Michigan State Park Recreation Passport.www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails

Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

Suburban Men

There’s something for everyone at this park – from 18 holes of golf, to outdoor theatre, to peace and quiet in the good old outdoors. Eight miles of shoreline (right on Green Bay) call to water lovers, while miles of bike trails make for a more rigorous workout before spending the night under the stars. A vehicle admission sticker is required for park entry. Daily stickers are available for $7-$10, annual stickers are available for $25 to $35.www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/peninsula/

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Suburban Men

Fun fact: The Ozarks served as the setting for “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and the family featured in The Beverly Hillbillies are also from this region. There are more than 200 camping and picnic sites, nine swimming beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and steams, and 400 miles of trails in the 1.2 million acre forest. The 196-mile Ozark Highlands Trail is one of the best known. The caverns at Blanchard Springs are also a draw (open mid-March through October, 7 days per week, and Wednesday-Sunday from November through mid-March). No entrance fee. A number of campsites in the forest will charge a fee for camping, but many don’t. Camping fees can vary from $4 to $10 per night, per site.www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf

Everglades National Park, Florida

Suburban Men

This park is the third largest in the lower 48 states, covering 2,400 square miles. So, let’s just say you won’t get bored. There’s a wide range of hiking trails with heads near all of the park entrances and campgrounds, as well as ample opportunities for biking. There are also a ton of canoe and kayak trails to take you further into the park’s mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, and open Florida Bay (You can also take a multi-day canoe or kayak trip – just make sure you don’t accidentally do that by getting lost). Once you’ve had enough of doing the work yourself, check out one of the tram or boat tours offered in the park. $10 per vehicle entrance fee, valid for seven days. Annual passes available for $24. Campsite cost varies from $16 to $30 based on location.www.nps.gov/ever

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Suburban Men

There are literally hundreds of different trails throughout the Hemlocks region, offering a diverse range of hikes and backpacking opportunities. Just an hour from Asheville, NC, The Pisgah Forest is sometimes called “Land of the Waterfalls” (we’ll let you guess why), so take a look at a map and pick a hiking trail at your comfort level to check out some of the wondrous falls. The forest also contains four long-distance trails, including portions of the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. The Art Loeb Trail is one of the toughest (30.1 miles) trails in the forest, but also one of the most popular. There are plenty of campsites along the trail, too, so it makes a great path for a weekend backpacking trip. No general entrance fee. Campsite cost varies by location. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc

Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Suburban Men

People have inhabited this area since the Paleo Indians in prehistoric times. Needless to say, the area’s steeped in history. More than 70 structures still remain from the prehistoric era, and the park now contains the largest collection of historic log buildings in the East. The park is also packed with waterfalls, all of which can be part of perfect day hikes. Attention, all tech-savvy campers: The Great Smokies also has a free mobile app available for iOS and Android! Entrance to the park is free. Campsites range from $14- $23 per night. Reservations ($4 per person per night with a maximum charge of $20 per person) and permits are required for all overnight stays in the park’s backcountry.www.nps.gov/grsm

Denali National Park, Alaska

Suburban Men

Six million acres of open land? Check. Unbelievable wildlife? Check. Hiking to please even the most experienced of outdoorspeople? Check. Basically, it doesn’t get cooler than Denali. The central draw to the park (especially for mountaineers) is Denali itself – otherwise known as Mt. McKinley, or “the great one”. The park offers hikes for pros and beginners alike. Most trails start near the visitor center and are considered easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails start deeper in the park, beyond the first three miles of the access road. $10 entrance fee per person, valid for seven days. Annual and national passes are also available and accepted.www.nps.gov/dena

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Suburban Men

Glacier Bay National Park is actually mostly water, the bay itself serving as the passageway to the inner section of the park – which is (awesomely enough) a glacier. After spending the night under the stars, try cruising the bay on a tour, charter, or private boat. There aren’t any marked trails in the park, so backpacking is more strenuous here than elsewhere. Rafting one of the park’s two rivers is a great alternative that allows campers to easily tow supplies – but make sure you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing. Park rangers also lead a variety of tours and talks every day during the summer. No entrance fees for private visitors! Reservations are required for boating, camping, rafting, and other visitor services. Campground and wilderness reservations are not accepted or necessary, but a free permit is required.www.nps.gov/glba

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