The Best National Parks for Camping
When it comes to choosing the perfect place for a camping trip, the U.S. has no shortage of scenic and adventurous campgrounds to choose from.
But according to a rather large group of avid, adventurers, the best campgrounds of all can be found within the country’s national parks.
Yonder, a community-based mobile app designed to inspire outdoor adventure, recently surveyed more than 300,000 outdoor enthusiasts about their favorite places to camp. The results: although participants were free to choose any U.S. campground as their favorite, national park campgrounds ultimately stole the entire show.
“Camping at a national park is different from camping at other places because of the diversity of experience,” says Emily Boyd, director of strategic partnerships for Yonder and a former park ranger at a national historic park. “You can get lost in the backcountry for weeks on end or park your RV within walking distance from attractions. The National Park Service (NPS) is uniquely positioned to serve all types of outdoor adventurers, including people of all ages and varying levels of experience.”
Essentially, national park campgrounds offer some of the most unique camping experiences in the country. And, as Boyd points out, since opportunities within the parks are sometimes limited (e.g., many national park campgrounds require reservations that are hard to score) these camping trips are often once in a lifetime experiences.
“National Parks are truly one-of-a-kind places to visit and camping offers a unique opportunity to experience protected places,” Boyd said. “[ Camping in the parks] offers the opportunity to be fully immersed in the experience and connect with the park after the busy chaos of day visitors.”
Curious which parks were voted best for setting up camp?
The following U.S. national parks were voted the 10 best for truly incredible camping adventures.
#10 Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Boyd recommends this park not only for its stunning scenery, but because a visit to Canyonlands sets you close to Arches National Park (number six on this list), too. “Arches and Canyonland are two amazing parks located just 30 minutes apart, providing the opportunity to see both during one visit,” she said. “Many private campsites in the Moab area enable people to make camp in between the two parks.” Plus, she mentioned, you can add Zion (number four on this list) to your trip with just a five-hour drive. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)
#9 Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend visitors can choose from three frontcountry, NPS-operated campgrounds. Chisos Basin is described as being surrounded by tall, rocky cliffs and is a prime spot as it’s situated close to many of the park’s most popular trails. The Cottonwood Campground is characterized as more of a serene and shady site, while the Rio Grande Village Campground (adjacent to the Rio Grande) offers a camp store and showers within walking distance, as well as an RV campground with full hook-ups. (Photo Credit: "Sunset from Boquillas Canyon" by Archbob Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)