It’s that time of year to shed those winter layers and get out into nature. Whether you’re a first-time camper or you have years of camping experience under your belt, these camping trips are for you. From national park to state park, we will travel across the United States to explore some of the best camping trips to book this summer.
So go ahead, pack up your camping gear. Let’s hit the road to see some of the most breathtaking hikes and campgrounds.
Camping Trip #1: Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its unique rock formations. Found in Southwestern Utah, this park has the largest collection of hoodoos, the rock formation that makes Bryce so famous.
These hoodoos make up what many describe as a forest of rock. These rock formations of orange and rust color are columns of sandstone and other sedimentary rocks formed by weathering and erosion.
Bryce Canyon welcomes both hikers and campers alike. With miles of hiking trails, Bryce Canyon is the perfect spot for a day hike or an overnight stay. A wonderful way to see what Bryce Canyon offers is by descending the Queen’s Garden Trail, a 1.8-mile dip into the canyon. Here, hikers can experience beautiful columns of rock formations as they travel deeper into the valley.
For those traveling to Bryce Canyon National Park for a camping experience, there are many surprises in store. Bryce is known as one of the best National Parks for stargazing. On any given night, gazers can view up to 7,500 stars from Bryce Canyon. Bryce’s distance from light pollution and human civilization lets the stars shine as brightly as possible.
Found in this group of approximately 7,500 visible stars is the Milky Way. Campers can experience this breathtaking arrangement of astronomical art.
Camping in Bryce Canyon
There are two main campgrounds in Bryce Canyon National Park: Sunset Campground and North Campground. Both require a small fee that depends on whether you stay in a tent or an RV.
Both campgrounds are located inside Bryce Canyon and near the main amphitheater. The North Campground is closer to the Visitor’s Center, while Sunset Campground is found near Sunset Point. The North Campground offers 99 camp and RV sites. The Sunset Campground has 20 tent sites, including a site for groups.
Camping at Bryce Canyon National Park adds to the overall experience of this wonder. While day hikes may capture the beauty of Bryce’s unique rock formations, staying past sunset allows visitors to experience galaxy gazing uninterrupted by light pollution.
Camping Trip #2: Zion National Park
Zion National Park is another one of Utah’s Mighty Five, along with Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonland National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. These Mighty Five parks are a must-see during your next trip to Utah.
Here, we will focus on all that Zion National Park:
Zion has everything for both family-friendly fun and the dedicated thrill-seeker. From climbing to backpacking and camping trips, you can find every adventure at Zion National Park.
Zion National Park has three main campgrounds: Watchman Campground, South Campground, and The Lava Point Campground.
Watchman Campground is located in Zion Canyon and is open year-round. This campground is found along the Virgin River and is known to be the most peaceful of all Zion’s campgrounds. It is a short walk from the visitor’s center and the park’s southern entrance.
South Campground is closed during the winter, so plan accordingly. It is also located near the southern entrance of the park and 1/2 mile from the visitor center. Each campsite comes with a place for your tent or RV, a picnic table, and a fire pit, making for the ultimate campground experience. Pair this with stunning canyon views, and what more could you need?
The Lava Point Campground is the furthest campground, located about an hour from Zion Canyon yet still considered a part of Zion National Park. This campground is open from May to September and offers six campsites available for reservation.
What To Do in Zion National Park
Campers in Zion National Park should consider some of the park’s most well-known hikes when planning their visit. The opportunity to hike through the Narrows and Angel’s Landing draws large numbers of tourists each year.
Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, attracting nearly 300,000 hikers each year. The risk involved with this hike is what draws many thrill-seekers. This hike is a 1.5-mile journey across a cliff with 1,000-foot drop-offs on both sides. Hikers grip chains as they maneuver over rocks in this daring trek.
The Narrows is a milder yet still stunning hike that draws many tourists each year. This trail takes the hiker through the Virgin River on a 10-mile round trip hike nestled between two canyon sides. Hikers should come prepared with proper footwear and hiking poles and should expect to wade through waist-deep waters at some points.
When camping at Zion National Park, there are many adventures to experience.
Camping Trip #3: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is the most visited of all National Parks in the United States, warranting it a spot on your camping bucket list. This National Park is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. When visiting Yosemite National Park, tourists can see magnificent waterfalls and monstrous Sequoias.
Yosemite National Park has over 750 miles of hiking trails to discover and 14 campgrounds for overnight visitors. Camping, however, is permitted throughout the park, provided that campers follow various wilderness regulations. These campsites can be reserved up to five months in advance, allowing campers to plan their itineraries before leaving.
North Pines Campground is a popular camping site within Yosemite National Park. This campground is located at the far end of Yosemite Valley and within walking distance of hiking trails. From this campsite, campers can see cliffs, pine trees, and the river, making for a serene experience. Booking is available between April and November, with 81 sites available.
Another popular campsite to consider when traveling to Yosemite National Park is the Upper Pines Campground. This campground offers 238 sites, greater availability than other campsites, making it an ideal spot for spontaneous camping trips. This site is open year-round, perfect for those looking for an outdoor adventure during every season.
When camping at Yosemite National Park, you’ll want to take the time to see some of the park's greatest attractions. Yosemite Valley is one of the most popular sections of the park, home to road trip attractions such as Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan.
Camping Trip #4: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, extending into parts of Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is the perfect campsite for spotting wildlife. It is one of the National Parks most loved by passionate fishermen.
On March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the world’s first National Park, making it a piece of history as well as a breathtaking wonder. The park has five major entrances, with each entrance being best for different activities and sites.
What To See in Yellowstone
For backcountry hiking, enter through the South Entrance for trails through various forests. This entrance also brings you past the Grand Teton National Park on your way into Yellowstone.
The Northeast Entrance is best for viewing wildlife. This entrance takes you to the Lamar Valley, where you can see grizzly bears, black bears, bison, and wolves.
The North Entrance will bring you to Mammoth Hot Springs, a must-see location in Yellowstone. This attraction is home to 50 hot springs and is open to hikers year-round.
The East Entrance takes visitors to Yellowstone Lake and the West Entrance to Geyser Paradise.
Planning out an itinerary beforehand may help determine which park entrance is best for you and your travel companions.
Camping in Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is home to 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 sites. Unlike some other parks, camping within Yellowstone is not permitted anywhere besides these 12 designated sites.
The Grant Village Campground is one of the largest campsites in Yellowstone National Park, open from June to September. It offers 400 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers.
Madison Campground is one of the most popular campsites because of its vicinity to the West Entrance of Yellowstone, the most popular entrance of the park. This campground is open from October to May.
Canyon Campground is another popular campsite for families and solo travelers. This campsite offers 273 camping sites and is close to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. This campsite is open from early June to early September.
Supplies for Your Camping Trip
When packing for tent camping, prepare with a few critical items. Tent campers should come strapped with backpacks to hold their most valuable camping supplies, such as sleeping bags, water bottles, snacks, and fire starters.
Hard coolers will be helpful for camping trips spanning several nights. They offer room to store food and drinks, keeping them cool and fresh for days.
Soft pack coolers and backpack coolers are great for backpacking trips during the day. They provide space for fluids to ensure hydration during day hikes and snacks to refuel your body during your journey.
Double-walled water bottles keep drinks cold in the heat of the day, especially when journeying through desert landscapes in Zion National Park. Cold drinks provide much-needed relief from Utah’s dry heat.
The Great Outdoors
It’s the time of year when we’re all planning for a much-needed getaway. Nothing says summer vacation quite like a camping trip to one of the National Parks. So gather all your camping essentials and set out to see one of these four picturesque parks.