Whether you’re pitching a tent for two or parking a family-filled RV, America’s campsites are calling your name. From local, hidden gems to legendary and majestic national parks, the opportunity to experience the grandeur of nature is relaxing and enthralling. Camping also provides an opportunity to re-connect with those you love, as well as to simply touch base with yourself. If you’re planning a road trip to a new camping destination this summer, gas up. Here are a few of America’s best for you to explore.
Arizona: Douglas Recreation Area
Coronado National Forest
Douglas, Ariz. 85607
The Coronado National Forest is more than 1.78 million acres large and spans five ranger districts, located throughout several Southern Arizona communities. The Douglas Recreation area houses the Chiricahua Mountains and offers a vast array of recreational options, including horseback riding, nature viewing and hiking. Comprised of 87,700 acres of pristine, wide-open wilderness, the area is legendary for its bird watching opportunities and astonishing, ancient rock formations. Backpackers will thrill to its unending, rugged trails, lattice work of natural springs and intriguing historical landmarks. Douglas houses more than 10 individual campground areas, some of which have RV or group camping capability. RV camping is 22 feet or less and cabins are also available at several sites.
Maine: Acadia National Park
Mt. Desert Island, Maine 04660
Home to the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast, magnificent Acadia was the very first national park to welcome campers to its grounds in the eastern United States. Maine’s rugged beauty is exemplified by Acadia’s rocky cliffs and sweeping ocean landscape. Reservations are recommended for both Seawall and Blackwoods, Acadia’s primary campgrounds. Both offer access to biking, boating, climbing and Junior Ranger activities for kids. Fishing and tide pooling are some of Acadia’s unique aquatic delights, but make sure to enjoy at least some of the 120 miles of historic hiking trails.
California: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Village, Calif. 95389
Known for its breathtaking waterfalls, glacial splendor and the singular experience of its High Sierra back country travel, Yosemite is on the bucket list of many die-hard campers. Yosemite’s ancient past spans the history, and pre-history, of America itself and is considered by some to be hallowed ground. More than 95 percent of the park is classified as designated wilderness, so if you decide to visit, you can look forward to a break from modern amenities like cars, buildings or structures of any kind, electricity and even roads. A multitude of experiences and recreational activities are available without prior notice, but camping reservations are required for most, though not all, of Yosemite’s campgrounds. Check Yosemite’s website for information on reservations in the High Sierra Camps, which are available by lottery only.
Florida: Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, Fla. 33034
Canoeing and kayaking through unending miles of mangrove forest are just the beginning. The Everglades are home to an abundance of freshwater marshes and the Florida Bay. When you’re ready to set your oars aside for sneakers, hiking, biking and tram tours are also available. Sure, you may see the occasional alligator, python or panther, but this subtropical wilderness is unparalleled anywhere else. Camping in Everglades National Park does take some extra preparation with the proper permits and time of year.
North Carolina: Pisgah National Forest
109 East Iawing Drive
Banner Elk, N.C. 28761
Comprised of 500,000 acres of canopied, hard-wood forest, thunderous waterfalls and mile-high mountain peaks, the Pisgah is a hiker’s dream come true. A multitude of hiking trails span hundreds of miles of the singular Appalachian Highlands. Camping is first-come, first served and requires no entrance fee. Just bring your sense of adventure and enjoy the view.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.