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Camping at US National Parks

Designated by the US Congress, the US has 63 areas known as national parks, chosen for their beauty, ecosystems, geology – and more. The national park designation means that these spaces are protected, allowing us to enjoy them responsibly and sustainably for years to come. And there are so many differences between them all!

30 different states in the US are home to national parks, with these parks spanning an area of around 52.2 million acres. From lofty mountains to beautiful waterfalls, from serene lakes to towering redwood trees, here are five of our favorites.

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1. Yosemite, California

Experienced hikers flock to Yosemite to hike the Half Dome: an enormous granite rock formation that is challenging even for the most experienced of hikers. But it's also a popular choice for day hikers who like to ramble amongst the lofty sequoias, keen swimmers who splash in the park's many lakes, and drivers who marvel at the splendor of the park's Tioga Road.

Camping at Yosemite

Yosemite is not short of camping options, either, with a wide range of options spread across the park’s huge expanse. To be close to the spectacular Yosemite Valley, you’ll want to camp at North Pines, Upper Pines, Lower Pines, or Camp 4. 

2. The Everglades, Florida

The landscapes you'll come across in the Everglades are very different from many of the other national parks in the US! These wetlands span around 1.5 million acres of the Florida coastline – one of the largest wetlands in the world. Everglades National Park is known for its sawgrass prairies, mangroves, cypress trees, and marshlands – as well as its wildlife, of course. Head to this national park and you could see snakes, panthers, alligators, and manatees. One favorite thing to do for tourists is to take an airboat trip around the Everglades, searching for the park's wildlife while on board.

Camping at the Everglades

There are only two front-country camping grounds in Everglades National Park: Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground. If you’re feeling more adventurous, though, there are a wide variety of wilderness camping options – including platforms suspended above the water known as chickees. For wilderness camping, you’ll need to obtain a permit in advance. 

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3. Grand Canyon, Arizona

One of the USA's most famous national parks, the Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that welcomes over 6 million visitors each year. And it's easy to see why! It's one of the largest canyons in the world, with rich red rocks dating back over two billion years. It's a popular place for hikers and water sports enthusiasts alike. The South Rim – where you'll find the popular Bright Angel Trail route – gets incredibly busy. If you're looking for a quieter way to explore the Grand Canyon, head to the North Rim where you'll find more rough and rugged hiking, and a part of the park that is far less commercialized.

Camping at the Grand Canyon

If you’re visiting the popular South Rim, then the main campgrounds you will want to consider are Mather Campground, Trailer Village, and Desert View. If you’re visiting the other side of the park, then North Rim Campground will be your go-to. Bear in mind, though, that Mather Campground and Trailer Village are open all year round, while the others close in winter. 

4. Yellowstone, Wyoming

Yellowstone has the honor of being the first area to be designated a national park in the world, and it’s particularly famous for its geothermal activity. It's mostly known for its impressive geysers – including Old Faithful – but there's plenty more to explore. Its hot springs are a beautiful sight, and there is incredible wildlife, from bison and elk to bears and wolves.

Camping at Yellowstone

Campers are well-served at Yellowstone, with 12 dedicated campgrounds to choose from. For the full details of each one, the National Park Service has a guide here

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5. Acadia, Maine

For those who prefer a national park in a coastal setting, Acadia is a perfect choice. As well as its rugged coastline, it features lakes, mountains, and forests galore – as well as around 57 miles of trails and some safe swimming spots if you're looking to get active on your visit.

Camping at Acadia

Eager campers will not be disappointed by the options available in Acadia National Park. If you want to see Mount Desert Island, you will want to stay at either Blackwoods Campground or Seawall Campground. Schoodic Woods Campground and Duck Harbor Campground are then the options for those who want to go further afield. 

We hope you enjoy learning more about these US National Parks. These are just some of our favorites, what's your favorite National Park to camp in?

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Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers that provide overnight stays with each other for free while traveling through an area. We help RVers to travel more economically and find options when campgrounds may be full. It’s a great and safe way to meet fellow RVers or for people curious about the RV lifestyle to learn from members, while also providing a safe place to park for one night or up to five nights.

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Comments

  • Squirouette

    Squirouette   

    We have been to Acadia & only scratched the surface! Yosemite we went to last year, but saw little bc of Covid. So we return there for 2 weeks mid May! Grand Canyon is our next trip beginning May 1 for 14 days! Unfortunately, the North Rim won't open until the 15th so we will miss that! Yellowstone is on our list this year & Everglades next year!
    BWadmin

    BWadmin on 04/27/2021 10:47 a.m. moderator  

    Sounds like you are checking all the National Parks off your list! So much fun! :)
  • SRTBD

    SRTBD   

    Not trying to be a downer but literally these are some of the most popular NPs around. They are usually packed and even more so this summer. These five are bucket list ones so keep in mind when planning!
    BWadmin

    BWadmin on 04/27/2021 10:48 a.m. moderator  

    Yes, indeed! It will take some extra planning to visit these National Parks but in the end, the beauty is SO worth it. :)
    Squirouette

    Squirouette   

    I realize that, but we have so much we want to see & do by mid-Sept that if we don't make it to Yellowstone, no big deal! It's not going anywhere & we will catch it another year!!! For the Everglades, we belong to a group w a cg there & we can reserve 120 days out. So once we begin to get our plans sorted for Nov - Jan, we will make the reservations!
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