20 best places to camp across the country

The United States landscape is vast and diverse, brimming with places to camp and mountains to scale all throughout the year. Beach bums can pitch a tent on the sandy shores of Cape Cod while rainforest junkies can explore the lush forests of Olympic National Park.

Wherever you decide to kick-start your camping adventure, Greenvans is here to help. Our offices are located in several convenient East Coast cities, so you can rent a van in Boston for your camping trip to Acadia National Park. In addition, our passenger vans are easily convertible for overnight stays — ask us about removing the back seat to make room for a cozy sleeping corner. 

First things first, though, you’ll have to decide where to go! Browse our list of the 20 best places to camp across the country, decide on a destination, and hit the road for an unforgettable camping trip. 

East Coast camping spots

With craggy coastlines, thundering waterfalls, expansive meadows, and trickling streams, the East Coast is nature’s fairy tale. The ever-changing landscape makes it one of our favorite regions to set up camp, and with offices sprinkled throughout the Northeast, these spots are easy to access by van as well!

Here are our five favorite parks for East Coast camping, when you should go, and what you can do in each. 

1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The first stop on our list of best places to camp is nestled within the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Hiking enthusiasts can keep busy with over 500 miles of trails that lead to spectacular overlooks and cascading waterfalls. 

What we like about Shenandoah is the range of camping styles available within the park, so whether you prefer a front or backcountry experience, you can find it here. Pack your tents, rent a van in Richmond, and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway for the ultimate summer camping trip!

Prime season: Late spring through early fall

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for:  Hikers, families

Cost: $30 per vehicle to enter, $30 — $75 camping fee per night 

Source: Backpacker.com

2. Acadia National Park, Maine

It’s the best of everything — a rocky shoreline, tiny islands, mountains, meadows, and ponds ripe for exploring. With four million visitors each year, Acadia tops the list of the country’s most-visited parks, and for good reason. Campers can catch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, take a scenic ride on Park Loop Road, and visit the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, all within a day’s work.

There are two campgrounds within the park itself and several private options on the outskirts. Be sure to reserve your spot in advance, especially if you plan to go during the busy summer season, when sites fill up quickly.

Prime season: Summer and early fall

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Families, friend groups, and couples

Cost: $30 per vehicle to enter, $20 — $60 camping fee per night

Source: Beyond The Tent

3. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania 

Anyone who likes water sports will enjoy a summer camping trip to the Delaware Water Gap. Aside from the striking scenery, its location on the water means there are endless opportunities for fishing, paddling, and boating. 

Spend your days hiking the Appalachians, picnicking in the quiet forest, swimming in the river, or scaling waterfalls, before a good night’s sleep in one of the numerous campsites available. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for:  Families, swimmers

Cost: Free to enter, $2 — $10 per person for beach access, $16 camping fee per night

Because the Delaware Water Gap is known as the “Eastern Gateway to the Poconos,” prepare yourself by exploring more things to do in the Poconos

4. October Mountain State Forest, Massachusetts 

It’s not always easy to satisfy the needs of everyone while camping. Some like tranquility, others like adventure, and lucky for you, October Mountain State Forest offers the best of both. 

Wake up on the shores of serene Berry Pond and go fishing. Hop on a bike and pedal through 50 miles of densely wooded trails that cut through Berkshire Hills. Fall is an ideal time of year to visit, giving you the chance to witness the landscape as it transitions from hues of green to deep red, burnt orange, and glittering gold. Read our comprehensive list of more fun things to do in the Berkshires before you go!

Prime season: Fall

Camping type: Tent camping, yurt camping

Best for:  Bikers, fishers, and hikers

Cost: $30 per day per vehicle to enter, $54 — $140 per night for various types of camping

Discounts are available for Massachusetts residents.

Source: AllTrails.com

5. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

One of our favorite destinations for beach camping on the East Coast is definitely Cape Cod. With over 40 miles of sandy shores, trails, and forests, Massachusetts’ famous coastline is a haven for hikers, animal lovers, and beach bums.

There are a variety of camping experiences available in Cape Cod which range from primitive to full-on glamping, making it a great getaway for groups of friends and families with multiple tastes.

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV, and car camping

Best for:  Beach lovers, active travelers, and wildlife enthusiasts

Cost: $25 — $54 per night for various types of camping

Discounts are available for Massachusetts residents.

Best camping spots in the South

The southern terrain of the U.S.A. is, in a word, spectacular. It’s rugged, it’s wild, and the temperatures are relatively mild throughout the year. Hot springs sprinkle the landscape between Arizona and Florida. Plant life, from palm trees to pine, flourishes throughout. 

Want to connect to your inner archaeologist? Head to Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Prefer wildlife biology? Swim with manatees in Ocala, Florida. The South offers unique activities that you can’t find anywhere else in the country, so if you’re an experienced camper in search of new adventures, this list is for you.

1. Sierra Vista, New Mexico

Gila National Forest is located in New Mexico’s Sierra Vista and is undoubtedly one of the best places to camp in the United States. The state is known for its ancient Native American history and, perhaps more mysteriously, reported UFO sightings. The park boasts rugged wilderness, sculpted canyons, and steaming hot springs, not to mention ancient artifacts littered throughout the trails. 

This trip is best for those looking for a raw, immersive experience and may not be suitable for novice campers.

Prime season: Spring and late summer

Camping type: Tent camping, glamping, and RV camping

Best for:  Active travelers, wildlife enthusiasts, and experienced campers

Cost: $15 tent camping fee per night, $25 — $30 RV camping fee per night

Source: Explore.com

2. Coconino National Forest, Arizona

Spanning over 1.8 million acres, this diverse forest is home to towering Ponderosa pine trees, imposing canyons, and eroded red rocks. High elevation means mild temperatures, ideal for summer camping, while colorful vegetation covers the park during spring and fall.

For active travelers who enjoy climbing, biking, horseback riding, and picnicking in the woods, this park has some of the coolest campsites around. Check out Cave Springs campground for access to bubbling Oak Creek, or consider dispersed camping for something more intimate. 

Prime season: Spring, summer, and fall

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, and rock climbers

Cost: $0 for dispersed camping, $22 tent and RV camping fee per night

3. Ocala National Forest, Florida

Arguably the South’s best place for tent camping, the sprawling Ocala National Forest is open to dispersed camping to give you a taste of primitive life. Within the lush forest is an abundance of waterways, so if you like to fish, swim, and canoe, you’ll be content exploring the rivers, ponds, and lakes that abound.

Animal lovers will be in paradise, as the population in Ocala consists of birds, manatees, deer, and even alligators! It’s untamed, wild, and unexpectedly spectacular, making it the perfect getaway for campers ready to explore a new kind of terrain.

Prime season: Winter and early spring

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for:  Animal lovers, fishing enthusiasts, and bikers

Cost: $10 tent camping fee per night with no hookups, $65 tent camping fee per night with hookups

Source: JupiterMag

4. Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas

For campers who are in search of a range of different activities to fill their time in nature, a trip to Devil’s Den might be the ticket. The diverse landscape is brimming with things to do — crystal clear streams for swimming and kayaking and an extensive trail system for hiking and mountain biking. A unique aspect of this park is its sandstone cliffs, ideal for rock climbing or rappelling. 

This is a great getaway for active families and groups of friends with a desire to explore the Ozark Mountains. There is one campground within the park with availability for RVs and tents, so campers of all styles can enjoy an overnight stay. 

Prime season: Spring and fall

Camping type: Tent and RV camping, cabins

Best for:  Rock climbers, mountain bikers, and active families

Cost: $11 tent camping fee per night, $26.50 RV camping fee per night

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Waterfalls, mountains, and flowers galore! This is just a touch of what is waiting for you in the Smoky Mountains. Home to over 1,500 species of flowering plants, it’s not just one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America, it’s also one of the most beautiful.

Pitch a tent in the midst of it all, listening to the sounds of nature as you fall fast asleep after an adventurous day. Everything is available, from primitive camping to RV options, satisfying any kind of camper. 

Prime season: Spring and fall

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Families, couples, plant and wildlife enthusiasts 

Cost: $17 — $23 tent camping fee per night, $25 — $27 RV camping fee per night

Renting a van from Philadelphia? Read a tried-and-true account of the best way to get to the Smoky Mountains.

Source: National Park Service

Places to camp on the West Coast

Let’s face it — the West Coast is magnificent. Hit the beach, the desert, and the rainforest, all on the same trip! This is where you’ll see the best sunsets and swim in the country’s deepest lake.

The West is home to many bucket list destinations like the national parks of Yosemite and Joshua Tree. All you need to do is pack a tent, charge your camera, and hit the road toward the coolest campsites in the States.

1. Alabama Hills, California

Have you ever wanted to stay on a Hollywood set? Here is your chance, though a bit more rustic than you likely imagined. Alabama Hills might be a hidden gem to tourists, but it’s a go-to for film directors looking to recreate the American West and Europe, shooting scenes for movies like Gladiator and Iron Man.

It’s known for its natural beauty, with dramatic rock formations, sweeping desert landscapes, and views of nearby peaks like the majestic Mount Whitney, making it a photographer’s paradise.

Prime season: Spring and fall

Camping type: Dispersed tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Film buffs, nature photographers 

Cost: $5 — $22 tent camping fee per night, $5 — $22 RV camping fee per night

2. Kalaloch Campground, Washington

It might not be the same as East Coast beach camping, per se, but pitching a tent on the Olympic Peninsula’s wild coast is an experience nothing short of incredible. The scenery is rugged and mountainous and the nature is incredibly diverse. Hoh Rain Forest, one of the only rainforests in the country, is a short drive away.

Kalaloch Campground is a popular option located close to the Olympic National Park, so you can see the mountains on one side and the setting sun on another. It’s the perfect place to head out for a relaxing walk along the shoreline after a day of birdwatching in the forest. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Birdwatchers, beach lovers, and hiking enthusiasts

Cost: $22 — $28 tent camping fee per night, $28 — $40 RV camping fee per night

Source: The Kalaloch Lodge

3. Yosemite National Park, California

Being one of the most iconic destinations in the United States, Yosemite National Park is renowned for landmarks like El Capitan, Half Dome, and the Yosemite Valley. The park’s diverse ecosystems boast an incredible array of flora and fauna, making it an ideal location for hiking, rock climbing, wildlife spotting, and photography.

Whether you’re on the prowl for rare bird species or looking for granite cliffs to climb, you’ll find it here in what might be California’s most well-known national park. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Climbers, hikers, and birdwatchers 

Cost: $6 — $26 tent camping fee per night, $26 — $50 RV camping fee per night

4. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

7,700 years ago, a volcano erupted in present-day Oregon. From this eruption emerged Crater Lake, a deep blue body of water that stretches almost six miles across and offers kayakers, swimmers, and boaters the most breathtaking landscape. 

The lake is the country’s deepest, and because of the explosion it’s surrounded by volcanic rock prime for biking and hiking, so active travelers won’t run out of things to do. Visit numerous waterfalls and admire the elk, deer, and birds that live within a stone’s throw of the park’s various campgrounds. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts 

Cost: $21 tent camping fee per night, $31 — $42 RV camping fee per night

Source: The Dyrt

5. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park is characterized by its iconic trees, rock formations, and abundant wildlife. Spend your days discovering hiking trails and rock climbing and your nights stargazing in the clear sky. From desert plains to massive boulders, the park is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers who like a bit of mysticism.

Prime season: Early spring, late fall

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for: Nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and stargazers

Cost: $25 tent camping fee per night, $15 — $25 RV camping fee per night

March and April are ideal months to visit Joshua Tree — check out our other spring break road trip ideas and make the most of your vacation! 

Where to camp in the Midwest

Tucked between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains with direct access to the Great Lakes, the Midwest is not to be overlooked as one of the best places to camp in the U.S.A. The landscape varies from rolling hills to flat prairies, and flowing rivers to towering sand dunes. 

Only in the Midwest can you scramble dunes in the morning, kayak Lake Superior in the afternoon, and stargaze from your campsite at night. With many of these destinations so close in distance, it’s easy to plan a family road trip from Philly!

1. Many Glacier Campground, Montana

Distributed throughout the United States’ diverse terrain is a gallery of breathtaking national parks. What makes Many Glacier Park stand out is its one-of-a-kind glacier lakes reflecting mountain peaks that hug the shores. You can kayak, ride horses, and hike to your heart’s content, until you reach the perfect spot for a family picnic.

If you’re in the mood for something remote and untouched, Montana won’t disappoint. Mary Glacier Campground is as raw and close to nature as they come. Its lack of amenities is compensated by vast alpine scenery and stargazing opportunities. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for:  Wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, and primitive campers

Cost: $23 tent camping fee per night

Source: National Park Service

2. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Minnesota

The variety of activities, lake views, and historic lighthouses make Split Rock one of the coolest campsites in the Midwest. Cliffs, forests, and extensive shorelines offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and birdwatching all throughout the year. 

There are an abundance of snow-filled activities including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, so don’t rule it out if a winter road trip destination is what you’re after. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for:  Families, animal lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts

Cost: $7 tent camping fee per night

3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Hidden between Cleveland and Akron is an outdoor paradise of lush forests, scenic waterfalls, and the iconic Cuyahoga River that winds through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Explore its snaking network of trails ripe for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. You might even tumble on historic sites such as the Stanford House and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. 

The park is full of wildlife and picnicking spots and is easy to access by renting a van in Philadelphia and making your way westward. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping, and cabins

Best for:  Cyclists, history buffs, and birdwatchers 

Cost: $20 tent camping fee per night, $88 RV camping fee per night, $95 cabin fee per night

4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

The captivating landscape of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is brimming with crystal-clear lakes and lush wooded areas. It is also renowned for climbable sand dunes formed by glacial sand deposits long ago. Some dunes reach up to 400 feet high, a challenging but rewarding experience once you catch the sweeping views of Lake Michigan from above. 

Besides its beautiful beaches and water sports options, visitors can explore historic lighthouses, enjoy stunning sunsets, and view an abundance of wildlife.

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping, RV camping

Best for:  Active travelers, water enthusiasts, and history buffs

Cost: $25 per vehicle to enter, $22 tent camping fee per night, $31 RV camping fee per night 

Source: MyNorth.com

5. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

If you want to escape the planet altogether, head to Badlands National Park. The otherworldly terrain will transport you to an alternate dimension of deep canyons, vast prairies, striking rock formations, and vibrant sunsets. It’s a rare environment that appeals to anyone seeking solitude and the wild unknown.

Tent camping is the optimal way to experience the Badlands. Sage Creek Campground is located in the park and has been named one of the best campgrounds in the state, with bison roaming the grounds. 

Prime season: Summer

Camping type: Tent camping

Best for: Small groups, landscape photographers, and stargazers

Cost: Free

Where can I camp for free?

Outdoor enthusiasts can camp for free in Coconino National Forest in Arizona, Sage Creek Campground in South Dakota, and parts of Ocala State Park in Florida. Not included on this list are Longview Lake Park in Missouri and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, both of which offer free campsites.

How to plan the ultimate camping road trip

Plan the ultimate camping road trip by getting clear on where you want to go, what to pack, and how to best enjoy your time on the road. Here are some ideas to get you started:

What to pack for your camping trip

Packing for your camping trip can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some ideas of what to bring along.

  • Tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads
  • Cooking equipment, including a camp stove, pots, pans, and utensils
  • High-energy snacks and reusable water bottles 
  • Swimsuits, jackets, ponchos, and sun protection
  • Camping gear such as lanterns, flashlights, and camping chairs
  • Maps, guidebooks, and a GPS device for navigation
  • Hiking boots, mountain bikes, and fishing poles

How to enjoy your time on the road

Your time on the road often turns out to be the best part of your trip. Make sure it’s stress-free by preparing accordingly.

  • Plan early departures to avoid traffic and delays
  • Create an entertaining playlist for long drives
  • Map out breaks at overlooks and rest stops 
  • Bring pillows and blankets 
  • Pack a cooler with snacks and beverages to save time between stops
  • Consider removing some seats in the van for sleeping

As road warriors, we know how important it is to plan ahead while also leaving room for spontaneity and unexpected adventures. Pack the essentials, depart early, enjoy the ride, and make lasting memories as you explore the great outdoors.

Camp under the stars with Greenvans

The United States is exploding with stunning destinations to immerse yourself in nature. From Badlands to Yosemite, and dune climbing to horseback riding, a road trip to any camping spot is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

Arrive at your campground in a sleek, comfortable passenger van. Not only will you have the space to bring all your travel essentials, but it can also double as a camper! Ask us to remove the back seats so that you can set up a cozy sleeping nook. The convenience is unmatched, so choose your destination and reserve your Greenvans van today.


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