10 of America’s great campsites
Monday, December 07, 2020
We’ve been able to stay at so many great parks that have wonderful views, hikes, and other activities. Many of these have good campsites, but this article features 10 outstanding campsites where you can sit with some privacy and enjoy a terrific view and/or observe animals or birds without having to travel to other portions of the park.
Given the coronavirus situation, these campsites can be an amazing place to stay. Of course, please check for current availability and status.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Frankly, the campsites are quite variable in quality. Many are for smaller RVs or tents. Some have electricity. There is no water, septic, or Wi-Fi here and the showers are pay. Don’t worry about that, but camp here for the fantastic view.
You can enjoy the amazing colors of sunrise and sunset on the rocks right from your campsite. During the day you can go to the visitor center, drive the road to the amazing overlooks, hike, and visit the nearby Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico
At City of Rocks, you can be up close and personal with the rocks. The campsites with power (no water or Wi-Fi) are nearby and are nice enough. The outstanding campsites have no amenities at all but are right among the rocks. Some campsites are quite large and most are very private.
You’ll soon be climbing rocks in your “backyard.” Have fun naming the rocks since their shapes are like clouds and open to interpretation. My favorite was Toilet Rock (though the park calls it a snail)! Be sure to enjoy the stars at night.
Our back window view at Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park, Florida
Florida is full of state parks with campgrounds near the beach. The state parks of Key West are great for sites on the water (our favorite is Long Key State Park) but it is very difficult to get reservations. For a great campsite with a view but an easier chance to get reservations, visit Fort Clinch is in the north part of the state.
The campsites are good size with water and electricity. The River Campground has sites among the trees with the river and a beach nearby. The Beach Campground isn’t on the beach (a very short walk away) but has otherworldly views of the sand dunes. The park also contains a fort to visit along with the chance to find fossil shark teeth on the beach.
St. Andrews State Park, Florida
This might be the busiest of the campgrounds, but there’s a reason it is popular. Here there are many campsites right on the bay. It is not unusual to watch herons and egrets from your campsite. The deer also like to walk through the campground.
The campsites have water and electric. The beach is within biking distance and is superb. Note that the number of available campsites is down due to Hurricane Michael.
Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona
The view of the Superstition Mountains from your campsite will encourage you to learn more about the stories of a lost gold mine and to explore the area. Many of the campsites have water and electric while some are dry campsites.
The hike to the top of Flatiron is tough and can take 5-7 hours but it is well worth doing this hike at least once in your life. Other trails in the park are shorter and quite enjoyable. Besides park offerings, downtown Phoenix and all it has to offer is only 45 minutes away.
The American Queen may pass your campsite at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park.
Tom Sawyer’s RV Park, Arkansas
I prefer state parks and national parks, but this campground is amazing. The campground is right on the Mississippi River across from Memphis. Get a campsite on the river and watch the river traffic as barges, boats, and ships pass all day.
Even if you don’t get those campsites, you can spend your time on the benches along the river or walking the trails. The campsites are full hook-up (water, electric, sewer, and Wi-Fi). The free laundry is an extra bonus. Memphis with Elvis sites and their amazing barbeque is a quick drive across the Mississippi.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
We’ve stayed at two of the several campgrounds at this state park and both guarantee a wonderful stay. At Hackberry, we saw turkey and deer in our campsite. At Juniper, we saw road runners and turkey along with an incredible view of the colorful rocks from the canyon floor.
The campsites have water and electric along with being within walking distance to the start of some of spectacular hiking trails. A warning…the summer gets uncomfortably hot so plan your trip accordingly.
Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia
When you are tired of rock, desert, or water views, visit Coopers Rock to camp among a forest. The sites are good sized and have electricity. The campground is relatively small (25 sites) so quiet nights are the norm. The park has almost 50 miles of trails to explore. My favorites are Raven Rock Trail, Clay Furnace Trail, and the secret Haystack Trail.
A visitor to our campsite at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
There is absolutely nothing like having a bison stroll through your campsite. If you don’t see them here, you can watch them at the river nearby. A drive through the park will show you bison, prairie dogs, Texas longhorns, and wild horses. The campground doesn’t have any amenities, but who cares when you have gorgeous views and impressive visitors.
Choke Canyon State Park, Texas
For the greatest variety of animals that can be seen from a campsite, Choke Canyon is amazing. We’ve seen javelina, rabbits, deer, bats, and turkey along with a variety of other birds while sitting outside our RV. At night you can hear coyote nearby. Elsewhere you may see alligators, armadillos, turtles, and feral hogs.
The coolest animal we saw was a bobcat sauntering through our campsite (we were safely inside and watching from the windows). The park has plenty of hiking trails to enjoy. The campsites are good size and have water and electric.
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