Photo by arinahabich via iStock // Lost Lake, Colorado
I know we’re more than halfway through 2021 already, but there is still a lot of time left to pack up and go camping in some incredible campgrounds and parks around the country.
While camping in a big, popular campground or park is better than not camping at all, it’s tough to beat finding off-the-beaten-path locations where you can enjoy camping with a little less company. And the great thing is that there are amazing campgrounds and parks from coast to coast in the U.S. where you can do just that.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the campgrounds and parks to explore in 2021…
Mulberry River Area, Arkansas
The Mulberry River is a free-flowing river – there are no dams – which means there are beautifully calm pools, small waterfalls, and babbling brooks where you can fish, swim, and wade in the water to beat the summer heat. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, and floating the river are further options.
But this area isn’t just about the river…
The river originates in the Boston Mountains, which are part of the rugged Ozark Mountains. There are ridges to climb, dense forests, cliffs, and rolling foothills that you can explore. If ATV riding is your thing, this is a prime spot!
Make your base camp at Mulberry River Outdoor Adventures, where you’ll find a full-service campground with tent and RV sites with water, sewer, and electricity hookups. Sites range from flat pull-throughs for larger RVs to primitive tent sites that you walk into.
There are fire rings at the campsites with firewood and ice available on site if needed. The campground is right on the river, too, so it’s just a couple of minutes walk to the river’s edge, even from the furthest site.
If you’re just swinging through the area, you can pay a $5.00 fee and spend the day exploring along the river, too. Camping rates range from $15.00 to $35.00 per night.
Campgrounds and Parks to Explore: Lost Lake Campground, Colorado
While this campground is certainly busier than others on this list, it’s just too good to pass up.
Located amongst soaring peaks, alpine lakes, and tons of recreational opportunities, this campground is an ideal basecamp for outdoor exploration in the area.
You can fish at Lost Lake and Dollar Lake, take a hike around Lost Lake Slough, head up Beckwith Pass for some amazing mountain views, and catch a glimpse of fields of wildflowers from mid-July through early August. The nearby road over Kebler Pass is hands-down one of the most impressive in the Rockies as well.
The campground is open June to October and is $20 per night.
Mount Timpooneke Campground, Utah
Photo by Jeremy Christensen via iStock
This campground is way off the beaten path and offers you a real feeling of seclusion and being in the backcountry.
And while you have to hike in during certain times of year, there is a road that’s open in the warmer months, so you can get that backcountry camping experience without having to hike in.
The location of the campground is ideal for people that want to be in the mountains with nearby wilderness areas to explore (in this case, the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness).
The campground has 28 total sites, so it’s fairly small, but it has tons of amenities like picnic tables, grills, and vault toilets. There are recreational opportunities nearby, including hiking, wildlife and bird watching, photography, and horseback riding.
Campgrounds and Parks to Explore: Jack Creek Campground, Wyoming
There are actually two Jack Creek Campgrounds in Wyoming, but the one we’re discussing here is near the hamlet of Saratoga in the Sierra Madre Range.
This is a small campground with just 16 sites, but it is equipped with fire rings, vault toilets, water, picnic tables, and trash service.
Nearby, you can explore miles of trails on your side by side, head to the hot springs to relax, and hike in the 2.9 million-acre Medicine Bow National Forest. If cabin life is up your alley, try reserving the cabin at the Jack Creek Guard Station for just $50 a night. Campsites are just $10 per night.
Lolo Creek Campground, Montana
Photo by jmoor17 via iStock
Located in the Lolo National Forest, this campground is right next to Lolo Creek, which gives you easy access to world-class trout fishing.
Nearby are other points of interest, including the Lewis and Clark and Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Hot springs are nearby, as is the Lolo Pass Visitor center.
This campground offers picnic tables and fire rings at each site. There are some RV parking spurs in addition to tent camping sites. Usage is light, but reservations are not accepted, so if you want to get the best spot, arrive early, especially on the weekends!
Campgrounds and Parks to Explore: Horse Cove Campground, North Carolina
Nestled in the Nantahala National Forest, Horse Cove offers loads of outdoor opportunities nearby.
You can hike, fish, and take photos, or if you prefer, you can kick back and relax at camp and read a good book with the sound of the Little Santeetlah Creek in the background.
And since this campground has just 18 spots, even at full capacity, you won’t be tripping over other campers!
The Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness is just a stone’s throw away, and with one of the largest old-growth forests in the area nearby, there are ample opportunities to explore some truly breathtaking territory.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
Photo by Bartfett via iStock
The calling card of this area is that it looks like something from the set of Star Trek…
The large lava formations and lava caves that are interspersed between the sagebrush have a rugged beauty to them.
There are many different spots for camping in the Monument, including the Lava Flow Campground, which, as you might have guessed, is set amongst a lava flow!
There are 42 sites, all of which are first-come first-serve. It’s a full-service campground with water, charcoal grills, restrooms, and picnic tables. All this is just $15 during the main season and $8 when the water is off.
Campgrounds and Parks to Explore: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Phoenix, McDowell Mountain Regional Park is both close to civilization, yet offers light usage and an epic desert setting.
There are bike trails in every direction, panoramic desert views, and some killer sunrise and sunset opportunities as well. Horseback riding, hiking, and stargazing are additional recreational opportunities.
Reservations are required, so plan ahead to ensure you can get a campsite.
Falls Campground, Wyoming
Photo by sean_in_307
Located about 20 minutes from the quaint old-west town of Dubois, the Falls Campground offers incredible mountain views and easy access to millions of acres of national forest land for recreation.
The Breccia Cliffs loom over the campground to the northeast while Brooks Lake Creek winds its way along the eastern edge of the campground. Hiking, fishing, off-roading, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing are just a few of the activities you can enjoy here. Grand Teton National Park is about 30 minutes to the west while the South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park is about an hour away.
There are two loops – one with electricity and pull-through and back-in spots for RVs and another loop with no electricity. The loop with electricity fills up on some weekends, but the loop without electricity is often quite desolate.
Sites are $20 per night for electricity and $15 for non-electricity. A bonus of the non-electric sites is that some of them are near Brooks Lake Creek Falls, so you can drift off to sleep to the soothing sounds of falling water!
Campgrounds and Parks to Explore: Bear Brook State Park, New Hampshire
If it’s activities you’re after, it’s tough to beat all the recreational opportunities in New Hampshire’s largest developed park.
Camping is an option, as are swimming, fishing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, and archery. You can explore thick forests, ponds, marshes, bogs, and summit nearby hills as well.
There are also museums, boat rentals, and cabin rentals in the area.
The 101 Site Campground offers more than 100 total sites for tents, pop-up trailers, small groups, and large groups. You can reserve a spot online.
Grandview Campground, Idaho
Photo by BurneyImageCreator via iStock
Located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, the Grandview Campground is an ideal basecamp for exploring nearby lakes, streams, mountains, and other recreational areas.
This is a very small campground with just 8 total sites, but each site has electricity, picnic tables, vault toilets, and drinking water.
Harriman State Park, which features Blue Ribbon trout fishing and various other wildlife viewing opportunities, is just 11 miles away via the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. The campground is right at the base of the Lower Mesa Falls, which along with Upper Mesa Falls are the only two major tributaries of the Henry’s Fork that aren’t slowed down by irrigation or hydroelectricity.
Campsites are $20 per night for singles or $40 per night for the double site. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov.