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Back to Nature: Your Essential Guide to the Best National Parks for Summer Camping

4 minute read

By Ryan Pratt

Summer is a season of exploration and outdoor adventures, inviting nature enthusiasts to escape into the heart of America’s stunning national parks. These iconic landscapes, brimming with breathtaking wildlife and natural beauty, offer the perfect canvas for a memorable camping experience. From grand mountains and pristine lakes to towering sequoias and vibrant wildflowers, the diverse settings cater to every camper’s dream. Start a search today to find some of the best national parks for summer camping.

Shutterstock: Photo Volcano

The Grandeur of Grand Teton National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $26 per night 1

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is a paradise for campers. 2 The park boasts a backdrop of stunning mountains, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Camping here is an immersive experience in nature’s grandeur. Few places match the serene beauty of this rugged yet tranquil landscape.

When visiting Grand Teton National Park, consider exploring Jenny Lake. It’s a popular spot for boating and hiking with exceptional views of the Teton Range. Don’t miss the chance to see the historic Menor’s Ferry, a testament to the valley’s early settlers. For a bit of a challenge, hike to Inspiration Point, which offers a panoramic view of the park.

Experience the Magic of Yosemite National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $26 per night 3

In California, Yosemite National Park holds a special place in the hearts of nature lovers. 4 With its impressive waterfalls and towering sequoias, the park is awe-inspiring. Its varied campgrounds cater to both tent campers and RV enthusiasts. Summer nights in Yosemite offer clear skies perfect for stargazing.

Yosemite National Park houses Half Dome, a stunning rock formation attracting climbers from around the world. Another highlight is Mariposa Grove, home to over 500 ancient giant sequoias. Don’t forget to visit Glacier Point. This viewpoint gives a spectacular vista of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra.

Discover the Wonders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $30 per night 5

Nestled on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, this park captivates with its diverse flora and fauna. The lush greenery and wildflowers create a picture-perfect camping setting. Moreover, the park offers activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is truly a haven for nature enthusiasts. 6

Be sure to visit the historic structures in Cades Cove, a broad valley surrounded by mountains. The Cove offers numerous trails leading to waterfalls, wildlife sightings, and historical buildings.

Embrace the Wild of Denali National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $15 per night 7

Venturing to Alaska’s Denali National Park is an adventurous choice for summer camping. 8 Denali houses North America’s tallest peak, providing breathtaking views. The park’s vast wilderness and diverse wildlife make camping here an unforgettable experience. However, prepare for colder nights, even in the summer.

In Denali National Park, the adventurous can take the park bus to Wonder Lake, one of the deepest in Alaska. Be aware, however, that Denali is a home to both grizzly and black bears! For a historical perspective, visit the old mining town of Kantishna, which offers a glimpse into Alaska’s gold rush past.

Explore the Mystique of Joshua Tree National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $20 per night 9

In Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park invites campers with its unique desert landscape. 10 The park gets its name from the distinctive Joshua trees that dot its expanse. Rock formations and clear, night skies add to its appeal. The tranquility of the desert under a blanket of stars is a magical experience.

Joshua Tree National Park is a rock climber’s paradise, with over 8,000 climbing routes available. If climbing isn’t your forte, consider a drive through the park at sunset. The changing colors on the rocks and trees create a spectacular display.

Immerse in the Greenery of Shenandoah National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $30 per night 11

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is a dream for campers who love green landscapes. 12 The park is famous for its Skyline Drive, which offers panoramic views. Also, with its cascading waterfalls and quiet woods, Shenandoah provides a refreshing escape. It’s a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For the adventurous in Shenandoah National Park, the Old Rag Mountain hike is a must. This challenging circuit hike is one of the most popular in the Mid-Atlantic region. Bird lovers will find the park a joy, as it hosts over 200 species of birds.

Be Mesmerized by Glacier National Park

Camp sites: Starting at $10 per night 13

Glacier National Park in Montana is known for its spectacular glacier-carved peaks and crystal-clear lakes. 14 The park’s diverse ecosystems and vibrant wildflower meadows make it a picturesque camping destination. You can engage in outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and wildlife spotting.

One of Glacier National Park’s most beautiful features is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This scenic mountain road is an engineering marvel and provides stunning views. Additionally, the park offers over 700 miles of trails for hiking enthusiasts. Remember to keep an eye out for native wildlife, including mountain goats, the park’s official symbol.

An Extraordinary Camping Adventure

Summer is the perfect time to explore the diverse landscapes of our national parks. Camping in these parks offers not just an escape from the ordinary, but a journey into the extraordinary. Every park has its unique charm, from the dramatic peaks of Denali to the serene desert of Joshua Tree.

So pack your camping gear, lace up your hiking boots, and set out for an adventure that promises to enrich your spirit and create lifelong memories. As you prepare for your trip, remember to respect the environment. Leave no trace and help preserve these magnificent spaces for generations to come. Happy camping!

Ryan Pratt



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