The Best US National Parks For Camping, According To Reviews

For many of us, a vacation means a stay at a high-end hotel packed with amenities. For others, the only amenities they need are a pit toilet and a view. That's where these national park campsites come in, where those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life can park their sleeping bags in some of the vastest areas of wilderness in the country, still mostly untapped by human hands.

If you're thinking of snagging a campsite instead of a 1,000-thread-count bed for your getaway this year, check out these national parks, which offer the best campsites in the nation. To decipher the best for hardy travelers, we examined which national park campsites had the best reviews, the most diverse environments, and the best nearby points of interest. To learn more about how we assembled this list, visit the slide at the end of this article. Until then, enjoy dreaming of nights under the stars, surrounded by majestic beauty.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Featuring one of the oldest mountain ranges in the country, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks to visit in the United States. And with wildlife, mountains, and forests, there are countless reasons to extend a visit with an overnight camping trip. That's made easy since the park has eight seasonal and two year-round campsites, so you can visit the Smokies whenever you please. The campsites range from the secluded and primitive to the family-friendly and amenity-bound.

For a campsite with everything from views to history to modern conveniences, there's the Cades Cove Campground, which can accommodate more than 160 groups. Here, families can enjoy bathrooms with running water and flush toilets, as well as picnic tables and a general store. Plus, it's only 9 miles from Townsend, Tennessee, so you don't need to get too far from civilization. The campsite has a 4.5 rating on, with one camper saying, "One of the most beautiful places a person can experience." If getting away from civilization is your goal, you can also do that when camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cataloochee Campground has just 27 sites, so you can feel more at one with nature here, as well as rainbow and brook trout fishing and hiking trails that are much more seldomly used than other park trails.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona and Utah

Grand Canyon National Park has campsites for everyone. That includes people who want to visit the park's super-popular South Rim, which has seasonal and year-round campgrounds. This portion of the park is near both highways and cities, so it's more developed and energetic. A whopping 90% of park visitors choose the South Rim over the North Rim. One of those campgrounds to clamor for is Mather Campground, which has nearly 330 campsites, all with access to campfires, picnic tables, parking spaces, drinking water, and flush toilets.

If you want to see the more natural side of Grand Canyon National Park, trek to the North Rim, which takes five hours from the South Rim. People can only camp in the North Rim from May 15 through October 15, as the 8,000-foot elevation can lead to extreme weather as the temperature drops. Unlike the South Rim, the only way to get here is by car. Campers can make a reservation at the North Rim Campground, which is at an 8,200-foot elevation and offers 87 sites with access to flush toilets and hot showers. The campsite has a 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor, with one camper saying, "This is the nicest National Park Service campground in which we have ever stayed. The rangers and the campground hosts are friendly and helpful." However, be careful — Grand Canyon National Park is also one of the most dangerous parks around the world.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park receives 4.5 million visitors every year, and its five campsites book up quickly. However, there are also lots of opportunities to camp here since Rocky Mountain National Park offers winter camping from October to May at the 27-site Aspenglen Campground. Although you won't be able to enjoy flush toilets or onsite water here during winter camping, the visitor center, restaurant, and horse stables are just a short walk away. Alternatively, you can hike to Little Horseshoe Park and appreciate the tranquil, snowy views.

If you opt for summer camping, Rocky Mountain National Park has several campsites to choose from, such as the Glacier Basin Campground, known for its striking mountain views — so scenic that this was where the 100th birthday celebration of the park was held. From here, visitors can hike to Spruce Lake, as well as the same horse stables near Aspenglen Campground. Since this campground is near a transit hub, it's also an ideal spot to catch a shuttle bus to other park hotspots. Although there are 150 campsites to choose from here, keep in mind that the sites are slightly smaller than some of the other nearby options. Campers don't seem to care too much since the campground has a 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor. Said one visitor, "Really great campground. Beautiful views and wildlife. The bathrooms are extremely clean and nice."

Zion National Park, Utah

There are just three campsites to choose from in Zion National Park, but that's not surprising due to the untamed nature of this park, which is home to sky-scraping canyons, unforgettable drives and hikes, and rare plants and animals. One of the most rustic spots to camp here is the Lava Point Campground, a seasonal campground with six spots — and only pit toilets and trash cans to count as "amenities." At one of the highest points in the park at 7,890 feet above sea level, it's the place to truly get to know Mother Nature. The campground garnered 4 stars on The Dyrt, with one camper saying, "You will see some beautiful country and you won't have to fight the crowds for a campsite. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth!"

If you're not looking to get quite so rustic, then don't waste time booking one of Watchman Campground's 203 spots, which cost $50 to $130 per night for up to 40 people and have access to toilets, fire rings, electric hookups at some sites, and more. Plus, it's only a half-mile jaunt from the south entrance of the park. It was rated the best campsite in Zion National Park on Tripadvisor and earned a score of 4.5. One camper said, "This was one of the most beautiful NPS campgrounds I have stayed in."

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is known as the "Land of Giants" for many reasons. It is home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall on the continent, as well as El Capitan (the tallest monolith on the planet) and world-famous sequoia trees that date back three millennia. Even its campsites can be added to the list of what's oversized in this park, as its 14 sites receive four million visitors every year. That includes the Bridalveil Creek Campground, within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at 7,200 feet in the air. From here, campers can see some of the "giants" the park is known for. The campsite has swooped up 5 stars on The Dyrt. One reviewer said, "Getting a reservation here is a bit like winning the lottery. The granite cliffs and waterfalls are something to treasure."

Another campground at Yosemite National Park is Lower Pines Campground, which releases its campsites for reservation five months in advance — and they often sell out in minutes. At 4,000 feet above sea level, it's scenic and accessible, as it's easy to get to trailheads from here, like the Mirror Lake/Meadow hike and the Half Dome hike. Plus, the campsites are about as close to glamping in Yosemite National Park as you can get since they offer paved roads, drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and food storage lockers. Nearby is also a restaurant, bar, amphitheater, and activities desk.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana

Established in 1807, Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the country and remains one of the most famous parks in the United States. The reasons for that go far beyond its history. This park sits atop geothermal forces that have created springs and geysers, including the famous Old Faithful, all surrounded by mountains, canyons, and animals. Throughout the park's dozen campsites, campers can choose from picturesque options on the banks of Yellowstone Lake, in a pine forest, overlooking Electric Peak, and more, including Mammoth Campground, named for its proximity to Mammoth Hot Springs. At this year-round campground, you can have quick access to the springs as well as wildlife, as you're likely to see wild bison and elk here.

If getting close to nature is what you're after, then the secluded Slough Creek Campground — with just 16 campsites — is the best choice. Here, you're likely to see bears, deer, and bison, as the seasonal campsite is located in a meadow. You'll have to embrace the rustic here — Slough Creek Campground has pit toilets and doesn't allow generators. Despite its simplicity, it has a 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor, with one review remarking, "This campground is a little north and east of all of the sites, but this is a fantastic spot that is off the main Yellowstone roads. You'll be in the heart of all of the wildlife." Not camping? Here's what to do if you only have one day here.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Unlike many of these national parks nestled upon mountain ranges and far from beaches, Acadia National Park hugs the coast of Maine for over 47,000 acres throughout Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle au Haut. The park offers five campsites that all require reservations, which are perfect for a winter adventure in a national park. The most accessible for those looking to see Acadia National Park's highlights is Blackwoods Campground, located on Mount Desert Island and just a quick walk to the ocean. It costs $30 to rent a site with access to flush toilets, running water, picnic tables, and fire rings.

If you're looking for a wilder experience — and you're quick on your keyboard, as this site only has five spots — try to snag a campsite at Duck Harbor Campground. Being on Isle au Haut, it can only be reached by ferry. Campers set up their tents inside lean-to shelters, provided they manage to drag them the 4 miles it takes to reach the site from the ferry landing. There aren't any stores on the island, so if you forgot any supplies, you're out of luck. However, campers love Duck Harbor Campground. It has a rating of 4.9 on, with one camper saying, "Unbelievable setting and wonderful shelters. I'm grateful this place exists!"

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

It's all about the snow-capped Grand Teton mountains at Grand Teton National Park, which form the backdrop of this park that stretches 310,000 acres and includes the Snake River, mountaineering routes, lakes, streams, and stunning wildlife such as elk, moose, and bison. It's no surprise that about 2.8 million people visit this Wyoming park annually, some opting to stay overnight at one of Grand Teton National Park's seven campsites. The biggest here is Colter Bay Campground, which, even though it has room for more than 300 groups, feels private enough to enjoy your stay at the park in peace. The site is near both Jackson Lake, a natural glacial lake framed by the mountain range, and Colter Bay Village, which has everything campers need, such as supplies, food, laundry facilities, and more.

Another favorite campsite in the park is Jenny Lake Campground, which is all about the location. As the name suggests, this campground is on the banks of the beautiful Jenny Lake — also surrounded by the Grand Teton mountain range — and is near tons of great hiking trails. Plus, it has plenty of modern conveniences, like flushing toilets and showers. The campground has a 4.8 rating on, with campers commenting, "I'm so glad we chose Jenny Lake over the other campgrounds. You can just walk from your campsite to the lake."

Olympic National Park, Washington

Not many parks can boast that they offer every kind of natural environment, from glaciers to forests to beaches, but the near-million acres that encompass Olympic National Park in Washington aren't your everyday park. Its campsites reflect that diversity, so you can choose the ecosystem you want to reside in during your stay at the park, making it one of the West Coast's best camping destinations. If you're looking for a mountainous respite, grab a spot at first-come, first-served Deer Park Campground,  5,400 feet up in the air. With only 14 sites, as well as pit toilets and no trash cans, it's a remote and secluded experience that gets you close to the nature that makes the park famous. It has 5 stars on The Dyrt, with one camper remarking, "This is the best little campground! Campground was clean and quiet."

For a more water-friendly experience at the park, reserve a spot at Fairholme Campground, which sits on the banks of Lake Crescent and has a boat launch. This 88-site campground has flush toilets and potable water, so it's a much less primitive experience than a stay at Deer Park Campground.

Glacier National Park, Montana

The name of Glacier National Park in Montana isn't ironic, you know. The park is the home of former glaciers dating all the way back to the Ice Age, and campers can enjoy it via countless hikes throughout its million acres. There's no better way to engross yourself in the ambiance of the park than camping at one of its 13 campgrounds, most of which operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

One of the most popular is the Many Glacier Campground, just a stone's throw away from several park hikes offering views of the surrounding glaciers. This 109-site campground has amenities like flush toilets and running water, so it accepts reservations to accommodate the many interested campers. For a completely different experience, snag a spot at one of the 13 first-come, first-served campsites at Kintla Lake Campground, which is on its namesake lake and is extremely secluded, making for a private and relaxing experience just miles from Canada. The campground has 5 stars on The Dyrt. One camper said, "I could live here. Such an incredible place and best over all camping experience ever!" Don't want to camp at the park? Stay at this gorgeously rustic lodge waiting within Glacier National Park instead. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Take a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park, and you'll wonder if you're even in the United States. This unique park — arguably the most underrated in Colorado — preserves the tallest sand dunes on the continent, formed millions of years ago due to melting waters from surrounding mountain ranges. Today, the dunes make for a one-of-a-kind hike or even a sandboarding or sand sledding session.

If you camp overnight at Great Sand Dunes National Park, you'll enjoy a sky unbothered by artificial light, as it's a designated International Dark Sky Park. To camp, get a first-come, first-served backcountry camping permit or reserve one of the 86 spots at the Pinon Flats Campground, with firepits, picnic tables, dump stations, sinks, and more. From here, campers will have amazing views of the surrounding dunes and even waves, depending on the season, since snowmelt fills a former creek basin every summer. The campground has a 4.5 rating and nearly 50 reviews on Tripadvisor, with one camper saying, "We tent camped two nights at this campground and had a great experience. The sites are big enough, close to the trails, and some have beautiful views of the dunes."

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Despite what its name suggests, you won't find any sea creatures at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, which is one of the Beehive State's five national parks. Instead, you will find a winding path of towering cliffs, canyons, and domes, similar to what one might find when swimming through in a coral reef. These massive monoclines are the biggest and most beautiful in the country, and campers can sleep around the corner from them thanks to the park's three campgrounds.

The most modern campground is Fruita Campground, which is near the Fremont River and provides 71 campsites with firepits, picnic tables, a dump station, and potable water. If you really want to rough it, head to the first-come, first-served Cathedral Valley Campground, with just six campsites at 7,000 feet of elevation. It's best to drive a 4x4 to reach this spot and bring plenty of water, as you won't find any here. The campground has a perfect rating on Tripadvisor, and as one camper said, "Incredibly difficult to reach but the journey is worth it! Amazing views!"


There are more than 400 national parks throughout more than half the U.S. and nearly 1,500 campgrounds throughout those parks — meaning your options for camping at American national parks are pretty much endless. We combed through those many parks to determine which offered the best campgrounds for our readers.

We chose national parks that had campgrounds that had four or more stars on sites such as Tripadvisor and The Dyrt, as well as parks that had diversified campground offerings — so whether you want a primitive, private experience on the side of a remote mountain or a glamped-up stay in a family-friendly locale, you can find the right campground for you. We chose parks with campgrounds near amazing park sites, so a stay there means a unique experience that can't be found anywhere else.