Having a great camping experience is as much about the people you’re with as it is about the campsite, but there’s no doubt that having a great view to look at while cracking a cold one after a long day outdoors doesn’t hurt either. Finding a truly great campsite can be a hassle, so to save you some time otherwise wasted on internet-searching, we tapped into our personal experience to recommend ten truly bucket-list-worthy campsites around the contiguous US. Each site has an absolutely killer view that will make you want to pack up everything and move there permanently.
North Rim Campground, Grand Canyon, Arizona
While some campsites at the Grand Canyon can feel cheap and touristy, the North Rim Campground is significantly less so and offers more of a feeling of isolation. There are absolutely stellar views of the canyon, and each night at sunset, the red desert rock is painted pink, purple and orange by the setting sun.
Price Per Night: $50
Facilities: drinking water spigots, picnic tables, campfire rings with cooking grills, showers and laundry
Nearest city: Fredonia, AZ
Emerald Bay State Park, California
Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park is often either completely full, or fairly empty. From the campground, go for a hike on the Rubicon Trail that hugs the lakeshore cliffs offering incredible views of the entire lake. Be sure to stop by the site of the historic Rubicon Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1919.
Price Per Night: $35
Facilities: Fire rings, showers, water fill-up station, restrooms and boating
Nearest city: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Kirk Creek Campground, Big Sur, California
Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in picturesque Big Sur, Kirk Creek has one of the best sunset views of any campsite in the US. Half of the tent sites are held for reservations and the other half are doled out on a first-come-first-served-basis. It’s not uncommon for the campsites to be completely full upon arrival, so it’s best to make a reservation.
Price Per Night: $25
Facilities: Campfire rings, general store, tables and grills
Nearest city: Monterey, CA
Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree, California
Jumbo Rocks, located in the northwest section of Joshua Tree offers 124 tent sites that are accessible by car. Whether you’re a stargazer or a rock climber or both, Jumbo Rocks offers a little bit of something for everyone.
Price Per Night: $15 (no reservations)
Facilities: Primitive (bring water)
Nearest city: Twentynine Palms, CA
Blue Lakes, Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, Colorado
Nestled away in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness is Blue Lakes. The area is home to bright-blue alpine cirques and is close to a number of 14,000-foot peaks, for those who like peak bagging. The trailhead is located just north of Telluride, Colorado, which is a great place to refuel with a world-class meal after a few days in the mountains.
Price Per Night: Free
Nearest city: Telluride, CO
Fairy Head, Maine
While Acadia National Park may get all of the hype, Cutler, Maine’s Fairy Head is the quieter and more removed option. Located two hours north of Acadia by car, Fairy Head rarely gets as crowded as Acadia does. There are three primitive campsites located on the rocky coast overlooking the Atlantic. The trail is a 9.2-mile loop, almost four miles of which hug the rocky shoreline.
Price Per Night: Free
Nearest city: Machias, ME
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
Very few places in the US that have wild horses, but Assateague Island is one of those special places. A small population of wild horses roam the beaches of the island and often play in the water. There are many beachfront campsites at Assateague, allowing you a front-row seat to a very rare animal population.
Price Per Night: $30
Facilities: Chemical toilets, cold water showers and drinking water
Nearest city: Ocean City, MD
Twelvemile Beach Campground, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore flies under the radar when it comes to popular outdoor adventure areas, but we can’t seem to figure out why. It’s located on the upper peninsula of Michigan and is comprised of 40 miles of lakeshore with salient cliffs and coves to explore. Twelvemile Beach Campground is located right on the water and offers access to some 100 miles of hiking trails in the park.
Price Per Night: $16
Nearest city: Munising, MI
Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, Utah
Few places are as magical as the Southwest, and Watchman Campground puts you right at the footsteps of one of the Southwest’s best attractions — Zion National Park. The campground provides incredible views of natural rock formations including the Watchman. It’s also a great basecamp for trekking out to see arches like the Great Arch.
Price Per Night: $50
Facilities: Drinking water, restrooms, fire rings
Nearest city: Springdale, UT
Cirque of the Towers, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
There are few places as picturesque in the Tetons as Cirque of the Towers. Rock climbers will already be well aware of this spot, but hikers should seek it out as well. It’s often empty, requiring a 55-mile drive and 8.7-mile hike to get to the cirque. Be sure to follow all local restrictions when camping near Lonesome Lake. No camping is permitted within a quarter mile of the lake.