There is no better feeling than hopping in your adventure van and setting out for a weekend outdoors. The only problem is there are countless incredible camping destinations across the country, and it can be difficult to pick one.
You might dream of filling your itinerary with hiking, watersports, or mountain bike adventures, and more. So, where is the best camping spot for you?
From Maine to Washington, the US is full of adventure and plenty of places to stop and camp. We’ve rounded up some of the best camping destinations across the country that offer a range of activities and sights to see. If you’re feeling adventurous and have some time, try to tackle multiple stops in one excursion, creating the perfect adventure van road trip.
What Are the Most Beautiful Places in the US?
These camping destinations are not only exciting for van lifers, day hikers, and backpackers. They offer some of the most beautiful views and some of the best camping spots in the country.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Known for its rocky beaches and glacier-scarred granite peaks, Acadia is home to the highest point on the Eastern seaboard and endless opportunities for some backcountry camping adventures.
If you want a personal park tour from the comfort of your adventure van, drive along the 27-mile Park Loop Road. You will pass by major sights like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs.
To explore the park’s most famous beach, head over to Sand Beach. Although the water temperature never rises above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the views of the surrounding granite walls and towering evergreen trees are remarkable.
Take a walk along the Precipice Trail for a rewarding and memorable hike. Although it’s only two miles roundtrip, the elevation changes, and steep drop-offs can be challenging to traverse, but the scenic summit makes it a “must-do” activity if you are up for the challenge.
Minnewaska State Park, New York
This natural oasis sits just a few hours outside of New York City. When you visit Minnewaska State Park, check out Awosting Falls, the main waterfall in the park.
A walking trail leads right to the waterfall, passing a river that feeds into the rushing water. The path is only a few hundred feet long, so that you will be face-to-face with this 60-foot waterfall in no time. Swimming isn't allowed here, so pack a lunch and enjoy the views instead.
After parking your adventure van in the southern parking lot by Lake Minnewaska, you will have immediate access to a trail that stretches along the lake's perimeter. The walk will have breathtaking views, and the terrain is pretty level and easy to hike.
Lastly, don't forget to enjoy the water activities offered on the lake. You can dip in the designated swimming area or rent a kayak to explore the entirety of the water's surface to top off your camping experience.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Preserving a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park has countless overlooks and trailheads. Before beginning your hiking adventures, we recommend hopping in your van for a drive down Skyline Drive.
Running down the backbone of the park, this 105-mile-long drive will take you past breathtaking overlooks. Pull over at Range View Overlook, Buck Hollow Overlook, and the Point Overlook for a chance to hop out of your van, stretch your legs, and soak in the magical views that are everywhere in the nation park.
One of the most popular hikes on the trail is Dark Hollow Falls, a short, easy, family-friendly journey to one of the tallest waterfalls in the park. Find the trailhead after parking your van in the Dark Hollow Falls parking area on Skyline Drive. Take some family photos on the large and steady boulders at the waterfall's base.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
This protected area off the coast of Maryland and Virginia is known for its sandy beaches and unique landscape.
Assateague State Park is the only oceanfront park in Mayland. With two miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches ideal for swimming, soaking up the sun, surfing, and fishing, you won’t have a problem filling your days with activities here. Additionally, this state park has plenty of campsites for overnight stays in your van.
If you love water activities, you will appreciate the island's western side. You can rent a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe on the calm water. This is also the perfect opportunity to try and catch a clam or crab.
Life of the Forest Trail is a short nature walk that’s only half a mile long but will take you through the thick of the marsh on the island. While on the trail, you might even be able to spot the Assateague Island horses.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Maybe you dream of a warmer state like California or Arizona, but your travels are taking you east. In that case, head for Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. You can't technically camp at this National Park, but it's absolutely stunning and worth the day trip by ferry.
A group of islands sitting seventy miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a gorgeous remote park that is often considered an underrated gem open year-round. One of the most popular pastimes in this national park is snorkeling.
This 100-square-mile park is over 99% water and is known for its crystal clear water. Dive into the water to admire one of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean and groups of tropical fish, sea turtles, and lobsters.
Fort Jefferson, a masonry structure that was never fully completed, covers most of the park. You can sign up for a guided tour of the system and learn about its historical significance, or you can explore it at your own pace.
If you are interested in bird watching, don’t forget to pack your binoculars in your Sprinter headliner shelf. Dry Tortugas is a world-class birding destination and will expose you to over 200 varieties of birds.
Dry Tortugas is only accessible by ferry; park your adventure van at the Key West Park Campground before heading over.
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
With over 1.2 million acres in the Ozark mountains, Ozark National Forest is an impressive camping destination.
You will likely want to spend a few days here exploring all the area offers, so be sure to park your van at The White Rock Mountain Recreation Area. This site is ranked as one of the most developed campgrounds in the entire state. You can access a general store, van hookups, hiking trails, vault toilets, picnic tables, grills, and trash services here.
After exploring the aboveground, tour the underground cavern system beneath the forest for a few hours. Staying at a pleasant 58 degrees year-round, you will feel comfortable as you wonder at the glistening formations. There are several trails through the underground cavern that you can explore on your own or a guided tour.
If you visit during the warmer months, dip in the naturally forming swimming holes. Some of the best spots are Walnut Creek, Buffalo River, and Big Shoal Creek.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Nestled in the heart of Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park offers a distinctive and enchanting camping experience for nature enthusiasts.
The park is named after its iconic Joshua Trees, Yucca brevifolia, whose spiky silhouettes create a surreal landscape, especially when juxtaposed against giant boulders and starlit skies. Campers can choose from various campgrounds (check the local restrictions before heading out), each offering its unique charm, whether it's the breathtaking boulders around White Tank or the rock formations of Hidden Valley. As the sun sets, the desert sky unveils a magnificent tapestry of stars, making it a haven for stargazers. Besides the captivating natural beauty, the park offers many recreational activities, from rock climbing and hiking to bird watching and photography.
With its perfect blend of tranquility and adventure, Joshua Tree National Park stands out as one of the best camping destinations in the USA.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Stretching across 224,000 acres and featuring unique and impressive natural formations, Badlands National Park is an excellent choice for a beautiful camping trip.
Hike one of the most popular trails leading to some of the most expansive and magnificent views in the park: Saddle Pass Trail. Although it is less than a mile long, the steep climb is no joke.
Upon making it to the overlook, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the park. Additionally, this trail connects to Castle Trail at the top if you want to extend your hike.
Badlands National Park is known as one of the best places in the country to watch the sunrise. The long horizon and low-sitting hills provide the perfect landscape to watch the sky light up with blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows. For the best seat in the house, head over to Big Badlands Overlook.
The entrance to the overlook is located near both of the overnight campgrounds, making the journey from your adventure van to your sunrise-viewing spot nice and easy.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Tucked away in the vast expanse of West Texas, Big Bend National Park promises campers an unmatched fusion of rugged landscapes and profound serenity.
Spanning across the Chihuahuan Desert, the Chisos Mountains, and the meandering Rio Grande, this park offers an extraordinary medley of environments. The stark contrast of the desert's arid plains against the lush riverbanks and soaring mountain peaks gives campers a unique backdrop for their adventures.
For those seeking solitude, Big Bend's remote location ensures a getaway far from the hustle and bustle of urban life, with nighttime skies ablaze in a spectacle of stars, largely unhindered by light pollution. Campgrounds here cater to various experiences, from the high-altitude Chisos Basin with its cooler temperatures and panoramic views to the Rio Grande Village, nestled by the river's edge. Along with its captivating vistas, Big Bend offers abundant trails, hot springs, and opportunities for river expeditions.
For those in pursuit of a profound connection with nature, Big Bend National Park delivers a camping experience that is both raw and rejuvenating.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains and is best known for its glacier peaks and deep valleys. One of the most popular activities in the park is to drive along the Going-to-the-Sun road — book a car reservation ahead of time!
Regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in the entire country, you’ll feel constantly surprised by the twists and turns through the mountains. There are plenty of spots to pull over and take some time to enjoy the view, so have your camera ready.
For a moderately challenging trail that will make you feel tiny compared to the towing evergreens and mountaintops, take a hike along the Avalanche Lake Trail. This trail takes you through 4.5 miles of canyon pathways that offer nonstop views.
If you want a break from driving yourself, book yourself on a boat tour of one of the glacier’s lakes. Gliding on top of Swiftcurrent, Josephine, or Saint Mary Lake will give you time to relax, take in the views, and let someone else do the driving on your getaway.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park is another must-visit camping destination with incredibly scenic views around almost every turn. In short, Grand Teton should be on everyones bucket list.
Teton Park Road lasts 42 miles and will take you down the length of the Teton mountain range, along Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake, and past multiple overlook points that have room for you to park your van and admire the views out of the car or go tent camping.
Similarly, a trip to Grand Teton NP is not complete without driving up Signal Mountain. This drive will take you to the Jackson Lake overlook, which is arguably the most scenic view in the entire park (which is really saying something). Enjoy panoramic views of the park, the mountain range, and Jackson Lake.
Most people travel to this park for peace, solitude, and mountain views, and there is no better place to experience this than Jenny Lake campground. Grab a boat rental and go out on the calm water, and marvel at the gorgeous landscape around you. That’s one experience to check off your bucket list.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is only a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area, but once you set foot in this park, you'll be blown away by its unmatched natural beauty.
Famous for its iconic granite cliffs, including El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite offers incredible views, world-class rock climbing and some of the best camping in the western USA.
Campers have an array of options to immerse themselves in nature, with campgrounds spread from the valley floor to the higher elevations, each providing its unique perspective of the park. Just make sure to book reservations in advance - Yosemite is one of the most popular National Parks, and camping spots are hard to get during the peak season.
In the summer months, we recommend taking a dip in the Merced River that flows through the Yosemite Valley. As night descends, the valley is bathed in a glow, and the sunsets are known to be some of the best in the world when the light hits the granite walls. Hiking, rock climbing, and simply taking in the sheer majesty of the surrounding area are just a fraction of the experiences that await.
Yosemite National Park is not just a camping destination; it's an adventurer's playground.
Olympic National Park, Washington
The West is home to some of the most scenic states in the country. You’ll find the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and Big Sur on this side of the country. States like California, Nevada, and Utah offer unparalleled beauty. The unique combination of dunes, ocean views, and colossal rock formations is like nowhere else in the world.
While San Francisco, Joshua Tree, and other West Coast cities offer plenty of spectacular camping, there’s no place like Olympic National Park in Washington.
Known as one of the best national parks in the country, this is a staple on lists of the most beautiful camping destinations. To immediately immerse yourself in the lush beauty of the park, head to the Hoh Rain Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in America.
Receiving over 200 inches of rainfall a year, the rich and thriving foliage creates the quietest place in North America — and one of the most peaceful places in the world. The Hall of Mosses Trail here is an invigorating journey for those wanting to see otherworldly plant life - just make sure to wear waterproof hiking boots.
Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular camping areas within the park and offers one of the most beautiful lookout points. After driving about 45 minutes up Hurricane Road in your van, you should reach the overlook that looks over the surrounding ridges, peaks, and valleys.
On a clear day, it will feel like you are standing on top of the world. There’s no better place for stargazing.
Camp in America’s Most Beautiful Locations
There are endless options across the country for a beautiful camping trip.
Hopefully, you felt inspired by our list and were able to pick a destination for your next weekend's adventure. You'll have phenomenal views, exciting adventures, and a refreshing experience regardless of where you go.
However, before hopping on the road, be sure your adventure van is in working condition and pick up any last-minute essentials you need at Flatline Van Co. We are here to give you what your van needs and provide some tips and tricks for life out on the road.