Summer is just around the corner, so the sun is out for longer, and we have more time to explore nature. Whether along our gorgeous coastlines or dramatic ridgetops, taking your adventure van out for a weekend road trip is the perfect way to settle into the summer.
After spending all week in an office building or indoors, having an outdoor adventure and waking up in scenic spots is something we never take for granted. Adventurers don’t need to hop on a plane to reach unique vacation destinations.
Our beautiful backyard has so many incredible summer camping destinations that are just begging for you to explore. All 50 states offer a fun summer adventure perfect for solo weekend warriors, family explorers, or friends who want to relish in the great outdoors.
From national parks to state parks and those undiscovered gems, where do you even start?
Grab a pen and paper to make a checklist; we’ve rounded up the top nine camping destinations to kick off your summer season early.
You do not have to wait until it is officially summer to enjoy the warm outdoor spots on this list either. You can round up all your van accessories, hit the road, and get into the summer groove early.
9 of the Best Camping Destinations in the US
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If you are looking for some of the best camping sites on the East Coast, look no further than Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This national park is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is teeming with pristine wilderness.
You can enjoy camping spots both in grassy knolls and in the actual backcountry of the park itself, depending on what you want. Install a Pull Out Tray as your bike rack on your adventure van and ride over miles of scenic trails.
Make sure you allow enough time to check out the range of hiking trails and dramatic waterfalls. From a distance, observe stunning wildlife, including black bears, otters, and rabbits.
Ludington State Park, Michigan
As summer approaches, the pure state of Michigan warms up and becomes even more magical to explore. If you want to get some fresh road trip ideas, consider making a van trip through Ludington State Park.
This state park offers numerous beautiful vantage points perfect for watching sunsets and sunrises from the top of your adventure camper. This diverse park offers a whole collection of diversity with landscapes, and you get dunes, wetlands, beaches, and even thick forests to explore.
This also means that the campsite options to park your van will vary. You can explore this park and wake up to a different type of environment every single day! What will it be: sand or trees?
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is one of the West Coast’s most prized possessions and feels like it comes straight from a movie set. It is also a great place to have a good camping trip this summer, with adventure, solitude, and plenty of sightseeing at your disposal.
Enjoy a beautiful sunset at Rialto beach, discover giant firs in the Hoh Rainforest, or feel like you’re on top of the world at Hurricane Ridge. This park seems to have it all and has some of the best PNW views you’ve been dreaming of.
Read the park’s official newspaper, The Bulger, assist with coastal cleanup efforts, or go fishing — there is something for everyone.
Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
Have you been wanting to bring your whole family along for a van adventure?
Look no further than Lake McConaughy in Nebraska. You will have the ability to camp right by the lake, which is always a magical experience. Ditch the crowds and disconnect from the outside world, creating memories with those who matter most.
During the day, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches of the lakefront and take out the sailboats, jet skis, and rowboats. Your most complex challenge here will likely be getting everyone in your group out of the water.
Glacier National Park, Montana
This one is an absolute must this summer. The best way to experience Glacier National Park is with your adventure van, allowing you to set up shop and feel at home.
Besides the mobility a camper van offers, the amenities, including kitchens, storage, and cooling systems, can make a big difference in your trip. However, this Montana location often sees ice year-round, so you might want to double-check your van heater options.
Top things to not miss while in Glacier National Park include the Hidden Lake Overlook, the majestic Virginia Falls, and Iceberg Lake. There is a lot to see, so you might return to this Montana oasis before you know it.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Perhaps one of our country's most underrated and incredible national parks lies in South Dakota. It is probably one of the coziest campsites; you can enjoy sleeping under the starry skies and stunning rock formations.
While there, you can take short hikes, drive through the scenic roads and connect with all the fantastic nature out there. Every part of this national park offers something enchanting.
Adirondack Park, New York
Ditch the heat in Manhattan this summer and hit the Adirondack Park in New York instead. Offering a stunning wilderness gem for those who want to camp this summer, you will be surrounded by mountain ranges, incredible collections of trees, and the silence that you will never find in a city.
If you plan on camping here, you will be perfectly set up to hit the trails daily with an extensive range of hikes. There are plenty of designated sites to choose from, with some even letting you park right up on the waterfront.
Fool Hollow Lake, Arizona
Looking for the ultimate camping and fishing trip heading into summer, look no further than Fool Hollow Lake in Arizona. Dwell amongst the scent of fresh pine and visions of beautiful lakes.
There are also many different camping sites, all offering waterfront views. Wake up to a water view and then spend the day on the water while kayaking, fishing, swimming, or lounging.
Assateague Island, Maryland
The Assateague Island in Maryland is one of the best as summer approaches. You can see wild ponies, enjoy a range of hiking trails, and get an excellent sightseeing opportunity at the lighthouse. If you take your family on the trip, children who are fans of the Misty of Chincoteague series will be delighted to see the real-life inspiration behind the classic novels.
Keep in mind: If you want to drive over the sand, you’ll need an Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) permit for a remarkable experience.
Start Summer Early on the Road
Why wait when you can hit the road now in your decked-out adventure van? No matter what part of America you live in, there are plenty of wonderful camping destinations. Week-long trips are incredible, but true adventurers know that there is something magical about a weekend trip to somewhere inspiring.
Where will you be going first?