After a day spent wandering wooded paths, admiring breathtaking views, and dipping your toes into a crystal clear creek, you huddle around a campfire to look up at the glowing stars, crack a beer, and enjoy a some s’mores—ahh, peace and quiet. Then you zip up into your tent for a few (mosquito-free) hours and wake to the faint hint of early morning sunlight and the sweet sound of birds chirping in the distance. This is what camping is all about.
In honor of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, we rounded up the best places to camp in the country. You’ll learn the coolest features of each natural wonderland, how much it costs, and the best time of year to visit. So what are you waiting for? Find your park, then grab your tent, bear-proof cooler, and a few friends for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Why It’s Cool: Maine is known as the Pine Tree State for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams—basically a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels. Looking for a unique experience? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point along the East Coast) during dawn and be the first person in the U.S. to see the sun rise that morning.
Where to Camp: The park has three campgrounds: Blackwoods (closer to the island’s town center, Bar Harbor), Seawall (a more rustic, less touristy environment), and Schoodic Woods (surrounded by water on the Schoodic Peninsula). While visitors can enjoy hiking throughout the entire park, camping is allowed only in these designated areas (backcountry enthusiasts, take note).
When It’s Open: Blackwoods campground is open year-round (permit required December to March). Seawall is open from late May through September. Schoodic is open from late May until Columbus Day.
Cost: Blackwoods costs $30 per site per night from May to October, $15 in April and November, and is free December to March. Seawall and Schoodic will set you back $22 for a walk-in site, plus $8 to $18 for drive-up tent, camper, and motor home sites.