U.S. Camping Destinations With the Best Views
There's nothing like a camping trip to disconnect from everyday life and get out into nature. Whether you're looking for an adventurous camping trip or just a leisurely long weekend to unplug and unwind, you'll want to take a look at these five U.S. camping destinations that have the best views.
Acadia National Park, Maine
They don't call Maine the Pine Tree State (yes, that's a real thing) for nothing. Step into any park inside the state and you'll find yourself surrounded by gorgeous pine trees. Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine is no exception. Located on the Atlantic coast, you can get views of not just trees, but the Atlantic shoreline.
What's really stunning is the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain. If you hike there at sunrise, you can enjoy the thrill of being the very first person in the country to see the sunrise, since that's the easternmost point of land in the United States. This fact alone makes the trek worth it.
There are three campgrounds inside the park. Blackwoods is closer to the town center and is better for those of us who prefer to camp in a secluded area but enjoy knowing there's civilization just a short drive away. If you want a more rustic camping experience, you'll want to stay at Seawall. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy views of the water from your campsite, then you'll want to check out Schoodic Woods. Know that you can hike anywhere you want in the park, but these are the only three designated areas where you're allowed to set up camp.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
When you're standing in the middle of Washington, D.C., on a busy day, it's nearly impossible to imagine that just 75 miles away lies an oasis that's as serene as the D.C. metro is crowded. Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails. Many of them take you through several miles of quiet and peaceful wilderness, leaving you alone with your thoughts. Others take you to beautiful waterfalls or stunning viewpoints overlooking the trees and Appalachian Mountains in the distance.
The park sits on 200,000 acres of protected land. It allows backcountry camping for the truly adventurous who want to get off the beaten path and away from everyone. If you're up for a challenge, take the eight-mile hike up Old Rag Mountain. This is the most popular route because of the stunning views at the peak. You can camp in one of four campgrounds during every season except winter. If you want to backcountry camp, you'll need to get a permit (it's free).
Glacier National Park, Montana
As one of the few places in the country where you can still see glaciers, Glacier National Park in Montana is open year-round to visitors. It features a shocking 1,009 campsites within 13 separate campgrounds, but they're spread out enough that the park can be full and you'll still feel like you're in the middle of nowhere (which, for the record, you are). There are over 700 miles of trails, making it the perfect destination for avid hikers. You'll traverse through forests, meadows, and mountains while seeing spectacular views of lakes and, of course, glaciers.
If you're up for a drive through the mountains, the 50-mile stretch known as Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through the middle of the park and connects the east side to the west side. While it's a good way to get from one end of the park to the other in a relatively short amount of time (one way takes about two hours), the view from the highest point is the real highlight. Logan Pass is the highest point on the road, and it sits at 6,646 feet. From this point, you get a panoramic view of the majesty around you, including the glaciers below. You'll probably also run into some animals, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Note that portions of the road can close at any time for weather, particularly for snow in the winter.
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Deep in the heart of red rock country lies Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. While we've talked before about how desert vacations can be relaxing, this trip is more adventurous. The really cool thing about this park is the Waterpocket Fold, which is a geological wrinkle (officially termed a geologic monocline) on the surface of the Earth that was formed somewhere between 50 million and 70 million years ago. Capital Reef happens to sit at the most scenic part of the fold. The park extends nearly 100 miles and includes canyons, bridges, domes, and cliffs for hikers and adventurers to explore.
Backcountry camping is available with a permit. If you prefer traditional campsites, you can stay at the Fruita campground, which is a developed campground that holds 71 sites. More remote campgrounds are also available if you prefer roughing it. Cedar Mesa and Cathedral Valley don't have water but they do have pit toilets.
The national park sits on a historic site that has been inhabited since at least 500 B.C. You can even see petroglyphs etched into stone along with some painted pictographs. These remnants of the people who used to live on the land have been preserved as much as possible.
Little Beaver Lake Campground, Michigan
Michigan's Upper Penninsula (or simply "up north" to Michigan natives) is an often overlooked place of natural beauty. Little Beaver Lake Campground is particularly noteworthy for its views of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You'll enjoy unbelievable lake views and can take your boat around to see the famed pictured rocks. If you're more of a hiker, you'll enjoy hiking through the forests surrounding the campground. Backcountry camping is available with a permit, or you can stay at one of three rustic campgrounds.
This campground is open year-round. While summer brings tourists who like to kayak, boat, or do other water sports, wintertime allows for snowmobiling, ice climbing, winter camping, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. If you've never seen a frozen waterfall before, consider making a trip to Little Beaver Lake Campground in the winter. Bring your climbing gear and make sure to pack your warmest clothes, and be prepared for snow. Lots of it. The area can get up to 200 inches of snow during the winter.