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Whether you love to feel a coastal breeze wash over you at night or hope to lay eyes on some of the nation’s oldest rock formations, camping allows you to immerse yourself in the most beautiful landscapes in the United States.
Americans have options when it comes to visiting national parks. The National Park System protects 423 park sites across 84 million acres, spanning the west and east coasts and outlying U.S. island territories.
If you’re an avid camper looking for outdoor fun and nature experiences, you should consider staying in these six best national parks for camping.
1. Big Bend National Park
Nowhere else in the U.S. rivals the starry night sky at Big Bend National Park in Texas. With a varied topography, the Chisos Mountains rise 7,825 feet — the highest elevation in the park. Before the sky turns pitch black, visitors can feast their eyes on breathtaking sunsets.
Big Bend National Park isn’t just ideal for stargazers, though — the Chihuahua Desert boasts remarkable biodiversity with 12–17.5 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to rugged terrain.
Interested campers should book a spot to stay at one of the campsites ahead of their trip.
2. Everglades National Park
Few places on earth are as majestic as Florida’s Everglades National Park. Once covering over 4,000 square miles, this unique ecosystem is now only slightly under half of what it was due to dredging and population growth.
However, campground visitors can still take in the Everglades’ unique ecosystems and wildlife during their stay. Just avoid swimming to cool off from the humidity. The Everglades is home to 200,000 of the state’s 1.5 million alligators that lurk in its murky waters.
3. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park in California is certainly not lacking in size and campgrounds — the park has roughly 500 sites you can park yourself for a couple of nights in the desert.
The federal government and the California Desert Protection Act currently designate and manage 85% of the over 792,600 acres as protected wilderness. Although many people visit to climb the unique terrain, you’ll be most in awe of the stunning Joshua Trees the park is named after. However, they’re actually not trees — they’re a yucca species with a 150-year life span.
4. Grand Canyon National Park
Did you know that the oldest rocks in Grand Canyon National Park are nearly 1.8 billion years old? There’s a reason why 5 million visitors flock to the Grand Canyon annually — a hotspot for domestic and international tourists alike since 473 years ago.
You can spend the night at this U.S. treasure and climb the ancient rock formations yourself — a treat for hiking enthusiasts. Be sure to pack the essentials, including comfortable hiking shoes, sunscreen, a charged phone, a first aid kit and plenty of water. You should drink one liter of water every two hours to stay hydrated.
5. Cape Lookout National Seashore
Beach lovers rejoice — there’s even a coastal national park for you to set up camp. A short boat ride will take you three miles offshore to remote Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina.
Of course, since it’s remote, permitted campers must find a means for comfortability — especially since there are no trash cans or camp stores with access to food and water. Additionally, bathroom facilities are only open during high-traffic visitation seasons.
6. Yellowstone National Park
Perhaps you want to visit Yellowstone National Park — one of the most popular U.S. national parks for camping. Spanning three states — Wyoming, Montana and Idaho — visitors will enjoy days exploring the park’s vast 2,221,766 acres of wilderness and wildlife. In fact, Yellowstone is so large that it’s bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Yellowstone National Park is located at Caldera volcano in Wyoming, which hasn’t erupted for 70,000 years. However, the park boasts nearly 10,000 geothermal features, including hot springs, geysers, mud pots and fumaroles. Although a relaxing soak is tempting, people have died in the scorching, acidic water.
Camp at a National Park Before They Disappear
The U.S. national parks face increasing challenges amid climate change, from air pollution to contamination and degradation. Therefore, you’ll want to make as many memories as possible by spending the night at some of the nation’s best national parks for camping before they disappear.