Get Out There! The Best Locations & Gear for Every Camping Style
Camping Style: First-Timers
“Ask others for advice or help, especially if you forgot something. Most fellow campers are more than happy to lend a hand.” —Joey Holmes, outdoor expert; coolofthewild.com
Where to go:
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground Cut your kids’ (and your pets’) camping teeth in Orlando, FL, at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Pitch a tent amid 750 acres of pine and cypress trees just a boat (or car or bus) ride away from Mickey magic. There’s even a pool with a corkscrew waterslide! Tent sites from $91/night end of May to mid-August.
- Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort If you need a break from sleeping on the ground, pack up the tent and head to one of the log lodges at New York’s Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort. (You should reserve ahead of time, especially in the summer.) Regardless of where you rest your head, everyone can join in a game of laser tag, go on a wagon ride, swim at nearby Keuka Lake and explore the gorgeous Finger Lakes Region via trails accessible from your front door (or flap!). Campsites from $42/night; lodges from $198/night.
- Log Cabin Resort For a taste of rustic living without the all-out camping commitment, Log Cabin Resort inside Washington State’s Olympic National Park has no-frills (and no-plumbing) camping cabins as well as lodge rooms right on the beach. Visit Marymere Falls, bike an old railroad track along the water or take a guided kayak trip around the glacier-carved lake, then return for dinner at the on-site restaurant. Camping cabins from $80/night; lodge rooms from $164/night.
Take This for First-Time Camping
Even novices can pitch this roomy tent—which keeps up to four people cool, comfy and dry—in under 15 minutes. Coleman Sundome 4 Person Tent, amazon.com, $69
Camping Style: Glampers
Where to go:
- Under Canvas Glacier Hotel perks and stunning Montana scenery are brought together in Under Canvas’ 41 tents, some with en-suite bathrooms. Just 7 miles from Glacier National Park, the tents also offer daily housekeeping, pine and Douglas fir bed frames, and furnished decks for Big Sky Country stargazing. From $205/night.
- Mendocino Grove California’s north coast may be rugged, but nothing else is at Mendocino Grove. The safari-style tents have cushy beds, down comforters and crisp linens. Cook around a fire ring or grab dinner in historic Mendocino, a few minutes down the road. Tents from $125/night.
- The Mohicans Enjoy the great outdoors from a lofty perch at The Mohicans in northern Ohio. The fully furnished tree houses feature private bathrooms, decks and mini kitchens. Rates soar to $330/night for a two-bedroom in high season (April to December) but are lower between January and March.
Take This for Glamping
Focus on framing gorgeous shots—instead of worrying about damaging your camera—with this shockproof, freeze-proof and waterproof wonder. Panasonic Lumix Active Lifestyle Tough Camera, amazon.com, $180
Camping Style: Water View Seekers
“Get up super early to enjoy the morning view without the distraction of fellow campers.” —JH
Where to go:
- Grand Marais Campground and Marina On a peninsula flanked by the harbor and Lake Superior, this Minnesota campground is ideal for walks into town (just three blocks away) and has a cobblestone beach for skipping rocks and wave watching. Lakeside tent sites from $30/night June 15 to September 15.
- Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort Open from mid-May to early October, Mt. Desert Narrows makes the perfect pied-à-terre for exploring Maine’s coastal beauty, including nearby Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Oceanfront tenting from $49/night.
- Wagonhammer Campground Idaho’s rushing Salmon River takes center stage. Set up a tent right on its banks for $16/night, then go on family fly-fishing, bird-watching and hiking outings and enjoy meet-ups in the camp lodge.
Take This When Camping Near Water
At the beach or poolside, listen to music on this waterproof Bluetooth speaker without fear of getting it wet. Aquaphonics AQ9 Speaker, lifeproof.com, $100
Camping Style: On-the-Goers
“Have a few alternative activities planned for when conditions aren’t ideal for outdoor adventure, like when it rains.” —JH
Where to go:
- Glenwood Canyon Resort Set in the Rocky Mountains, Glenwood Canyon offers family cabins with kitchens, camping cabins and tent sites plus an adventure center where biking, hiking, ziplining and white-water rafting are on the agenda. There’s also a shuttle to Glenwood Springs. Two-night minimum from Memorial Day to Labor Day; three-night minimum for holiday weekends. Riverside camper cabins from $129/night; tents from $32/night.
- Ocean Lakes Family Campground Boredom is the only thing you won’t find at Ocean Lakes Family Campground. With hundreds of RV and tent sites and beach house rentals, there’s something to fit every budget. Swim, waterslide, mini-golf and enjoy live entertainment at this oceanfront 310-acre playground in Myrtle Beach. Oceanfront campsites $87/night May 23 to September 2.
- Ludington State Park Nature lovers and water babies get the best of both worlds at Ludington State Park. You have the choice of two sandy shorelines—one on Lake Michigan, the other on Lake Hamlin—and 360 tent and RV sites ($25 to $33/night) spread out out among dunes, forests and wetlands. Join an organized nature walk, paddle the 4-mile canoe trail and be entertained at the open-air amphitheater.
Did You Know?
- June is Great Outdoors Month.
- The largest national park site is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
- Camping is good for you and there’s even a word for it— biophilia: a human being’s innate desire to connect to the natural world.
- Nearly 41 million Americans went camping at least once in 2016.
- Bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. The fastest human alive today, Usain Bolt, can run 27 mph.
- You can listen to crickets to estimate the outside temperature. Count the number of chirps you hear in 15 seconds, then add 37 to that number.
Take This for On-the-Go Camping
No matter where the day takes you, you have a place to rest. The chair packs into a case the size of a Frisbee and can be converted into a small table. Uno Chair, thermarest.com, $90
Camping Style: National Parkers
“Talk to the park wardens. Their local knowledge is invaluable when it comes to experiencing the right things at the right time.” —JH
Where to go:
- Devils Garden Campground The only campsite inside Utah’s Arches National Park is Devils Garden Campground, surrounded by wondrous red rock formations and bright blue skies. The 51 campsites (from $25/night) book up months in advance and can be reserved up to six months ahead for stays between March and October.
- Cedar Pass Campground Cedar Pass Campground inside Badlands National Park inSouth Dakota is open from April to October and allows visitors to get up close to otherworldly rock formations from its 96 sites (from $22/night). Be on the lookout for fossils—the park has a massive accumulation.
- Namakanipaio Campground Three miles beyond the Volcano House Hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island, Namakanipaio Campground is one of a kind, set 4,000 feet above sea level within lava-oozing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Stay in one of the 10 camper cabins ($80/night), rent a tent or bring your own.
BONUS: Themed Campgrounds
- Diamond-Studded Mine for diamonds (actually quartz crystals) at New York’s Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA Resort. Book a basic one-room camping cabin for $80/night or splurge on one of the themed lodges—such as Skycatcher, with its own observatory and high-powered telescope—for $230/night for 4 people during peak season.
- Christmas in June, July, August... ‘Tis the season at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Park in (appropriately named) Santa Claus, Indiana. Dive into Santa’s waterpark and enjoy a visit from Rudolph. A free shuttle runs to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. Peak-season rates from $43/night for tents; rent a two-bedroom RV for $155/night.
- All American Bring a pioneering spirit to Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-style theme park in Missouri with rides, shows and craftsmen demonstrating skills such as woodworking, knife making and glassblowing. Silver Dollar City’s Wilderness, Log Cabins, RVs & Camping welcomes tents from $21/night and RVs from $38/night.
Take This to National Parks
No worries about getting caught in a downpour or hiking in soggy sneakers with these comfortable midrise waterproof trail shoes. The North Face Women’s Mountain Sneaker Mid Waterproof, thenorthface.com, $130
Camping Style: Rough-and-Tumblers
“Stay open-minded. Sometimes a good place to camp is hard to find, so just embrace the experience.” —JH
- Barlett Cove Campground The walk-in Bartlett Cove Campground in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park is worth every step if you’re into stellar scenery and wildlife watching. Some of the animals you might see are humpback whales, black bears and moose. Free.
- Yellow River Experienced paddlers keen to tackle Iowa’s Yellow River must dodge boulders and rapids to reach the Ridgetop campsite, a non-fee primitive site in Yellow River State Forest about 3 miles from the Ion Bridge in Clayton County. BYO everything.
- Tuweep Campground You’ll need good tires (and a sturdy spare) to reach Arizona’s Tuweep Campground, a remote site in the Grand Canyon. While lacking amenities—running water, showers, toilets, fire pits—it does offer awesome views from 3,000 feet above the canyon and river. Camping permits ($10 plus $8 per group) and reservations, which can be made up to four months in advance, are required.
Take This on Rough-and-Tumble Trips
Enjoy the journey with this adjustable lightweight pack. It contours to a woman’s body and holds trekking poles, water and almost everything else. Osprey Women’s Aura AG 65 Pack, amazon.com, $180
Camping Style: The RVers
“Bring a bike. It’s a great way to discover the campsite and the surrounding area.” —JH
- Bend-Sunriver RV Campground Outdoor enthusiasts delight in the surroundings of Bend-Sunriver RV Campground. The area’s rivers and lakes are filled with salmon, whitefish and rainbow trout. Oregon’s Mount Bachelor—just 30 minutes away—is crisscrossed by miles of trails for bikers and hikers. Primitive tent sites from $36/night; six-person cabins from $162/night.
- Bella Terra of Gulf Shores If upscale RVing is more your scene, head to Bella Terra near Alabama’s sandy gulf coast. You’ll find experience-enhancing amenities such as concierge services, laundry facilities, programmed activities and a fitness center. Summer is mid-season at the resort and standard site rates start at $62/night.
- Hunting Island State Park Take morning walks along the beach or over the marshlands at Hunting Island State Park, a 5,000-acre barrier island near Beaufort, South Carolina. Don’t miss the lighthouse, built in 1859 and the only one in the state open to the public. From $42 for holiday/summer RVs—so popular they book up more than a year ahead of time.
Take These for RV Camping
Enjoy all your site has to offer after sunset. This nifty system lights up three different spaces (say, a card game at the picnic table and a reading spot in the RV), plays music and charges devices...powered by the sun. SolarHome 620, bioliteenergy.com, $150
Take a break from your camper with an alfresco siesta surrounded by nature. Natural Rope Hammock, pier1.com, $80