10 Best Places to Camp for Beginners in the U.S.

So you have decided to go on your first camping trip. Yay!

You’ve done your research on camping gear essentials. Great!

Now you just need to decide where to go. Errrm…

From glorious mountains to clear lakes, you can find numerous places to camp. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned camper, there are campsites designed for every camping level.

Here are the top 10 U.S. campsites for beginners. Just set up your tent and enjoy a picnic. Or go hiking, fishing, and swimming at these picturesque locations.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Let’s start with the number 1 spot to camp on the east coast – Acadia National Park. It is located on Mount Desert Island and is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels.

Why it’s good for beginners: 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. The park has three campgrounds to set up your tent: Blackwoods (close to Bar Harbor), Seawall (less touristy), and Schoodic Woods (on the Schoodic Peninsula).

Blackwoods campground is open year-round, Seawall is open from late May through September and Schoodic is open from late May until early October.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Arkansas has loads of countryside that is often overlooked. The forest itself is accessible year-round. Some campsites are also open year-round, but others are only open May through October.

Why it’s good for beginners: You’ll find more than 200 picnic and camping spots, nine swimming beaches, thousands of acres of lakes and streams, and 400 miles of hiking trails. The 218-mile Ozark Highlands Trail is one of the best-known hikes, but the amazing living cave systems at Blanchard Springs are also a huge draw.

Campers can choose between a number of developed campgrounds for RV and tent camping.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

If you prefer a more rustic experience, then look no further than the White Mountains. The sights are particularly magical in the fall when leaf-peeping season is at its peak.

Why it’s good for beginners: The forest has several campsites – 800 to be exact – so you are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to camp. In addition to pristine forests and clear mountain streams, the campground is also minutes away from hiking, and mountain biking. The forest is accessible year-round, although visitor center hours vary.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Everglades National Park, Florida

verglades National Park, Florida

Along with the other best places to camp America’s Everglades – The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.

Why it’s good for beginners: The park has two drive-in campgrounds: Flamingo and Long Pine Key. It also covers 2,400 square miles so you definitely won’t get bored, especially with a wide range of hiking trails, campgrounds, and ample opportunities for biking.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Camping in the Great Smokey Mountains should be on your bucket list for its sheer beauty. Feel the cool spray of a waterfall. Camp under the stars. Explore a historic mill. There’s plenty to see and do in the country’s most-visited national park

Why it’s good for beginners: The park has 10 campgrounds, all with running water and toilets (big plus if you are not comfortable pooping in the wild). The park is also packed with waterfalls, which make for perfect day hikes before pitching your tent under the night sky.

With more than 70 structures remain from the prehistoric era, and the park now contains the largest collection of historic log buildings in the eastern United States.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Big Meadows, Virginia

Big Meadows, Virginia

Secluded in the thick trees and rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park, the Big Meadows Campground is the ideal spot for an outdoors getaway.

Why it’s good for beginners: Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 300 square mile park is beautiful all year round. Pick from 200 campsites places to camp and enjoy the modern amenities to keep your family comfortable when it’s time to settle down and relax around the campfire.

Trails from the campsite lead to waterfalls deep in the forest and scenic overlooks perfect for unique plant and wildlife viewing.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California

Located along scenic Highway One approximately 140 miles south of San Francisco, the popular park sits along the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Why it’s good for beginners: Big Sur is open year-round, but peak season runs March to September. A large campground accommodates hikers, bikers, car campers, and RVers. There are many places to camp along the Big Sur River. Hikers can enjoy many scenic trails, including a self-guided nature trail.

Walk along the banks of the river and among the redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows. Wildlife includes bobcats, black-tail deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds, such as dippers and belted kingfishers.

Since this spot is so popular, sites fill up quickly. As a result, reservations are highly recommended. You can make one up to 7 months in advance.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

People call it the ‘crown jewel’ of the Oregon State Parks system, and once you visit, you know why. Nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, less than an hour east of the state capital of Salem, Oregon, the sprawling 9,200-acre property is the largest state park in Oregon, and one of the most popular.

Why it’s good for beginners: Aside from the park’s astounding beauty, the two available campgrounds feature 52 sites with electrical hookups, 45 tent sites, 14 cabins, and two ranches with horse corrals. In addition to basic amenities, hiking and horse trails, you can also explore a nearby amphitheater and playground during your stay. 

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Lake McConaughy SRA, Nebraska

Nearly everything about Lake McConaughy is big. At 30,000 surface acres, it is Nebraska’s largest reservoir, its dam is among the largest of its type in the world and its fish grow to trophy proportions, accounting for several state records. Even its nickname, “Big Mac,” reflects its size.

Located eight miles northeast of Ogallala, Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area is known to most Nebraskans and residents of neighboring states for providing some of the best places to camp.

Why it’s good for beginners: If you want to take the family out on the water without the coastal crowds and expense, this campground on the lake is a perfect laid back alternative. Camping at Lake McConaughy is allowed in campgrounds and designated camping areas, including many beach areas.

Fishing, boating, water skiing, and relaxing on white-sand beaches are a few of the attractions around the water.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

Yogi Bear Jellystone Camp-Resorts

ogi Bear Jellystone Camp-Resorts

It’s not just a campground. It’s Jellystone Park! With over 80 locations in the U.S. and Canada, you and your family will leave will long lasting camping memories.

Why it’s good for beginners: This resort-styled campground is open year-round and is the perfect camping spot for children. From amazing water activities like splash parks & pads to mini-golf and wagon rides, from volleyball & fishing themed weekends to family camping oriented activities, you are guaranteed to have a good time. 

Folding tent campers are welcome here, and if you don’t feel like roughing it in a tent with the family, you can opt for a cabin or cottage rental to sleep more comfortably

For more information, visit the park’s website.

What is the Best Season to go Camping?

Fall is the best season to go camping. Sure, Summer is the most popular time for the masses but fall offers much more in the way of natural beauty. Here are a few reasons why fall is the best time to camp;

Breathtaking Foliage

Fall’s natural colors simply can’t be beat! Spend one weekend on a sunny autumn day, and you will be awestruck by the beautiful hues of red, orange, and golden yellow. Get out your camera and take plenty of pictures for your scrapbook.

Cooler Weather

Bugs are the bane of any camping experience. During summer pesky mosquitoes, flies, and other bugs seem to love humans. This causes campers to douse themselves in bug sprays, put up bug nets and spend all night swatting the insects away, only to find bites the next morning. Cooler temperatures mean fewer bugs, especially in wooded climates.

Fewer Bugs!

While the warm summer temperature is great for camping, some days are simply too hot. Autumn temperatures, on the other hand, are more pleasant and predictable. Mornings are crisp and clear, perfect for that hot cup of brew. The best part about the cooler temperatures is the perfect weather for evenings around a campfire.

Better Prices

As Summer is peak season, rates are high while late spring and summer see slight reductions. However, when fall rolls around, most parks see a sharp decline in traffic and lower their rates significantly. Camping season doesn’t have to come to an end: get out there and enjoy the beauty of fall this year!

Does a cross country road trip in an RV this fall sound like something your family would love? Our partners at Camping Worldhave literally hundreds of RV rentals available across the US! Try it before you buy it or take that family adventure you are dreaming about without the commitment of purchasing an RV.

10 Incredible Places to Camp for First Timers

I hope my list has helped you decide where to go camping now. Taking a road trip around the U.S. and discovering these incredible places to camp along the way is a fantastic way to create marvelous memories.

Whether you choose a state park, national park, or a privately owned campground, your first camping trip is sure to be exciting!

I can’t wait to hear about your first camping trip!

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