5 top camping spots near US cities

You can enjoy a fun vacation with fresh air and stunning scenery without traveling far.

Enjoy overnight stays at these stunning outdoor destinations near major metropolitan areas, whether you’re traveling in a camper or tent.

Sandy beach campsites, rolling meadows, and long hikes in the fresh air await you with easy access to airports, train stations, and car rentals.

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, a National Park System gem, offers a natural playground of snow-capped mountains, blue lakes, and high-altitude activities near Denver, Colorado. To visit the park from May 27 to October 10, 2022, reserve a timed entry permit on this website. The park’s 700,000 summer visitors are mostly gone, so quick planners can enjoy the trails.

Check the forecast and pack warm layers and storm gear—the Rockies can have unpredictable weather and fresh snow even in summer.In Estes Park, outfitters at the entrance to Rocky Mountain NPS offer last-minute supplies for any forgotten gear.

Verifying the expiration date of your US passport should be the first step in making travel arrangements. Please renew it if its expiration date is approaching, click here.

Indiana Dunes State and National Parks

A biodiverse beach vacation doesn’t require driving to the Gulf or coast. The newly established Indiana Dunes National Park and its sister state park are located less than an hour from downtown Chicago, spanning over 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s south shore. Despite being a new national park, Indiana Dunes’ sand dunes and consistent waves have drawn generations of families, surfers, and sunbathers for swimming, hiking, and camping. One of the most biodiverse national parks, it has forests, rivers, swamps, and miles of boardwalk-paved beaches. A visitor should prepare to spend several days discovering. 

Channel Islands National Park—Calif.

Channel Islands National Park is a top destination for those seeking a true escape from civilization. The park comprises five islands off southern California’s coast, about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, excluding charter boats. It is home to diverse wildlife, history, and activities.

Visitors can camp on any of the five islands, sharing the land with sea birds, seals, dolphins, and other wildlife. Arrange your trip to the islands with a private charter company, and reserve wilderness campsites in advance across the five islands.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

In addition to being the largest reservoir in the US, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is Las Vegas’ outdoor playground. Activities include speedboat rides across the lake, rafting down the Colorado River, and hiking near the Grand Canyon. The park’s reopening schedule allows visitors to camp in modern RV resorts in Nevada or established campgrounds in Arizona across state lines.

Visitors to Lake Mead National Recreation Area must buy an annual vehicle pass and a vessel launch pass. Campers can enjoy the park year-round, leading to frequent return visits due to its grandeur.

Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, the Mt. Hood National Forest area is a top choice for both locals and visitors. Mountain offers skiers and snowboarders fresh powder in winter (and year-round at Timberline), hikers and mountain bikers in summer, and 60 miles of forested ridges, lakes, and streams for exploration.

The national forest is phasing in trailheads, parking lots, river access, and campgrounds, and more campgrounds and day-use areas are expected in the coming weeks. The National Forest Service allows campers to reserve a few popular campgrounds.

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