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It’s hot. It’s muggy. You want to enjoy the outdoors, but the weather is so oppressive you find yourself staying inside, lulled to complacency by air conditioning and digital screens. But if you have access to an RV, van, or a tent, you can take yourself somewhere better. But, where can you go to actually enjoy the outdoors in the summer? Check out this list of cool camping destinations to see where to escape the summer heat.When looking for a cool summertime retreat, you have four main options: Camp by the water, camp at a higher altitude, go north, or stay in the shade. Here are highly-rated campgrounds in each category. While this list is far from comprehensive, it might inspire you to find something similar within your travel range. RV Parks and Campgrounds Near Water There’s nothing more refreshing than jumping in an ocean, lake, or river on a hot summer day—aside from hopping in a resort pool. From waterfront RV parks on ocean shores to Corps of Engineers campgrounds on inland lakes, there’s almost always a waterfront option in your region. Even the tiniest creek can provide a lot of relief on a hot summer day. Related Beach Camping in the United States Waterfront campgrounds have built-in recreation, meaning you can enjoy a full vacation without leaving the park. Plus, if you can’t find camping near a natural waterway, any pool will do. If you are traveling with kids, look for a park with an on-site waterpark. Or, for adults, look for plush cabanas and swim-up bars for a taste of the tropics. Take along or rent kayaks or inner tubes, and hit the water.Wild ponies at Assateague State Park Campground. | Photo: OregonMum Where to Camp: Camp Fimfo in New Braunfels, Texas: This campground is a double hitter, offering a fun waterpark as well as access to the floatable Guadalupe River.Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa, Florida: Located near Destin, Florida, this state park’s private beach gives you a break from the crowds on the Emerald Coast.Assateague State Park in Berlin, Maryland: Take your pick from the ocean beaches or bay beaches and watch for the famed wild ponies.Lighthouse Point Campground in Sandusky, Ohio: If you’re traveling with tweens or teens, check out this park adjacent to Cedar Point Amusement Park and Lake Erie, plus there’s a water park. Asheville East KOA in Asheville, North Carolina: The Swannanoa River runs through the campground. Hop on a raft or inner tube at one end of the park and float to the other end. Related What It’s Like to Be the Chief Marketing Officer at Texas’ Camp Fimfo: A Conversation with Tessa McCrackin High Altitude RV Parks and Campgrounds Many states have mountains and hills, which cool significantly as the elevation rises. Whether you go to New York’s Catskills, Colorado’s Rockies, or Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, you should find reasonable temperatures and cool breezes—you may even find remnants of the winter snow. Related 9 Ways to Stay Cool in Your RV This Summer If you’re planning to camp at an elevation above 8,000 feet, make sure to allow yourself time to adjust—or else you could develop altitude sickness. Try staying a night or two at a campground at a mid-way point in elevation, or plan to take it easy on your first day at the campground. And be sure to drink a lot of water. Views from Mueller State Park. | Photo: tobyslost Where to Camp: Mueller State Park in Divide, Colorado: At 9,219 feet in elevation, these campsites practically touch the sky. Admire views of Pikes Peak from the park.Mount Pisgah Campground in Canton, North Carolina: Bask in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains at this campground located off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Colter Bay RV Park in Moran, Wyoming: At 6,791 feet in elevation, this park is a great home base for adventures in Grand Teton National Park. Plus, you can hang out at Jackson Lake, which is on the edge of the park.Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park, California: Stay cool while visiting Yosemite at this campground, located at 8,562 feet in elevation. RV Parks and Campgrounds in the Northern U.S. If you’re mobile enough to change latitudes, do so. The Northern U.S. is generally cooler than the South. Summer is a lovely time to visit New England, the Great Lakes region, Idaho, Montana, or the Pacific Northwest. Even if you can’t get to a far-off destination, just going to the next state north of your own may feel cooler, especially if there’s less humidity. Related 10 Great Ways to Stay Cool While Camping Water recreation at LaPine State Park. | Photo: Teddi & Roger Where to Camp: Schoodic Woods Campground in Winter Harbor, Maine: Review after review uses “beautiful” to describe this campground in Acadia National Park.LaPine State Park in La Pine, Oregon: The natural waterslides and river access are an extra bonus at this beloved Oregon state park.Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill City, South Dakota: Located in the Black Hills near Mount Rushmore, this shady campground stays cool in the summer.Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana: Reap the double benefits of a northern location with water nearby.Salt Creek Recreation Area in Port Angeles, Washington: Tiered sites overlook the Strait of Juan De Fuca, and you have access to Olympic National Park. Shady RV Parks and Campgrounds Forested campgrounds are your best friend in the summer. No matter what region you’re located in, you’re likely to find a shaded campground within a day’s drive. From the coastal redwoods to the ponderosa pines in South Dakota’s Black Hills to the live oaks of the South, the U.S. has some awe-inspiring trees.When looking for shade, national parks, national forests, and state parks are a good starting point since many have preserved the trees as part of the natural environments. However, many private parks also have good coverage. Check out campsite photos on Campendium to see whether campsites are shady or in wide-open sun. When in doubt, call the park and ask which spots are shadiest.Jedediah Smith Campground. | Photo: GoWestWithUs Where to Camp: Jedediah Smith Campground in Crescent City, California: You can camp under old-growth redwoods and then take a swim in Smith River.Townsend-Great Smokies KOA in Townsend, Tennessee: Located on the quiet side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this verdant campground has river access for extra relief.Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah, Georgia: Named the Best State Park Campground of 2021 by Campendium users, this park provides you some relief from the Southern heat with campsites under moss-covered live oaks.Rancho Sedona RV Park in Sedona, Arizona: This lush campground is an unexpected find amid the red rocks of Sedona, thanks to Oak Creek, which runs through the park.Watch Video
For many members of the LGBTQ+ community, the most important campground features are less about amenities and more about feeling safe and welcomed during their stay. While the camping community in general—regardless of orientation—is typically a friendly crowd, having a place to camp where you’re not always in the minority can be a welcomed change of pace. That’s why there are LGBTQ+ campgrounds throughout the U.S. where the gay community can relax, connect with the outdoors, and feel free to be themselves. But what exactly is an LGBTQ+ campground?These campgrounds are just like any other campground in the U.S., with the exception of being exclusively catered to or openly inclusive of the gay community and its allies. Some offer LGBTQ+ events (especially during Pride month), while others simply provide peace of mind for campers looking to get outside in a safe space. From queer-owned RV campgrounds to luxe camping resorts with nightclub options, here are 10 gay-friendly destinations across the U.S. that promote inclusivity for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Northeast Camp Out Mt. Nebo, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania Number of Sites: 220Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Camp Out Mt. Nebo is a new LGBTQ+ campground located in the Poconos Mountains. Outside of RV and tent sites, cabins, and rustic cottages, this campground offers a nightclub, pool and hot tub, lounge, and a designated area for sports and recreational activities. The RV sites offer a mix of 30-amp electric and full hookups (depending on your reservation). There is a dump station at the campground, and each site includes a picnic table and fire ring. This is an adults-only campground and you must be 21 or older to visit. Oneida Pines Campground, Cleveland, New York Number of Sites: 12Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Call for reservations Oneida Pines Campground is a private, LGBTQ+-owned campground near Oneida Lake in New York. Full hookup RV sites are available for booking—plus, the campground features a saltwater swimming pool, miniature golf course, arcade, on-site laundry facilities, WiFi, hiking trails, and themed events planned throughout the camping season. This is a kid-friendly campground that prides itself on inclusivity for all. Southeast Starlite Trailer Lodge in Lenoir, North Carolina. | Photo courtesy Starlite Trailer Lodge Starlite Trailer Lodge, Lenoir, North Carolina Number of Sites: 85 Pad Type: AsphaltReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Located outside of the picturesque town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Starlite Trailer Lodge is a gay-owned and operated campground open to all. Full hookup and dry camping sites are available for RVs or you can rent one of the campground’s cabins. There’s also a newly designated area for Class B+ campervans with water and electric hookups. Flush toilets, shower facilities, laundry, and a dump station are located on the premises. Plus, visitors can enjoy Starlite’s pool or kayak, fish, and swim in the Johns River which runs through the campground.“This beautifully landscaped campground is very peaceful. The grounds are impeccably landscaped,” says a Campendium reviewer.Sawmill Camping Resort in Dade City, Florida. | Photo courtesy Sawmill Camping Resort Sawmill Camping Resort, Dade City, Florida Number of Sites: 60Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Sawmill Camping Resort combines camping and outdoor recreation with a vibrant nightlife. This is an adult-only and members-only campground ($50 annual membership fee) welcome to all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Campers can choose from tent and full hookup RV sites, campervan sites, or one of the campground’s cozy cabins. From drag shows to game nights, campers can enjoy the many events that take place throughout the campground or hang out by the heated outdoor pool or nearby Ricki Lake. For those looking to come for only the day, daily passes are available for purchase. Midwest Crane Berry Campground, Babcock, Wisconsin Number of Sites: 40Pad Type: DirtReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Crane Berry Campground is less than 2 hours outside of Madison, Wisconsin. This privately-owned, LGBTQ+-friendly campground offers water, 30-amp electric hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings at most sites. Crane Berry is surrounded by more than 30 square miles of public land, making this a great place to watch for wildlife. Campers can enjoy the many events offered throughout the camping season, from community bonfires to costume parties. Campit Outdoor Resort in Fennville, Michigan. | Photo courtesy Campit Outdoor Resort Campit Outdoor Resort, Fennville, Michigan Number of Sites: 272Pad Type: GravelReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Campit Outdoor Resort is more than a campground. This outdoor getaway offers tent and RV sites, retro-styled trailers for glamping, cabins, and bunkhouses. It’s also located minutes from the popular LGBTQ+-friendly town of Saugatuck, Michigan. Open to all of the gay community and its allies, Campit hosts themed events throughout the summer, including Pride celebrations, live entertainment, dancing, contests, and more. RVers can choose from more than 200 campsites with standard sites including 30-amp electric and water hookups. Depending on availability, the campground also offers pull-through sites with full 50-amp hookups. Southwest El Morro RV Park and Cabins in Ramah, New Mexico. | Photo by: Roger El Morro RV Park and Cabins, Ramah, New Mexico Number of Sites: N/APad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes El Morro RV Park and Cabins is in the Zuni Mountains near Petrified Forest National Park. The campground is proudly open to all, offering first-come, first-served tent and RV camping or cabin rentals (reserve online). RV sites offer full hookups with most designed to fit larger RVs. Some pull-through sites are offered depending on availability. El Morro is surrounded by public lands where visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, swimming, and more. The campground also features a restaurant, a private barbecue area with fire pits, and shower and restroom facilities. “Cute little camping spot. We stayed in a 33-foot RV for one night. We would have stayed longer if we didn’t have a busy agenda ahead of us,” says one Campendium reviewer. Rainbow Ranch Campground, Grosebeck, Texas Number of Sites: 120Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Rainbow Ranch Campground is an award-winning LGBTQ+ campground located in the heart of Texas near major cities like Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Resting on the shores of Limestone Lake, this campground offers more than 700 acres of land to explore, including hiking and biking trails. Campers can reserve RV and tent camping sites, cabins, an apartment, or a house that accommodates up to 12 people. The RV sites offer a mix of full hookups and electric-only with some pull-through sites available for larger rigs. The campground also features flush toilets, shower facilities, a picnic area, a pool, boat rentals, and volleyball and basketball courts. West Umpqua’s Last Resort in Idleyd Park, Oregon. | Photo by: Umpqua’s Last Resort Umpqua’s Last Resort, Idleyld Park, Oregon Number of Sites: 15Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Umpqua’s Last Resort is a gay-owned and operated campground in the Umpqua National Forest. Offering RV and tent sites, cabins, and glamping accommodations, campers can choose from a range of guided outdoor activities like mountain biking, fly fishing, white water rafting, hiking, and more. RVers can choose from larger 50- or 30-amp full hookup sites with fire pits and picnic tables or water and electric-only sites for smaller rigs. The campground also features a heated shower house, flush toilets, and WiFi access. According to a Campendium review, “The campground is charming and neat as a pin. They rent glamping tents and cabins here as well as several level, graveled sites with full hookups.” Sunny Valley RV Park and Campground, Sunny Valley, Oregon Number of Sites: 51Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes This LGBTQ+-owned and operated campground features RV and tent camping as well as glamping accommodations. Sunny Valley RV Park and Campground is within proximity of major attractions like Crater Lake National Park, the Table Rocks, numerous Rogue Valley wineries, and more. The campground features a pool, shower and restroom facilities, a laundry room, dump station, dishwashing station, camp store, and a dog park.RV owners can choose from full or partial hookup sites, each complete with fire rings and picnic tables. One Campendium reviewer describes it as a “lovely, affordable campground with great amenities.”Read Article
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a relic from the past that follows the footsteps of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. The 444-mile scenic drive links Tennessee’s Appalachian foothills, a small section of Alabama’s countryside, and the lower Mississippi River. The parkway, which is designated as a Scenic Byway and All-American Road, is popular for roadtripping, hiking, horseback riding, birding, camping, and biking. It’s known as one of the best biking roads in the U.S.Although you can drive the parkway year-round, the best time to visit is during spring and fall. In the spring, you’ll drive through corridors of blooming wildflowers and trees. In the fall, the hickory, oak, and maple trees lend themselves to beautiful foliage. Here are seven RV campgrounds along the Natchez Trace Parkway.Meriwether Lewis Campground in Hohenwald, Tennessee. | Photo: Joe Hendricks Meriwether Lewis Campground, Hohenwald, Tennessee Number of Sites: 32Pad Type: AsphaltReservations: First come, first servedTent Camping: Yes Meriwether Lewis Campground is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and located near Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a free dry camping location close to the Northern entrance of the parkway. It offers drinkable water, flush toilets, cell phone service, and big rig access. There are large, shady sites as well as access to recreational trails. You’ll find wineries, historic sites, and the city of Nashville nearby. Bush Creek Park in Waterloo, Alabama. | Photo: Wandering Pulse Bush Creek Campground, Waterloo, Alabama Number of Sites: 10Pad Type: GravelReservations: First come, first servedTent Camping: Yes Although Alabama is only a short stretch of the Natchez Trace Parkway, Bush Creek Park in Waterloo is worth the stay. “Beautiful area right on the Tennessee River,” says a Campendium reviewer. “Quite far from any civilization or grocery store, but well worth the stay. Would be a nice spot to stop if you were traveling the Natchez Trace.”It’s a 50-acre park with free sites for primitive camping along the Tennessee River, with a maximum stay limit of 30 days. There are full-service restrooms and a dump station. The park also includes a boat launch, picnic pavilions, and a disc golf course. Piney Grove Campground, New Site, Mississippi Number of Sites: 141Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Piney Grove Campground sits on Bay Springs Lake in Northeastern Mississippi. This water recreation area is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, one of the world’s most extensive man-made waterway systems. It’s also an Army Corps of Engineers campground. Related 11 Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds to Add to Your Bucket List For a fee, you can have access to 20-, 30-, and 50-amp hookups, water, a dump station, full-service restrooms, and laundry. Piney Grove Campground is also big rig friendly. Recreationally, the grounds offer boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, beaches, and a playground.Davis Lake Campground in New Houlka, Mississippi. | Photo: RV-Therapy Davis Lake Campground, New Houlka, Mississippi Number of Sites: 26Pad Type: AsphaltReservations: YesTent Camping: Yes Davis Lake Campground is a U.S. Forest Service-managed campground located within 4 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway. It’s a quiet area situated on 20 acres of lake with waterfront sites perfectly situated for sunrise and sunset.The facilities include water and electric hookups, a group site, full-service restrooms, and a dump station. The recreation area also offers boating, bass fishing, swimming, hiking, and birding. Blue Herons are a staple of this area.Nearby you’ll find convenience stores, historical sites, and the Tanglefoot Trail. Jeff Busby Campground in Ackerman, Mississippi. | Photo: WatsonsWander Jeff Busby Campground, Ackerman, Mississippi Number of Sites: 18Pad Type: AsphaltReservations: First come, first servedTent Camping: Yes Tucked away in the woods below Little Mountain is Jeff Busby Campground, a popular destination along the parkway. “We drove the Trace from south to north and this campground was a perfect day’s drive from Natchez, Mississippi—allowing for some short stops along the way at some of the points of interest,” says a 5-star Campendium review. This NPS campground offers free primitive camping. It also has flush toilets, access to water, and a variety of RV sites, including big rig friendly, pull-through, and back-in sites. Beyond the grounds are hiking trails, Little Mountain, and scenic overlooks. Rocky Springs Campground, Hermanville, Mississippi Number of Sites: 22Pad Type: AsphaltReservations: First come, first servedTent Camping: Yes Another staple along the Natchez Trace Parkway is Rocky Springs Campground. Located at Mile 54 of the Mississippi section, this is an ideal stop as you begin or end your journey. Similar to Jeff Busby Campground, this is a free NPS-managed campground that only offers primitive camping. It also has flushable toilets and picnic tables. The draw of Rocky Springs Campground is its surrounding landscape and history. When you wander through Hermanville, Mississippi, you’ll have an appreciation for the past. The aged town is protected by the natural landscape and offers direct access to Old Natchez Trace Trail, Owens Creek Waterfall, and Rocky Springs Trail. Wendy Oaks RV Resort in Florence, Mississippi. | Photo: WendyOaksRVResort Wendy Oaks RV Resort, Florence, Mississippi Number of Sites: 36Pad Type: MixedReservations: YesTent Camping: No Located off of Highway 49, family-owned Wendy Oaks RV Resort is the ideal place to lay over before starting the Natchez Trace Parkway or heading home from the 444-mile journey. “Just a wonderful little campground, with everything you need,” says a Campendium reviewer. “Full hookups, pull-through site, and really good WiFi in the campground.”The RV resort also has full-service restrooms, WiFi, laundry, and a dump station, and it offers big rig and pull-through access. Wendy Oaks RV Resort also features a lake and nearby recreational trails. The Natchez Trace Parkway winds through beautifully unassuming areas of the U.S. where history and idyllic landscapes merge. Drive slowly, immerse yourself in the experience, and consider these tips before you embark on a trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway: Plan to stay in campgrounds during your road trip because dispersed camping isn’t allowed along the parkway. Prepare a backup plan for accommodation as many campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Download maps beforehand because cell phone coverage can be weak in areas. Be alert for bicyclists. This is a heavily-trafficked bike route.Pay attention to wildlife along the road.Read Article
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