Best Camping in the National Parks

National Parks

Some of the best camping in the United States can be found in national park campgrounds. Whether you're staying in Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, or somewhere in between, one thing is for sure: you're sure to see some beautiful sights, and make some great memories.

About National Park Campgrounds

National park campgrounds are managed to provide a safe, comfortable, and centrally located place to stay when visiting the park's attractions. Many campgrounds are run by the National Park Service but some—especially in popular national parks like Yellowstone National Park—are now run by contractors and vendors.

Reasons to Camp in a National Park Campground

Staying in a national park campground can be a real treat, and there are travelers who seek out these campgrounds above all others. We don't blame them—there is something special about stepping outside and being surrounded by the natural treasures found in a national park. Here are a few reasons to stay in a national park campground:

  • Location, Location, Location One of the main reasons vacationers and full-time travelers stay in a national park campground is for the location. Most of the campgrounds are perfectly situated to be a home base for adventure without having to drive long distances to see the sights. Some campgrounds even have hiking trails that connect major park areas.
  • Quiet Enjoyment Compared to other types of campgrounds, national park campgrounds provide some of the best opportunities for quiet enjoyment of the natural world. Generator use is limited, campground hosts are usually present and engaged, and many national park visitors are seeking a nature experience.
  • Something for Everyone National park camping is not just for one type of camper. Most campgrounds can accommodate RV's, campervans, tents, and hammock campers. Many national parks also offer backcountry camping permits for those who like to strap on a backpack and find true solitude.

How to Search for National Park Campgrounds on Campendium

  • Use a text search to see the area you're interested in.
  • Click "Category."
  • Select "National Park."

When to Stay Outside the Park

National park camping is perfect for setting yourself up for park exploration, quiet enjoyment, and different types of camping, but they aren't for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider staying outside of a national park:

  • Amenities On the whole, amenities at national park campgrounds will be lighter than those offered at RV parks. If you are RV camping, you may find a dump station and an electric hookup, but full hookups are hard to come by. National parks typically have spotty cell phone coverage, so those who are working from the road may be better served outside the park.
  • Pet Considerations Almost all national parks allow pets in campgrounds, but most do not allow pets beyond the parking lot elsewhere in the park. Pets are not allowed in buildings, on trails, on boardwalks, or near natural sites. Take this into account when deciding what amenities you'll need at the campground, and then choose accordingly.
  • Free Camping Especially in the western United States, national parks are often surrounded by national forest land or other public lands. This sometimes provides an opportunity to camp for free and still be within easy distance of the park itself. If you're looking to stretch your budget—or crave a little more space than a campground—this may be a good option for you.

How to Search for Free Public Lands on Campendium

  • Use a text or map search to view the area you're interested in.
  • Select Category "All Public Lands."
  • Select Price "Free."
  • Use a text search to zoom into the area you're interested in.
  • Select Category "National Forest."

National Parks By State