posted on July 22nd, 2016

From the mountains of the midwest to the deserts of California, the great outdoors is just begging to be explored this summer. And to truly make the most of the fresh air and free time that mark this season, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in nature than camping. We’ve scouted some of North America’s best campsites so all you need to do is grab a tent (or camper van!) and go.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

This isn’t your typical beach vacation — besides miles of picturesque sandy beaches, you’ll also find herds of wild horses roaming the seaside. This 37-mile barrier island lies between Maryland and Virginia and is covered in forests, salt marshes, and most importantly, plenty of wild ponies frolicking in and around the water. Camping is only allowed on the Maryland side of the island, and there are multiple campsites for drive-in, walk-in, and even horse camping, if you’d like to ride your own in.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The sun in this Southern California desert is inarguably intense, but when it sets, the stars are singularly awe-inspiring. This 800,000-acre expanse is a rock climbing mecca, with over 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes. Campsites are first come, first served in the summer, so explore til you find the perfect site to lay your head.

Joshua Tree

Adirondack Lakes Region Island Camping, New York

Island camping in the fresh mountain air is arguably the best way to experience the Adirondacks. The Saranac Lake Islands offer a sense of quiet peace that only the isolation of a private island can bring. Not in the mood to kayak to your private island? That idyllic camping is rivaled by glamping, wherein you can hire your own personal Adirondack Guide to show you the region, before retiring with a massage by the lake followed by a gourmet al fresco dinner.

Little Beaver Lake Campground, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Nestled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a surprisingly tropical-looking lakeshore. Though it’s surrounded by pine forests, take to the water and you’ll be transported by the strikingly blue-green water lined by rugged cliffsides. If you’d prefer to stick to the land, you’ll find plenty of hiking trails with worthwhile vistas. Nab a lakeside campsite for the most mesmerizing views.

Arches National Park, Utah

The red rock formations here feel almost otherworldly, and the seemingly endless arches only add to the sense that you’ve stepped into another land. No matter which hikes you choose to explore the park, make sure you stake out a good spot for the sunset, as the colors created by the setting sun against the red rock is a sight you don’t want to miss. There are 50 campsites inside the park, and they fill up fast during summer, so reserve ahead to lock down your spot.

Photo credit:

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador

A park of contrasts, the arid, orange-ish Tablelands are in sharp juxtaposition to the towering green fjords that call the Emerald Isle to mind. Besides these natural formations, it’s also one of the few places on the planet where Earth’s mantle is exposed. Explore the park by kayaking the expansive freshwater ponds or hiking one of the many trails, with plenty of stops for a refreshing dip in one of the natural pools. Take your pick of the several traditional campsites in the park to rest after a long day soaking in the distinctive scenery.

Photo credit: Newfoundland Labrador Tourism
Photo credit: Newfoundland Labrador Tourism

Virginia is equally enamored with words and globetrotting. Whenever possible, she likes to combine the two through travel writing to help other wanderers discover and fall in love with the world.