The camping season has begun in any state lucky enough to have a seasonable spring. It’s already pushing into the seventies in Yosemite Valley, so you know people are making weekend plans to hike and drink beer by a fire. Alas, in other parts of the country there’s still snow on the ground, and most people aren’t hardcore enough to camp in arctic conditions. They wait for the thaw.
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm, it’s time to make plans. And even if you have to wait another month, there is no reason to put off making reservations. Let your inner outdoorsperson become your outer one.
We gathered up ten campgrounds in state and national parks that require reservations. What makes all of these special is that they provide access to some of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring environments in the country. We’re talking drifting to sleep with the sound of ocean waves crashing nearby, wild horses grazing a few feet from your tent, and perfect swimming holes for beating the summer heat. Check them out below.
Tettegouche Camp in Tettegouche State Park (Silver Bay, Minnesota)
A 9,300-acre state park on the shore of Lake Superior, Tettegouche State Park is full of things to do. There are 23 miles of forested hiking trails, four roaring waterfalls along the Baptism River, six placid inland lakes, and two and a half miles of rough Great Lakes shoreline.
There’s tent camping available at the park, but we recommend Tettegouche Camp — a four cabin area that can only be accessed by foot or mountain bike. No vehicle access is available, so you have to carry in your gear. That either means a three-and-a-half-mile trek from the main park trailhead or a steeper 1.7-mile hike from the Lax Lake Road (this is also the only path on which mountain bikes are permitted).
Cabins come with the use of a canoe, canoe paddles, and life vests, so you can make the most of camping along the shore of Mic Mac Lake. You also get a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and firewood, so whipping up some grub shouldn’t be too hard. There aren’t bathrooms in the cabins, but there are shower and toilet facilities a short walk away. If you’re looking to meet other campers stop by the nearby lounge, open to all cabin guests and park users.
There are tables inside and out, as well as two fireplaces. It’s awesome to sit in the large screened-in porch and chat with fellow adventurers as you stare out at the lake.
Cost: $120-150 per night
Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park (Forks, Washington)
Olympic National Park is massive, measuring a whopping 922,650-acres of land, which includes four regions. Visitors have access to the Pacific coastline, the drier forests on the east side, the temperate rainforest on the west side, and the alpine areas. The park also includes three separate ecosystems: subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, temperate forest, and the Pacific coast. It’s hard to get to all of them in a short visit, but spending a fair amount of time camping in the park allows visitors to explore a wide range of environments.