If there is one thing that campers and backpackers love about the United States of America, it’s the fact that there is an incredible variety of locations you can head to. From warm desert trails to campsites high up in the mountains, there is something for every adventurer to enjoy!
But that poses a different problem – where do you go with so many options to choose from? How do you pick the places that are absolute must-visits? Well, I have got you covered. You should only make sure that you are well prepared to backpack in the wild and camp under the stars.
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Yosemite National Park, California
Here’s a fun fact about Yosemite to kick things off – 94% of this national park is nature, untouched by a human hand. No roads, no infrastructure of any kind, nothing. And it’s incredibly beautiful, with landscapes that anyone can enjoy and trails and campsites that will leave you in awe. If you are looking to get away from people, this is where you do it.
When it comes to camping, there are thirteen campgrounds to visit, and if you want to be sure you have a spot to camp in, you should certainly call and book in advance. If you are keen on a backcountry camping or backpacking, you can grab a free permit and enjoy that too.
Note that Yosemite isn’t a good destination for the winter when many roads are closed and you can easily get stuck unless you know full well what you are doing. Keep it as a spring/summer/autumn destination.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Do you know what’s better than backpacking in the mountains? Doing it within walking distance of a sleeping volcano that’s right in the middle of America’s deepest lake. We are talking about Crater Lake, home to one of the most epic views the US has to offer. You can head there if you want to witness one of the cleanest bodies of water in the country.
The campsite you want to head to is Lost Creek Campground, a place that’s perfect for backpackers who want to camp without the busy RVs around – they can head to Mazama. Lost Creek is open from the beginning of July until somewhere around the middle of October, so you do have plenty of time to visit it. As usual, backcountry camping is an option with a free permit, but with the tight time slot reservations are recommended.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
With over 800 thousand acres and a location that is right in the middle of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, Joshua Tree is an incredible location to visit. And contrary to popular belief, there’s more than just sand in your shoes if you decide to take a hike. The ecosystems of the two deserts are vastly different, which results in an interesting environment.
Hiking, backpacking, camping, you name it – the national park is perfect for just about anything you want. You have got 10 peaks that are at over 5,000 feet of elevation if you are keen on covering a bit of altitude, and you can practice elevation camping if that is your cup of tea. As usual with popular national parks, calling for a reservation is recommended.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Home to Mount McKinley, this place is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. With so many animals and bird species, you will be in awe every moment of the trip, whether it’s backpacking across some of the incredible trails or camping at one of those beautiful campsites. There is something for everyone in terms of difficulty, which is why plenty of people love it.
You will find no less than six campgrounds to choose from. Or if you are feeling adventurous, the backcountry is an option with a suitable permit. It’s not something I would recommend if you are inexperienced due to the wildlife variety, but if you are confident by all means check it out.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
A national park that is incredibly close to the D.C. area (about 75 miles), Shenandoah is a great place for people who live there or for those visiting the area – with stunning views and over 500 miles of trails. The landscapes are truly incredible, and there are plenty of waterfalls you can also enjoy, an experience you won’t find in a lot of other places.
Winter camping isn’t a good idea in Shenandoah, but there are four campsites that are open throughout the rest of the year and each of them is a great choice. There are plenty of hiking and backpacking opportunities as well, which makes this an even better choice. Since there aren’t too many camping options, though, I would suggest booking a camping place, because when the weather is nice they tend to fill up quickly.