April 9, 2019
9 Scenic National Park Campgrounds to Stay at in Your Campervan
By Emily Butterfield
Is a road trip to a beautiful national park on your summer bucket list? Take your pick of more than 400 sites in the National Park System to explore in your Escape campervan. Whether you want to sleep under towering, old-growth trees or near a sparkling, glacier-fed lake, these campgrounds are a perfect place to park your campervan and enjoy the park’s scenery.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
This campground is more secluded and lesser-known on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains. Campsites are located next to Deep Creek, plus you can hike and mountain bike right from camp! Reservations are available and the campground is open April through late October.
Centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park, Jumbo Rocks is a perfect place to see the interesting rock formations in the park. It’s best to visit from October to May when temps are cooler, making it a perfect escape in the winter months. Rock scramblers and hikers can access many of the park’s trails right from camp. All 124 campsites are reservable.
One of two reservable campgrounds in Olympic National Park, Kalaloch Campground is popular in the summer. The campground is located in the beautiful coastal forest on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean – it’s a stunning place to watch the sunset. From camp, you can walk to the beach to view tide pools, shorebirds, and other marine life. Be sure to check out the fascinating Tree Root Cave (aka Tree of Life) near camp too. Several of the 170 sites offer ocean views and all sites are reservable starting in 2019.
Located in the heart of the majestic Yosemite Valley, Lower Pines is one of the most popular campgrounds in our National Park System. But if you can nab a reservation at one of the coveted 60 sites, you might just beat the crowds to the top of Half Dome. The Valley also provides easy access to the park’s stunning waterfalls, colorful meadows, and views of the towering granite cliffs. Reservations open five months in advance.
Located on the east side of Glacier National Park, Many Glacier Campground has reservable and first-come, first-served sites. The campground is a perfect basecamp for hiking many of the park’s famously gorgeous trails, like Grinnell Glacier and Ptarmigan Tunnel. From camp, you can walk the shores of Swiftcurrent Creek and Lake and view the majestic Rocky Mountains. Reservations open six months in advance.
With beautiful views of the majestic mountains and easy access to nearby trails, Moraine Park Campground is a perfect place to launch your Rocky Mountain adventures. The park offers everything a nature lover could want – lush valleys, mountain peaks, wildlife viewing, and waterfalls. Consider taking a trip in the fall to see the colorful fall foliage and elk herds. All 239 sites are reservable during the summer.
Located near the park’s less-visited but equally stunning North Rim, the campground has several rim-view sites (perfect for sunset and sunrise viewing). Hikers can access numerous trails from camp while stargazers can view the Milky Way on clear nights. Although it’s a more intimate setting than the South Rim, reservations are still recommended during the peak season May through October.
Seawall Campground is located on the western side (the “quiet side”) of Mount Desert Island on the Maine Coast. Campers can walk to the beach in just 10 minutes, stretch their legs on a nearby trail or kayak on Echo Lake. The 45,000-acre park also has many historical structures to check out. All campsites are by reservation only and open six months in advance.
Watchman Campground is one of few places to camp close to Zion National Park. Located just a quarter mile from the park’s south entrance, it’s a launch point for hikers and climbers eager to access the park’s stunning canyons and red rocks. The campground itself is surrounded by the orange-hued sandstone cliffs, a perfect backdrop for sunrise and sunset. Reservations are available March through the end of November and open 6 months in advance.