10 Top Family Campsites in the USA

Jocelyn Murray May 1, 2014 No Comments

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There’s nothing quite like the great outdoors. Nature’s splendor is unrivaled with its rugged mountains, vast grasslands, winding rivers, coastal beaches and placid lakes. These are the places one seeks to get away from it all and reconnect with loved ones. Below are some top picks where you can do just that. 

 

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT – New Mexico  

Cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monument

Ancient pueblo sites make Bandelier National Monument a fascinating place to visit. This is the place to explore these dwellings and cave rooms (accessed by child-friendly ladders) where the Pueblo People lived from the 12th to 16th century. Pictograph paintings and petroglyphs carved into the walls can still be seen today. Visitors can explore these sites, as well as go hiking along trails by waterfalls and the Rio Grande. Juniper Campground is the best family camping option, and accommodates tents, RVs and trailers.  

 

BOSTON HARBOR ISLANDS – Massachusetts   

Boston Harbor Islands
Doc Searls / CC BY-SA 2.0

Boston Harbor Islands is home to the oldest lighthouse in the United States. This collection of islands forms Boston Harbor Islands State Park, and is reached by ferry. This is a great place to tour some Civil War-era historical buildings, then hike trails, go fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming and more. Families can stay in tents or rent a yurt (comfortable wood-framed tent-cabin style accommodations) with electricity on Peddocks Island.  

 

CATALINA ISLAND – California   

Satellite picture of Catalina Island
courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory

Catalina Island lies close to 20 miles off the southwestern coast of Los Angeles. This small island is only about 22 miles long by 8 miles wide, and was once inhabited by tribal people who settled in these parts thousands of years ago. It is a rocky island is known for its year-round mild climate, beautiful vistas and wildlife, outdoor recreation, and makes a great family daytrip or pitching a tent. Its backcountry trails, ocean vistas, silver-gray sand beaches and water sports activities make it a popular destination anytime of the year. An array of beachfront hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns are also available. And being less than an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland, getting here is easy. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the unbeatable combination of land and sea.  

 

DEVILS TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT – Wyoming   

Devils Tower National Monument
courtesy of Colin Faulkingham

The monolith of Devils Tower rises from the surrounding prairie like a guard keeping watch over the wooded grasslands and Black Hills in the distance. It was believed sacred by the Northern Plains tribes, and continues to be regarded as such by tribes including the Lakota. Campgrounds offer fantastic views of this majestic monument that has undoubtedly been a silent witness to time through countless millennia. This is an uncrowded venue, perfect for hiking through cottonwood groves and wooded landscapes where plants and wildlife abound, then heading toward the base of the tower which is the main attraction. Other trails lay along the Belle Fourche River, offering scenic views.

 

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Montana  

Glacier National Park

Montana’s Glacier National Park is famous for its alpine meadows, gorgeous lakes and rugged mountains. Glaciers carved and chiseled its spectacular landscape, for which the park is named. Its ancient rocks are a rich source of fossils from early life on Earth. 13 campgrounds with close to 1000 campsites are available for RV and tent campers, as well as lodging facilities. Hundreds of miles of trails provide hiking through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, while fishing, boating and biking can be enjoyed as well.  

 

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK – Kalaloch Campground – Washington State   

Olympic National Park
Moss-draped trees are intensely romantic in a primeval sense
Walter Siegmund / CC BY-SA 3.0

Known for its ancient forests, moss-draped trees, misty coastline and glaciated mountains, Olympic National Park is a breathtaking example of nature’s majesty in all its diverse and magnificent forms. Kalaloch Campground captures the rugged splendor of the setting beautifully, making for a perfect family campsite. The camp is situated on a cliff with views of the Pacific Ocean. Winding trails along the bluffs and on the driftwood-lined beach below make for endless exploration as sea gulls screech and the sound of waves crashing upon the beaten shore echo in the background. Visitors can sleep in tents or stay at Kalaloch Lodge which includes comfortable cabin-style accommodations. 

 

ROCK ISLAND – Tennessee   

Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park
Brian Stansberry / CC BY-SA 3.0

Rock Island State Park is home to cascading waterfalls, deep pools, a sandy beach, and a gorge that is perfect for fishing and kayaking. Its whitewater rapids and boating access make it a popular spot for water sports. Families can take an RV, pitch a tent, or rent one of their spacious cabins that are open year-round. A nineteenth-century cotton textile mill makes for an interesting historic site. But it’s the hiking and biking trials—near creeks, towering trees, rocky bluffs, waterfalls and fragrant wildflowers—that allow one to really appreciate the beauty of this place. 

 

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS – California                    

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
Crd637 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Sequoia redwood trees are the world’s largest trees with massive trunks averaging about 8 meters in diameter. These soaring trees are found in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks lie adjacent to each other and feature rolling foothills, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and giant sequoia trees. These parks boast lots of scenic trails and campsites for tents and RV campers, as well as lodges and cabins. General Sherman Tree—the single largest tree in the world—is found here, and is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience to behold.  

 

YOGI BEAR’S JELLYSTONE PARK CAMP RESORT – Fremont, Indiana 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts
courtesy of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts feature something additional to many other campgrounds: water park attractions! The Barton Lake location in Fremont, Indiana has swimming pools, 3 water slides, and a splashpark water playground with water spraying elements for kids. Visitors can stay in a tent, RV, rustic cabin or deluxe cottage, then go exploring the endless array of activities including the 100-acre fishing lake. Guests can also rent boats and paddleboats, swim in the lake, relax on the sandy beach, rent golf carts, play mini-golf, go hiking, horseback riding and much more.  

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – California 

Yosemite National Park
David Iliff / CC BY-SA 3.0

Yosemite’s chiseled granite cliffs and towering sequoias are spectacular. A visit here offers hiking, biking, fishing, water activities and breathtaking scenery that has remained unspoiled by time. Families can choose from camping in a tent or RV, to renting a cabin or lodge. Yosemite has 13 popular campgrounds, more than half of which require reservations since they can fill up quickly. Yosemite Valley is known for its waterfalls, cliffs and meadows, while Mariposa Grove has giant sequoia trees which are simply magnificent. This is a national park that must be seen at least once in a lifetime.

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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