Categories: CampingDestinations

Best Camping Near National Parks

Most campgrounds within the National Park System are first come, first serve, or booked months in advance. If you’re more of a spontaneous traveler, or just want a place to escape the park crowds, Hipcamp’s got you covered. Below is a compilation of some of our favorite campgrounds within 1.5 hours of our beloved national parks!

The Northeast

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park—a dramatic juxtaposition of mountains and oceans that is sure to make your jaw drop. Rugged sea cliffs, picturesque and historic towns, and majestic islands are all watched over by Cadillac Mountain and its commanding ranges.

Camp of the Pioneers is a 6-acre slice of heaven under a half an hour away from Acadia with three different camping options. If you’re feeling like a more rustic camping experiences, you can take the hike-in only Birch Gate Campsite.

Photo by Myles Tan, Camps of the Pioneers

Photo by Myles Tan, Camps of the Pioneers

Another close camping option is a stay at Basalm Way Campsite, which is incredible charming as you can see:

Photo by Erin W., Balsam Way Campsite

There are also a few really sweet spots a bit further out: Toddy Pond Farm and Duckback Farm are both within an hour and a half of Acadia.

The South

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Photo by James H., Big Bend National Park

If all of Texas’s parks were royalty, then Big Bend would be the exquisite crown jewel. The crème de la crème of Lone Star State parks, Big Bend is known for its size, it’s vast diversity in elevation, its assorted biology, it’s important paleontology and archeology and over 1,000 miles of international boundary shared with Mexico along the Rio Grande. All this and Big Bend is still considered one of the most underrated, most remote and least visited parks in the lower 48 – lucky for you! Big Bend is particularly exciting for hikers and backpackers, who can choose between Chimneys Trail, Marufo Vega Trail, Outer Mountain Loop or any number of the endless other options. Oh, and did we almost forget to mention that this is one of the best places in the United States for stargazing?

If you’re looking to mix things up and maybe get a quick horseback ride in before your trip to the park, check out Coyote Camp just down the road from Arroyo Camp.

If you have an RV or are looking for a more rustic camping option, check out Jackass Flats, which is only 25 minutes away from a park entrance.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sings the songs of country music herself with her rambling streams, ancient mountains, and remnants of true Southern Appalachian mountain culture. The park holds some of the most diverse plant and animal life in the lower 48 and endless trails in which to explore it. You can spend your days climbing through waterfalls, fishing for trout, bicycling under fall foliage, exploring historical sites, picnicking, and cabrewing (the holy union of beer and canoeing).

Just fifteen minutes from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Silo at Little River Barn is one of the most unique glamping experiences on Hipcamp.  It boasts four amazing floors connected by three curved staircases that lead up to a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Open the Silo’s awesome windows and wake up to birds chirping and the smell of mountain air.

Photo by Terah B., Epic View Music & Arts Farm, NC
Photo by Bryan Collins. Earth Seed

Some of other favorite nearby Hipcamps are Epic View Music & Arts Farm at Snaggy Mountain and the Earth Seed.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

America has a national spa? Who knew? It’s true, and you will find it at Hot Springs National Park. This place is not your average national park. The hot springs were discovered, and then a town grew up around it, making it a more urban experience than a wild one. Choose between a more public pool type of environment, or head for your own private bathtub of natural spring water, modeled after European spas of the 1900’s. Now that’s how relaxation is done!

To add a little wild to your trip, book a stay at Erwin Estates High Point, where you can stay on your own perch located on 250 acres in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.

Photo by Scottie T., Erwin Estate High Point, AR

The Midwest

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

If you want an Into The Wild experience aka solitude and a chance to discover the pure ruggedness of the outdoors, Isle Royale is your place. Surrounded by Lake Superior and only accessible by ferry, the park has a huge amount of backcountry acreage and is one the least visited national parks. You’ll find rugged shorelines, towering forests, and a park with no roads that houses a wild and almost primal ecosystem pulsing with life; even moose and a very special pack of wolves call the island home. Kayakers, backpackers, anglers, hikers and those with an enthusiasm for discovery and preservation will have a hell of a time on this amazing archipelago.

If you want your own private yurt, just head west over Lake Superior to Tall Pines Yurt.

Photos by Scottie T., Tall Pines Wilderness Yurt

The West

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Where can you find geological formations, other-worldly in their contortions, that rise like desert gods toward an empty sky? Joshua Tree National Park camping, where the earth’s rich history is hidden within the dusty, red rock. Sudden pools, silent and still, appear and disappear along the landscape, while the twisted branches of Joshua trees trace a slow dance against the skyline. Joshua Tree National Park is a place of legend and mystery, where pioneers, wandering through dust and sand, saw prophets in the trees; where constellations, ancient and never-ending, explode across the night sky.

Photo by Nick L., Jumbo Rocks Campground

Like with so many campgrounds within the NPS, campgrounds in Joshua Tree fill up quite quickly, so make sure to look into our favorite Hipcamps near Joshua Tree. Sky Camp has probably the best damn outdoor shower we’ve ever seen.

Photos by Madison Kotack, Sky Camp, CA

Mount Rainier National Park
, Washington

With the iconic Mount Rainier reigning 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier National Park is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The active volcano, also the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, hoards much of the attention, but the park is also flush with wildflower meadow and ancient forests whose mystery rivals what really goes on at Area 51. In addition to being an active volcano, Mount Rainier spawns six major rivers. The land surrounding the ice-covered volcano includes subalpine meadows with seasonal wildflowers, while the lower slopes are covered in ancient forest.

Just an hour outside of the park, you can stay on a private Christmas tree farm… Yep, you heard us right. Take a look at the The Arboretum.

Photos by Evan K., The Arboretum, WA

Olympic National Park, Washington

Photos by Cedar + Fern, Cedar + Fern, WA

Diversity is the hallmark of the nearly million acres at Olympic National Park. The park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. Camping with a hot tub? Can’t say no to that. The East Meadow is only an hour away from the park.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Iconic, wild and hugely famous, Yellowstone National Park is one of the last standing natural ecosystems in the world and the first ever National Park. If 300 hydrothermal geysers aren’t enough to get you here, how about some megafauna including some the largest herd of bison in America and an extremely elusive, beautiful, and very special pack of wolves. Backcountry trips and day hikes will take you through wild grasslands, and lodgepole forest with killer mountain views and canyons will rock your world. Horse trails are plentiful, or take a llama packing trip for an overnight adventure; seriously how cool is that?

Golden Skyfall is a stunning 170 sustainable acre farm located 15 miles from Bozeman, MT and 45 miles to Yellowstone Park with world class bird and wildlife watching and 5 huge mountain ranges can be seen from this working farm with hiking and bike trails throughout.

Photos by Jess W., Golden Skyfall Camping, MT

Yosemite National Park, California

To put Yosemite National Park into words is quite the challenge, (this video does a pretty job of putting it into moving images though). There is no better place in California that envelops the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, and the tranquility of the High Sierra than Yosemite. Perhaps most famous for the granite rock formation Half Dome, Yosemite is almost equally well-known for its plethora of spectacular waterfalls (measuring up to almost 2,500-feet!). Yosemite is a place that must be visited within a lifetime and with 1,200 square miles to explore, there truly is a unique experience to be had for everyone.

See some of our best Hipcamps near Yosemite here, but Old Yosemite Basecamp is one of our faves!

Photos by Madison Kotack


Denali National Park, Alaska

All your alpine dreams come true when you visit Denali National Park and Preserve. Mountaineers swoon over the chance to bag Mt. McKinley (known as Denali by many), the tallest peak in North America, but there is much more to Denali National Park than the famous mountain. We’re talkin’ six million acres of wilderness with one little road slicing through it, the famous Denali Park Road.

You can cozy up a little over an hour’s drive away from the park headquarters at the Riverside Salmon Cabin for some extra comfort.

Photos by Denee B., Riverside Salmon Cabin


Haleakala National Park, Hawai’i

Spanning over 33,000 acres of land with over half designated as wilderness areas, Haleakalā National Park is located on Maui, an island so beautiful that you may want to take a permanent pau hana (the Hawaiian phrase for leisure time after work). The park is divided into two sections: the summit area and the coastal Kipahulu area.

Photos by Natalie A.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai’i

Located on the big island, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is where you go to say mahalo to Mother Nature for 70 million years of volcanism and what it has bestowed on Planet Earth. The park holds two active volcanoes, Kīlauea (one of the world’s most active) and Mauna Loa, (the world’s premier subaerial volcano). The park was created to preserve the natural settings of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa and serve as a refuge for native plants and animals.

Just under two hours out of the park is the Waipi’o Hostel Camp is located in Kukuihaele less than a mile from majestic Waipiʻo Valley.

Photo by Natalie A., Goat With the Flow!, HI

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