Categories: CampingDestinations

Best Spring Break Camping Destinations

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to shed that outer layer, bust out the sunglasses, and celebrate an extra hour of sunshine outside on a spring break camping trip. Whether you’re looking to hit a state park or a secluded getaway out on your own, we’ve taken a look at where campers are headed to compile the trending North America camping destinations that will give you exactly what you need for a springtime trip, all in time for wildflowers, perfect hiking conditions, and outdoor activities for the whole family.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Abigail Hunter at Rio Bravo Ranch
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Shayna Frankenfield at Big Bend Camp Terlingua

While many of the US’s more northerly national parks are still blanketed with snow in March, the weather at Big Bend National Park is already warm enough for watersports by the time spring rolls around. Popular springtime activities include kayaking and fishing on the Rio Grande, hiking through massive expanses of backcountry, and soaking in natural hot springs. While spring is one of the park’s busier times, there are still plenty of camping options in and around the area, offering everything from quiet tent sites to an RV park with full hookups. If you’re visiting in March, you may even catch the tail end of the annual Big Bend bluebonnet bloom.

Joshua Tree, California

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Katie Ruther at Moonrise Ranch
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Ezequiel Gonzalez at Lovelight Ranch

A popular road trip destination for Angelinos, Joshua Tree National Park looks like nowhere else on earth. Here you’ll find miles of round boulder clusters interspersed by spiky Joshua trees, which only grow in the Mojave Desert. Spring is a particularly fantastic time to visit, when wildflowers wash the otherwise sepia-toned landscape with brilliant colors. The park offers miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, but it’s the fantastic rock climbing and bouldering opportunities—along with the epic, otherworldly scenery—that really draws the masses. Many of the park’s campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis in spring, so arrive early or opt for a secluded Hipcamp just outside the park.

Central Florida

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Shayna Frankenfield at By the Pond

Photo by Shayna Frankenfield at TLC’s Gypsy Haven

Photo by Shayna Frankenfield at Casa de Rio’s
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Daniella Fay at Orchard Lane Farm

Mickey Mouse might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Central Florida, but this warm, marshy region has plenty more to offer than just amusement parks. In fact, you need only drive a short distance out of Orlando to reach one of the region’s most beautiful natural attractions: Ocala National Forest. Here you’ll find boardwalks running through a mix of lakes, ponds, and natural springs surrounded by dense woodlands. The park is ideal for canoeing with rentals and if you’re lucky, you might even spot an alligator (from a safe distance). While you’re in the area, pay a visit to Blue Spring State Park, which offers cabins, camping spots, and great snorkeling.

Southern Arizona

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Caitlin Fullam at Pinnacle Farms South
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Christie Lynn Caputo at CampWay Friendly Pines

Southern Arizona is the postcard picture of the American Southwest, with seemingly endless expanses of desert landscapes dotted with spiky cacti, and Old West ghost towns that appear to have been plucked from a cowboy movie set. Springtime can get hot, but it’s still the best time to visit if you want to avoid the summer monsoon season. Saguaro National Park, named for the giant (and rare) cacti that it protects, is a must-visit, but camping within the park is limited to a few dozen backcountry sites. Fortunately, there are plenty of private alternative spots to pitch your tent (or park your RV) to the south and west of Tucson.

Austin, Texas

Photo by Natalie Rhea at 500 Waves Beach Camp on Llano River
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kendall McLeod at Texas Music River Ranch Campgrounds

Austin is known for its fantastic music scene, and the annual South by Southwest festival is reason enough to visit Texas’s most bohemian city in March. But Austin also makes a great base for exploring the surrounding Texas Hill Country. Spring in this region starts off warm with daytime highs reaching the low 70s in March, making getting out on the water an attractive proposition to locals and visitors alike. Fortunately, Pedernales Falls State Park and Lake Travis are each about an hour or so out of town by car, and both are popular for camping and water recreation.

San Diego, California

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Ezequiel Gonzalez at Whiteside Mountain at Crow’s Nest
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Brie Watson at Manzanita Village Retreat

California’s southernmost major city has long been a popular spring break destination, with warm and sunny springtime days and a wealth of family-friendly activities, including the San Diego Zoo. While San Diego is certainly an urban city, it’s within a short drive from more than its fair share of quiet natural recreation areas, with two national wildlife refuges within a quick jaunt. It’s also a great jumping-off point for some of the prettiest beaches on the Southern California coast, some of which—including Silver Strand State Beach and San Elijo State Beach—offer seaside campgrounds.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Photo by Andrea Watson at Coral Pink Ranch Cowboy Camp
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Niv Rozenberg at Little Heaven Ranch

Sleeping under the stars in Grand Canyon National Park is a quintessential American camping experience, and spring is a great season to do it, when temperatures have started to rise but haven’t yet hit the scalding levels of summer. While the views of this iconic, multicolored crater are reason alone to visit the park, there’s also a ton to do, from hiking trails to a leisurely jaunt to the town of Williams aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. Campgrounds in the national park often fill up months in advance, but last-minute campers will find plenty of enchanting private campsites with fantastic stargazing experiences just south of the park in the Grand Canyon Junction area.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Nikolai Karlov at Lakeside Farm Camp
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Hung Ta at Cottage on the Seven Bends

With a mix of historic towns and gorgeous landscapes, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley offers a good balance of outdoor and indoor experiences. As such, it’s popular throughout the year, though spring is a particularly pretty time to visit, bringing with it sunnier skies and an abundance of colorful blooms. The region’s star attraction, Shenandoah National Park, can get unpredictable weather, so it’s not a bad idea to nab a campsite or RV site at a lower elevation and then head up to the park for daytime birdwatching and hiking. The park’s biggest draw is its abundance of wildflowers, which usually begin to break through the soil by the end of March.

Zion National Park, Utah

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Kelsey Bumsted at Zion Wright Ranch Eco-Camp
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Autumn Kinsey at Apple Hollow Tiny House

There’s really no better time to visit southern Utah‘s Zion National Park than during spring, when the sun has begun to shine, spurring multihued wildflowers into bloom. This time of year is also relatively mild, but if you’re coming in early spring (not a bad idea if you want to beat crowds or secure a good campsite), make sure to bring plenty of layers or a good sleeping bag, as subfreezing nighttime temperatures aren’t unusual well into April. While just chilling out among Zion’s gorgeous sandstone formations is enough for some visitors, it’s worth tackling the famously thrilling Angels Landing hike, which involves scaling a massive rock formation with the aid of a bolted chain.

Appalachia, North Carolina

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Juliana Summers at Little Green Yurt of Cedar Mountain
Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Dan Florez at Smoky Mountain High (4100′)

Western North Carolina’s Appalachia region makes for a great springtime getaway, and while this mountainous region does get its share of showers, the warm spring rains help keep the region feeling pleasant and fresh. Popular areas for outdoor adventure and RV camping include DuPont State Recreational Forest, known for its beautiful (and easy to access) waterfalls, and Gorges State Park, where you’ll find a mix of primitive and developed campgrounds, plus lots of multi-use trails. Don’t leave the area before paying a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee border, the most biologically diverse region in the United States.

Looking for more spring break camping spots near you?

Margot Bigg is a freelance writer and editor specializing in travel and culture. Her stories have appeared in publications around the world, including Travel + Leisure, Sunset, Afar, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Traveller. She’s the author of three India guidebooks for MoonGuides and has co-authored Fodor’s guides to India and the Pacific Northwest. When not traveling or writing, she enjoys reading, studying languages, discovering new music, and daydreaming about her next destination.

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