Category: National Park Camping

The Complete Guide to Camping in Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada, is one of America’s most stunning national parks. The park features the 13,065′ Wheeler Peak, a mammoth mountain that dominates the skyline….

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada, is one of America’s most stunning national parks. The park features the 13,065′ Wheeler Peak, a mammoth mountain that dominates the skyline. At the base of the peak you’ll find the Lehman Caves, a spectacular cave system that is over 2 miles in length, the longest in Nevada. Great Basin is also home to several stands of bristlecone pines, considered to be some of the oldest living organisms in the world.

Needless to say you’ll have plenty of natural wonders to explore during your visit. We think the best way to experience everything that Great Basin has to offer is to spend a few nights under the stars in your tent or RV. Great Basin National Park has plenty of camping options from the five developed campgrounds within the park, to the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road, to the abundance of backcountry options as well as nearby RV and dispersed campsites. 

Keep reading to learn all the details you’ll need to plan your perfect camping trip in Great Basin National Park. 

Aspen tree in front of Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park.

Great Basin National Park has plenty of options for your perfect camping trip.

 

In this post

 

Great Basin National Park Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds within Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds are generally located in the northern section of the park off of Highway 488, the main road in the park. Access is through the town of Baker, NV, the main gateway to Great Basin National Park.

In addition to the developed campgrounds you’ll also find primitive campgrounds located along Snake Creek Road that generally require a 4WD vehicle to access. Snake Creek Road is located in the southern section of the national park, with access from Garrison, NV.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Great Basin National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Great Basin National Park.

Campgrounds in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park are open seasonally from approximately May – October. However, Lower Lehman Creek Campground is open year round as are the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road. Peak season for camping in Great Basin is during the summer, from approximately June – August.

Keep reading to learn about reservations and permits for camping in Great Basin National Park. 

Reservations & Permits

Only the Grey Cliffs Campground in Great Basin National Park accepts reservations, while the others are all first-come, first-served. Reservations can be made at Grey Cliffs from Memorial Day through the end of September, and can only be made for tent camping sites. No RV camping reservations are available. For all of the other sites your best bet during the peak season is to arrive early!

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made through Recreation.gov at the link below:

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those interested in exploring the backcountry of Great Basin National Park there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. Although it is not required, backcountry campers are strongly encouraged to register with the National Park Service before heading out. Registration is free and can be completed at either the Great Basin Visitor Center or Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

We highly recommend all backcountry campers register as this will ensure the NPS knows you are in the wilderness should anything go wrong on your trip. Learn more about backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park in this section.

View of Wheeler Peak from the Great Basin Backcountry.

Be sure to register with the NPS prior to setting out on a backcountry camping trip in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and all are located in the northern section of the park. Details for five campgrounds are below.

Note that while none of the individual campgrounds feature a dump station, there is one available on the road leading to the Lehman Caves.

Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 11 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, limited number of sites available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

A trail through the Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park.

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Lehman Caves. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is one of the first campgrounds you’ll encounter upon entering Great Basin National Park through the Baker entrance. This is the only campground that is open year round in the park, so will be your best bet during the off season. Lower Lehman Creek is on the smaller side with only 11 sites, so be sure to get there early to snag a campsite!

The campground does not accept reservations and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has a few campsites that can accommodate pull-thru RV parking, but the ground tends to be uneven and can make it difficult to find a level spot. Tent campers should be just fine as all of the sites have sufficient space for a tent or two.

Click here to view a map of the Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Lower Lehman Creek is located close to the Lehman Caves and the Lehman Creek trail and makes a great place to spend the night prior to exploring the area.

 

Upper Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 24 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is perfect for those looking for easy access to hiking trails, as the Lehman Creek trails starts directly from the campground. Located just off Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, the campground features 24 sites that are open seasonally from May – October. The campground can accommodate small RVs and trailers, but be prepared for an uneven ground surface.

All of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early during peak season to secure a spot. The lovely Lehman Creek meanders its way through the campground, making for an atmospheric place to spend the night.

Click here to view a map of the Upper Lehman Creek Campground

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets.

 

Wheeler Peak Campground

Number of Sites: 37 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

Wheeler Peak from Wheeler Peak Campground in Great Basin National Park.

Wheeler Peak Campground’s namesake peak. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Wheeler Peak Campgrounds sits at 9,800′ above sea level and provides a high-alpine camping experience. The campground features 37 campsites, a few of which can accommodate larger trailers and RVs. To reach the campground you’ll need to drive approximately 12 miles along Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a steep and narrow road. It is important to note that no vehicles/trailers longer than 24′ are allowed on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive past the Upper Lehman Creek Campground.

Click here to view a map of the Wheeler Peak Campground

This is the most convenient campground to stay at if you’re interested in hiking (or driving) to the Wheeler Peak summit. Given its proximity to the Wheeler Peak summit trail, the campground is quite popular. Be sure to arrive early as all of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets. Wheeler Peak Campground closes during the winter season.

Baker Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 38 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Baker Creek Campground is the largest in Great Basin National Park and features 38 campsites. The campground is located at the end of Baker Creek Road, an easily passable gravel road. This is the perfect place to camp before hiking to Baker and Johnson Lakes, which is a popular loop trail in Great Basin.

Click here to view a map of the Baker Creek Campground

Baker Creek can accommodate medium sized RVs and trailers, but be aware that the road leading through the campground is quite narrow. As with the majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park, all of the sites at Baker Creek are first-come, first-served. Similarly, the campground is only open during the summer season from May – October.

Grey Cliffs Campground

Number of Sites: 12 individual sites + 4 group sites
Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $30/night for group sites
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Click Here to Reserve
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Grey Cliffs Campground is located a short-drive up Baker Creek Road. This excellent campground features 12 individual sites as well as 4 group sites. The group sites can accommodate up to 12 people. Reservations are required for any of the group sites and can also be made for the individual sites at the Grey Cliffs campground. Make your reservations via Recreation.gov here. Note that there is a two night minimum for any camping reservation at Grey Cliffs.

Click here to view a map of the Grey Cliffs Campground

It is important to note that there is no potable water available at the Grey Cliffs Campground. Campers will have to get their water from the Baker Creek Campground, located approximately 1.5 miles up Baker Creek Road.

Snake Creek Road Primitive Campgrounds

In addition to the five developed campgrounds described above, Great Basin National Park also features primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. Snake Creek Road begins in the town of Garrison, NV and winds its way for approximately 8.5 miles into the heart of Great Basin National Park. See the map below for more detail.

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Number of Sites: 12 campsites – please camp at designed sites only!
Fee: Free
Capacity: Up to 15 people / 6 pack animals / 6 vehicle per site
RVs: Not recommended
Reservations: First come, first served
More Information

Although they are not developed campgrounds, the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road provide an excellent option for camping in Great Basin National Park. Each of the campsites along Snake Creek Road include a picnic table and many have fire rings. The park service requires that you place your tent within 30′ of either the picnic table or fire ring. The campsites are generally quite large and can accommodate groups of up to 15 people.

There are no restrooms or trash facilities along Snake Creek Road, so always be sure to bury your waste (at least 100′ from the nearest water source!) and pack out all of your trash. Water can occasionally be drawn from Snake Creek, but must be treated.

The road itself can be quite tough at times, so a high clearance vehicle is recommended. While you may be able to pass some portions in a smaller passenger vehicle, we don’t recommend it. For these same reasons RVs and trailers are not recommended for any of the campsites along Snake Creek Road.

Best of all, the campsites along Snake Creek road are all first-come, first-served and free of charge. In order to preserve these great campsites for future visitors it is very important to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping in this section of Great Basin National Park.

 

Backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park

Backpacking in Great Basin National Park is often overlooked for other, more glamorous trips in the bigger national parks. It shouldn’t be! While Great Basin only boasts 60+ miles of trails to explore, you’re bound to encounter few, if any, other backpackers during your trip. That fact combined with the lack of a permitting system making planning a backpacking trip in Great Basin National Park an easy endeavor. Read on to find out what you need to know.

A hiking trail in Great Basin National Park

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

Registration is not required for backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park. However, we strongly recommend that all backcountry campers take the time to register prior to embarking on their trip. Registration is free and it is always a good idea of let the NPS know where you plan to be should something go wrong. Registering also helps the NPS understand visitor usage in the park and better preserve this important ecosystem.

Backcountry camping registration can be completed at either the Lehman Caves or Great Basin Visitor Centers in Great Basin National Park. Prior to registering, it is important to keep a few key regulations in mind:

  • No more than 15 people per group.
  • No backcountry camping is permitted in the Wheeler Peak Day Use or Lexington Arch Day Use areas.
  • Camping is not allowed in bristlecone pine groves.
  • Camping is not allowed on the Osceola Ditch trail.

Outside of the restrictions above, backcountry camping is permitted in most areas of the park. You’ll want your campsite to meet the following guidelines provided by the NPS:

  • Be at least 1/2 mile from the nearest trail
  • Campsites must be 1/4 mile from the nearest park facility (campgrounds, trailheads, etc.)
  • At least 100′ from any water source
  • 500′ from any archeological site (mines, ruins, etc.)
  • Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet

For a full list of backcountry camping regulations in Great Basin National Park visit the NPS website here. 

Where to camp in the Great Basin backcountry

Great Basin National Park does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

Pyramid Peak Loop

The most popular backcountry trip in Great Basin National Park is the Pyramid Peak Loop. This 13 mile loop makes the perfect overnight trip in the Great Basin backcountry and provides excellent views of Wheeler Peak while visiting both Baker and Johnson Lakes. Find additional information on this excellent trip below:

You can view a full list of the hiking trails in Great Basin National Park here. 

Great Basin National Park backcountry

Backcountry campers will have plenty of trails to explore in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Great Basin National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Great Basin National Park. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • The maximum stay at any campground or campsite is 14 days
  • Tents must be placed within 30 feet of the campsites fire ring or picnic table
  • Always pay your campsite fee within 30 minutes of arrival

More detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Campfires in Great Basin

Fires are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds as well as the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. At these locations, your fire must be fully contained within the provided fire pit/fire grate and should never be left unattended.

In the Great Basin backcountry, campfires are allowed as long as you are below 10,000′. Above this elevation fires are prohibited. If you are camping in an area of the backcountry where fires are allowed, be sure to follow these regulations:

  • Only build fires in areas of bare soil or snow.
  • There must be at least a 10′ clear area around the fire.
  • Do not clear vegetation to create a fire pit.
  • Do not construct a stone ring fire pit.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before leaving your campsite.

Gathering of wood in Great Basin National Park is permitted, so long as it is already dead and on the ground. You are not allowed to cut any living trees, shrubs, etc in the National Park for use as firewood. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfire in Great Basin National Park

 

Wildlife

The high desert landscape of Great Basin National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife. Many of these animals have adopted specific adaptations to survive in this unique environment. While most visitors are unlikely to encounter many of the animals that live in the park, campers should be aware of a few specific species:

  • Coyotes: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Great Basin. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Great Basin is home to several snake species, most notably the rattlesnake. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them.
  • Mountain lions: Mountain lions are solitary animals and they are incredibly rare to see in person. However, campers and especially those in the backcountry should always be aware of their surroundings.

Learn more about the wildlife in Great Basin National Park here.

Mountain lion perched on a rock.

 

Pets

As with many national parks, Great Basin has restrictions about where you are allowed to bring your pet within the national park. Generally speaking, pets are allowed at the developed campgrounds and in areas immediately surrounding park buildings, such as visitor centers. In addition, pets are allowed on the Lexington Arch trail.

Pets are not allowed on any other trails in Great Basin National Park or anywhere in the backcountry. This includes the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road.

If you do plan on bringing your pet to Great Basin National Park, please follow these guidelines:

  • Pets must be on a six-foot leash at all times.
  • Please pick up your pet waste.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

You can find the full list of pet regulations on the Great Basin National Park website here. 

 

Where to get supplies

Great Basin National Park is nothing if not remote. Located in far east Nevada, the park provides a true wilderness experience. All that solitude makes it important to be prepared for your camping trip as there aren’t many services close to the national park.

Check out your best bets for stocking up prior to your Great Basin National Park camping trip below:

  • Baker, NV: Baker is considered the gateway to Great Basin National Park. Located just a few miles from the national park, this is your most convenient option to stock up prior to your trip. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of services in Baker. However, you will find a gas station, several restaurants, an excellent coffee shop, a few hotels and friendly locals.

 

  • Ely, NV: For those in need of more services than what is available in Baker, you’ll need to head to Ely. Located approximately 1 hour from Great Basin National Park, Ely has an outdoor store, multiple grocery stores, and all the services you may need to stock up before your camping trip.

Camping near Great Basin National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Great Basin National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in the park and limited availability for reservations means you may arrive to completely full campgrounds. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options just outside of Great Basin National Park. From full service RV campgrounds, to free dispersed camping check out your best bets below.

RV parked in the desert

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Great Basin National Park.

 

RV campgrounds

Whispering Elms Motel & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $40/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located a short drive from Great Basin National Park in Baker, NV the Whispering Elms Motel & Campground is the closest RV campground to the national park. At Whispering Elms you’ll find hookups for 30/50 amps as well as water and sewer hookups. In addition to RVs, the campground can also accommodate tent campers.

Amenities include free pool, TV, WiFi, laundry facilities, and a restaurant/lodge. Whispering Elms gets great reviews for the stunning views from the campground and clean facilities.

The Border Inn

Number of sites: Limited
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Border Inn sits, you guess it, right on the border of Nevada and Utah, approximately 15 minutes from Great Basin National Park. More than just a campground, the Border Inn features a small casino, motel, gas station, and small convenience store.

The campground is small, but the sites are level and hookups are available. The Border Inn isn’t the most family friendly of your options near Great Basin National Park, but they provide an affordable camping option and get great reviews for the friendly staff.

 

Ely KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $60/night
Capacity: 2 – 8 people depending on site.
RVs: Yes, up to 90′
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Ely KOA is located in the town of Ely, NV approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin National Park. Although a bit further from the park than other options you’ll find a predictably good campground with access to plenty of services in the town of Ely. The campgrounds feature full hookups and you’ll get access to great amenities including a dog park, free WiFi, and a fire pit.

The Ely KOA also provides sites for tent campers, making this a great option before exploring Great Basin National Park.

 

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Great Basin National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from.

In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Great Basin.

Car and tent near Great Basin National Park.

There are plenty of car camping sites near Great Basin National Park.

 

Cave Lake State Park – Elk Flat Campground & Lake View Campground

Number of sites: Elk Flat (15 sites) and Lake View (17 sites)
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None Stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served. Group site reservations may be available.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Located to the northwest of Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake State Park offers two developed campgrounds that provide a good car camping option near the park. The campgrounds are located approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin and there are a total of 32 campsites at Cave Lake.

All of the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of a few sites that are available for group reservations. To reserve a group site, email clsp@parks.nv.gov.

Cave Lake State Park has a small lake with great fishing as well as plenty of hiking trails, making it an excellent destination in its own right.

Dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park

Your final option for camping near Great Basin National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land which practically surrounds the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

There are several excellent options for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park, and we’ve outlined your best bets below.

Tent in the desert near Great Basin National Park

Free dispersed camping is available on BLM land near Great Basin National Park.

Snake Creek Road

Snake Creek Road connects Garrison, NV with Great Basin National Park. Within the park the NPS allows for free, primitive camping along the road, as we described in the section above. Similarly, there is a free dispersed campsite on Snake Creek Road in BLM land just outside the national park boundary.

You’ll find the campsite by turning south off of the main road just prior to entering the national park. Be aware that large trailer and RVs will have trouble accessing this site.

Also, there is no bathroom or potable water source at the campsite so be prepared to be self reliant and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Sacramento Pass

The Sacramento Pass Recreation Area is located just north of Great Basin National Park along State Highway 50. This free dispersed camping area is more developed than most, and you’ll find pit toilets as well as picnic tables at the campsite here. While not as close as camping along Snake Creek Road, you’ll still only be 20 minutes from the park.

Several of the campsites are large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers, so this makes a great campground for those with a big rig.

Cleve Creek

The final option for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park is the Cleve Creek Campground.

Cleve Creek is located to the northwest of Great Basin, just outside of Humboldt National Forest. The campground has 12 individual campsites and 1 group site. There are restrooms at the campground and each site features a picnic table. There is no potable water available at Cleve Creek, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need.

Bureau of Land Management – Ely, NV Office

For the most up to date information on dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park be sure to reach out the the Ely office of the BLM. The helpful rangers will be able to provide information on potential places to camp, fire restrictions, and other pertinent information for your trip.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Great Basin National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping In and Near Hot Springs National Park

Historical interest and natural beauty strike a perfect balance in Hot Springs National Park. This little gem is the oldest park to be managed by the National Park System, but…

Historical interest and natural beauty strike a perfect balance in Hot Springs National Park. This little gem is the oldest park to be managed by the National Park System, but its storied past extends thousands of years beyond that as a sacred place for numerous Indigenous Peoples. Visitors today can enjoy peaceful hiking trails, grandiose bathhouses, and endless recreational activities in the park and the nearby city of Hot Springs.

Those looking to make the most of their escape to nature will have their pick from a wealth of excellent camping options in the area. Whether you’re looking for a deluxe glamping experience or free dispersed camping, we’ve got you covered. This guide details all of the best places to camp in and near Hot Springs National Park and provides need-to-know information to help you have your best possible trip. Happy Camping!

Gulpha Creek in the fall.
You can camp year-round in and near Hot Springs National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

In this Guide:

Camping in Hot Springs National Park

Given the relatively small size of the park and its urban surroundings, camping options are limited inside Hot Springs National Park. Backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere inside the park. The only place you can camp within Hot Springs National Park is at the Gulpha Gorge Campground, but fortunately, this is an excellent option.

With a shady and idyllic location on the banks of Gulpha Creek, Gulpha Gorge Campground accommodates both tents and RVs and gives campers easy proximity to trails, bathhouses, the Visitor Center, and other attractions. It is open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

An RV parked by the stream at Gulpha Gorge Campground.
Many of the sites at Gulpha Gorge Campground are located right along Gulpha Creek. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

Gulpha Gorge Campground

# of Sites: 40

Type: Tent, RV

Fees: $30/night (credit or debit only)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets
  • Potable water
  • Electric, water, and sewer hookups
  • Dump station
  • Trash/recycling
  • Picnic tables
  • Grills

Pets: Pets are allowed in the campground and on all of the trails in Hot Springs National Park. Dogs must be kept on a 6′ leash.

Fires: Grills are provided at all campsites. Ground fires are only permitted in designated fire rings at the campground.

Reservations: It is not possible to reserve a spot at Gulpha Gorge Campground. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. It is important to register before setting up camp and you can only pay with a credit or debit card.

Wildlife: Hot Springs National Park is home to thousands of species, including black bears, white tailed deer, coyotes, and bats. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll see a bear at the campground, be sure to secure all of your food items in a car or bear canister. The most common animal you’ll encounter in the summertime is the mosquito, so pack the bug spray!

Website: Gulpha Gorge Campground

A white tailed deer, seen while camping at Hot Springs National Park.
White tailed deer are common in Hot Springs National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

Campgrounds Near Hot Springs National Park

From rustic to resort-like, there are plenty of great camping options near Hot Springs National Park to suit every style and budget. In this section, you’ll find our recommendations for the best campgrounds within a 35-minute drive from the National Park.

Hot Springs KOA

# of sites: 70

Type: RV, Tent, Cabins

Fees: $30/night (Tent), $40-$75/night (RV), $75-$140/night (Cabin)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 4 miles ( 7-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Communal kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Water/Electric hookups (50 amp max)
  • WiFi
  • Pool
  • Snack bar
  • Games
  • Shuttle to Hot Springs National Park

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Permitted in designated fire pits. Firewood is available for purchase at the campground.

Reservations: Recommended. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Hot Springs National Park KOA

Bar Fifty RV Park and Horse Camp

# of sites: 57

Type: Tent, RV, Bunkhouse

Fees: $15 (Tent), $32 (RV)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 20 miles (35-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Potable Water
  • Water/Electric hookups
  • Picnic tables
  • Horse pens

Pets: Yes.

Fires: Yes

Reservations: Recommended for busy weekends/holidays. Can be made HERE.

Website: Bar Fifty RV Park and Horse Camp

Lake Ouachita State Park

# of sites: 93

Type: Walk-in tent, Tent, RV, Cabin

Fees: $14/night (Tent), $36/night (RV w/hookups), $200-$250 (Cabin)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 15 miles (25-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Water/sewer/electric (50 amp) hookups (Class AAA sites)
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques
  • Gift shop in Visitor’s Center
  • Boat rentals

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: Recommended. There is a two-night minimum for weekend reservations and a three-night minimum for holidays. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Lake Ouachita State Park

Charlton Recreation Area

# of sites: 52

Type: Tent, RV, Group

Fees: $15/night (tent sites), $25/night (Single RV sites w/hookups), $40/night (Double RV sites w/hookups), $40/night (Group tent site)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 22 miles (35-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques and fire pits
  • Tent/trailer pad
  • Swimming area
  • Water/Electric hookups (Loops B & C)
  • Dump Station

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: N/A. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Website: Charlton Recreation Area

Lake Catherine State Park

# of sites: 76

Type: Tent, RV, Yurt, Cabins

Fees: $13/night (primitive tent sites), $23/night (Class B sites), $36/night (class AAA sites), $58/night (yurt), $100/night (cabins)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 13 miles (20-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques and fire pits
  • Tent/trailer pad
  • Marina/Boat Rentals
  • Water/Electric hookups

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: Highly recommended. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Lake Catherine State Park

RV Camping near Hot Springs National Park
There are plenty of great options for both RV and tent camping near Hot Springs National Park.

Dispersed Camping Near Hot Springs National Park

The hands-down best place for dispersed camping near Hot Springs National Park is in Ouachita National Forest. This incredible wilderness area encompasses 1.8 million acres and includes Arkansas’ largest lake, Lake Ouachita.

The Forest Service offers this advice about camping in Ouachita National Forest:

“…[P]rimitive camping is allowed almost anywhere in the Ouachita National Forest unless there is a sign stating otherwise, or it is a wildlife food plot. Located throughout the Forests are areas that have been campsites for many years. These are located along roadsides, trails, mountain tops, or near streams.”

For easy access to Hot Springs National Park, camp in the southeastern part of Ouachita National Forest. The Jessieville-Winona-Fourche Ranger District and Caddo/Womble Ranger District are both good options. If you are feeling adventurous, head towards Ouachita via US-270W or AR-298W, and choose a series of dirt roads to follow to seek out a camp spot once inside the forest.

Those looking for a little more guidance can check out the recommendations on this website.

Always follow National Forest Guidelines and Leave No Trace Practices when dispersed camping.

Dispersed Camping near Hot Springs National Park
Dispersed camping near Hot Springs National Park is a peaceful and free option.

Ouachita National Forest

# of Sites: Varies

Type: Primitive (some spaces can accommodate RVs, but no hookups)

Fees: Free

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: Varies (likely about an hour+ drive)

Amenities:

  • None
  • Water should be filtered before drinking from lakes or streams.
  • There may be a recreation area nearby with water/bathrooms, and necessities are available in some towns within 30-minutes’ drive.

Pets: Yes

Fires: Yes

Reservations: N/A

Website: Ouachita National Forest

Tent Camping Hot Springs National Park

Conclusion

Whether you’re enjoying the modern comforts of an RV Resort or adventuring into the wilderness to find that perfect dispersed campsite, you’ll be well-situated to make the most of all that Hot Springs National Park has to offer. We hope this guide helps you spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Got any questions or tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.

Happy Camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of America’s largest and most unique national parks. Covering an area of over 1.5 million acres, the Everglades preserves a truly unique ecosystem. Located in…

Everglades National Park is one of America’s largest and most unique national parks. Covering an area of over 1.5 million acres, the Everglades preserves a truly unique ecosystem. Located in southern Florida, the park protects incredibly biodiverse landscapes including freshwater sloughs, mangrove forests, pine forests, marine and tidal estuaries, and more. We think the best way to experience this one of a kind environment is to spend a few nights under the stars camping in Everglades National Park. 

The Everglades have some truly unique options for your next camping trip. There are two developed campgrounds located in the national park, beach campsites, backcountry ‘chickee’ campsites and nearby RV sites. Needless to say, whichever type of camping trip in Everglades National Park you’re planning they’ll be a great option for you.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Everglades National Park.

Tent in the Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park. Photo Credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf

 

In this Post

 

Everglades National Park Campgrounds

There are two developed campgrounds located within Everglades National Park. Both campgrounds are located along State Highway 9336, the main road through the national park, and are easily accessed from the Miami area. To reach either campground you’ll pass through the Homestead Entrance and have the option to visit the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Everglades National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Everglades National Park.

Campgrounds in Everglades National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park is open year round, although you’ll find it is much less crowded during the summer off-season. This is for good reason and camping in the summer in the Everglades can be unbearable!

The Lone Pine Key Campground is only open during the peak season, generally from November through the first part  of May.

Peak season for camping in the Everglades is from December – April, during South Florida’s dry season. During this time you’ll have the best chance for sun, milder temperatures, and avoid the mosquito swarms that are typical during the summer months.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Everglades National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Reservations for the campgrounds in Everglades National Park are recommend, but depend on which campground you are considering:

  • Lone Pine Key Campground only accepts reservations for the campsites that allow RVs and does not accept reservations for any of the tent sites, which are made available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Flamingo Campground accepts reservations for RV campsites and drive-in tent campsites, but does not accept reservations for the 38 walk-in tent sites.

While neither of the two campgrounds in Everglades National Park require advance reservations, we highly recommend making one for any time during the peak season, generally December – April. The last thing you want is to pack up all of your camping gear only to arrive at a full campground!

Unlike many of the national parks, reservations for the Lone Pine Campground and Flamingo Campground are not managed through Recreation.gov. Instead, Flamingo Adventures, a private ‘concessioner’ of the National Park Service, operates both of these campgrounds. To make a reservation at either campground, visit their website below:

Reservations for Everglades National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Flamingo Adventures

RVs in the Lone Pine Key Campground, Everglades National Park.

Expect both campgrounds in Everglades National Park to be full during peak season. Photo credit NPS.

 

For those interested in exploring the vast wilderness on offer in the Everglades, a wilderness permit is required. Permits can be obtained from either the Flamingo Visitor Center, located in the far south area of the park, or the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located at the northwest entrance to the park.

Wilderness permits can only be obtained the day before or the day of your planned departure. This makes it very important to have flexible plans for your backcountry trip in the Everglades, as there is no way to ensure your preferred campground will be available.

Our best advice? Get there early and have a few options in mind! The rangers at the permit desks are also very knowledgeable and can often suggest excellent alternative itineraries.

Permits cost $15 + $2/person per day.

Learn more about wilderness camping in Everglades National Park in this section.

 

Frontcountry & Car camping sites

There are two ‘frontcountry’ campgrounds located in Everglades National Park: Flamingo Campground and Lone Pine Key Campground. Both are located along State Highway 9336 and provide camping options for tents and RVs. Full details for both of these excellent campgrounds are below.

Lone Pine Key Campground

Number of Sites: 108 individual (up to 6 people) and 1 group site (up to 15 people)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $35/night for the group site
RVs: Yes. No electric or water hookups available, but a dump station is available.
Reservations: Recommended for RV sites. Tent sites are first-come, first-served.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Entrance to the Lone Pine Key Campground

Lone Pine Key Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Lone Pine Key Campground is the smaller and more basic of the two campgrounds located in Everglades National Park. It is also the first campground you’ll reach when entering the national park from the Homestead Entrance. Lone Pine Key is open seasonally from November – early-May. The campground is located adjacent to the Long Pine Key trail, so is a great place to spend the night prior to exploring the trail.

Lone Pine Key features 108 individual campsites that can accommodate up to 6 people each as well as one group site for up to 15 people. Reservations can be made for the RV sites at the campground, but all of the tent-sites are first-come, first-served. The RV campsites do not have any water or electric hookups, but there is a dump station at the campground.

The campground features cold water showers and each campsites comes with a picnic table, fire pit, and grill stand. There is also a small lake adjacent to the campground where fishing is permitted, but do not swim as alligators are known to frequent the area.

Pine trees behind water on the Long Pine Key Trail in Everglades National Park

The Long Pine Key Trail starts at the Lone Pine Key campground. Photo credit NPS/Denise Diaz.

 

Flamingo Campground

Number of Sites: 157 sites
Fee: $25 – $45/night depending on hookups
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended for RV/drive in tent sites. Walk-in tent sites are first-come, first-served.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Tents set up at the Flamingo Campground in the Everglades

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf.

The Flamingo Campground is the largest and most popular in the Everglades. The campground is located at the far southern tip of the national park and features drive-in RV and tent sites as well as walk-in tent sites on the Florida Bay. In addition, the campground also features ‘eco-tents’ which are small “safari style” canvas tents that include electricity, fans, and a small deck to sit on. Eco-tents can be reserved with or without a bed.

View a map of the Flamingo Campground here. 

Eco-tents at the Flamingo campground

Eco-tents at the Flamingo Campground. Photo credit NPS/Dylann Turffs.

 

We highly recommend reserving your RV site well in advance for the peak season as the Flamingo Campground is known to fill up. RV sites are available with or without electricity and there is potable water and a dump station available at the campground. Drive in tent sites are available in addition to the walk-in sites that are along the Florida Bay. For the walk-in campsite you’ll have to park your car and then walk your camping setup out to your site. Well worth it for a campsite on the Bay!

All campsites feature a picnic table, fire ring, and grill stand or fire grate.

The campground is near the Christian Point Trail and the Coastal Prairie Trail making it a great place to spend the night before exploring the area.

RVs parked at the Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park

Photo credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf.

 

Looking for more campgrounds near the Everglades? Check out this section!

 

Backcountry & Wilderness campsites in the Everglades

Exploring the backcountry wilderness of Everglades National Park is an experience like no other. Rather than setting out on a hiking trail, most visitors to the Everglades wilderness rely on canoes, kayaks, or other small boats to access the backcountry. This will reward backcountry campers with solitude, quiet, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in this spectacular ecosystem.

Wilderness camping in the Everglades is best done during the winter (December – March) as temperatures are much more moderate and you’re likely to encounter clearer weather. Only a hardy few will brave the backcountry during the summer, as the heat, humidity, and mosquitos can be unbearable. Plan ahead accordingly!

Backcountry campers should plan to bring all of the potable water they need with them on their trip. Drinking water can be scarce to non-existent in the backcountry so plan to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day. The National Park Service recommends sturdy containers to prevent wildlife from getting your water. This means no plastic gallon containers!

With the right plan in place you’re sure to have a great trip in the backcountry of Everglades National Park. Learn everything you need to know to place your trip below.

Kayak on the beach in Everglades National Park

Exploring the backcountry in Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Wilderness Campsites

Backcountry campers are required to stay at one of the 45 designated wilderness campsites located throughout the park. The campsites consist of beach sites along the Gulf of Mexico, ground sites situated on islands or other land areas, and “Chickees”, platform campsites that sit above the water.

All of the campsites within the national park have specific limits for the number of people, number of groups, and number of tents that are permitted at a specific campsite. Beach sites tend to have the largest capacity, up to 60 people in some cases, while single Chickee sites can often only accommodate up to 6 people.

The National Park Service has an excellent table listing all of the wilderness campsites in the Everglades and their capacity here. You can view a map of all of wilderness campgrounds in the Everglades below:

Map of wilderness campsites in Everglades National Park

Map of wilderness campsites in Everglades National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

More details on each type of campsite in Everglades National Park are below:

Everglades Beach Campsites

Beach campsites in Everglades National Park are primarily located along the Gulf Coast. Beach campsites can accommodate up to 60 people (!), although there are smaller, more secluded sites available. These campsites do not have potable water sources or bathrooms, so be prepared to bring all of the water you’ll need and properly dispose of human waste. Campfires are generally allowed at beach campsites as long as they are located below the high-tide line.

Tent and Kayak on the beach in Everglades National Park

Beach campsite in Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Ground campsites

Ground campsites are exactly what they sound like: wilderness campsites located on solid ground within the park. These campsites are located on small islands, inland areas, and other places where the ground is stable enough to support a campsite. Campfires are not allowed at ground campsites in the Everglades.

Pinelands in Everglades National Park

Ground campsite are mostly located in the interior of the Everglades. Photo credit NPS/Caitlin Rivas.

 

Everglades Chickees

Chickees are the most unique campsite option in the Everglades. These campsites are located over water and consist of a 10′ x 12′ wooden platform with an attached porta-pottie. Many of the chickee sites contain two platforms connected by a walkway to the bathroom. You’ll need to be sure to bring a free standing tent, as there is no way to stake a tent on a chickee. Campfires are not allowed at chickee campsites and visitors will also want to be sure to bring a rope to secure their water craft while camping.

Chickee campsite in Everglades National Park.

A chickee campsite in the Everglades. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Wilderness Camping Permits & Regulations

All backcountry campers in Everglades National Park are required to obtain a wilderness permit prior to starting their trip. During the peak season (November – April) permits can be obtained in person at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center or Flamingo Visitor Center. During the off season (May – October) permits can be obtained via self-registering at either of the visitor centers above. When obtaining a permit for a wilderness trip in the Everglades there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Permits cost $15 +$2/person per night in the peak season. Permits are free in the off season.
  • Permits can only be obtained up to 24 hours prior to your trip.
    • This means you may not be able to reserve your preferred campsite. Always have a backup plan!
  • Campsites have varying capacity for the number of groups, tents, and people. Be sure your planned campsite can accommodate your group.
  • Plan to arrive as early as possible to secure permits during peak season. You’ll have a better chance of getting your preferred campsite.

Mangrove in Everglades National Park.

Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping in the Everglades. Photo credit NPS/Brian Call.

 

Wilderness Camping trips in Everglades National Park

As you’re planning your wilderness camping trip in Everglades National Park you’ll want to spend some time thinking about your planned route. While there are countless options, the  most popular trip is described below:

Everglades Wilderness Waterway

The Everglades Wilderness Waterway is a 99-mile route that traverses the national park via canoe, kayak, or small boat. The route connects Flamingo, FL with Everglades City, FL and is the most famous backcountry adventure in the Everglades. Expect the trip to take anywhere from between 10 – 14 days if traveling by kayak or canoe.

This is a serious undertaking so be sure you are up to the challenge and check out these helpful resources below:

Canoe on the Everglades Wilderness Waterway.

Exploring the Everglades wilderness. Photo credit NPS.

 

For those who are in search of a more mellow outing, don’t be dissuaded. There are plenty of easier overnight trips into the Everglades wilderness that don’t require two weeks of paddling! Your best bet is consult the Wilderness Trip Planner and to talk to one of the rangers at the Everglades National Park Visitor Centers to learn what might be a good option for you.

 

Everglades National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Everglades National Park. First a few basics:

  • Be sure you know the maximum group size allowed at your planned campsite. 
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles at all of the campsites within the Everglades.
  • You are not permitted to camp in Everglades National Park for more than 30 days/year. During peak season from November 1st – April 1st you are not allowed to camp in the Everglades for more than 14 consecutive days.

Fires

Campfires are permitted at both of the developed campgrounds (Flamingo and Lone Pine Key) in Everglades National Park. Your fire must be contained in the provided fire pit and should not be left unattended at any time. Always be sure your campfire is completely put out before going to bed or leaving your campsite.

In the backcountry, campfires are only permitted on the beach campsites. Here, fires must be located below the high-tide line. You are permitted to use wood that is already down or dead, but do not cut live wood in the national park for your fire.

Campfire in Everglades National Park.

 

Wildlife

Everglades National Park is renowned for its incredible wildlife that inhabits the park. This unique ecosystem hosts an incredible diversity of fauna, and as such it is important to minimize your impact on this ecosystem. For campers, there are a few specific species that you’ll want to be aware of, outlined below:

  • Raccoons: While raccoons are certainly not the first animal that comes to mind when thinking about the Everglades, they are one of the most pesky for wilderness campers. Raccoons are known to steal water and food of wilderness campers so be sure you’ve properly stored both while camping.
  • Vultures: Vultures are native to the Everglades, but are known to cause problems for visitors and campers alike. They are attracted to rubber parts and pieces on automobiles, tents, and campers, and have been known to cause quite a bit of damage. The park service will provide visitors with a free tarp and bungee cords to protect your vehicle or camper. Learn more here.
  • Alligators & Crocodiles: The quintessential wildlife of the Everglades, alligators and crocodiles are found throughout the park. These creatures will generally leave campers and visitors alone, but it always pays off to be vigilant. More important, please be respectful of their habitat as they are a keystone species in the Everglades.

Alligator swimming in Everglades National Park

 

Pets

Pets are only allowed in specific areas of Everglades National Park. They are allowed at both of the developed campgrounds in the national park, along park roads, in areas near park facilities, and on private boats.

Pets are not allowed in the wilderness or backcountry in Everglades National Park.

If you plan to bring your pet to the Everglades, please observe these regulations:

  • Pets must be kept of a leash at all times
  • Please pick up your pet waste.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

A full description of regulations surrounding pets in the Everglades can be found here.

Where to get supplies

Given the remote nature of Everglades National Park, it is important to stock up on camping supplies prior to your trip. The best place to stock up on camping supplies will depend on which section of the park you plan to camp in. We’ve broken down your best bets by entrance stations below:

  • Homestead Entrance (Lone Pine Key & Flamingo Campgrounds)
    • Homestead, FL: The Homestead Entrance is used by campers staying at the two developed campgrounds in the Everglades. A short, 20-minute drive from the entrance station is the town of Homestead, FL. Here you’ll find everything you need to prepare for a camping trip including grocery stores, gas stations, and a fishing shop.
  • Miami Entrance (wilderness camping)
    • Miami, FL: The Miami Entrance to Everglades National Park doesn’t see many campers, as there are few wilderness campgrounds in this area of the park. However, it is the closest to the major metropolis of Miami where you’ll find any and all services you may need for your camping trip.
  • Everglades City Entrance (wilderness camping) 
    • Everglades City, FL: The Everglades City Entrance is commonly used by wilderness campers and is the traditional starting point of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway. Here you’ll find gas stations, a grocery store, and a few fishing shops. For other needs you’ll have to head to Naples, an approximate 45 minute drive from the entrance station.

Camping near Everglades National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Everglades National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary!

Many of these nearby campgrounds can be found in Big Cypress National Preserve, located just north of Everglades National Park. Big Cypress covers an area of over 700,000 acres and features eight developed campgrounds to choose from.  Check out your options for camping in Big Cypress National Preserve below.

Big Cypress National Preserve Campgrounds

Big Cypress National Preserve is located just north of Everglades National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. The preserve protects thousands of acres of cypress swamps and is an important ecosystem that has a symbiotic relationship with the Everglades.

Sunset in Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve provides excellent camping options near the Everglades. Photo credit NPS.

 

Of the eight campgrounds in the preserve four of them are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while the others are reservable via Recreation.gov. The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Big Cypress National Preserve as well as their relation to the Everglades. 

Map of campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve

Map of the campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

As you look at the map above, note that Everglades National Park is located to the south (towards the bottom of the map), so a few of the campgrounds are much closer to the Everglades. The most convenient for visiting the Everglades are: Burns Lake, Monument Lake, Midway, Pinecrest, and Mitchell Landing. Details for all the campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve are below:

Bear Island Campground

Number of Sites: 40 sites
Fee: $10/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

Bear Island is a basic campground located in the northern section of Big Cypress National Preserve. Reservations are not available for Bear Island and all campsites are first-come, first-served. The campsites features pit toilets and does not have running water or hookups. 

View a map of the Bear Island Campground here. 

Burns Lake Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites (5 tent sites + 10 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Burns Lake Campground is centrally located along State Highway 41. It is the closest campground to the Everglades City entrance to the national park, making it a great option for those looking to explore Everglades National Park. The campground is basic and features 15 campsites, 10 of which can accommodate RVs. There is no water available at the campground, although there is an RV dump station.

Reservations can be made for the Burns Lake Campground via Recreation.gov here.

View a map of the Burns Lake Campground here. 

Gator Head Campground

Number of Sites: 9 sites (tents only)
Fee: $10/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

The Gator Head Campground is located in the northern section of Big Cypress and is not very convenient to the national park. At Gator Head you’ll find a basic campground with only 9 sites. The campground can only accommodate tents, so no RVs are permitted. There is no potable water and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Midway Campground

Number of Sites: 36 sites (10 tent sites + 26 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night for tent sites, $30/night for RV sites
RVs: Yes, electric hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Midway Campground is one of the largest campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve and is well located for visiting the Everglades. The campground has 36 campsites, 26 of which can accommodate RVs and provide electrical hookups. The campground has drinking water, restrooms, and a RV dump station.

Reservations can be made for the Midway Campground via Recreation.gov here.

You can take a virtual tour of the Midway Campground via Google Maps here

Mitchell Landing Campground

Number of Sites: 11 sites
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

The Mitchell Landing Campground is a basic campground located near the Shark Valley Visitor Center in the Everglades. The campground has 11 first-come, first-served campsites and provides vault toilets. There is no drinking water available at Mitchell Landing, so plan to bring all the water you’ll need for your stay.

Monument Lake Campground

Number of Sites: 36 sites (10 tent sites + 26 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night for tent sites, $28/night for RV sites
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Monument Lake Campground features 36 campsites, 26 of which are designated for RVs. However, there are no RV hookups available at the campground. Monument Lake does not have any potable water or a dump station, so it is important to plan accordingly. The campground is well located for visiting the Everglades, as it is just off State Highway 41.

Reservations can be made for the Monument Lake Campground via Recreation.gov here.

Pinecrest Campground (Group Campground)

Number of Sites: 4 group sites
Fee: $30/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: Required.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Pinecrest Group Campground is well located for visiting the Everglades, but is reserved for groups up to 15 people. The campground only has four sites, and all require advance reservations. There is no drinking water available and there are also no restrooms at the campground.

Reservations can be made for the Pinecrest Group Campground via Recreation.gov here.

Pink Jeep Campground

Number of Sites: 9 sites
Fee: $10/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

Pink Jeep Campground is located in the northern section of Big Cypress National Preserve. This is a basic campground, and requires an off-road vehicle to reach. There is no potable water available at Pink Jeep, although there are vault toilets.  Reservations are not available for Pink Jeep and all campsites are first-come, first-served.

 

RV campgrounds near the Everglades

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Everglades National Park. RV campgrounds are conveniently located near all of the entrances to the national park. We’ve outlined your best bets for RV camping near the Everglades below.

RVs camped near Everglades National Park

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Florida City Campsite and RV Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $35/night
Capacity: None Stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Florida City Campsite and RV Park is located in the Florida City/Homestead Area. This small campground is well located for those entering the Everglades via the Homestead Entrance Station, which is only a 20 minute drive from the campground.

The campground provides free WiFi, access to laundry facilities, and tons of nearby amenities.

View the Florida City Campsite & RV Park in Google Maps here.

 

Miami Everglades RV Resort

Number of sites: 471
Fee: $45 – $80/night depending on hookups & RV size.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Miami Everglades RV Resort is a huge campground located in southwest Miami. The campground is close to both the Homestead and Shark Valley entrances to the national park. Here you’ll find a plethora of amenities that are sure to please even the most picky campers! Amenities include a clubhouse, laundry facilities, swimming pool, mini golf, WiFi and much more.

The Miami Everglades RV Resort can accommodate tents up to large RVs, so nearly every camper should be just fine here.

View the Miami Everglades RV Resort in Google Maps here.

Trail Lakes Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $50 depending on site/hookups.
Capacity: 4 – 8 people depending on site.
RVs: Yes, water and electric hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Trail Lakes Campground is located in Ochopee, FL and is only 15 minutes from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. This is a well regarded campsite and can accommodate everything from tents to large RVs. Sites come with a variety of electric hookup options and vary in price from $30 – $50/night. This is a family-owned campground and gets great reviews for the friendly staff.

View the Trail Lakes Campground in Google Maps here.

Chokoloskee Island Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $59 – $69/night depending on season.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, up to 30′. Full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Chokoloskee Island Park Campground is located on Chokoloskee Island, just a few minutes from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. This is a unique campground that provides the opportunity to stay on a small island adjacent to the Everglades. Chokoloskee Island Park can accommodate tents and RVs up to 30′ in length, and each site has water, sewer and electric hookups available.

Amenities include a marina store, clubhouse with tv, WiFi, a full kitchen, book exchange, and a beautiful pavilion right on the water.

View the Chokoloskee Island Campground in Google Maps here.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Everglades National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana,…

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana, the park covers over 15,000 acres with Indiana Dunes State Park fully enclosed within the national park’s boundaries. We think the best way to experience everything the Indiana Dunes have to offer is by spending a few nights sleeping under the stars in your tent or RV. You’ll get experience this incredible environment first hand!

Indiana Dunes National Park and the surrounding areas (including the Indiana State Park of the same name) have plenty of options to suit all types of campers. From the more rustic Dunewood Campground within the national park, to the campground located within Indiana Dunes State Park, and nearby full service campgrounds, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Dunefield in the Indiana Dunes national park.

Exploring the sand dunes is just one reason to camp at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

In this Post

Indiana Dunes National Park Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip to the Indiana Dunes is to understand a bit about the geography of the national park and surrounding area. Indiana Dunes National Park is unique in that the park is not located in one contiguous land mass like most national parks. Rather, it exists in several smaller parcels along the shore of Lake Michigan as well as inland. Indiana Dunes State Park is located entirely within the national park boundaries, another unique geographical feature. See the map below to get a better understanding of the geography of Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park campground and Indiana Dunes State Park. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of this is a benefit for those looking to camp at the Indiana Dunes given that there are campgrounds located within the national park and state park, giving you plenty of options.

The peak season for camping in the Indiana Dunes is from May – September, and the Dunewood Campground located within Indiana Dunes National Park is open seasonally from April 1st – November 1st. The Indiana Dunes State Park campground is open year round, but be sure you’re RV has heat if you’re planning a camping trip in the off season!

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are highly recommended for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park. While they are not required, the campground is full during the majority of the peak summer season. For that reason, we highly recommend securing your campsite reservation in advance.

Reservations for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park can be made here via Recreation.gov

You can reserve a campsite at the Dunewood Campground up to 6 months in advance. Availability for the upcoming season is typically released starting in mid-November and campsites can be reserved starting at 10 ET for the date six months out. If you’re hoping to secure a site for a popular weekend be sure you’re ready to book as soon as campsites are made available!

For the campground located in Indiana Dunes State Park reservations are also highly recommended. These sites are open year round and can be reserved through the State of Indiana website here.

Campground at Indiana Dunes National Park

Expect campgrounds at the Indiana Dunes to be full during busy summer weekends. Photo credit NPS.

 

Car camping sites

The Dunewood Campground is the only campground available in Indiana Dunes National Park. Details for this excellent campground are below:

Dunewood Campground

Number of Sites: 67 sites (13 campsites are tent camping only)
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Yes. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Tent at the Dunewood Campground

The Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

The Dunewood Campground is located in the northern portion of Indiana Dunes National Park and features 67 campsites. From the campground it is an approximate 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk to the Lake View Beach on Lake Michigan and the campground is set back in a beautiful, forested environment. The campground is also close to the Great Marsh Trail and Observation Deck, a unique walking trail that explores the wetland ecosystem.

Map of the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of the Dunewood Campground. Map courtesy of the NPS.

 

The majority of the sites can accommodate RVs, although 13 of the sites are set aside for tent camping only. There are no hookups available, but there is potable water and a dump station. Dunewood also features public restrooms and showers.

A unique aspect of the Dunewood Campground is the fact that it can be easily reached by train, not something many National Park campgrounds can attest to! The Beverly Shores train stop is located just a few steps from the campground!

View of Lake Michigan from the Indiana Dunes.

 

Indiana Dunes State Park Campgrounds

If the Dunewood Campground is full or if you prefer to have some additional amenities, the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is a great option. Check out all the details below.

Indiana Dunes State Park Campground

Number of Sites: 141 sites, 3 of which are reserved for non-profits/groups
Fee: $23 – $30/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes, many sites up to 55′.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Campground at Indiana Dunes State Park

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located a short walk from the beach.

 

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is centrally located within the state park. Since the state park is surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Park, you’ll be perfectly located for exploring all this area has to offer. Unlike the Dunewood Campground, the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located just a short walk from the lake shore. There is also a small camp store at the campground selling essentials.

The campground is perfectly located for anyone interested in hiking Mt. Tom, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are recommended at the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground during the peak summer season.  The campsites can accommodate tents as well as RVs and most sites feature electric hookups. The campgrounds provides plenty of restrooms and also features showers.

View a map of the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground here.

The campground also features three ‘youth’ campsites located away from the main campground. These campsites, known as the Nissaki Youth Tent Area are provided for youth based non-profit groups. These are not reservable by the general public.

Dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park near the campground.

 

Indiana Dunes National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Indiana Dunes National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is eight people. There are no group campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park.
  • Ensure you’re tent/RV is on pavement or the tent pad at all times.
  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • You are not permitted to camp in Indiana Dunes National Park for more than 14 days in a 30-day period.
  • No fireworks.

Fires

Campfires are permitted at the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park provided it is within the provided fire grate. Your campfire should never be left unattended and always be sure it is completely out before walking away. It is also important to ensure that wood brought to the National Park is properly sourced, as firewood can often introduce invasive pests.

It is also worth noting that you should not gather any firewood or try to cut down any trees within Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfire at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfires are permitted at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

Wildlife

Indiana Dunes National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife. The intersection of wetlands, sand dunes, and Lake Michigan creates a diverse ecosystem that is home to birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. For those camping in Indiana Dunes National Park there are a few important considerations related to wildlife in the park. Campers should be aware of the following:

  • Coyotes: The Indiana Dunes are home to a sizeable population of coyotes. While you’re unlikely to encounter these on any given visit to the national park, it is important to keep your food properly stored to avoid providing the coyotes with an easy meal.
  • Raccoons: Similar to coyotes, raccoons will happily feast on any food left unattended at your campsite. Be sure to properly store all food to avoid encouraging wildlife to enter campgrounds.
  • Birds: Indiana Dunes National Park hosts an incredible diversity of bird species. According to the National Park Service over 350 unique bird species visit the park each year!

You can learn more about the wildlife in Indiana Dunes National Park here. 

Pets

Indiana Dunes National Park generally allows pets in the national park. However, there are a few regulations that you need to be sure and follow. If you plan to bring your pet on your Indiana Dunes camping trip, be sure to adhere to the following:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times – this includes on the beach and in the water!
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds
  • Pets are not allowed on the following trails: Pinhook Bog Trail and the equestrian portion of the Glenwood Dunes Trail.
  • Pets are not allowed at the West Beach lifeguard area from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings.

See the National Park Service map below to get a sense of where pets are prohibited in the Indiana Dunes.

Map of pet areas in Indiana Dunes National Park

Map of pet regulations in Indiana Dunes National Park. Pets are not allowed in the red areas. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Indiana Dunes National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Indiana Dunes National Park couldn’t be easier. The park’s urban location provides for tons of nearby amenities that are sure to have everything you need for your trip. Your best options are listed below:

  • Michigan City, IN: Michigan City is located just a few miles north along the lake shore from Indiana Dunes National Park. You’ll find everything you need here to stock up for your camping trip including grocery stores, liquor stores, and gas stations.
  • Portage, IN: Portage is located south of the national park along I-94. While not the most convenient place to stop prior to your camping trip, there is a well stocked Bass Pro Shops located here. This will be your best bet for any camping equipment you may have forgotten.
  • Dunes Highway: The Dunes Highway (State Highway 12) cuts right through the national park and runs past the Dunewood Campground. At the intersection with Broadway (the entrance to the Dunewood Campground) you’ll find a gas station, small camp store, and the Goblin & Grocer diner. This is the most convenient for basic needs in the national park.

Bird flying near Michigan City, Indiana

 

Camping near Indiana Dunes National Park

Given the popularity of Indiana Dunes National Park and the fact there is only a single campground in the park, it is always possible that you won’t be able to secure a campsite. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Indiana Dunes

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Indiana Dunes National Park. Check out all of your options below.

RV campground near the Indiana Dunes

 

Lake Shore Camp Resort

Number of sites: 115 campsites
Fee: $37 – $64/night depending on hookups and time of year.
Capacity: Rates are based on five people per campsite.
RVs: Yes, up to 40′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Lake Shore Camp Resort is located south of  Indiana Dunes National Park in the town of Portage, IN. A 15 minutes drive from the national park, the Lake Shore Camp Resort is convenient for those coming from Chicago, as it sits just of I-94. Here you’ll get access to free WiFi, a nice picnic area, laundry facilities, and a game room.

Lake Shore Camp Resort can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40′ in length.

Woodland Village Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40/night with discounts for longer stays.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here or call (219) 762-6578
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Woodland Village Campground is located just 15-minutes south of the Indiana Dunes. This site is a bit smaller than some of the other options in the area and get great reviews for the friendly staff. The campground has plenty of amenities including WiFi, laundry facilities, a small camp store, and over the air TV.

The site is well set-up for those traveling in a RV as all of the sites have full electric and water hookups.

Sand Creek Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $90/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call (219) 926-7482
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sand Creek Campground is located south of the Indiana Dunes and is only a 15 minute drive from the national park. Sand Creek offers campsites that can accommodate large RVs with full hookups as well as a few campsites that are tent only.

Amenities include a swimming pool, WiFi, and laundry facilities.

Michigan City Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $55/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: Prices based on 4 people/campsite. Additional people $5/night.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Michigan City Campground is located in, you guess it, Michigan City, IN. The campground is very well located for those interested in visiting Indiana Dunes National Park as the campground is only a 10 minute drive from the park. The campground has tons of options to suit all camping styles including sites with full hookups, sites that can accommodate full size RVs, and tent camping only sites.

Amenities at the Michigan City Campground include a swimming pool, playground, WiFi access, laundry facilities, and a small camp store.

Car camping sites

If you’re after car camping sites near Indiana Dunes National Park you’ll have at least one good option. In addition to the campground listed below, car camping is permitted at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above. Keep reading below to see what your best bet is for car camping near the Indiana Dunes.

Tent near the Indiana Dunes

 

Sunset Hill Farm Campground

Number of sites: 6 campsites.
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: No.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 219-465-3586 to make a reservation.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sunset Hill Farm Campground is located south of Indiana Dunes National Park in Valparaiso, IN. From here, it is an approximate 25 minutes drive to the national park. Sunset Hill is perfect for those looking to camp in their tent, as no RVs are permitted. The campsites are more rustic and are all walk-in only. Each campsite has a fire pit and picnic table as well as access to basic toilets. There is no trash service at Sunset Hill, so you’ll need to pack out your own trash.

There is no potable water at Sunset Hill Farm Campground, so plan to bring all that you’ll need.

Free camping near the Indiana Dunes

Unlike many national parks, Indiana Dunes is not located near other public land. This limits your options for free camping near Indiana Dunes National Park as there is no BLM, Forest Service, or other public land that allows dispersed camping in close proximity.

However, there is always the possibility of spending the night in a Walmart parking lot!

While certainly not the most glamourous, the Walmart in Michigan City, IN does allow overnight parking. You’ll need to stay in your car/RV (no tents), but at least you’ll have a place to park overnight!

Check out the reviews on FreeCampsites.net for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Indiana Dunes National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Waves on Lake Michigan

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert…

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. These beautiful desert landscapes provide the stunning backdrop for the park’s namesake Joshua treeWe think the best way to experience everything Joshua Tree has to offer is to spend a few nights sleeping under the stars (which are spectacular by the way!) in your tent or RV and experiencing this incredible environment firsthand.

Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas have plentiful options for camping. From the nine campgrounds located within the national park, tons options for backcountry camping, and nearby campgrounds ranging from RV sites to dispersed camping on BLM lands you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Enjoying the stunning sunsets in just one reason to camp in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

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Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds

There are nine established campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The majority of these are located in the north-west portion of the park with the Cottonwood Springs Campground the lone exception located in the south of the park. These campgrounds are all accessed via one of the three entrance stations to Joshua Tree, located on the west, north, and south of the national park.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Joshua Tree National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree are generally open year round, although they are sometimes closed during the hottest days of the summer. Peak season for camping in Joshua Tree is from October – May, when temperatures are more moderate. Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Joshua National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Six of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park require advance reservations during the peak camping season from the end of August through the first part of June. This includes Indian Cove, Black Rock, Cottonwood, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan and Sheep Pass Campgrounds. Note that the Ryan Campground recently transitioned to a reservation system during the peak season.

The remaining campgrounds of White Tank, Belle, and Hidden Valley do not accept reservations and are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year.

Camping in the park is very popular during the peak season, so we highly recommend making a reservation in advance if at all possible. If  you’re hoping to land one of the first-come, first-served campgrounds during peak season be sure to arrive early as they are very difficult to snag!

Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Expect campgrounds in Joshua Tree to be full during peak season.

 

During the summer off-season from May-September all of the campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The exception to this are the group campsites located at Indian Cove, Cottonwood, and Sheep Pass which require reservations year round. Keep in mind that campgrounds can close during the hottest weather of the summer and many of the campgrounds operate under reduced capacity, so you can expect that there will be fewer campsites available.

To make a reservation for the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park you’ll need to visit the Recreation.gov website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those planning to explore Joshua Tree National Park by foot there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. There is no permit or reservation required for backpacking in Joshua Tree, but you are required to register any overnight visit at one of the 13 backcountry registration boards in the park. This ensure the NPS and park rangers know who is in the backcountry at any given time. Learn more about backcountry camping in Joshua Tree in this section.

Car camping sites

There are nine unique campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Joshua Tree National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and proximity to different areas of the park and are sure to provide plenty of options for your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree. Details for all nine campgrounds are below.

Belle Campground

Number of Sites: 18 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Campsite at the Belle Campground in Joshua Tree.

Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS.

The Belle Campground has only 18 campsites, making it ideal for those looking for a quieter experience in Joshua Tree. The campground is located a short drive from the north entrance to the national park and is recommended for its tremendous star gazing. It is located adjacent to the California Hiking and Riding Trail so makes a great place to spend the night before exploring this beautiful trail.

The campground does not accept reservations, so it is a great option if you end up planning a camping trip in Joshua Tree but aren’t able to secure a campsite in advance. The majority of the campsites here can only accommodate a few tents, but there are several that would be suitable for RVs up to 35′.

There is no running water at the Belle Campground so be sure to bring all the water that you’ll need for your stay with you. The campground does have trash and recycling facilities and drop toilets. The campsites all feature a picnic table, fire ring, and grill.

Night sky from the Belle campground

The Belle Campground is the perfect place to take in the stunning night sky in Joshua Tree.

 

Black Rock Campground

Number of Sites: 99 sites, include 20 equestrian sites
Fee: $25/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

A tent in Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe

 

The Black Rock Campground is one of the larger campgrounds in Joshua Tree and is easily accessed given its located just on the edge of the national park. Located only a few miles from the town Yucca Valley, CA in the northwest corner of the park, Black Rock Campground is perfect for those looking for convenience and ease of access. Black Rock Campground has multiple hiking trails that leave directly from the campground including the California Hiking and Riding Trail, High View Trail, and Warren Peak.

Reservations are required at the Black Rock Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 20 equestrian sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. A bonus for RV campers is that there is potable water and a dump station nearby.

Black Rock does receive some negative reviews for noise, but this tends to come with the larger sites in any national park.

Joshua Tree hiking trail

There are tons of hiking trails that leave from the Black Rock Campground.

 

Cottonwood Campground

Number of Sites: 62 sites, including 3 group sites (15 – 25 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $40/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Kurt Moses.

 

The Cottonwood Campground is perfect for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is convenient for those coming from I-10 or any of the towns south of the park and is a just a short drive from the southern entrance station. Cottonwood is the perfect jumping off point for visiting the Lost Palms Oasis, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are required at the Cottonwood Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 3 group sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. There is potable water and a dump station at the campground, a big convenience in the dry desert!

Cottonwood Campground also has a beautiful amphitheater where you can check out a ranger presentation and learn a bit more about Joshua Tree.

Palm tree in Lost Palm Oasis Joshua Tree

A visit to Lost Palms Oasis is highly recommended for those staying at the Cottonwood Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Hidden Valley Campground

Number of Sites: 44 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, up to 25′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Camper van at the Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree

Hidden Valley Campground is perfect for tents and small camper vans. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Hidden Valley Campground is located in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is on the smaller side with 44 campsites, all of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. The campground is located near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail as well as several popular climbing spots in Joshua Tree.

The campsites at Hidden Valley are smaller than what you’ll find at many of the other campgrounds in Joshua Tree. This is great for car campers as you’ll feel a bit more secluded, but it does limit the size of RVs that can be accommodated to 25′. It is important to note that there is not potable water at the Hidden Valley Campground so you’ll need to plan on bringing all the water you’ll need with you.

Sunset in Hidden Valley

Exploring Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree is a highlight for many. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Indian Cove Campground

Number of Sites: 101 sites, including 13 group sites (15 – 60 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $35 – $50/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′ for the majority of sites. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Tents at the Indian Cove Campground

The Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Lian Law.

 

The Indian Cove Campground is located in the northern section of Joshua Tree National Park and just a short drive from either Joshua Tree Village or Twentynine Palms. Indian Cove is located along a dead end road within the park, just north of the famous Wonderland of Rocks and also near the Boy Scout Trail. The campground is perfect for climbers, with tons of pitches near the campsite to explore. 

Reservations are required for all the campsites at Indian Cove during peak-season in Joshua Tree, and are always required for the 13 group sites. Outside of the peak season, individual campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites accommodate tents and RVs up to 35′. The group sites at Indian Cove can accommodate between 15 – 60 people depending on the site, so are a great option for those looking for camping options for a larger group in Joshua Tree.

There is no water available at the campground, so plan to bring in what you plan to use. The campsites all provide picnic tables and fire rings and the campground features pit toilets.

Keep an eye out for the elusive Desert Tortoise when staying at the Indian Cove Campground as they are known to frequent the area!

Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Number of Sites: 124 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Tent in the Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Centrally located to many of Joshua Tree’s main attractions, the Jumbo Rocks Campground is one of the most popular in the park. Situated along the main road through Joshua Tree and just south of Twentynine Palms, Jumbo Rocks provides for a quintessential Joshua Tree camping experience. The campground is nestled within an iconic Joshua Tree landscape of beautiful boulders, Joshua Trees, and stunning desert surroundings.

During peak season from late-August to early-June reservations are required for the Jumbo Rocks Campground. As with the other campgrounds within Joshua Tree, the sites are first-come, first-served outside of this timeframe. Jumbo Rocks campsites feature picnic tables and fire grates and all have access to vault toilets. There is no potable water available at the campground, so be sure to bring what you plan to use.

Many reviews note that mice can sometimes be a nuisance at Jumbo Rocks, so be sure you’ve securely stored your food and cleaned up after any meals.

Criss Cross Rock in Joshua Tree

Classic Joshua Tree rock formations near the Jumbo Rocks Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Ryan Campground

Number of Sites: 32 sites, including 4 equestrian and 3 bicycle campsites.
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Ryan Campground

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Ryan Campground is one of the smaller campground in Joshua Tree National Park with just 32 campsites. The campground is very well located with easy access to several excellent hiking trails from the campground. This includes the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail, as well as access to some excellent climbing spots.

The Ryan Campground has recently transitioned from being available on a first-come, first-served system throughout the year to now requiring a reservation during the peak season from the end of August to first part of June. The four equestrian sites at the Ryan Campground require a reservation year round.

The campsites at the Ryan Campground all feature picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. There is not a water source at the campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need. 

California Riding and Hiking Trail

Access to the California Riding and Hiking Trail from the Ryan Campground. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Sheep Pass Group Campground

Number of Sites: 6 group sites (20 -25 people per site)
Fee: $50/night
RVs: Not permitted.
More Information
Reservations: Required.
Click Here to Reserve

Tents at the Sheep Pass campground

Sheep Pass Campground is perfect for larger groups. Photo credit NPS.

 

Perfect for larger groups, the Sheep Pass Campground is centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park. The campground has 6 sites and can accommodate groups size of between 20-25 people depending on the site. Reservations are required for the campsites year-round and can be made through Recreation.gov. An excellent hiking trail leaves directly from the campground and climbs to the top of Ryan Mountain.

The campsites all feature fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. RVs are not allowed at Sheep Pass, so if you’re planning a group camping trip with an RV you’ll need to check out one of the other group sites in Joshua Tree. The campground does not have potable water, so be sure to bring what you need. 

Ryan Mountain trail sign

The hike to the top of Ryan Mountain leaves directly from the Sheep Pass Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

White Tank Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, max 25′ length. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Sign for the White Tank Campground

The White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The smallest campground in Joshua Tree National Park, White Tank Campground is located along Pinto Basin Road south of Twentynine Palms, CA. The campground provides excellent access to the Arch Rock Trail and California Riding and Hiking Trail.

White Tank Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. This makes it a great option for a last minute camping trip in Joshua Tree. RVs are welcome at White Tank, although the maximum length is 25′ and there are no hookups available.

As with many of the campsites in Joshua Tree, White Tank does not have any potable water available. However, campsites do feature picnic tables, fire grates, and basic grills. The White Tank Campground is also a great location for stargazing, so be sure to bring those telescopes!

Arch Rock Trail sign

The Arch Rock Trail starts in the White Tank Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

For those looking to get off the beaten path, backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect adventure. The nearly 800,000 acres in Joshua Tree National Park provide countless opportunities for backpacking and backcounty camping, provided you follow the national park guidelines and are prepared for this unique environment. Learn everything you need to know to plan a backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park below.

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Be sure you are prepared before venturing into the Joshua Tree backcountry.

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

The first thing you must know when planning a backcountry trip in Joshua Tree is that you’ll need to register your trip at one of the 13 backcountry boards located throughout the national park. By registering, you’re letting the NPS and rangers know about your trip length, approximate camping locations, and who is in your group should something go wrong.

We can’t overemphasize how important this step is! If something were to go wrong, it is essential that the Park Service has this information about your trip. Check out the list and map below for locations of the 13 backcountry registration boards in Joshua Tree.

Backcountry registration boards are located at:

  • Black Rock Canyon
  • Cottonwood Spring
  • Covington
  • Geology Tour
  • Indian Cove
  • Juniper Flats
  • Keys West
  • North Entrance
  • Pine City
  • Pleasant Valley
  • Porcupine Wash
  • Turkey Flats
  • Twin Tanks

These locations are shown on the map below (click to enlarge):

Map of backcountry camping registration boards in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park has 13 backcountry registration boards. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Each of the 13 registration boards provide access to different trails and parts of the park. Be sure to check out the NPS website here to get a sense of the different trails that each registration board has access to. In addition, you are welcome to leave your car overnight at the registration boards.

Backpacking trails in Joshua Tree National Park

As you’re planning your backcountry camping trip in Joshua Tree you’ll want to spend some time thinking about which trail you’ll plan on hiking and your planned route. While there are countless options, two of the most popular trails are listed and described below:

California Riding and Hiking Trail
The California Riding and Hiking Trail is an approximately 37-mile trail that crosses a huge swath of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail is typically completed over 2 – 4 days starting in the west at the Blackrock Campground and finishing at the north park entrance.

The route is a point-to-point hike meaning you’ll have to shuttle a car between the start and finish to ensure you have transportation back to where you started. One of the big perks of the California Riding and Hiking Trail is how often it visits campgrounds and crosses park roads. This makes it easy to cache water along the trail, which you’ll definitely want to do.

Check out this excellent guide from Hikingguy.com for detailed information.

Boy Scout Trail/Willow Hole Trail
The Boy Scout Trail is an approximate 8 mile hiking trail that connects from just north of the Indian Cove Campground to Park Boulevard adjacent to the Quail Spring Picnic Area in the south. The hike can be extended into an overnight backpacking trip by taking the Willow Hole Trail, a 2.2 mile out and back to Willow Hole.

Backpacking site in Joshua Tree

 

Where to camp in the Joshua Tree Backcountry

Unlike many other national parks, there are no designed backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree National Park. Rather, backpackers are asked to camp on durable surfaces, camp away from other groups, camp an adequate distance from roads, and not camp in day-use only areas. The full list of regulations is below:

  • Do not camp within 1 mile of a park road
  • Do not camp within 500 ft. of a trail or water source
  • Do not camp in day-use only areas (these will be marked)
  • Camp at least 1 mile from any trailheads
  • Limit your group size to the smallest possible.

In practice, this means you should seek out a secluded campsite that is on a durable surface. Rocks and sandy washes make perfect backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree. Please be very careful not to camp or hike on the ‘living soil’ in Joshua Tree. This can be recognized by the dark crust that forms on top of the soil and should be avoided to help protect this sensitive ecosystem.

Joshua Trees in front of mountain landscape.

 

Caching food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry

Given the lack of water in this fragile desert environment, backcountry campers are permitted to cache food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry. Caching simply means that you’ll store a supply of food or water somewhere along your planned route. This is incredibly important as you won’t be able to carry all of the water you’re likely to need. Plan on at least 3 liters of water per person per day for backpacking trips in Joshua Tree. Here are a few tips for caching food and water:

  • Plan out your route and caching locations ahead of time
  • Contact the NPS to get a sense of where a good caching location may be for your preferred route
  • Mark your cache with your name, trip dates, and contact information
  • Caches can be left for up to 14 days

You’ll want to store your cache somewhere that is out of the way, but still easy for you to find. We highly recommend utilizing a GPS app on your phone, such as Gaia GPS, in order to record a waypoint for the location of your cache.

Backcountry water cache

Caching water is essential for any backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Joshua Tree National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Joshua Tree National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is six people, three tents, and two vehicles. Note that not all campsites can accommodate this many people/cars.
  • Do not attach any type of rope to the vegetation in Joshua Tree. This means no camping hammocks!
  • You are not permitted to camp in Joshua Tree for more than 30 days/year. Of these, only 14 days may be within the peak season from late-September to early-June.

Fires

Fires are generally permitted at the nine developed campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate or grill and should never be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Do not gather any wood from the national park!

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Joshua Tree, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Wildlife

A highlight for many visits to Joshua Tree is the chance to encounter some of the incredible wildlife that calls the park home. The desert adaptations of many of these animals are truly incredible and it is important to limit your impact on their fragile ecosystem. Most animal life is active during the night, although you’re likely to encounter lizards, plenty of birds, a possibly a few mammals during the day. Campers should be especially aware of the following in Joshua Tree:

  • Ground squirrels: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Joshua Tree. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Joshua Tree is home to a wide variety of desert snake species. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them. For backcountry campers you’re biggest danger is twisting an ankle in a snake hole or burrow!
  • Birds: Joshua Tree National Park has a very active population of birds. Keep an eye out for the iconic roadrunner!

Learn more about the wildlife in Joshua Tree here.

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Pets

Joshua Tree National Park strikes a nice balance when it comes to bringing pets along on your trip. Pets are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds throughout the park, but are not allowed in the backcountry or on any hiking trails. 

If you do plan on bringing you pet with you, please follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry

Given the hot desert environment it is important to take proper precautions when bringing a pet to Joshua Tree. This includes bringing plenty of water for them and ensuring their paws do not get burned on the hot ground.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Joshua Tree National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Joshua Tree is an important part of trip planning. It is especially important to be sure you’re well equipped with plenty of water given the lack of water sources in the national park. Luckily, there are several towns near all of the Joshua Tree National park entrances, making it easy to get supplies prior to your camping trip. Check out your options below:

  • North Entrance
    • Twentynine Palms: Twentynine Palms serves as the northern gateway to Joshua Tree National Park. It is a short drive from the North Entrance station and provides easy access to the Belle, Jumbo Rocks, White Tank, and Indian Cove campgrounds.  Twentynine Palms has most of the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, liquor store, and gas station. The nearest outdoor store is in Joshua Tree Village.
  • West Entrance
    • Joshua Tree Village: Joshua Tree Village is located a few miles north of the West Entrance Station. From here you’ll have easy access to Hidden Valley, Ryan, and Sheep Pass campgrounds. Joshua Tree has a small health food store, gas station, and an outdoor shop. For more services you’ll want to head to Yucca Valley.
    • Yucca Valley: West of Joshua Tree Village, Yucca Valley is the largest town on the north side of Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll travel through Yucca Valley to reach the Black Rock Campground. Yucca Valley has multiple grocery stores and gas stations.
  • South Entrance
    • Indio, CA: Located a 30 minute drive from the Cottonwood Entrance Station on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, Indio has tons of services. Here you’ll find everything you’ll need to stock up for a camping trip in Joshua Tree including grocery stores, gas stations, and outdoor stores.

Palm trees in Indio, California.

 

Camping near Joshua Tree National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Joshua Tree National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in Joshua Tree means it is possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within the national park. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options outside of Joshua Tree National Park. Check out your best bets below.

RV campgrounds near Joshua Tree National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Most of the RV campgrounds are located in the Palm Springs area, which provides convenient access to the national park. There is also a good option on the northern side of Joshua Tree for those looking for a great RV campground. Learn more below.

RV parked near Joshua Tree

 

Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $60/night
Capacity: Sites accommodate up to 8 people
RVs: Yes, up to 90′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA is located just north of Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs, CA. This large site is well located for a visit to Joshua Tree and approximately 50 minutes from both the southern and western entrance stations. Here, you’ll find all the amenities that are typical of a KOA including a pool, dog park, mini golf, playground, and fitness room.

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA can also accommodate RVs up to 90′ in length, so nearly every camper should fit just fine.

 

Palm Springs RV Resort

Number of sites: 401
Fee: $50 – $80/night depending on season
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palms Springs RV Resort is located just off of I-10 in Palm Desert, CA. This is an excellent location for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park as the campground is only 30 minutes from the southern entrance station.

The campground is large, with over 400 campsites that can accommodate RVs of all lengths. Here you’ll get access to a pool, WiFi, a playground, dog park, and much more.

 

Twentynine Palms RV Resort

Number of sites: 168
Fee: $47/night
Capacity: Max of 5 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Twentynine Palms RV Resort is well located just a short drive from the northern entrance station to Joshua Tree. Every site at Twentynine Palms features electricity, water, and sewer hookups. The campground has tons of amenties as well, including a pool, fitness room, and small shop selling camping supplies.

Highly recommended!

 

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $50/night depending on hookup size
Capacity: Price is for two adults. Additional guests are $10/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground is one of the closest RV campgrounds to the national park located just 20 minutes from the western entrance station in Joshua Tree Village. This independently run campground gets great review for its location and small pond. You won’t find the same amenities here as you’ll get at the other options (no pool!), but you will get a quieter site with tremendous views.

 

Little Pioneertown RV Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Call to inquire. (760) 362-2163
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Little Pioneertown RV Campground is located north of Joshua Tree National Park in Yucca Valley, CA. From here, you’re only a 20 minute drive from the western entrance station making this a great option for those interested in exploring the northern section of the park.

All sites at this campground feature electricity, water, and sewer hookups although you won’t find the same amenities as some of the other RV campgrounds listed above.

Car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Joshua Tree.

Car camping near Joshua Tree

There are plenty of options for car camping near Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Mt. San Jacinto State Park State Park

Number of Sites: Idyllwild (28 sites) and Stone Creek (44 sites)
Fee: Varies, but plan on between $15 – $45/night depending on the campground and hookups.
Capacity: 8 people per campsite.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Required. Visit website here. 
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Mt. San Jacinto State Park is located to the west of Palm Springs and between 1 – 1.5 hours from Joshua Tree National Park. Here, you’ll find two developed campgrounds perfect for pitching your tent. The Mt. Jacinto area stands in stark contrast to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree. Here you’ll be immersed in a high altitude mountain environment surrounded by pine trees.

The two developed campgrounds in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, Idyllwild and Stone Creek, both can accommodate tents and small RVs up to 24′. While not as close to Joshua Tree National Park as some of the other RV parks in the area, you’ll find a more basic campground that has a wilderness feel.

Dispersed campsites near Joshua Tree National Park

Your final option for camping near Joshua Tree National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land located both north and south of the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

A free dispersed campsite on BLM land north of Joshua Tree National Park.

Free dispersed camping is available near Joshua Tree National Park on BLM land.

 

The two camping areas below are both overseen by the Barstow Field Office of the BLM, so be sure to contact them with any questions.

North Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

Located a short drive from the western entrance to Joshua Tree, the BLM land located north of the national park is a popular free campground near Joshua Tree National Park. The camping area is between Joshua Tree Village and Twentynine Palms, giving you access to plenty of services in these two towns.

To get to this area you’ll take Highway 62 (the Twentynine Palms highway) to Sunfair Road. Turn north on Sunfair Rd and continue to Two Mile Road. Turn east here and continue until the road ends. Click here for directions.

The camping area is located on a dry lake bed and there is plenty of space to accommodate all campers. Given that this is not an established campsite, there is no water available and fires are not allowed. Please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping here.

As always, Freecampsites.net also has good information on the North Joshua Tree Dispersed camping area.

South Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

The dispersed camping area located on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park is located just off of Cottonwood Springs Road. This location couldn’t be better if you’re looking to explore the southern section of the park, as you’re mere minutes from the Cottonwood entrance station. The campsites are located just north of I-10, giving you easy access to Indio for supplies.

To get here, take I-10 to Cottonwood Springs Road and head north towards Joshua Tree National Park. After approximately 1 mile of driving along Cottonwood Springs Road you’ll begin to see campsites located to the west. Click here for directions.

There is no water available here and the campsites do not have any services. Check out the Freecampsites.net description for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Joshua Tree National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although…

Pinnacles National Park is a true hidden gem. Tucked away in the central heart of California, Pinnacles is home to a variety of rugged landscapes and stunning rock formations. Although it is one of the country’s youngest National Parks, Pinnacles’ history goes back many millions of years to a time when numerous volcanoes formed the spires, caves, and canyons that make it such a unique and beautiful place.

Many nature lovers will agree that exploring wild places like Pinnacles National Park is best experienced on a camping trip. There’s no better way to bring closure to a day in the outdoors than a night under the stars. Since camping options are limited and Pinnacles is still an off-the-beaten-track destination, it can be challenging to find good information on camping in Pinnacles National Park. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide so you can spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Enjoy!

Wild flowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park.
Wildflowers bloom along the Rim Trail in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Cindy Martinez.

In This Post:

Camping Inside Pinnacles National Park

When it comes to camping inside Pinnacles National Park, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere within the park. The good news? It’s still possible to enjoy camping in the lovely and convenient Pinnacles Campground, and those looking for more remote dispersed camping have a few good options nearby.

Pinnacles National Park Camping Map
Pinnacles Campground is located on the more developed East side of the park.

Pinnacles Campground

# of sites: 134

Type: Tent, RV, Group, Glamping

Fees: $35 (Standard tent), $45 (RV w/electric), $75-$110 (group) $119 (glamping cabin)

Located near the Visitor’s Center on the East side of the park, Pinnacles Campground offers a range of camping options. There are numerous tent pitches (many with good shade, 6 people max per site), RV sites with electric hookups, glamping cabins, and group sites that can accommodate up to 20 people.

There is a handy campground store on the premises that offers basic food and supplies. A shuttle runs from the campground to the Bear Gulch Nature Center and nearby trailheads.

Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch.
Looking towards Pinnacles Campground and Bear Gulch. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Amenities:

  • Fire ring
  • Picnic tables
  • Food storage box
  • Flushing toilets
  • Hot showers ($0.50/3 minutes)
  • Wifi
  • Swimming pool
  • General store

Reservations

Due to the limited camping options at Pinnacles, reservations are recommended during the peak wildflower season (March-May), on weekends, and during holidays. Additionally, it is advisable to book in advance if you are wanting an RV site (only 20 total), glamping cabin (6 total), or group site (14 total). Group sites can be booked up to 12 months in advance, while all other sites can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Reservations can be made at recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777

Pets

Pets are allowed on the paved areas of the campground and must be kept on a leash. You cannot bring your pet on any of the trails in Pinnacles National Park.

Fires

Fires are permitted inside designated fire rings, depending on the time of year. During times of high fire danger, campfires and smoking are prohibited throughout the park (including inside the campground), although propane cooking stoves are typically allowed. Information on current conditions and fire bans can be found on this website.

Wildlife

Pinnacles National Park is a renowned habitat for the critically endangered California Condor. There is a viewing area with telescopes at the Pinnacles Campground; your best chance of seeing one of these beautiful giants is during their evening feeding time. More commonly seen in the campground are racoons, squirrels, and numerous smaller birds, such as the scrub jay. It is imperative that visitors not feed the wildlife, and be sure to keep all of your food inside your car or in the box provided at your campsite.

A California Condor at Pinnacles National Park.
A California Condor spotted in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Pinnacles National Park

Despite the limited options for camping within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Park, there are plenty of good campgrounds in the surrounding area. For easy access to the East side of the park, the towns of Hollister and King City are each about 30 miles and 40 minutes’ drive away. The west side of the park is more remote, requiring about an hour’s drive (38 miles) from the nearest town of Soledad.

Below we’ve shared our top picks and tips for the best campgrounds near Pinnacles National Park:

Campgrounds Near Hollister, California

Hollister Hills SVRA

For those looking for a more rustic option near Hollister, the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area offers basic camping options in several campgrounds on the 6,800-acre site. Keep in mind that this is a recreation area for 4WD vehicles and ATVs, so don’t expect it to be particularly quiet.

# of Sites: Varies by campground. (There are 7 campgrounds and 2 remote sites total)

Type: Tents, RVs (no hookups)

Fees: $10/night

Amenities:

  • Flushing toilets
  • Showers (not available at all campgrounds)
  • Water
  • Firepit
  • Picnic tables

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes

Reservations: N/A. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Get there early, as it fills up most weekends.

Hollister Hills SVRA Website

Camping in Hollister California
Car camping+fire pits=Gourmet dinners!

San Benito RV and Camping Resort

Located 14 miles south of Hollister, this is one of the closest camping options to Pinnacles National Park (about a 25-minute drive). The San Benito RV and Camping Resort is a big, busy, well-appointed RV park that doesn’t permit tent camping.

# of Sites: 596

Type: RV, Cabins

Fees: RV sites ($68/night and up), Cabins ($130/night-$300/night)

Amenities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Clubhouse with Wifi
  • Pool/Hot tub
  • Playground
  • Laundry
  • Water

Fires: In barbeques only.

Pets: Allowed for RV camping, but not inside cabins.

Reservations: Recommended for busy weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Benito RV and Camping Resort Website

Camping near Hollister California rock climbing
Camping in Hollister gives you close proximity to some of the most popular climbing routes in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near King City, California

San Lorenzo County Park

Conveniently located near the center of King City, San Lorenzo County Park offers a wide variety of campsite types in a shady campground with good facilities.

# of Sites: 100

Type: RV, Tent, Group

Fees: Full Hook-Up ($45/night) Water/Electric or Water-Only ($40/night)

Amenities

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Water
  • Barbeques
  • Picnic tables
  • Laundry
  • Internet kiosk
  • Putting green

Fires: Barbeques only.

Pets: Yes (must be kept on leash), additional fee required.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

San Lorenzo County Park Camping Website

Camping in King City California, Pinnacles National Park
Many of the best trails in Pinnacles National Park are less than an hour’s drive from San Lorenzo County Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Campgrounds Near Soledad, California

Arroyo Seco Campground

Nestled on a wooded hillside near two small lakes and a river, this rustic campground offers a good option for campers who want to appreciate their natural surroundings. There are some spots that can accommodate smaller RVs, but no hookups are available.

# of Sites: 33

Fees: $30/night

Amenities:

  • Toilets (some flush, some vault)
  • Drinking water
  • Showers (coin-operated)
  • Picnic table
  • Firepit with grill

Fires: Yes, but seasonal restrictions may apply.

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Reservations: Recommended. This is a small campground that gets heavy use throughout the year. Reservations can be made HERE.

Arroyo Seco Campground Website

Camping near the west entrance to Pinnacles National Park.
Camping near Soledad, CA gives you easy access to the West entrance of Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Yanks RV Resort

Yanks RV Resort is well-positioned for easy access to either the western or eastern entrance to Pinnacles National Park. This is an RV-only campground and tents are not permitted.

# of Sites: 79

Fees: $51-71/night

Amenities:

  • Full hook-ups
  • Wifi & cable TV
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques
  • Pool/hot tub
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Dog park
  • Propane filling station
  • Laundry
  • Store
  • Fitness center

Fires: Yes

Pets: Yes, except for pitbulls, rottweilers, & dobermans.

Reservations: Recommended for busy holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made HERE.

Yanks RV Resort Website

Pinnacles National Park Camping Caves
Exploring the caves in Pinnacles National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Kurt Moses.

Dispersed Camping Near Pinnacles National Park

There are a couple of good options for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park. The Laguna Mountain BLM area is the closest option to the park, requiring a roughly 50-minute drive to reach the East entrance. The Condon Peak BLM area is just a bit further, about one hour’s drive from Pinnacles National Park’s East entrance. While these camping options may be a bit further than some of the other campgrounds in the area, they provide an affordable and private alternative to the busier RV parks.

Laguna Mountain BLM Recreation Area

There are plenty of secluded spots to be found off any of the roads in the Laguna Mountain area (be sure to read and follow the camping regulations on the website). Stargazers will enjoy the dark night skies here, and hikers should make a short detour to check out one of the waterfalls in the area. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms, water, or trash facilities for dispersed campers. There are also two primitive campgrounds with level spaces to accommodate RV’s, although there are no hook-ups.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: Free

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on weekends to find a good spot.

Laguna Mountain BLM Website

Dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park
Dispersed camping allows you to enjoy the peace and solitude of the outdoors.

Condon Peak BLM Recreation Area

Condon Peak Recreation Area is another good option for dispersed camping near Pinnacles National Park, although there are a few drawbacks to consider. There is a $5 vehicle permit required for both camping and day use, and Condon Peak is a bit further from Pinnacles than Laguna Mountain. Additionally, the area is quite busy during the summer hunting season. That being said, there are many good dispersed spots and a primitive campground suitable for tents and RVs.

# of Sites: Varies

Fees: $5 vehicle permit (good for one week and must be purchased on recreation.gov)

Amenities:

  • None in dispersed spots
  • Campgrounds have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables

Fires: Seasonal Restrictions may apply

Pets: Yes

Reservations: Not available. Get there early on summer weekends to find a good spot.

Condon Peak BLM Website

Camping near Pinnacles National Park, Balconies Trail

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in Pinnacles National Park. You can watch for the endangered California Condor and other birds of prey, explore the fabulous network of hiking trails, choose from excellent climbing routes suited for a range of ability levels and styles, or venture into one of the incredible talus caves (no special experience or equipment required!) Your next adventure is waiting, and it all starts with the perfect basecamp. Happy camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, located in western Virginia, is one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Blue Ridge mountains create a stunning backdrop for the incredible Skyline Drive, a 105-mile…

Shenandoah National Park, located in western Virginia, is one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Blue Ridge mountains create a stunning backdrop for the incredible Skyline Drive, a 105-mile roadway that runs through Shenandoah National Park. We think the best way to experience everything that Shenandoah has to offer is to spend a few nights in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this beautiful part of the country first hand.

Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping from the five campgrounds located within the park to an abundance of backcountry camping options and plenty of nearby campgrounds only a short drive from the National Park.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah National Park.

Sunset in Shenandoah National Park.

Enjoying a stunning sunset from your tent in Shenandoah National Park is an experience not to be missed!

 

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Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah is to first understand a bit about the geography of the park. Shenandoah National Park is over 105 miles long, but quite narrow across. Skyline Drive runs the length or the park and is used to access the majority of campgrounds and trailheads within the park.

As such, most destinations within Shenandoah will have their location given by the mile marker they are located at along Skyline Drive. The mile markers begin at the northern entrance station at Front Royal (mile 0) and finish at mile 105 at the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station located at the southern end of the park.

Tunnel along Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive runs the length of Shenandoah National Park.

 

In between these two points you’ll have several options for camping within Shenandoah National Park. The five campgrounds within the national park provide plenty of options for everything from RV camping to secluded car camping, while over 500 miles of hiking trails provide endless opportunities for the adventurous to enjoy backcountry camping in Shenandoah.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the campgrounds are located in Shenandoah National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area.

Map of campsites at Shenandoah National Park

Campground options in Shenandoah National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of the campgrounds within Shenandoah National Park are open seasonally beginning in the late-Spring through the late-Fall. This typically means that you can expect campgrounds to open in late-April or early-May and stay open through the end of October or early-November.

You can check the opening and closing dates for all the campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park here. 

Reservations & Permits

Reservations for campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park are only required for the Dundo Group Campground. However, we highly recommend making reservations for any of the campgrounds you hope to stay at during the peak summer season, and especially on weekends. The exception to this is the Lewis Mountain Campground, which does not accept reservations.

To make a reservation for the Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Loft Mountain, or Dundo Group Campgrounds you’ll need to visit the Recreation.gov website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

It is important to know that even if you don’t have a reservation in peak season you can still find a campground in Shenandoah. All of the campgrounds within the national park (with the exception of the Dundo Group Campground) have a small number of first come, first served campsites available. These can be a lifesaver when you plan a last minute camping trip to Shenandoah!

Shenandoah National Park camping

You’ll be glad to made a reservation if you’re hoping to camp in peak season in Shenandoah.

 

For those who are exploring the vast trail network and plan to spend a night (or two) at a backcountry campsite in Shenandoah National Park you’ll need to get obtain a backcountry permit. The permit is free and can be obtained at one of the self-registration stations located throughout the park or through the Shenandoah’s online permit system.

Online Permits for backcountry camping in Shenandoah National Park can be obtained here. 

 

Car camping sites in Shenandoah National Park

There are five options for those looking to car camp in Shenandoah National Park. These campgrounds are spread throughout the park and give plenty of options for those looking to explore different areas of Shenandoah. Details for all five campgrounds are below.

Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1)

Number of Sites: 161 individual (up to 6 people) and 3 group sites (up to 25 people)
Mile marker: 22.1
Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $50/night for group sites
RVs: Yes. No electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Mathews Arm Campground is the most northern campground in Shenandoah National Park, just 22.1 miles from the Front Royal Entrance Station. This is a great place to spend the night before visiting Overall Run Falls, as the campground is short distance from the main trail leading to this spectacular waterfall.

Matthews Arms has 161 individual campsites which can accommodate up to 6 people and two cars in addition to three group sites, which can accommodate up to 25 people each. The campground has a significant number of campsites that are first-come, first-first served, making this a great option for those without reservations.

View a map of the Mathews Arm Campground here. 

The campground has five public restrooms, plenty of potable water spigots, utility sinks for cleaning up, and an RV dump station. The Traces Trail can be accessed directly from the campground, making for a lovely walk directly from your campsite.

Mountain view in Shenandoah National Park

Mathews Arm Campground makes a perfect jumping off point for exploring Shenandoah. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

 

Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)

Number of Sites: 222 individual (up to 6 people) and 2 group sites (up to 15 people)
Mile marker: 51.2
Fee: $20/night for individual sites, $45/night for group sites
RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Sign for Big Meadows campground in Shenandoah National Park

 

The Big Meadows Campground is centrally located in Shenandoah National Park, and is located at mile marker 51.2. The campground is well situated and makes for a perfect place to camp before visiting Dark Hollow Falls, Lewis Falls, or the Fisher’s Gap overlook. The Appalachian Trail pass just north of the campground, so you can expect to see a few through hikers!

Big Meadows has 222 individual campsites and 2 group sites, which can accommodate up to 15 people. Most of the campgrounds at Big Meadows require a reservation, although there are still several that are always available on a first-come, first served basis. Big Meadows Campground also has a number of ‘walk-in’ campsites where you’ll park your car and then carry your camping gear to your site. These offer a bit more privacy and are a great option for those looking for more solitude and a true wilderness experience.

View a map of the Big Meadows Campground here. 

The campground has nine restrooms, plenty of water spigots, showers, laundry, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is also a dump station for those traveling in an RV.

Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park

Dark Hollow Falls is a short distance from the Big Meadows Campground. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

 

Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)

Number of Sites: 30 individual sites
Mile marker: 57.5
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. No dump station, water or electric hookups available.
More Information
No reservations accepted

Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest campground in Shenandoah National Park, and is located just off the Appalachian Trail at mile marker 57.5. The campground is well located for those looking to do a bit of hiking on the AT, hiking to South River Falls, or visiting the ruins of the Upper Pocosin Mission.

View a map of the Lewis Mountain Campground here. 

Lewis Mountain Campground only has 30 campsites, and they are spaced relatively close together. This can cause the campground to feel a bit noisy and crowded despite its small size. Facilities include restrooms, water spigots, showers, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is no dump station available for RVs.

Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5)

Number of Sites: 207 individual sites
Mile marker: 79.5
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Loft Mountain Campground is perennially a favorite among campers in Shenandoah National Park. Although one of the largest in the park many of the campsites feel very private and the views looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains are truly spectacular! The site is located at mile marker 79.5, making it a great option for those coming from the southern entrance station at Rockfish Gap.

View a map of the Loft Mountain Campground here. 

Loft Mountain features 207 campsites, most of which are available on a first-come, first served basis. The campground has five restrooms, which can feel a bit crowded given the size of the campground, plenty of water spigots, showers, and a camp store selling essentials. The edges of the campground feature several tent only campsites which are a good option to get a bit more privacy. Nearby hikes include the Blackrock Summit hike and Doyles River Falls.

Loft Mountain makes the perfect campground if you plan on visiting Doyles River Falls. Photo credit NPS.

 

Given the popularity of the Loft Mountain Campground, reservations are recommended during peak summer weekends. If you don’t have a reservation be sure to arrive as early as possible to give yourself the best change to secure a campsite.

Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)

Number of Sites: 3 group sites (up to 20 people)
Mile marker: 83.7
Fee: $45/night
RVs: Not permitted.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

The Dundo Group Campground in Shenandoah National Park is exclusively for groups, with each of the three campsites accommodating between 7-20 people. Although a group campground, the fact that there are only three campsites makes this a pleasant place to spend the night. The campground is located at mile 83.7 and is close to many of the highlights of the southern section of Shenandoah such as Blackrock Summit and Sawmill Run Overlook.

View a map of the Dundo Group Campground here. 

Given that there are only three campsites and the Dundo Group Campground, all sites must be reserved in advance.

It is also important to note that there are no RVs allowed at Dundo, so if you’re traveling in your RV you’ll need to camp at one of the other campgrounds in Shenandoah.

Fire pit at a campground in Shenandoah National Park

 

Backcountry campsites in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a backcountry campers dream. The park features over 500 miles of trails that wind their way throughout this stunning landscape and provide countless options for your perfect backpacking trip. However, there are some rules and regulations you’ll need to keep in mind as you plan your backcountry camping trip in Shenandoah National Park, outlined below.

Hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park

Backcountry camping is an incredible way to experience Shenandoah National Park.

 

Backcountry Camping Permits

All backcountry campers in Shenandoah National Park are required to obtain a free permit before starting their trip. This can be done at one of the eight self-registration stations conveniently located throughout the park. You can also obtain a permit through the National Park Service’s online permit system for Shenandoah, accessible here.

Regardless of where you obtain your permit you’ll need to have the following details:

  • Trip leader name and contact information
  • Itinerary including planned stopping points for each day
  • Number of people in your group
  • Number of nights at each campsite
  • Planned start and finish date

Where to camp in the Shenandoah backcountry

Unlike many National Parks, Shenandoah does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

You can view all of the backcountry campsite regulations for Shenandoah National Park here.

In addition to mapping out a successful itinerary it is imperative to carry a detailed map and know how to navigate utilizing a map and compass. We highly recommend bringing a copy of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topo Map for Shenandoah National Park on any backpacking trip in Shenandoah.

Additionally, trekkers need to be prepared to treat their own water. We recommend bringing a small, packable filter like the Sawyer Squeeze.

River in the Shenandoah backcountry

Be sure to treat the water in Shenandoah National Park.

 

Planning your Itinerary

The expansive trail network in Shenandoah can make planning a backcountry camping trip seem a bit overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with the National Park it can be difficult to know how to start even thinking about what a good itinerary might be. Luckily, the National Park Service has put together comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah. Check it out below.

Check out a comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah here. 

Leave No Trace

Given the sensitive ecosystem of Shenandoah National Park it is essential that you practice Leave No Trace principles when backpacking in the National Park. This includes packing out all of your own trash and property disposing of your waste. Fires are not permitted in the backcountry. 

Properly storing your food is also essential as bears and other wildlife are common throughout the National Park. We recommend bringing a bear canister for any trip into the backcountry.

Black bear in Shenandoah.

Be sure to properly store your food when backpacking in Shenandoah!

 

Shenandoah National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Shenandoah National Park.

Campfires in Shenandoah

Fires are generally allowed at each of the five campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate and should not be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Shenandoah, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Shenandoah National Park

 

Wildlife

A wide variety of wildlife calls Shenandoah National Park home. For campers in the park there are a few you’ll want to be especially aware of. These include:

  • Black bears: Be sure to properly store your food in either the park provided bear bins or in a bear canister. This is especially important for backcountry campers in Shenandoah.
  • Snakes: Shenandoah is home to a diversity of snake species. Most of these are non-venomous and all of them are likely to try and avoid contact with visitors. However, there are several venomous snakes including timber rattlesnakes in the park. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep an eye out!
  • Birds: The stunning landscapes of Shenandoah make a perfect habitat for several species of birds to thrive. Keep an eye out for the stunning peregrine falcon and the elusive scarlet tanager.

For those camping, you’ll primarily want to be vigilant about keeping food properly stored and keeping a close eye out for snakes.

Bear in Shenandoah National park.

A black bear in Shenandoah. Photo courtesy of NPS.

 

Pets

If you’ve spent much time in National Parks you’ll know that pets are typically not permitted on any of the trails. Shenandoah is one of the few exceptions, and you are welcome to bring your pets along on your Shenandoah National Park camping trip. 

Pets are permitted in all of the campgrounds within the park, as well as on backcountry camping trips. However, there are several trails where pets are not allowed, and the National Park Services lists those here.

If you do plan to bring your pet on a camping trip in Shenandoah, keep these regulations in mind:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all time. This includes at the campgrounds.
  • Please pick up your pet waste. Do not bag it and leave it on the side of the trail.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Where to get supplies

Given the length of Shenandoah National Park the best place to get camping supplies is highly dependent on where in the park you are camping. Our recommendations for each section are listed below:

  • Northern section (Matthews Arm Campground)
    • Front Royal, Virginia: The northern gateway town to Shenandoah, Front Royal has all the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, outdoor store, liquor store, and gas stations.
    • Elkwallow Wayside: This small eatery is located at mile 24.1 on Skyline Drive. You’ll be able to pick up some basic groceries, camping supplies, and even takeout food here.
  • Middle section (Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground)
    • Luray, Virginia: Luray is smaller than some of the other towns near Shenandoah, but you’ll still find a grocery store, gas station, and outdoor store.
    • Big Meadows Wayside: Larger than Elkwallow Wayside, Big Meadows (mile 51.2) stocks basic groceries, camping and hiking supplies, has a small restaurant, and also sells gas and diesel.
  • Southern section (Loft Mountain Campground, Dundo Group Campground)
    • Waynesboro, Virginia: Waynesboro is near the southern entrance to Shenandoah and has gas stations, groceries stores, and an outdoor shop.
    • Loft Mountain Wayside: Similar to the other options in the park, you’ll be able to get simple groceries, some camping essentials, in addition to the small restaurant on site.

 

Big Meadows Wayside in Shenandoah National Park

Big Meadows Wayside is a perfect place to pick up a few essentials for your Shenandoah camping trip. Photo courtesy of NPS.

 

Camping near Shenandoah National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Shenandoah National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Shenandoah National Park. The best option for you will depend on which section of the park you’re planning to explore, and we’ve provided RV campgrounds near the northern, central, and southern sections of Shenandoah below.

Twin Rivers Campground – Northern section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $45/night depending on electricity hookup size.
Capacity: Prices are for two people. Extra guests are $5/night. Kids 16 and under free
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Required. Visit website here or call (540) 636-6192
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Twin Rivers Campground is located north of Shenandoah in Front Royal, VA. A short drive from the Front Royal Entrance Station, this is the perfect place to camp if you’re looking to explore the northern section of the park. The campground features electricity hookups at every site, and river front access to the Shenandoah River.

Luray KOA Campground – Middle section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Varies depending on size of RV and hookups required.
Capacity: No stated limit.
RVs: Yes, up to 70′.
Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The KOA Luray Campground is located just north of the town of Luray, VA. From here, it is an approximate 20 minute drive to the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. The Luray KOA can accommodate RVs up to 70′ in length and provides guests with access to WiFi, a dog park, snack bar, and pool.

Misty Mountain Camp Resort – Southern section

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $70 – $85/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Misty Mountain Camp Report is located south of Shenandoah National Park in Greenwood, VA. The campground is located just 10 minutes from the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station, providing excellent access to the southern section of Shenandoah. Misty Mountain can accommodate all types of RVs and also has tent sites and cabin rentals. Guests staying at the RV campground get access to tons of amenities including WiFi, a swimming pool, fishing pond, and multiple playgrounds. See their full list of amenities here.

RVs near Shenandoah National Park

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park.

 

Car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Shenandoah.

Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.

Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.

 

Shenandoah River State Park

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: $25 – $46/night depending on hookups and residency. More info here. 
Capacity: 6 people per campsite
RVs: Yes, up to 60′.
Reservations: Recommended. Half of the site are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Shenandoah River State Park is a true gem that offers abundant camping options just outside of the National Park. This campground is perfect for those looking to avoid the feel of an RV park and also gives access to the beautiful Shenandoah River. The campground is open year round and offers sites with electric and water hookups, tent-only sites, restrooms with showers, and each site also features a fire ring.

This is a great campground for those traveling with their family.

Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground

Number of Sites: 35 sites
Fee: $16/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: All sites are first-come, first served.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground is located near the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. The campground features 35 sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs. All of the campsites are first-come, first-served, so be sure to get there early in the day if you’re hoping to snag a spot.

The campground features vault-toilets (flush toilets and showers available during warmer months) and a water source. Alcoholic drinks are prohibited at this family campground.

Dispersed campsites near Shenandoah National Park

Your final option for camping near Shenandoah National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. This national forest is overseen by the Forest Service/BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

Dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park

There are some fantastic dispersed campsites just outside of Shenandoah National Park.

 

Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping

Located to the west of Luray, Crisman Hollow Road (also known as Forest Service Road 724) offers some excellent dispersed camping in George Washington National Forest. Many of the campsites are located along Passage Creek and have fire rings.

The campsites are located near the Scothorn Gap Trail and directions can be found here.

Freecampsites.net also has good information on Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping.

Slate Lick Fields Dispersed Camping

Located north-west of Harrisonburg, VA the Slate Lick Fields offer great dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park. The campsites are located along Hog Pen Road and directions can be found here. Keep in mind there is not a good water source here, so you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water with you.

BLM regulations on dispersed camping allow you to camp for up to 14 days in a 28 day period, so be sure to observe that limit at both of the sites above.

It is especially important to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Shenandoah National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Sunset in Shenandoah

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park, located in southwestern South Dakota, is one of the America’s most unique National Parks. The stunning landscape of sand colored buttes, towering rock formations, and one of…

Badlands National Park, located in southwestern South Dakota, is one of the America’s most unique National Parks. The stunning landscape of sand colored buttes, towering rock formations, and one of the United State’s largest areas of grassland prairie make this a truly unique place to visit. We think the best way to experience all that the Badlands has to offer is by spending the night in your tent or RV where you’ll feel as close to this stunning landscape as possible.

Badlands National Park and the surrounding area have tons of options for camping from the two campgrounds located in the park to remote backcountry camping and plenty of nearby campgrounds only a short drive from the National Park.

Keep reading to get all the details about camping at Badlands National Park!

Landscape of Badlands National Park

Pitching your tent in Badlands National Park is an experience not to be missed!

 

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Badlands National Park Campgrounds

There are several options for those looking to camp inside Badlands National Park. The large and well equipped Cedar Pass Campground is perfect for those with an RV or who prefer more services, while more remote car camping is available at the Sage Creek Campground, and the entire National Park is open to backcountry camping for those with a sense of adventure!

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the campgrounds are located in Badlands National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. Keep reading for detailed information on all your options.

Map of campsites at Badlands National Park

Car camping options in Badlands National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Reservations

Reservations are required only for the Cedar Pass Campground located adjacent to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center on the eastern edge of the park. While reservations are not required here, we recommend reserving your spot if traveling during the peak summer season. The campground is not managed by the National Park Service, so you’ll need to reserve directly through the Cedar Pass Lodge website below.

Reservations for the Cedar Pass Campground can be made here

For all of the other camping options in Badlands National Park you do not need to (and cannot) make a reservation. For backcountry/backpacking campsites you do not need a permit, but should contact the rangers at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to notify them of your plans.

There is no permit or reservation required for camping at the Sage Creek campsite, but all of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Car camping sites in Badlands National Park

There are two options for those looking to car camp in Badlands National Park: the Cedar Pass Campground and the more basic sites at the Sage Creek Campground.

Cedar Pass Campground

Number of Sites: 96 campsites (four of which are group sites for up to 26 people)
Fee: $23/night for a tent site (2 people) // $38/night for RV site with electricity (2 people) // $40/night for a group site (10 people)
RVs: Yes
More Information
Click Here to Reserve or call (605)-433-5460

Cedar Pass Campground - Badlands National Park

The Cedar Pass Campground will give you great access to Badlands National Park.

 

The Cedar Pass Campground is part of the large Cedar Pass Lodge located just inside the Badlands National Park boundaries. The campground is adjacent to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, the main entrance to the National Park. The Cedar Pass lodge was established prior to the create of Badlands National Park, and is not managed by the National Park Service. 

Cedar Pass Campground has a total of 96 campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs in addition to four larger group sites that can accommodate up to 26 people each.  The campground is well organized with tremendous views of the surrounding National Park.

The campground is part of the larger Cedar Pass Lodge complex which provides campers with easy access to restrooms, a small souvenir shop, potable water, trash and recycling services and an on-site restaurant. The RV sites are electric only, although there is a dump site nearby. Fires are not allowed at the Cedar Pass Campground.

The Cedar Pass Campground is very popular given its excellent location at the entrance to Badlands National Park. Given the popularity of this campground, we highly recommend making a reservation here during the peak summer season. Since the campground is not affiliated with the National Park Service, you’ll need to make a reservation directly through the Cedar Pass Lodge website well in advance.

Sage Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 22 campsites
Fee: Free
Capacity: Not regulated
RVs: Yes, up to 18′. Horse trailers are exempt from 18′ limit.
Reservations: First come, first served
More Information

Bison near Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park.

You’re likely to have bison for neighbors at the Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park!

 

The Sage Creek Campground is located in the northwestern portion of Badlands National Park along the unpaved Sage Creek Road. The campground is approximately 15 miles from the closest town of Scenic, South Dakota. Camping at the Sage Creek Campground will appeal to those who are in search of a more solitude than you’ll find at the Cedar Pass Campground.

The 22 designated campsites at the Sage Creek Campground are all reserved on first come, first served basis, so be sure to arrive early in the day during peak season. The campground is free of charge and features pit toilets and picnic tables for your use and enjoyment.

The Sage Creek Campground does not have a water source, so you’ll need to bring all the water you anticipate needing with you. As with all of Badlands National Park, fires are not allowed due to the sensitive nature of the surrounding environment.

The Sage Creek Wilderness

The Sage Creek Campground makes a perfect jumping off point for exploring the surrounding wilderness.

 

Backcountry campsites in Badlands National Park

Number of Sites: Not restricted
Fee: Free
Capacity: Not restricted
RVs: No
Reservations: Not required, but please register with the NPS prior to setting out
More Information

Exploring the backcountry is an incredible way to experience Badlands National Park.

 

Badlands National Park presents the opportunity for a true adventure for those interested in backcountry camping and backpacking. The entire National Park is open to those looking for backcountry camping as long as you set-up camp at least 0.5 miles from a trail or road and are not visible from a road. While this presents a great opportunity to find some solitude, there are several factors to consider when planning a backpacking trip in Badlands National Park. 

First and foremost always contact the National Park Service at either the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, Pinnacles Entrance Station or White River Visitor Center prior to starting your trek. The rangers will be able to provide invaluable insights into the terrain, recommend routes, and advise you on the conditions you are likely to encounter. Additionally, it is important to notify them of your planned route in case an emergency arises and they need to find or reach your group.

It is very important to notify the NPS of your backpacking plans given the rugged nature of the terrain in Badlands National Park.

 

Given the wilderness nature of Badlands National Park it is imperative to carry a detailed map and know how to navigate utilizing a map and compass. We highly recommend bringing a copy of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topo Map for Badlands National Park on any backpacking trip in the Badlands. Additionally, trekkers need to be prepared to carry in all of their own water, as there are no suitable water sources available in the National Park. The National Park Service recommends backpackers plan to carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.

Given the sensitive nature of the grassland prairie and surrounding ecosystem of the Badlands it is essential that you practice Leave No Trace principles when backpacking in Badlands National Park. This includes packing out all of your own trash and property disposing of your waste. Fires are not permitted in the backcountry and you’ll need to leave your pets at home as they are not allowed in the National Park. 

Map of backcountry camping in Badlands National Park

The Deer Haven Trail and Sage Creek area are popular backpacking destinations. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

The National Park Service recommends two specific areas of Badlands National Park for backcountry camping: the Deer Haven Trail near the Conata Picnic area and the wilderness located adjacent to the Sage Creek Rim Road.

The Deer Haven Trail is not an official hiking trail, but rather a well worn path that leaves from Conata Picnic area. The route takes you a few miles into the backcountry were a number of camping areas are available. Along the Sage Creek Rim Road there are plenty of opportunities to head into the backcountry following social trails and wildlife paths. You’re likely to encounter bison in this area of the National Park so always be sure to give them their distance!

Here are some key things to keep in mind when planning to stay at any of these backpacking areas in Badlands National Park:

  • Pets are not allowed
  • No campfires
  • You must bring all of your own water
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles
  • Be aware of wildlife
  • Exercise caution when hiking since you will not be on a formal trail

If you follow these guidelines and plan accordingly you’re sure to have a great experience backpacking in this untamed wilderness!

Badlands National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Badlands National Park.

Fires

Fires are prohibited at all the camping options inside Badlands National Park. The ecosystem of the area is highly susceptible to damage and wildfires, so please respect this rule and do not have any type of campfire during your stay.

Campfires are not allowed at any of the campgrounds in Badlands National Park.

 

Wildlife

A diversity of wildlife inhabits Badlands National Park. This includes the iconic prairie dwelling bison, bighorn sheep, and the quintessential prairie dog. Badlands is also home to one of the most endangered animals in the world, the black-footed ferret. In addition to these mammals, you’ll also find rattlesnakes, turtles, and a variety of bird species. 

For those camping, you’ll primarily want to be vigilant about keeping a safe distance from roaming bison and keep a close eye out for rattlesnakes. If backpacking, be sure to wear long pants to and be on the lookout for prairie dog holes which can leave you with a nasty sprained ankle.

 

Bighorn sheep in Badlands National Park

Bighorn sheep in Badlands National Park.

 

Pets

Pets are allowed at both the Cedar Pass Campground as well as the Sage Creek Campground within Badlands National Park. You’ll need to have control over them at all times and they must be kept on a leash at all times. Also, be sure to pick up after them and properly dispose of their waste.

Pets are not allowed at any of the backcountry sites in Badlands National Park, so you’ll want to leave them at home if you’re venturing into the backcountry.

 

Where to get supplies

The best place to stock up on camping supplies before heading to Badlands National Park is Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City is about 1.5 hours from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and about 1.25 hours from the Sage Creek Campground. While this isn’t especially close to the National Park, Rapid City has all the amenities and services you’ll need to prepare for a great camping trip including grocery stores, liquor stores, and outdoor stores. Here are your best options for where to stock up:

  • Groceries: Safeway (730 Mountain View Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702)
  • Outdoor store: Roam’n Around (512 Main St #140, Rapid City, SD 57701)

If you’re looking to stock up a bit closer to the National Park your best get will be the town of Interior, South Dakota. Interior is located only about a 10-minute drive from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and has basic services such as a small grocery store and gas station.

 

Camping near Badlands National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Badlands National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

There are plentiful camping options near Badlands National Park.

 

RV campgrounds near Badlands National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Badlands National Park. These campgrounds will be your best bet when Cedar Pass and Sage Creek are full, or if your RV/trailer is longer than 18′ (the limit at Sage Creek). Here are our recommended options for RV camping outside of Badlands National Park:

Badlands Interior Campground

Number of Sites: 34 RV sites (with hookup), 27 tent only sites, 16 RV (no hookup)/tent sites, 4 group sites
Fee: RV sites ($23.61 – $37.07/night) // tent sites ($26.06/night)
Capacity: Max of 6 adults per site /  more for group sites
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Badland Interior Campground is just over 1 mile from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and entrance to the National Park, making it the closet option. The large site features plenty of RV sites with multiple hookup options as well as tent sites, teepees, and camping cabins. The campground has tons of amenities such as a pool, free WiFi, a small shop, as well as an on-site restaurant.

Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park

Number of Sites: 57 RV sites, 20 tent sites
Fee: RV sites $43/night // tent sites $28/night
Capacity: Not stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park is located north of Badlands National Park in the town on Wall, South Dakota. This well-equipped campground makes a great place to camp for those looking to explore the Sage Creek area of the National Park, or who prefer to stay along Interstate 90. The campground has plenty of capacity for RVs and features a pool, dog park, playground, and basketball hoop. Wall has many amenities that are great for camping near the National Park including a grocery store.

 

Car camping sites near Badlands National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Badlands National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the French Creek Campground listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at both of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near the Badlands.

Car camping near Badlands National Park

Car camping near Badlands National Park.

 

French Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 7 sites
Fee: Free
Capacity: Not stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First come, first served
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The French Creek Campground is located near the South Unit of Badlands National Park and provides for a great car camping experience. This is a semi-developed campground and features a vault toilet and a few picnic tables. The site does not have potable water, so you’ll want to be sure to bring your own.

 

Dispersed campsites

Your final option for camping near Badlands National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on the adjacent Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Buffalo Gap is managed by the Forest Service/BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

There are some fantastic dispersed campsite just outside of Badlands National Park.

 

The Buffalo Gap National Grassland encompasses a huge area surrounding Badlands National Park, so you’ll want to have some idea of where you are headed. If you’re looking to camp on the west side of the National Park we recommend reaching out to the Fall River Ranger District in Hot Springs, SD to confirm current camping regulations. If you’re looking to spend a night or two on the north or east side of the National Park you’ll want to check-in with the Wall Ranger District.

You can’t go wrong with either locations, and here are your best bets for great dispersed camping near Badlands National Park:

Badlands Boondocking/Overlook Dispersed Camping

The so-called Badlands Boondocking dispersed camping area is located just north of the National Park on State Highway 240, which connects the Badlands to the town of Wall, SD. The camping area is approximately 3 miles north of the Pinnacles Entrance to Badlands National Park. From State Highway 240 there are plenty of options for great campsites, including the spectacular ‘Wall’ sites that overlook the National Park. Keep an eye out for a dirt road leading to three radio towers from Highway 240 and you’ll know you’re in the correct place. This site has some great intel on the area.

You’ll need to bring all of your own water and also be prepared to properly deal with your waste at this site, as there are no facilities. BLM regulations on dispersed camping allow you to camp for up to 14 days in a 28 day period, so be sure to observe that limit at this site.

It is especially important to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Badlands National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

 

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes. The stunning sand dunes, some up to 700 feet tall (!), are set against the…

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes. The stunning sand dunes, some up to 700 feet tall (!), are set against the spectacular backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. We think the best way to experience the dunes is to spend a night or two under the stars in your tent. There are tons of options for camping in the Great Sand Dunes National Park from RV spots and family-friendly car camping sites to beautiful backcountry sites and rugged sites that can only be accessed via 4WD roads.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about camping at the Great Sand Dunes!

 

In this post

Great Sand Dunes National Park Campgrounds

You’ll have several options available if you’re looking to camp inside the Great Sand Dunes National Park. There is the easily accessible Piñon Flats Campground for those looking to car camp or park their RV, camping for those with a well-equipped 4WD vehicle along Medano Pass Primitive Road, and hike-in backcountry sites in the dunes as well as the surrounding mountains.

Take a look at the map below to get a sense of where the different camping options are in the National Park and keep reading to learn more about each campground.

Map of campgrounds in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Car camping options in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are required only for the Piñon Flats Campground located at the entrance to the park. If you’re thinking about camping here during peak summer season (or anytime Medano Creek is flowing) you’ll almost certainly need to have a reservation.

Reservations for Piñon Flats Campground can be made here via Recreation.gov

For all of the other camping options in the Great Sand Dunes you do not need to (and cannot) make a reservation. For backcountry/backpacking campsites you’ll need to obtain a free permit from the Visitor Center before setting out.  Note that all permits are made available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to get there early!

There is no permit required for camping along Medano Pass Primitive Road, but all of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Car camping sites

There are two options for those looking to car camp in Great Sand Dunes National Park: Piñon Flats Campground and the more basic sites along Medano Pass Primitive Road.

Piñon Flats Campground

Number of Sites: 88 individual (up to eight people) and 3 group (15-40 people)
Fee: $20/night (more for group sites)
Capacity: Up to eight people, two tents, and two vehicles at the individual sites
RVs: Yes, maximum length of 25′
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Piñon Flats Campground in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Piñon Flats Campground. Photo credit NPS/Patrick Myers.

 

The Piñon Flats Campground is a large, sprawling campground located just past the visitor center when you first enter the National Park. The site sits adjacent to Medano Creek and makes a perfect option for those looking for easy access and plenty of nearby services.

Piñon Flats has a total of 88 campsites for small groups & RVs as well as three larger group sites that can accommodate between 15-40 people. The campground is well organized with two loops serving the 88 individual sites and another loop serving the three group sites.

The campground has plenty of restrooms, a small campground shop, potable water,  and trash and recycling services. There is also an RV dump station nearby in the summer months.

For those arriving in an RV, keep in mind that the Piñon Flats Campground can only accommodate RVs and trailers that are less than 25′ long. If yours is longer, you will be better off staying at one of the many nearby campgrounds that can accommodate larger RVs.

The Piñon Flats Campground is extremely popular during spring and early summer when Medano Creek is flowing, so reservations are essential. As with all National Park campgrounds, you’ll need to make a reservation through the Recreation.gov website well in advance.

The campground can be reserved up to six months in advance (which is recommended for popular times) and remember that Recreation.gov opens availability at 10 am Eastern Time six months out – so be sure you’re ready!

Piñon Flats Campground Great Sand Dunes National Park

Piñon Flats Campground in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo credit NPS/Patrick Myers.

 

Medano Pass Primitive Road 4WD campsites

Number of Sites: 21 campsites – please camp at designed sites only!
Fee: Free
Capacity: Not regulated
RVs: No
Reservations: First come, first served
More Information

Medano Pass connects the Great Sand Dunes National Park with State Highway 69. The road is only passable by well-equipped 4WD vehicles. It is important to note that AWD vehicles will not do well on this road! For those who have a properly equipped vehicle, Medano Pass Primitive Road offers some excellent campsites that provide more solitude than what you’ll find at Piñon Flats Campground.

Medan Pass Primitive Road Camping

Medano Pass Primitive Road opens yours options for camping in the National Park. Photo credit: NPS/Patrick Myers.

 

The 21 designated campsite along Medano Pass are all contained within the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve (as opposed to the National Park) and begin approximately 5.2 miles from where the pavement ends along the main road through the Park. Each campground is numbered according to how many miles it is from the entrance to the National Preserve.

Each of the campsites along Medano Pass road includes a bear box to store your food and many have fire rings. Fires are generally allowed, but be sure to check-in at the visitor center as fire bans can be in place at any time. There are no restrooms or trash facilities along Medano Pass, so always be sure to bury your waste (at least 100′ from the nearest water source!) and pack out all of your trash. Water can occasionally be drawn from Medano Creek, but must be treated. We recommend bringing all of the water you’ll need for your stay with you.

Medano Pass Primitive Road Camping - Great Sand Dunes National Park

Medano Pass Primitive Road Campsites. Map courtesy of the National Park Service.

 

Backcountry campsites

Number of Sites: 7 campsites + dunefield
Fee: Free
Capacity: 6 people per permit/group / 2 vehicles per group
RVs: No
Reservations: First come, first served – permit required
More Information

For those in search of a true wilderness experience, backpacking in Great Sand Dunes National Park is the way to go! The National Park has seven designated backcountry campsites and also allows camping anywhere in the 30 square mile dunefield for a maximum of 20 groups, with no more than six people per group.

Dunefield camping - Great Sand Dunes

Camping in the dunefield at Great Sand Dunes National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

 

For both the dunefiled camping as well as the designated backcountry sites you’ll need to get a free permit from the Visitor Center upon arrival, beginning at 9am. Backcountry camping permits in Great Sand Dunes National Park are first-come, first-served so you’ll want to be sure you’re there early, especially on busy weekends.

Great Sand Dunes National Park Dunefield Backcountry Camping:

For those interested in backpacking in the Dunefield, you’ll have nearly 30 square miles to explore and camp. The dunefield is split into two zones by the National Park Service: Day-use areas and the backcountry zone. The map below gives you a sense of the different areas, and you’ll be able to camp in the backcountry zone only. The Park Service estimates it is an approximate 1.5 mile minimum hike into the dunefield. Some other important considerations:

  • Pets are not allowed
  • You’ll need to carry in all of your own water
  • No fires are allowed (except camping stoves)
  • Keep a close eye on the weather as you’ll want to avoid severe thunderstorms and high winds
  • Bring a bear canister or other food storage to protect your food from wildlife
  • The NPS recommends sand specific tent stakes.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles

Great Sand Dunes National Park Backpacking

Backcountry dunefield zone in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Great Sand Dunes National Park Backcountry Camping – Mountains:

In addition the dunefield, you’ll also have the ability to camp at one of seven designated backcountry camping sites in Great Sand Dunes National Park. These seven campsites are all located along the Sand Ramp Trail and offer a more protected camping option for those who aren’t interested in the dunefield. The seven campsites range in distance from 0.5 miles to 11.5 miles from the Piñon Flats Campground and the start of the Sand Ramp Trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park backpacking

Backpacking is an incredible way to experience Great Sand Dunes National Park.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning to stay at any of these backpacking sites in Great Sand Dunes National Park:

  • Plan to bring a bear canister or other secure food storage
  • Pets are not allowed
  • No campfires (with the exception of the Sand Creek site)
  • Water can be scarce, plan to carry in what you need
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles

Great Sand Dunes National Park backpacking map

Map of backcountry campsites in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Great Sand Dunes National Park Camping Must-Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Fires

Fires are allowed at the Piñon Flats Campground as well as the sites along Medano Pass Primitive Road. Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry dunefield area or at the designed backcountry campsites with the exception of the Sand Creek backcountry site.

Campfire at Great Sand Dunes.

Campfires are generally permitted in the car camping sites in Great Sand Dunes National Park.

 

If you do decide to have a fire it is important to always use firewood that is sourced locally. This helps prevent the spread of disease and preserves the natural habitat of the National Park. Harvesting of firewood is not allowed in any National Park, Great Sand Dunes included.

Before having a fire, always be sure to check-in with the staff at the Visitor Center for current regulations.

Wildlife

A variety of wildlife calls the Great Sand Dunes National Park home. This includes commonly seen deer and elk as well as the more rare black bears, mountain lions, and the dune-dwelling kangaroo mouse. For those camping, you’ll primarily need to be concerned with protecting your food from small rodents such as mice and chipmunks. However, bears do visit the campgrounds occasionally, so it is imperative that you’ve properly stored your food.

The campsites along Medano Pass Primitive Road and at Pinon Flats all provide food storage lockers. Those camping in the backcountry will need to bring a bear canister or be prepared to properly hang your food in a tree.

It is also important to note that ticks are frequently found in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Be sure to always check yourself and pets after any time spent hiking, especially if you’ve been in tall grasses.

Elk herd in Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Elk frequent Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo credit: NPS/Patrick Myers

 

Pets

Pets are allowed at both the Piñon Flats Campground as well as the sites along Medano Pass Primitive Road. You’ll need to have control over them at all times and we recommend that you keep them on a leash to avoid any issues. Also, be sure to pick up after them and properly dispose of their waste.

Pets are not allowed at any of the backcountry sites in Great Sand Dunes National Park, so you’ll want to leave them at home if you’re venturing into the backcountry.

As noted above, always be sure to check your pets for ticks as they are common in the Sand Dunes.

Where to get supplies

The best place to stock up on camping supplies near Great Sand Dunes National Park is in nearby Alamosa. This small town of around 11,000 people is approximately 30 minutes southwest from the National Park. There you’ll find major grocery stores such as Safeway and City Market as well as a few good outdoor stores. Here are your best options for where to stock up before your camping trip in Great Sand Dunes National Park:

 

Camping near Great Sand Dunes National Park

Given the popularity of Great Sand Dunes National Park, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campsite within the National Park. However, that doesn’t mean your trip is doomed! There are plentiful camping options just outside of the Great Sand Dunes that still provide easy access to the National Park. We’ve shared the best options below.

You’ll have easy access to Great Sand Dunes National Park from any of the camping options below.

 

RV campgrounds

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside the Great Sand Dunes National Park. These campgrounds will be your best bet when Pinon Flats is full, or if your RV/trailer is longer than 25′. Here are our recommended options for RV camping outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park:

Great Sand Dunes Oasis

Number of Sites: 20 RV sites, plenty of basic tent camping sites
Fee: RV sites ($38/night for two people) // tent sites ($25/night for two people)
Capacity: Up to 10 per site /  more for group sites
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended for RV spots, not required for tent sites.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Great Sand Dunes Oasis is the closest campground to Great Sand Dunes National Park that is not actually located within the park. This large campground is located along State Highway 150 as you approach the National Park, and is only about a 3-minute drive from the park entrance.

It features an on-site restaurant, small shop carrying basic groceries, gas station, as well as cabins and motel rooms for rent.

KOA Alamosa Campground

Number of Sites: Plenty!
Fee: $25 – $75/night depending on RV size
Capacity: No stated limit
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed, but must be on a leash at all times.
More Information

The KOA Alamosa campground is located on the east end of Alamosa and about a 25-minute drive from the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes. This campground can accommodate large RVs and also provides guests with access to a pool, free WiFi, a dog park, and a small on-site shop.

The KOA is more expensive than Great Sand Dunes Oasis, but it has excellent reviews and plenty of nearby amenities.

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near the Great Sand Dunes National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. Some are more basic than others and you’ll even have the option for some full-on glamping! Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near the Sand Dunes.

Car camping

 

Zapata Falls Campground

Number of Sites: 23 individual  and 1 group site
Fee: $11/night for individual sites and $25/night for group sites
Capacity: Up to 6 people per individual site and up to 15 people for the group site.
RVs: No
Reservations: First come, first served
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Zapata Falls Campground is located east of State Highway 150 as it approaches the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The campground is around 30 minutes from the entrance to the National Park. The campground has a vault toilet and has access to several excellent trailheads. Keep in mind that there is no water at Zapata Falls, so you’ll need to bring your own water.

Rustic Rook Resort

The Rustic Rook Resort is unlike any of the other campgrounds included in this guide – it is a full-fledged glamping experience! The resort is located approximately 20 minutes from the entrance to the National Park. You won’t need your own tent here as you’ll instead be sleeping in your very own glamping tent with space for 2 – 4 people. Prices start at $150/night so this is definitely not for budget-minded travelers!

More Information

The Rustic Rook Resort offers a glamping experience just 20 minutes from the Great Sand Dunes.

 

Dispersed campsites near the Great Sand Dunes

Your final option for camping near the Great Sand Dunes National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on the adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The BLM manages hundreds of thousands of acres of land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

Dispersed camping near Great Sand Dunes

 

Before heading out with a plan to look for dispersed camping near the Great Sand Dunes National Park we recommend reaching out to the Conejos Peak Ranger District to confirm current camping regulations. They can be reached at (719) 480-9892.

Lake Como Road/Sacred White Shell Mountain – BLM sites

The Lake Como Road/Sacred White Shell Mountain dispersed camping area is located east of State Highway 150 as you approach the Sand Dunes. The campsite is located approximately 25 minutes from the entrance to the National Park. You’ll need to bring all of your own water and also be prepared to properly deal with your waste at this site, as there are no facilities. BLM regulations on dispersed camping allow you to camp for up to 14 days in a 28 day period, so be sure to observe that limit at this site.

It is especially important to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Great Sand Dunes National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Piñon Flats Campground Great Sand Dunes National Park

Photo credit NPS/Patrick Myers.

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