Home Camping Locations Exploring Hidden Gem Campgrounds: Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations
Exploring Hidden Gem Campgrounds: Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

5 min

September 8, 2023

Roll up your sleeping bags, fellow adventurers, because this month’s edition of “Exploring Hidden Gem Campgrounds” is about to take you on a thrilling tour across America’s most charming, less-traveled camping sites! 

We’ve compiled a list of places where you can relish the starlit skies and wake up to the whispering of the wild, all while sidestepping the hustle and bustle of popular spots. 

Ready to uncover nature’s best-kept secrets? Let’s dive in!

Top 10 Hidden Campgrounds

Here are ten extraordinary, off-the-beaten-path campgrounds that offer unique experiences, stunning vistas, and that touch of wilderness every camper dreams of! Now all you need to do is decide which one to explore first. 

Pine Barrens, New Jersey

Meet New Jersey’s wild side! Pine Barrens is a sprawling wilderness, perfect for pitching a tent among unique flora and fauna. If water is your thing, canoeing opportunities are aplenty. Fall turns the place into a color palette!

Activities: Canoeing, Hiking, Wildlife Watching 

Best time to visit: Fall

Havasupai Campground, Arizona

Are you up for an adventure? This turquoise waterfall paradise nestled in the Grand Canyon demands a permit and a challenging hike, but boy, is it worth it! 

Activities: Hiking, Swimming, Photography

Best time to visit: Spring and Fall

Chisos Basin, Texas

Set your camp high at this Big Bend National Park site. The elevation gives you cooler temperatures, panoramic mountain views, and sunsets that will leave you speechless! 

Activities: Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Star Gazing

Best time to visit: Spring and Fall

Ocracoke Campground, North Carolina

Fancy beach camping? As the only campground on Ocracoke Island, wake up to the salty breeze and watch the wild horses roam freely. Don’t forget your beach hat! 

Activities: Fishing, Horse Watching, Beach Combing

Best time to visit: Late Spring and Early Fall

North Manitou Island, Michigan

Hop on a ferry to explore this hidden gem! Offering dispersed camping, this spot is for true adventurers who want to disconnect and relish the Lake Michigan views. 

Activities: Hiking, Bird Watching, Backcountry Camping

Best time to visit: Summer

Lost Coast, California

Get lost in the right way at the Lost Coast! This undeveloped stretch is not for the faint-hearted, with its rocky shores and wilderness, but the experience is truly unmatched. 

Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Surfing

Best time to visit: Summer

Nāpali Coast State Park, Hawaii

Swap the mainland for Hawaii’s Nāpali Coast. This spot is pure tropical bliss, with its towering waterfalls, lush valleys, and the warm Pacific lapping at your feet. 

Activities: Hiking, Snorkeling, Whale Watching (in season)

Best time to visit: Summer

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Ever camped among sand dunes? This national park offers just that, plus epic stargazing opportunities. You’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet! 

Activities: Sand Boarding, Hiking, Stargazing

Best time to visit: Spring and Fall

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, this remote island is a jewel in the Florida Keys. It offers extraordinary marine life and a historic fort to explore. 

Activities: Snorkeling, Bird Watching, Exploring Fort Jefferson

Best time to visit: Spring

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Fiery red sandstone formations welcome you to this awe-inspiring desert landscape. It’s hot in the day, but the night skies are a spectacle. 

Activities: Hiking, Rock Climbing, Photography

Best time to visit: Fall and Winter

Why Opt for Off-the-beaten-path Campgrounds?

Let’s put the question of ‘Why not?’ to the overpopulated campgrounds and take a leap of faith to follow the path less treaded. Trust us, it leads to magic. These not-so-famous-yet-so-fabulous campgrounds are like secret recipes for a hearty dose of tranquility, serving you an unparalleled closeness with nature.

Talk about VIP access to Mother Nature’s exclusive show!

Tips for Exploring Hidden Gem Campgrounds

As you gear up for your unconventional adventure, let us arm you with some handy, field-tested tips. First, pack like a pro. Keep it light, keep it essential. Those five pairs of shoes might be tempting, but will they help you scale that hill? Didn’t think so! 

Second, be the Boy Scout – always prepared. A map, a compass, a weather update – they’re your lifelines. No one likes to be caught in a downpour with just their swimwear! 

Third, remember, safety isn’t a gadget but a state of mind. Pack your first-aid kit, and let your caution have the best seat. Finally, respect – for local customs, rules, and most importantly, for nature. 

Carry out what you carry in and follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles like they’re your religion. It’s karma, campers!

Bonus: Some Well-known, But Lesser-Known Picks

Here’s a bonus list of ten more popular yet not crowded campsites:

  • Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: With most of the park accessible only by boat or plane, it offers an unspoiled Alaskan wilderness experience. Watch glaciers calve into the ocean or spot a brown bear by the shore.
  • Blackwoods Campground, Acadia National Park, Maine: Despite being in a popular park, this campground tends to be quieter. Enjoy the serene woodland setting and proximity to some of the park’s less-traveled trails.
  • Slide Lake Campground, Wyoming: Located in Bridger-Teton National Forest, this spot is less crowded than the nearby Grand Teton National Park. Look forward to a peaceful, rustic camping experience.
  • Kettle River Campground, St. Croix State Park, Minnesota: An off-the-beaten-path option with plenty of riverside sites and opportunities for canoeing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. 
  • Perrot State Park, Wisconsin: This park offers quiet camping spots with the added bonus of stunning views of the Mississippi River. 
  • Eagle Creek Campground, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon: As the oldest campground in the state, it offers a serene environment with easy access to hiking trails leading to breathtaking waterfalls.
  • Hoh Campground, Olympic National Park, Washington: Experience the quiet magic of a rainforest right from your campsite. This remote campground provides unparalleled access to Olympic’s lush, mossy forests.
  • Great Basin National Park, Nevada: This park sees fewer visitors due to its remote location, but those who venture out here will find diverse landscapes, from desert to mountains, and some of the country’s best stargazing.

Discovering Your Own Hidden Gems

If you’re itching to find your own hidden treasure in the wild, you’ll need to master the art of digging – not with a spade but with curiosity. Your keyboard can be your best friend here.

A quick Google search, some deep diving into camping forums, or exploring local guidebooks can lead you to your dream spot. 

But don’t underestimate the power of good old gossip at your local camping store! That friendly shopkeeper might just be sitting on a goldmine of secret locations. 

So, adventurers, that’s a wrap on this edition! We hope these hidden gem campgrounds have made it to your bucket list. Let’s keep our spirits high, backpacks ready, and hearts open to the untamed experiences these beautiful off-the-beaten-path destinations have to offer.

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