The Places We're Dying to Camp in 2024

By Wildsam Staff


12 Jun 2024

Reading Time

10 Minutes

Big Sur's coast. | Ganapathy Kumar via Unsplash

Fernwood Campground and Resort, Big Sur, California

I’m clamoring for a scenic drive in California, along the coastline. I’m hoping that if I dip my toes in this stretch of the Pacific Ocean, maybe the spirit and talent of Jack Kerouac will wash over me like in Space Jam. But, the Fernwood Campground and Resort in particular appeals to me because of the flexibility. On the same grounds, there are options for a cabin in the woods, a motel room with a hot tub and various tent cabins—a charcuterie of ways to glamp. Of course, you can reserve a site and experience the wilderness the old-fashioned way and bring your own tent along too. 

— H. Drew Blackburn, Digital Editor

Moran State Park Michael Humphries | Michael Humphries via Unsplash

Leanto at Moran State Park, Orcas Island, WA

When the temps start climbing in the Northwest, people start thinking about the San Juan Islands. In some sense, these little dollops of land off the Washington Coast are the Northwest of the Northwest: a semi-mystical seascape of remote forests, leaping orcas and cozy towns. This glamping operation sets up plush sites in the woods of horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island. 

Flagstaff, Arizona | Jared Murray via Unsplash

The East Pocket near Flagstaff, AZ

This zone for dispersed camping has a lot of mystique—so much so that not even a single name can contain it. A lot of folks call this stretch of the Coconino National Forest “the Edge of the World.” An hour’s drive up Forest Service roads leads to staggering views and that coveted sense of discovery that comes of venturing off the grid.

— Editorial Director, Zach Dundas

Dry Tortugas National Park | Bryan Goff via Unsplash

Dry Tortugas National Park

I’ve been to the Florida Keys more than a dozen times, but I’ve yet to go the extra mile (more like 70 miles by seaplane or boat) to Dry Tortugas. The seven small islands that make up the 100-square mile park includes Fort Jefferson, one of the largest 19th-century forts in the United States. I imagine it’s impressive to see, but I hear the swirl of turquoise waters, coral reef, bird watching and stargazing are even more awe-inspiring. The campsites are first come, first served, with reservations only for groups of more than 10 people. No electricity hookups, no public wifi, no cell service. Unplug and relax.

SLEEPING BEAR DUNES | Moriah Bender via Unsplash

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

You know that feeling when you’re visiting a place, and you already want to come back even though you haven’t left yet? It’s like you’re pre-grieving your exit and have to keep reminding yourself to be here now? That’s how I felt scrambling up the famed Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in late fall. Not a soul in sight—just the turquoise waters of Glen Lake as a reward. The visit happened during research for a Wildsam field guide about Northern Michigan, and I’ve wanted to return ever since. I’d choose the wooded D.H. Day Campground (reservations required May 1 through October 15). It’s enveloped in the region’s natural beauty, just a short walk to Lake Michigan beach and a couple miles from the town of Glen Arbor with its gems like Crystal River Outfitters and the old-school (since 1934), all-day hangout of Art’s Tavern. 

— Editor, Jennifer Justus

Iceburg from the Colombia Glacier near Whittier, Alaska | Melissa Bradley via Unsplash

Whittier, Alaska

To get to the town under one roof (literally, a 14-story building houses most of the town’s 250 residents and public facilities) you have to time it just right; the converted World War II rail tunnel is the only road to Whittier, and cars can only cross the single-lane passageway once an hour in either direction. But once you’re there, find yourself at the edge of the Prince William Sound. Rent kayaks to spot humpback whales, orcas, and sea lions as you paddle past tidewater glaciers. Plan a trip during the summer to experience the Midnight Sun. 

— Sales and Communications Coordinator, Jacqueline Knox

Sylvan Lake at Custer State Park | Lindy Murphy via Unsplash

Custer State Park, SD

This 71,000-acre state park is so good, it would be easy to mistake it for a national park. Home to 1,400 bison—not to mention elk, antelope, black bears, and a herd of wild burros—this is definitely a destination for wildlife lovers. But it also offers excellent hiking, mountain biking, and paddling in a wilderness that is remote, rugged, and beautiful. At night, the park is no less enthralling, offering some of the best stargazing in the country. Here, a sense of adventure is a prerequisite to entry.

— Editor, Vehicles & Gear, Kraig Becker

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