Life can get pretty boring pretty quickly when you’re stuck in that routine of working all day, coming home and relaxing, going to sleep, waking up again and going back to work. We’ve all been there before, but luckily we have our imaginations and our dreams.
Now that the price of gas is finally falling back down to Earth, I’ve decided that any day now, I’ll head out on that fabled American road trip and set up my tent at some of the most beautiful parks across the country. Well, it might not be that easy, but a girl can certainly dream.
In no particular order, I present to you my camping bucket list (part two, if you will, of my backpacking bucket list):
Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
Image credit: dfbphotos
Back in the day, Utahan cowboys used this area, which spectacularly overlooks the Colorado River, to naturally contain horses and other livestock. Today, the park sits in Moab, Utah, near two other western wonders: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Rumor has it you can hike around these places for hours on end without seeing another soul – almost as if you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.
Olympia National Park, Washington
Image credit: J. Maughn
You might not know that there’s a rainforest in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s exactly what you’ll find if you head to the northwestern-most national park in the contiguous states. Olympia features luscious green forests as well as spectacular mountains that provide breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Featured image, credit: Martha T
I’m a firm believer that White Sands, which features the largest sprawl of gypsum sand dunes in the world, should be on every camper’s bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon running and jumping around on sand dunes? Or camp – in the desert – underneath a full sky of stars? Sign me up.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Image credit: Mark Stevens
Straddling the U.S.-Canada border, Glacier has quite the collection of wildlife, lakes and, you guessed it, glaciers. After driving down and up Going-to-the-Sun Road, I’d love to hike deep into the Glacier backcountry and set up a tent, soaking in all of Montana’s glory. Side note: A friend of mine went here and told me the water that runs in the rivers and lakes is so clear, you can dip your Nalgene into it and take a swig. Sounds delicious, right?
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Image credit: Al King
Neighboring an honorable mention that could have easily made its way on this list, Bryce Canyon National Park is a natural amphitheater that features an eclectic assortment of rock formations known as hoodoos, which essentially resemble sculpted figurines that were eroded by wind. As you can see for yourself, these rocks are infinitely interesting, and Bryce Canyon is home to one of the world’s largest collections of them.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Image credit: Charles Dawley
America’s deepest lake, Crater Lake is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere in southern Oregon. The lake was formed when a volcano collapsed thousands of years ago – how cool is that? You can hike down to the lake’s base and you can also drive across its rim. Believe it or not, you can also take boats out to Wizard Island. Seriously, look at how amazing this water is.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Image credit: gabri_micha
OK, I can’t ignore all of America’s better known parks. If you love to camp as much as I do, how could you live with yourself if you never visited Yellowstone? You know, checked out the bison herds, watched Old Faithful erupt and hike up Mount Jackson to get a birds-eye view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone? I need to see some geysers, and it doesn’t sound too bad to get lost in the park’s 2.2-plus million acres. I can almost smell the sulfur.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Image credit: Jim
I might not be ready to actually climb Mount McKinley, North America’s highest mountain, just yet. However, I’m certainly ready to camp in a beautiful open field and soak in the mountain’s majesty from a distance. Move over, Yellowstone. Denali is more than 6 million acres in scope. How much time do you think you could spend in there, anyway?
Yosemite National Park, California
Image credit: Jeff Krause
Back to another juggernaut of a park: Yosemite. I’ve always been interested in climbing Half Dome or at least making my way up Sentinel Dome. The real reason I want to head over to Yosemite, however, is for the waterfalls. Yosemite’s got more than 20 of them, including Yosemite Falls, which drops more than 2,400 feet. I’d love to wake up in the morning and take a dip nearby – wouldn’t you?
Acadia National Park, Maine
Image credit: Doug Kerr
I can’t afford to ignore the entire East Coast! Those who’ve been to Acadia have almost certainly told you about the park’s immense beauty. I still haven’t taken the trip to Maine yet, though I live closest to this park compared to the rest of the list. With mountains, islands, shorelines, woods and lakes, Acadia’s got it all.