Born to be wild: A brief guide to the best camping spots in the U.S.

born wild quick guide best camping spots u s header
Everyone has heard of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon national parks. The iconic regions are breathtaking benchmarks of the American west, protected and established alongside the inception of the National Park Service in 1916. However, there are plenty of other phenomenal camping areas scattered throughout the United States that are perfectly apt for taking to the trails and pitching a tent if you want to skirt less popular destinations or are merely in search of something different. Whether you’d prefer to walk among the tallest old-growth trees in the world, survey a pod of Orcas from your vantage point along the shore, or climb 150-meter dome of pink granite amid the rolling skies, there’s no better time than Memorial Day and the upcoming summer season to enjoy the great outdoors. That said, the Manual has kindly put together a list of some of our favorite places to camp, from California to New York.  As John Muir once said, “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” And I don’t think we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Channel Islands National Park, California

The aforementioned Yosemite receives most of the hype (and rightly so). However, California is a laudable treasure trove of camping spots, with Channel Islands National Park ranking among the best. Nearly 20 boat-in campsites scatter the nine regions located around the leeside shore of the island, providing a truly secluded experience nestled 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. Moreover, the island offers a bevy of pristine beach — notably Brisas del Mar and Bahia Azul — both of which provide gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and access to fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling.

Catalina Islands

Other alternatives: Redwood National and State Parks, Sierra National Forest

Big Bend National Park, Texas

American author Edward Abbey always heralded the desert for its beauty and expansiveness. Encompassing more than 800,00 acres in southwestern tip of Texas, Big Bend National Park is a prime of example of what the writer was talking about, a rugged landscape peppered with limestone pinnacles, desert oases, and roaring rivers. More than 150 hiking trails line the mountain and weather-beaten desert, providing grounds for phenomenal horseback riding and backpacking — if you don’t find yourself mercilessly gazing at the robust selection of birds and the star-laden sky.

Big Bend National Park

Other alternatives: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Padre Island National Seashore

Olympic National Park, Washington

A vast region of varied beauty regardless of the season, Olympic National Park is a mecca for camping in the Pacific Northwest. More than 40,000 people flock to the old-growth rainforests and glaciated mountain vistas of the region’s wilderness annually, taking in the tidepools and wildflower-adorned meadows along the way. The park touts more than 900 different campsites and hundreds of hiking trails throughout its interior, with remarkable fishing punctuating the region’s three distinct biospheres. However, ensure to always check the weather given the region is prone to rain.

Olympic National Park

Other alternatives: San Juan Islands, Mt. Rainier National Park

Adirondack Forest Preserve, New York

The Adirondacks are a classic staple of upstate New York. Consisting of more than 6-million acres — 2.7 million of which remains state-owned land — the region tempts campers with a bevy of high peaks, an amazing assortment of biodiversity, and thousands of snow-fed lakes. You can fish for trout along the girth of cascading streams or watch for migratory, boreal birds as they flock home to the park. The preserve also provides some of the best whitewater rafting on the East Coast during the summer, and a vast network of waterfall-strewn hiking trails regardless of the season.

Adirondacks

Other alternatives: Catskills Forest Preserve, Allegany State Park

Mohican State Park, Ohio

Mohican State park may only cover just over 1,000 acres, but the adjacent forest offers more than 5,000. The region is uniquely beautiful, dappled with hemlock groves and cut with the Mohican River, the latter of which provides opportunities for canoeing and renowned bass fishing. Formerly the hunting grounds for the Delaware Indians, you can also hunt in the abutting forest with a valid license, or simply traverse one of the six hiking and mountain biking trails for spectacular views of the area’s surrounding waterfalls or the scenic wooden bridge crossing the Clear Fork Gorge.

Mohican State Park

Other alternatives: Burr Oak State Park, Malabar Farms State Park

Outdoors

Watch Alex Honnold Climb 3200 Feet with No Ropes in ‘Free Solo’

What does it take to climb a 3200-foot-tall rock wall with no ropes? The new documentary 'Free Solo' documents everything it takes as climber Alex Hannold attempts to do just that.
Travel

Things That Go Bump in the Night: 9 Most Haunted Places in America

With Halloween lurking around the corner, we thought it only pertinent that we list some of the eeriest and most haunted places in America. Read our roundup ... if you dare.
Living

The Most Beautiful (and Unexpected) Houses of Worship Around the World

From the deserts of Arizona to the French countryside, these are some of the most beautiful religious structures around the world.
Fashion & Style

Keep it Cozy with These Seven Warmest Winter Socks

Winter means padding around your pad in the softest, warmest socks possible.
Travel

4 of the World’s Smallest Countries and Why You Should Visit Them

From breathtaking to downright weird, these tiny countries are well worth a visit.
Travel

Avoid Jet Lag By Learning How to Sleep Anytime, Anywhere

With a little help from some of the world’s most adept sleepers, here are of our favorite tips.
Travel

A New Class of Retro Designer Motels Recalls California’s Bygone Surf Era

Embrace an endless summer of sick surfer hair, salty beach air, and some of the world's best breaks.
Travel

Belize Announces World’s First Nationwide Hide-and-Seek Competition

Cave exploring, trekking Mayan ruins, snorkeling with whale sharks — everyone comes out a winner in this competition.
Travel

Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit Chattanooga Tennessee

Like rock climbing? How about beer? Fried chicken? Well, then it is time to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Outdoors

HoverGlide Is a Clever ‘Floating’ Backpack Designed to Save Your Spine

It might sound like infomercial-flavored nonsense but it's rooted in sound science.
Travel

Romotow Is a Futuristic Travel Trailer With a Hidden ‘Party Deck’

One button turns this sleek travel trailer into an eight-person, off-grid party pad.
Travel

New Brightline Train Will Connect Vegas to Southern California in Just 2 Hours

Soon you'll be able to spend a lot more time feeding your face at the casino's questionable seafood buffet.
Travel

Ski Butlers are a Thing. We Went to the Rockies to Find Out What they Do and Why

Why the saviest skiers and smartest shredders enlist the help of a ski butler to service and set up their gear.
Outdoors

Elite Sniper School: Shoot at a Mile-long Target in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Fewer than 10,000 people in history have joined the "One Mile Club."