Many Americans don’t realize how easy it is to truly get away here at home. We live in a big country and it’s not difficult to find remote outposts to overnight outdoors in almost every state (even Rhode Island). You just need to know where to look. Here’s a brief list of three of the best US campgrounds to get you started:
Dry Tortugas National Park (Garden Key, The Florida Keys)
To the untrained eye, the Florida Keys appear to be little more than an archipelago of Jimmy Buffet-inspired tiki bars. But there are still plenty of places to escape the nightlife hustle. Seventy miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the country’s most remote national parks. The 100-square-mile park consists of seven tiny islands. However, the main draw is Garden Key’s Fort Jefferson — a stunning, unfinished stone fort that once housed Civil War prisoners. A select group of visitors can overnight on the island in typical primitive fashion — there is no water, electricity, or services of any kind. Days are spent snorkeling Florida’s famous coral reefs amid some of the clearest, warmest waters in the Keys.
Good to know: the island is obviously only accessible by boat or seaplane, so reserve your transportation in advance.
Tuweep (North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona)
Most travelers associate Grand Canyon National Park with mobs of drive-in tourists seeking a quick, awe-inspiring view without having to actually work for it. While that’s mostly true along the South Rim, the North Rim offers a very different experience. Adventurous campers looking to really getaway should head to Tuweep campground — a remote outpost that requires an almost 300-mile drive from the South Rim visitor center. The access roads require a high clearance vehicle and can become treacherous during heavy rain. Once at the campground, the views are stunning, however, and you’re likely to have them all to yourself. The park service is crystal clear that there are no services (including cell coverage) of any kind — you are almost literally on your own.
Good to know: There are only nine permitted campsites available and reservations should be requested several months in advance.
Wonder Lake (Denali National Park, Alaska)
If there’s a U.S. national park with a better mountain view than Wonder Lake, we haven’t found it. Nestled deep in Alaska’s Denali National Park, the campground is the closest to North America’s tallest peak. The views are accordingly spectacular and, with a strict, tents-only policy, you’ll hear nothing but the sounds of bird calls from the surrounding wetlands. The Wonder Lake trail leaves directly from the campground and Wonder Lake itself is a great place to fish for trout and grayling.
Good to know: Alaska’s mosquitos (locally referred to as “the state bird”) are relentless, so pack proper netting and repellent.