By Jocelyn Brown
Over 77 million U.S. households say they include someone who camps at least occasionally. Last year the number of families that go camping increased by 64%, and it’s expected to rise again this year. Camping’s popularity has risen in recent years, perhaps in response to the increasingly chaotic world we live in. Experts say camping and hiking have been proven to reduce stress, increase physical fitness, and provide a heightened sense of well-being.
If you’re planning a camping trip this summer, you have a nearly endless selection of places to go. Let’s look at some of the very best.
Acadia National Park, Maine
With 17 million acres of forest, 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams, Maine is a dream come true for any camper. Acadia National Park showcases some of the best, including Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. Hike to the top before breakfast and enjoy the experience of being the very first person in the country to see the sunrise!
The park offers three campgrounds, including one surrounded by water. They’re open year-round and provide full amenities.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park offers miles of quiet wilderness, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking views. Old Rag Mountain is the park’s most popular destination, but the hike can be tough. If you’re up to the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a view that has to be seen to be believed. The park offers four campgrounds that are open spring, summer and fall. Backcountry camping is also an option, permit required. While the park is open year-round, parts close during bad weather.
Gunnison National Forest, Colorado
This gem offers 3,000 miles of trails, great fishing spots, and incredible views of the Rocky Mountains. Black Canyon is a must-see for its awe-inspiring view of the state’s highest cliff, Painted Wall. There are 30 campsites encompassing everything from open meadows to forests to lakes. You can also camp in the backcountry.
Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho
Sawtooth National Forest offers views of the Rocky Mountains and some of the best wilderness in the country. They’re open year-round, but summer is the best time to visit. The park is alive with color then, thanks to the lush blooms of wildflowers. Campers then will also enjoy super long days, with sunset holding off until 10 pm.
Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin
If you’re looking for a little relief from “roughing it,” this is the place for you. Located on Lake Michigan, Peninsula State Park offers an 18-hole golf course, volleyball courts, and boating, along with 8 miles of beautiful beaches and several miles of bike trails. There are five campgrounds to choose from, but backcountry camping is prohibited.
Whether you go on a cross-country road trip or stay close to home, get out and go camping! It’s a great way to get away from it all and bond with your family without having to break the bank.