Love camping? Check out these 10 affordable National Parks.(Read article summary)
These 10 National Parks not only offer maintained campgrounds and gorgeous sights, but they also only cost about $160 per week for parking and camping. Which National Parks have you visited?
Some of the most awe-inspiring places to camp across the United States are in the National Park system, which means that staying inside their boundaries is super affordable. Here is a sampling of attractions and prices for maintained campgrounds at different parks across the country. The mean price to stay at these destinations — parking and camping together — is around $160 per week. Have you packed your bags yet?
1. Acadia National Park
Trek up to Maine to Acadia National Park. You'll find Cadillac Mountain, the tallest point on the Atlantic coast, beautiful ocean views, countless acres of forest, and New England's classic rocky beaches. For seven-day access with your vehicle, you'll pay $25; it's only $12 for bikers, hikers, and pedestrians. From there, you have two camping locations from which to choose: Blackwoods Campground and Seawall Campground. Cost is between $22 and $30 per night. Reservations are recommended in the peak season from May through October.
2. Yosemite National Park
There are a whopping 13 campgrounds in California's Yosemite National Park. That doesn't mean finding a camping spot will necessarily be easy at this popular destination. With Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Cathedral Peak, and more attractions — you'll want to plan ahead. Daily camping fees range from $12 to $26, with parking adding another $30 for a seven-day pass ($15 for bike or foot access). Though most sites require reservations, six of the grounds are on a first come, first served basis.
3. Olympic National Park
With close to one million acres, Washington's Olympic National Park boasts everything from snowcapped peaks to wild winding rivers to gorgeous Pacific Coast shoreline. If you're unable to hike for some reason, check out 30-mile Quinault Rainforest Loop. The road snakes all the way around Lake Quinault on the south side of the park. You get access for your car for $20 a week or hike in for just $7. Camping is another $15 to $22 per day, depending on which of the 16 locations you choose. Most (15) of the campsites operate on a first come, first served basis.
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You might not know that America's most visited national park is the Great Smoky Mountains. Its location straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee border makes its majestic mountains, diverse wildlife, and unique culture easily accessible to people traveling from all directions. There are a variety of camping options, including backcountry, frontcountry, group campgrounds, horse camps, and even LeConte Lodge(only reached by hiking). The grounds maintained by the park cost between $14 and $23. Oh, and entrance to this park is entirely free!
5. Glacier National Park
Between Logan Pass, the Highline Trail, St. Mary Lake, and Grinnell Glacier, there's plenty to see and do at Glacier National Park in Montana. There are 1,009 sites in all between the 13 campgrounds the park maintains. Prices range between $10 to $23 per night with an additional $25 for week-long parking during the summer months. Since many grounds operate on a first come, first served basis, you can check the status on this handy map for updates.
6. Grand Teton National Park
Majorly impressive alpine terrain is one of the highlights of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. You can float the great Snake River, drive the scenic 42-mile park loop, hike the Jenny Lake Trail, and more. Park your car for $30 or walk your way in for just $15. Camping at one of the six campgrounds is $22 per site (some have a utility surcharge). No reservations are accepted. Maximum stay at the Jenny Lake grounds is seven nights per year.
7. Grand Canyon National Park
Of course, Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park has to make this ultimate list for its expansive views and stunning geology. Talk about huge: The canyon itself is a mile deep, 277 river miles long, and 18 miles at its widest. Not only is this park a true national treasure, but it's also considered one of the natural wonders of the world. Admission is $30 per vehicle. With camping, you need to act fast. There are three campgrounds total, and only two take reservations. Prices range between $18 to $25 per night with a variety of options.
8. Big Bend National Park
For mountains, desert, and all sorts of critters, visit Big Bend National Parkin Texas. There are over 150 miles of trails that snake through desert oases, canyons, rivers, and more. Three frontcountry campgrounds offer 184 sites total for $14 a night. Vehicles cost $25 for the week and plain entry is $12 per person.
9. Badlands National Park
South Dakota's Badlands National Park has some impressive fossil beds among its rocky skyline. The Notch Trail is challenging but definitely worth the effort for the view at the end. And everyone in your family can see the sights by driving the Loop Scenic Byway. Entry costs $15 for the week via car or $7 if you hike or bike. There are two campgrounds that cost $18 per night for a basic tent site.
10. Shenandoah National Park
Would you believe the Shenandoah National Park is a mere 75 miles outside Washington, D.C.? Believe it. Getting your vehicle into the park will cost $20 for the week. Camping at one of the park's four campgrounds is a modest $15 to $17 per night. That's not a lot to enjoy a good chunk of the Appalachian Trail, Bearfence Mountain, and the Old Rag Mountain Hike.
For information on all parks, visit the National Park Service.