Best States for Camping

Few things are more relaxing than a night under the stars while camping with your favorite folks. Which states offer the best spots for a rustic retreat? To kick off the start of camping season, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best States for Camping in America. They compared the 50 states based on 25 metrics, such as campsite access, acreage, and trails. They also considered safety, supplies, camper satisfaction, and affordability. They then grouped those factors into five categories: Access, Quality, Supplies, Safety, and Affordability, and ranked each state accordingly. Map out your camping bucket list with the rankings below.

Joshua Tree – courtesy of morethanjustparks.com

California hikes to first place for the second year in a row, while Washington state trails just behind at No. 2. Both states scored high in Access, Quality, and Supplies, but the Golden State gives campers the most space for a night off the beaten path.

Stay safe if you camp in these two states: They lack phone coverage and have high rates of park deaths. California holds the record for the most park deaths between 2010 and 2020 at 300 — 151 more than the next state, Arizona. Always check the weather before venturing out, and bring enough water to last your journey.

However, with 7.2 million first-time campers hitting the trails in 2022, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make camping reservations. It might be hard to book a site at Yosemite, but have no fear — The Golden State is full of top-tier camping destinations. From seaside escapes at Channel Islands National Park to waterfalls and redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park to the sand dunes in Joshua Tree, California has a mega variety of environments to roam.

Camp near meadows of wildflowers and an active stratovolcano at Mount Rainier National Park. Explore valleys, waterfalls, and more than 300 glaciers at North Cascades National Park. Another icon, Olympic National Park, offers abundant wilderness, with diverse landscapes including temperate rainforests, breathtaking coastlines, and icy mountains.

Many beautiful camping opportunities exist in Oregon (No. 21). Unfortunately, the Beaver State lags behind its Pacific Coast neighbors at No. 49 in Affordability and with the third-worst average consumer rating for campgrounds.

Mountains in Big Bend National Park – courtesy of nps.gov

Texas (No. 3) is a big state full of diverse camping opportunities. The Lone Star State claims the second-highest number of campgrounds, campsites, and camping supply stores. There’s plenty of room to roam with a high total acreage of campgrounds (No. 4) and state and national parks (No. 6). Cowpokes and campers can sleep comfortably under starry skies, with abundant sites with access to water (No. 2) and toilet facilities (No. 4).

Sleep under the stars at Big Bend National Park, which is a designated International Dark Sky Park. Camp on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore, or float around the Texas Hill Country at Guadalupe River State Park.

Bison in the Yellowstone River, Wyoming – courtesy of nps.gov

America is full of bountiful camping opportunities, with unique spots in every state.

Less populated states like West Virginia (No. 41), Wyoming (No. 42), Rhode Island (No. 49), Delaware (No. 44), and South Dakota (No. 45) land at the bottom alongside North Dakota in last place.

These states aren’t necessarily bad for camping. In fact, with lower populations, you might even have less competition and a better chance of scoring a peaceful campsite. Their low rankings are due to a lack of camping locations, attractions, amenities, and supplies compared with the more populated, higher-ranking states.

Wyoming stands out with the third-highest total campground, state, and national park acreage. Delaware has the biggest share of highly rated campgrounds, while North Dakota boasts the best average consumer rating of campgrounds and Safety record.

Camping in the Adirondacks – courtesy of visitadirondacks.com

Many mountainous states climb to the top, offering breathtaking views for hikers and campers alike. From the Adirondacks and Catskills in New York (No. 5) to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado (No. 6) to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee (No. 12), many supreme camping states are home to iconic hiking destinations. Additionally, nine out of the 14 states that encompass the Appalachian Trail landed in the top half of our ranking. New York, Colorado, and Tennessee provide ample campgrounds, trails, and campsite activities to keep visitors busy.

The wilderness and fresh air in Upstate New York have attracted campers for ages. Roll out your sleeping bag on a mountain in the Adirondacks or Catskills. You can also rent a cabin and go kayaking on the Finger Lakes or along two of the Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario.

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida – courtesy of supersimplesaltylife.com

Some of the best states for camping also reel in sublime opportunities for fishing. Oceanside states like Florida (No. 4) and North Carolina (No. 9) bob at the top along with Michigan (No. 7) and Minnesota (No. 10). Florida floats to No. 1 in the Supplies rank, thanks to the highest number of RV rental offers. North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida each have top camping Access overall, with The Sunshine State landing at No. 2 in that category. Minnesota is also among the most affordable states for camping and swims to No. 2 in Safety.

Wake up with a fresh sea breeze when you camp at Bahia Honda State Park. Ocala is more than a destination for campers who also love horses. Canoe, bike, or hike through the stunning Ocala National Forest.

— To see more details and the full rankings, visit Lawn Love.

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