Camping Sites
The U.S. is famous for its beautiful stretches of pristine nature that you can enjoy wherever you are in the country. From thick forests to powerful mountain ranges, lakes, and dunes, you’re sure to find something that suits you.

However, are you feeling adventurous enough to try primitive camping?

Backcountry camping can provide you with an experience you won’t be able to forget. By being left to your resources, with only so much as a set of basic but high-quality camping equipment, you get to feel the wilderness around you on a new level.

If you’re looking into primitive camping sites, here are our top picks.

Yosemite National Park, California

  • One of the best-known national parks in the U.S., Yosemite has 1,200 square miles of pure nature to offer to camping enthusiasts.
  • There are several first-come, first-served backcountry campsites you can try, such as Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek.
  • Apart from these campgrounds, you can camp nearly anywhere within the park with a free permit. You might want to make a reservation, though, because the number of permits is limited.
  • Be sure to bring drinkable water or ensure you have a water purification method with you.

North Cascades National Park, Washington

North Cascades offers a variety of sites to its visitors, from more family-friendly creek-side sites to more challenging, high-altitude, and rocky terrains.

You can only camp at the designated backcountry spots along the trail, but don’t worry — there are nearly 140 of them! The NC backcountry campsites are ideal for those who are not yet ready to go full-on primitive as they have amenities such as toilets, tent pads, and more.

If you want to camp here, you’ll need a permit, but it’s free. However, beware of the fact that permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

Glacier National Park, Montana

This enormous wilderness area that borders Canada offers more than 700 miles of hiking trails, as well as cycling, backpacking, and other activities. It’s home to the highly Instagramable Hidden Lake, which looks like a scene from a movie.

You may choose its heavily-forested Westside for absolute peace or the more open Eastside. Within this park, you can only camp in the designated campgrounds, but they offer more than 1,000 campsites.

With numerous lakes, alpine glaciers, and sharp ridges, this Rocky Mountains gem is not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re looking for a true, unprecedented adventure, this national park is the place to be.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

If you’re not up for lush forests and lakes, what better place to visit than the startling desertland of Canyonlands. Between its famous areas, most notably the Needles, Isle in the Sky, and Maze, you’re sure to find a spot that suits you.

If you choose to stay in a highly visited area, such as the Needles, you’ll have to stay within designated sites. Elsewhere, you can choose your spot.

For camping in this park, you’ll need a permit, and bear in mind that it needs to be on paper. Showing it on any electronic device won’t do, so make sure to print it beforehand.

Reservations are not mandatory, but they are advised, especially in the peak seasons (spring and fall).

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

If you’re a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune franchise, you can feel like a Fremen for several days in Great Sand Dunes. It’s a gigantic sea of sand with some of the highest dunes in North America — some of them over 700 feet tall!

You can roam the trail-free desert and have a near-religious experience of absolute calm. However, Great Sand Dunes is not all about the desert — it offers a variety of landscapes, including lush forests at the base of Sangre de Cristo.

You may choose between designated and non-designated camping options.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is a North Pacific marvel with a variety of landscapes and ecosystems to choose from. From rocky mountains and rainforests to the magical Pacific coastline, you simply can’t go wrong with it.

Whether you set your foot in Enchanted Valley or opt for one of the beach campsites, you’re bound to enjoy your stay.

If you want to camp here, you’ll need a wilderness camping permit. It’s best to make a reservation in advance.

Bear in mind (pun intended) that there are bears near some campsites, so you might be required to have a bear canister.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Home to the Grand Canyon, the majestic, millions of years old, red-rock formation, this park provides visitors with an exhilarating experience. Hiking, backpacking, and camping here feel like a sort of pilgrimage.

However, GC National Park can be quite a challenge, even for experienced hikers due to its extreme temperatures and difficult trails.

If you want to camp outside designated campgrounds, you’ll need a permit. While for some places, you can apply for a permit a couple of days in advance, for the Grand Canyon, it’s best to make your reservation months in advance because of high interest.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

If you’re looking for truly primitive experiences, you should consider the dramatic Badlands. Rough and rugged is how we would describe the terrain, so sturdy hiking ankle boots are a must.

It’s super easy to set up camp here since you don’t need any special permits. However, it’s advisable to contact the Visitor Center before you arrive. Just make sure you follow the rules and take care of the environment.

Make sure to bring plenty of water with you because you’ll hardly find any in your surroundings. You also need to watch your step — not only is the terrain uneven, but there are also plenty of burrowing animals around.

Enjoy Your Backcountry Adventure!

If you’re ready to escape the grind and back away from civilization into the total peace and quiet of nature for a while, you can’t go wrong with any of these sites. So pack your necessities and enjoy your primitive camping adventure!