Camping is a fun recreational activity, especially in the warmer months of summer and early fall. But sometimes, finding the right area can be difficult. National forest campgrounds can be the gateway between camping and adventures. Let’s check out some of our favorite national forest campgrounds.
Table of contents
- What’s So Great About National Forest Campgrounds?
- Best National Forests with Campgrounds in the United States
- Olympic National Forest, Washington
- Great Campgrounds in Olympic National Forest
- Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
- Great Campgrounds in Bridger-Teton National Forest
- Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho
- Great Campgrounds in Sawtooth National Forest
- Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas
- Great Campgrounds in Ozark-St. Francis National Forests
- Plan Your Visit
What’s So Great About National Forest Campgrounds?
National forest campgrounds have many benefits that you might not have thought about. First, they’re on public land, so you know that you won’t be trespassing if you camp there.
They also frequently have campground hosts, which means they may be better cared for.
Finally, they often have additional amenities, such as hookups, bathroom facilities, and nearby hiking, fishing, or water recreation locations.
Best National Forests with Campgrounds in the United States
The United States has over 150 national forests. Although each has something unique to offer, some are more fun or interesting than others. Here are four that you’ll enjoy, each with its own national forest campground options.
Pro Tip: National forests offer unique camping experiences. Get started with your national forest adventure by reading Can You Camp in National Forests?
Olympic National Forest, Washington
You’ll surely find something of interest in this national park. Located near Olympia, Washington, Olympic National Forest lets you explore the pacific coast. Surrounded by water on three sides, it has access to western Washington’s beaches, lakes, and rivers.
But it also has access to mountains as well, with the Olympic Mountains in the center. Plus, you can get to the only temperate rainforest in the continental United States, the Hoh Rainforest.
Great Campgrounds in Olympic National Forest
One of our favorite ways to enjoy the gorgeous Olympic National Forest is to camp there. Thankfully, there are several campgrounds you might enjoy. Here are our favorite two:
Seal Rock Campground
Located on the Hood Canal, the Seal Rock Campground has 41 tent or RV sites. They’re nestled throughout the trees, with a few directly on the waterfront. Because Seal Rock Campground is by saltwater, there are harvestable oysters available to the public.
Although there are no hookups at this location, you have potable water, modern bathrooms, electricity, tables, and fire pits.
If you want a location closer to the Hoh Rainforest, then Klahanie Campground is the place for you. It’s near the South Fork Calawah River, where old-growth trees surround it. Some have canopies up to 8ft in diameter.
The main camping area is only 20 minutes from the ocean and an hour from the Cape Flattery bluffs and Makkah Cultural Center. Both are close enough for an easy day trip adventure.
Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
Bridger-Teton is vast, with over 3.4 million acres of public land. It’s in western Wyoming and a part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Its vastness includes access to water, wildlife, and wildlands, making it an ideal spot to enjoy Mother Nature’s many wonders.
Great Campgrounds in Bridger-Teton National Forest
Can you think of anything better than camping among the mountains and wildlife near Yellowstone National Park? The serene beauty makes an idyllic camping spot, and here are our favorite campgrounds.
Found just off of Highway 26, Hatchet Campground is an ideal spot to stop for the night. It has nine units and is a great place to fish, hunt, and observe wildlife in the nearby rivers and natural habitats.
Visitors have spotted bears in the area, which is why there are bear boxes in this campground. Other amenities include access to water, single-unit vault toilets, and a dumpster for your trash.
Upper Teton View
If you want a remote location with spectacular views, Upper Teton View is the campground for you. Because it’s in the mountains, there’s access to exceptional hikes and walking trails.
For example, you can hike to Lake Solitude following a 16.5-mile trail through Cascade Canyon. Although a little long, this hike is totally worth a day trip because of its stunning views of the Grand Tetons at the end. It’s also a perfect location for boondocking because all the campsites are free.
But if you’re hoping to get a site at this national forest campground, it’s best to head up earlier in the week as they fill up on a first-come-first-served basis.
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Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho
Sawtooth National Forest is in gorgeous Idaho. It’s near Jerome, Idaho, and covers over two million acres. In 1891, Congress gifted this land to conservation efforts and for public use, and it continues to inspire even after 100 years.
A focal point of this national park is the Sawtooth Mountains, where one can camp and hike. It also includes Shoshone Falls, whose breathtaking views are always worth a day trip.
Great Campgrounds in Sawtooth National Forest
You’ll likely want to spend several days in these stunning Idaho mountains. To help you have a great trip, we recommend staying in one of these national forest campgrounds.
Stanley Lake Campground
Stanley Lake Campground has something for everybody as the public can boat, ski, canoe, kayak, and fish. This campground is above Stanley Lake and at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains, with an elevation of 6500 feet.
Composed of 19 campsites, Stanley Lake Campground sits amongst a grove of lodgepole pine trees. Most sites have views of Stanley Lake and McGowan Peak, with some sites having scenic overlooks for both these sites. You can reserve your spot online.
Glacier View Campground
Located north of Redfish Lake, Glacier View Campground has 64 campsites dotted along the lake shores. Hikes and walking trails abound in this area, so there’s something for the whole family. You can also enjoy the Fishhook Nature Trail, take a longer stroll through the Sawtooth Wilderness, or explore the nearby section of the Idaho Centennial Trail.
The water provides opportunities for boating, swimming, wading, canoeing, sailing, and fishing in the water. If you’re traveling with children, you’ll love the three small playgrounds spread throughout the campground. Reserve your site online.
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas
The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are actually two separate forests, each with its own unique features and biomes. The Ozark National Forest is in Northwestern Arkansas and covers over one million acres. The trees and greenery are truly spectacular, especially in the spring, where everything is in bloom. And the autumn is breathtaking with the warm reds, yellows, and oranges of the falling leaves.
St. Francis National Forest is considerably smaller, with just over 20,000 acres, and is on the eastern side of Arkansas. However, don’t let its small size fool you; the region has a lot to offer. You can experience the awe-inspiring majesty of the Mississippi River. Or view wildlife, hike on nature trails, and fish and play in the multiple bodies of water within its boundaries.
Great Campgrounds in Ozark-St. Francis National Forests
There are few opportunities as special as sleeping near the Mississippi River with the water lulling you to sleep at night and the sounds of birds waking you up each morning. We think you might enjoy staying at one of these national forest campgrounds.
Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park has 125 camping sites with 26 pull-through sites, 35 of which are for Class AAA, with 50-amp electrical, water, and sewer hookups. The remaining 90 sites are Class B sites with 30 amp electrical and water hookups. The campsite has four separate units, each containing a heated bath and shower house with flushable toilets. There’s also a reservable group site with a heated bathhouse.
Here’s a unique fact: Petit Jean State Park is also the only state park in Arkansas with its own airport. Pilots and aviators can camp in the fly-in campground with six tent sites.
Blanchard Springs Recreation Area
Blanchard Springs Recreation Area has so much to offer. Campers can hike to the waterfall at the origin of the Blanchard Springs, swim in the North Sylamore Creek, or hike through the Ozark woods. Individuals can also fish for Rainbow Trout at Mirror Lake.
Visitors can also take three tours at the Blanchard Springs Cavern: Dripstone Tour, Wild Cave Tour, and Discover Tour. (The Discovery Tour is only available during the summer.)
Plan Your Visit
In conclusion, national forests can be a fantastic source of activities and adventures that any camper can enjoy. And staying in national forest campgrounds can make access to those activities even easier.
Finding a wonderful national forest with a good campground can differentiate between a good camping trip and an unforgettable one.
Which national forest would you like to visit next? Drop a comment below.
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