Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide to Family Camping – From Backyard to Backcountry 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Family Camping – From Backyard to Backcountry 2024

Embarking on a family camping journey offers an opportunity to bond, explore, and learn about the natural world together. From the simplicity of a backyard campout to the adventurous terrains of the backcountry, camping as a family can cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. This guide presents 12 destinations that promise memorable experiences for families seeking leisure and adventure. Each location is chosen for its unique appeal, safety, and family-friendly amenities, ensuring that your camping trip enriches your family bond while fostering a deep appreciation for nature.

1. Yosemite National Park, California

Image Credit: Shutterstock / sixfournorth

Yosemite National Park is a quintessential family camping destination, offering breathtaking views of waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area. Families can enjoy various activities, from hiking trails suitable for all ages, engaging in ranger-led programs, and simply marveling at the park’s wonders, such as El Capitan and Half Dome. The park’s campgrounds provide various accommodations, from RV sites with full hookups to rustic tent sites, ensuring a comfortable stay for every camper.

Insider’s Tip: Secure a campsite reservation at the Lower Pines Campground for a chance to wake up to stunning views of Half Dome right from your tent. Book well in advance, as spots fill up quickly.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Yosemite for camping is late spring through early fall. May and September offer the most pleasant weather and thinner crowds.

How to Get There: Yosemite is accessible by car from nearby cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. The closest major airports are in San Francisco, San Jose, and Fresno, where you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to the park.

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Image Credit: Shutterstock / anthony heflin

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its diverse flora and fauna, ancient mountains, and Southern Appalachian mountain culture remnants. This UNESCO World Heritage site is an ideal camping destination for families, offering over 800 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and the chance to observe wildlife in their natural habitat. The park’s campgrounds are well-equipped and located near trailheads, visitor centers, and beautiful streams.

Insider’s Tip: For a unique experience, camp at Cades Cove to enjoy not only the stunning scenery but also the opportunity to spot wildlife such as deer, black bears, and wild turkeys. Arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best wildlife viewing.

When to Travel: Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are the best times to visit, offering mild weather, blooming flowers, and colorful autumn leaves.

How to Get There: The park is accessible by car from major cities like Asheville, NC, and Knoxville, TN. McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville and Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) are the nearest airports.

3. Acadia National Park, Maine

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Eric Urquhart

Acadia National Park, located on the rugged coast of Maine, is a haven for families seeking adventure and relaxation. The park features over 47,000 acres of Atlantic Coast recreation area, including rocky beaches, woodlands, and glacier-scoured granite peaks like Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. East Coast. Families can enjoy hiking, biking, and exploring tide pools, or take a scenic drive along the Park Loop Road.

Insider’s Tip: Book a campsite at Blackwoods Campground for easy access to the park’s most popular hiking trails and the scenic Ocean Path. Don’t miss the chance to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain – it’s the first place to see the sunrise in the U.S. from October to March.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Acadia is from late spring to early fall, with July and August being peak season. Visit in September for fewer crowds and beautiful fall foliage.

How to Get There: Acadia National Park is most directly accessible by car from Bangor, Maine, about an hour’s drive away. The closest airport is Bangor International Airport (BGR).

4. Glacier National Park, Montana

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vaclav Sebek

Glacier National Park, known as the “Crown of the Continent,” offers families over 700 miles of trails through pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 1,000 campsites across 13 campgrounds, the park caters to tent camping and RVs, providing a perfect backdrop for family adventures. Activities include hiking, boat tours, and seeing diverse wildlife.

Insider’s Tip: Stay at the Many Glacier Campground for close proximity to some of the park’s most scenic hikes and a high chance of spotting grizzly bears, moose, and other wildlife.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Glacier National Park for camping is July through September, when the Going-to-the-Sun Road is fully open, and most trails are snow-free.

How to Get There: Glacier National Park is accessible by car, with entrances at West Glacier and St. Mary. Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell and Missoula International Airport (MSO) are the nearest airports.

5. Zion National Park, Utah

Image Credit: Shutterstock / VivL

Zion National Park is a sanctuary of massive sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and stunning natural beauty. Families can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems along the Virgin River or hike trails ranging from easy walks to challenging adventures like The Narrows. The park’s campgrounds, Watchman and South Camp offer facilities close to nature and its main attractions, making it an ideal base for exploration.

Insider’s Tip: For families, the Pa’rus Trail offers an easy, paved path that is perfect for walking or biking and provides stunning views of the canyon. It’s also wheelchair accessible and pet-friendly.

When to Travel: Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are the best times to visit Zion National Park, offering pleasant weather and smaller crowds compared to the busy summer months.

How to Get There: Zion is accessible by car near Springdale, Utah. The nearest major airport is McCarran International in Las Vegas, Nevada, about three hours from the park.

6. Olympic National Park, Washington

Image Credit: Pexels / Robert Schrader

Olympic National Park offers an unparalleled diversity of ecosystems, from the rugged Pacific coastline to temperate rainforests and snow-capped mountains. Families can enjoy tide pooling, hiking through ancient forests, and exploring alpine meadows. The park’s campgrounds provide a range of tent and RV camping options, with many sites offering easy access to hiking trails and natural attractions.

Insider’s Tip: Stay at the Kalaloch Campground for direct access to the beach and the chance to spot whales from your campsite during migration seasons.

When to Travel: The best time to visit Olympic National Park is during the summer months (June to September) when all park areas are accessible, and the weather is most favorable for camping and hiking.

How to Get There: Olympic National Park is on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The nearest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), from which you can rent a car for the approximately two-hour drive to the park.

7. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bob Pool

Rocky Mountain National Park is a high-altitude paradise, offering families breathtaking mountain views, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and the chance to spot wildlife such as elk and bighorn sheep. The park’s varied ecosystems and easy access to trails make it a fantastic destination for families looking to introduce their children to the wonders of high-mountain camping.

Insider’s Tip: For a memorable experience, camp at Moraine Park Campground, where you’ll have stunning views of the mountains and meadows filled with wildflowers in the summer. Be sure to participate in a ranger-led program to learn more about the park’s wildlife and history.

When to Travel: The best time to visit is from June to September, when the weather is warm and the park’s high-altitude roads and trails are open.

How to Get There: The park is located near Estes Park, Colorado. The nearest airports are Denver International Airport (DEN) and Colorado Springs Airport (COS), both within a few hours’ drive of the park.

8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Image Credit: Shutterstock / sumikophoto

The Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, offers families an unforgettable camping experience with its awe-inspiring vistas and extensive outdoor activities. The park’s South Rim is home to several campgrounds that provide easy access to hiking trails, educational programs, and some of the most spectacular views in America.

Insider’s Tip: For a quieter experience, consider camping on the North Rim, which sees fewer visitors but offers equally stunning scenery and easier access to backcountry trails.

When to Travel: The South Rim is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) to avoid the summer crowds and heat.

How to Get There: The South Rim is about a 3.5-hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona, or Las Vegas, Nevada. The North Rim is more remote, with the nearest airports in Flagstaff, Arizona, and Las Vegas.

9. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Image Credit: Shutterstock / BlueBarronPhoto

Joshua Tree National Park is a desert wonderland that fascinates families with its unique rock formations, diverse wildlife, and iconic Joshua trees. The park offers several campgrounds, with activities ranging from rock climbing and hiking to stargazing in some of the clearest night skies in the West.

Insider’s Tip: Camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground for easy access to the park’s most interesting rock formations and hiking trails, suitable for all ages.

When to Travel: The best times to visit are during the cooler months from October to April, when the desert temperatures are more manageable for camping and exploration.

How to Get There: Joshua Tree is accessible by car and is a short drive from Palm Springs, California. The nearest major airport is Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).

10. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jon Bilous

Just a short drive from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park offers families a peaceful retreat into the Appalachian Mountains. The park features over 200,000 acres of protected lands that are a haven for deer, songbirds, and black bears. With over 500 miles of trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, families can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

Insider’s Tip: Stay at Big Meadows Campground for its central location, spacious sites, and proximity to the Byrd Visitor Center, where you can learn about the park’s history and wildlife.

When to Travel: Spring (May to June) for wildflowers and fall (September to November) for spectacular autumn colors are the best times to visit.

How to Get There: Shenandoah National Park is easily accessible by car via the Skyline Drive from Washington, D.C. The nearest airports are in Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville, Virginia.

11. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Likona milo

While not in the USA, Banff National Park in Canada is an accessible and stunningly beautiful destination for families looking to explore the Canadian Rockies. The park offers breathtaking mountain landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, and a variety of wildlife. Campgrounds are well-maintained, with options for tent and RV campers.

Insider’s Tip: Lake Louise Campground offers a secure location for families, with electric fences to keep wildlife out, and easy access to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

When to Travel: Summer (July and August) is peak season, offering warm weather and the best access to hiking trails. Late spring and early fall are quieter and offer beautiful scenery.

How to Get There: Banff is about a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary International Airport, with car rentals and shuttle services available.

12. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Image Credit: Shutterstock / CherylRamalho

As America’s first national park, Yellowstone offers families an unparalleled outdoor experience with its geothermal features, vast wildlife, and stunning landscapes. The park’s campgrounds and lodges provide a range of accommodations, from rustic to more comfortable options, all within easy reach of Yellowstone’s must-see attractions like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Insider’s Tip: Madison Campground is an excellent choice for a central location with easy access to many of the park’s highlights, offering a quieter alternative to some of the park’s busier sites.

When to Travel: The best time to visit is from late May to September when all park facilities and roads are accessible.

How to Get There: Yellowstone is accessible by car, with entrances in Wyoming and Montana. The nearest airports are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Bozeman, Montana, with car rental options available.

The Bottom Line

Image Credit: Pexels / Nicolette Attree

Exploring these twelve destinations offers a glimpse into the diverse beauty and adventure that family camping can provide. From the deserts of Joshua Tree to the mountains of Banff and the geysers of Yellowstone, each location promises a unique and memorable experience. As you plan your family’s camping journey, remember to embrace the adventure, respect nature, and cherish the time spent together in the great outdoors.

More From The Green Voyage

12 Best Practices for Sustainable Travel in 2024 – How to Travel With Minimal Environmental Impact

Unlocking Hotel Perks – A Traveler’s Guide to Maximizing Hotel Reward Programs for Optimal Benefits

Travel Hacks for Frequent Flyers – 6 Tips and Tricks to Make the Best of Air Travel

The post The Ultimate Guide to Family Camping – From Backyard to Backcountry 2024 first appeared on The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.