Here Are Some of the Best Spots for Camping on a Road Trip Across the West
FOR THOSE OF US GROWING UP IN THE EAST, driving west across the Rockies — and on across to the Pacific — is the one of the all time classics. Part of what makes the western road trip so great is the epic camping options.
Over the last several weeks, as thousands of new users have started adding spots to Matador’s new app, travelstoke®. we’ve been amazed at how many “secret spots” and exceptionally good places people are adding, and so we created the following list of camping spots to hit on future western road trips.
Many of the places mentioned such as Rainbow Lakes near Nederland, Colorado or Madison Junction in Yellowstone, are actual campgrounds. Other spots, like Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, are like “arteries” to all kinds of backcountry camping options. And still other places, such as the Badlands, are more general areas which deserved inclusion simply because they’re such unique places to camp.
Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips, and see you out on the road.
Lewis Lake Campground
Lewis Lake CampgroundYellowstone National Park, United StatesGreat campground in #yellowstone $12 a night – an hour to #oldfaithful and two hours to #bison and popular areas – oftentimes open for walk ins during high season #lake access
Tuolumne Meadows CampgroundTuolumne County, United StatesTuolumne Meadows Campground was the best!!! And the meadow just up the road was a sick spot for a sunset picnic!! #camping
Fortytwo Mile CampgroundTwin Bridges, United StatesTwin Bridges is my favorite area in the Tahoe region. It’s got a small town vibe, and is short on amenities, but if you’re looking for a place to get away from the resort mentality of the nearby towns and get into the woods this is the place to go.
Second BeachForks, United StatesThis is one of my favorite places to camp In Washington. The hike is less than two miles out so it was always easy to get to on a whim for me. Best sunsets of my life have been here. You can camp anywhere on the beach and though it can be busy in the summers you can just keep walking down the beach til you find some privacy. Beach camping is my favorite because the sand is comfy, the ocean is the best noise to fall asleep to and driftwood lights a hell of a lot easier than any other wood you’ll find in Olympic national park. #hiking #camping
BadlandsWyandotte, United StatesWonderful hiking and sightseeing. You just have to go to experience it. #hiking
Going-To-The-Sun RoadBrowning, United StatesIf you ever find yourself in Glacier National Park (which you should right now considering it’s quickly melting away), don’t skimp on the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road. The 50-mile stretch is supposed to take about 2 hours without stopping, but who are we kidding? You’re going to stop. A lot.
Trail Ridge RoadEstes Park, United StatesThis is the highest paved road in all the US national parks, stretching from one end of the park to the other. If you’re up for some crazy altitude adjustments, you shouldn’t miss this scenic drive. #scenic
Rainbow Lakes CampgroundNederland, United StatesRainbow Lakes.. Serene. Wild. Spectacular. Yessss!
Arapaho PassNederland, United States#hiking #camping #moose #backpacking #elk
Madison Junction CampgroundYellowstone National Park, United StatesCamping at Madison campground is the perfect location to discover bison right at your doorstep.
Take a 1 minute walk to Madison River, perfect for photography opportunities for landscape and wildlife.
The campground has flushable toilets and potable water.
It’s a great location and perfect for families.
#camping #hiking #photography #wildlife #yellowstone #familyfriendly #adventure #vacation #nationalpark
Jenny LakeAlta, United StatesOne of the best places to experience the Grand Tetons. Jenny Lake is a glacial lake, but not freezing. #hiking
Mike Harris CampgroundVictor, United StatesNice #cheap campsite on the border of Idaho and Wyoming- a great place to stop on your way to #yellowstone
Great Sand Dunes National Park and PreserveSaguache County, United StatesDid you know the tallest sand dunes in North America are in Colorado? This place has massive dunes surrounded by snowy mountains and glacial waterfalls — just be sure to bring your adrenaline to climb up 750 feet of sand. #hiking
Tusas Ridge RoadTres Piedras, United StatesCamping in the undeveloped grounds of Tres Piedras, New Mexico. Absolute solitude. #hiking #camping #extreme
Elfin LakesWhistler, CanadaA spectacular hike to Elfin Lakes take about 2-3 hours and leads to 2 lakes one of them for drinking and the other one for swimming. There is a spacious cabin there to spend the night and lots of tenting platforms. From there you can explore further and go onto more hikes in the Garibaldi Park. Absolutely spectacular hike and relatively easy/moderate too! #hiking #camping
Mount Rainier National ParkAshford, United StatesThere is no other mountain (actually a dormant volcano!) in the Pacific Northwest as majestic as Rainier. Just a few hours drive from Seattle – Rainier is perfect for a day trip or a full on summit expedition. #hiking #camping #climbing #nationalpark
Ozette RiverClallam Bay, United StatesAnother Olympic coast gem. Most people do the “Ozette triangle” hiking to Cape Alava, south along the beach to Sand Point then back inland. If you want to do something different hike out to Cape Alava then go north. You can hike all along the coast to the famous Point of the Arches near Shi Shi and have less people than both Cape Alava and Shi Shi. We camped at the mouth of the Ozette river and planned to day hike to point of the arches the next day but the whisky that was supposed to last us two nights only lasted us one and we woke up late; right in time for high tide and couldn’t cross the river for hours (bring a watch and tide chart. And easy on the whiskey. Duh) It was still wonderful sitting by the river and beach and watching the otters play in the river all day though #hiking #beach #camping
Lost Lake ResortCascade Locks, United StatesA sweet view of Mount Hood reflecting on the lake? Check. Tent sites, cabins and a general store? Yup, it’s all here. I’ll be back… #mountain #lakes #camping #hiking #photoop
Kolob CanyonsNew Harmony, United StatesEvery time I drive by I pull into Kolob Canyon. It’s the back side of Zion National Park, accessed by a separate entrance. This view never gets old! #hiking #photography #climbing
Watchman Peak Trail, Crater LakeKlamath County, United StatesCamped at Mazama Campgrounds in the park, woke up and drove to the ten and trekked the trail for sunrise. Magical.
Lovers Leap CampgroundTwin Bridges, United StatesLovers Leap is the premier climbing spot in Tahoe, routes here go for 3-4 pitches and the hike in is minimal. A really great 5.10b route is Surrealistic Pillar, and if that’s a bit over your head you can do the 5.7 next to it that shares anchors and top rope it. That is, only if people aren’t lining up to lead it.
Little Lakes Valley Trailhead (Gem Lakes)Bishop, United StatesGreat short hike to #BoxLake in #LittleLakes valley #Inyo #nationalpark
We camped here two nights, caught lots of fish and were blown away by the good weather and great views.
Yosemite National ParkMariposa County, United States#Nature #hiking #extreme #camping #wildlife
Joshua Tree National ParkRiverside County, United StatesOne of the best rock climbing areas, and one of the more novel National Parks. Joshua tree is 2 hours from Los Angles and is a great way to see the landscape as it was before the urban sprawl.
#hiking #extreme #camping #rockclimbing #photography #adventure
Big SurBig Sur, United StatesBig Sur has a few hotels and motels, and a few amazing campgrounds. I recommend the Fernwood Lodge, or Andrew Molera State Park, but If your goal is to find your own site where you can be alone, there are options for the motivated adventurer. The secrecy of these places is important in order to keep them private, and to make sure they remain uncrowded. You’ll need 4WD, self sufficiency, and to keep your eyes open to find the hidden roads which head up into the mountains. If you do find one of these places, you’ll be rewarded with the best views in Big Sur. #bigsur #camping #adventure #accessbigsur