Marked by jagged black rocks and oozing molten lava, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boasts a notoriously rugged landscape. So it might come as a surprise just how cushy the camping experience can be here. In addition to 16 tent campsites tucked into a grassy eucalyptus grove, Namakanipaio Campground offers 10 A-frame cabins, which reopened last August after a complete renovation. But don’t let the relative luxury fool you: The campground is still close to the action, only a half-mile walk from Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u Crater, the home of Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes. $15 for tent camping, $55 for cabins, reservations can be made at hawaiivolcanohouse.com
By Nicholas DeRenzo
The Active Times
There’s no magic formula to finding the perfect national park campground. But with 59 parks to choose from spread across wildly different terrains, there’s certainly one to suit every taste.
You might be the kind of traveler who values proximity to the action, who wants to roll out of your tent and be within immediate hiking distance of waterfalls, canyons, geysers and mountain trails. Or maybe you’re heading to the parks with one very specific goal in mind: to catch a trout, to see a wolf, to spy a rare kind of bird only found in these parts, to summit the tallest mountain. Perhaps you’re a more seasoned camper who has already checked off every national park bucket list item and simply wants to find seclusion, privacy, peace and quiet. Or, then again, maybe you’re brand new to the world of camping and you wouldn’t settle for anything less than the relative luxury of a newly renovated cabin or cottage.
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The truth is, finding the best campgrounds is more of an art than a science. From Alaska to the Virgin Islands, Hawaii to Maine, we’ve collected some of our favorites. And we think we’ve hit the sweet spot—between rugged and comfortable, between off-the-beaten-path and accessible, between popular and underexplored.
One goal we always had in mind was to find those campgrounds that best deliver on the promise of the particular national park. If we’re looking for a place to stay in the Grand Canyon, for example, we want canyon views. If we’re pitching a tent in Denali, why not do so in the shadow of the park’s namesake peak? And at a place like Hawaii Volcanoes, we want to be as close to the geological action as possible.
Be sure to tell us if we’ve missed one of your favorites. Or perhaps you’re one of those happy campers who wants to keep your hidden gem truly hidden!
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