The USA has the great outdoors pretty well covered. There are hot summer trails through tropical climes, cloudless deserts to enjoy nights under the stars and mountainous overlooks perfect for pitching a tent with a view. If you’re planning an American holiday away from the urban, you’ll want to know some of the best campsites in the country. That’s where we come in.
Koke'e State Park Camping in Hawaii
There’s a saying in Hawaii that goes a'ohe pu'u ki'eki'e ke ho'a'o 'ia e pi'i – no cliff is so tall it cannot be climbed. And if pure perseverance isn’t enough, then the choice of hiking trails to the peaks over the Kalalau Valley will certainly help.
The lush and mountainous Kokeʻe State Park is located on the northernmost Hawaiian island of Kauai. There are dozens of trails of varying difficulty to choose from – but if you can handle a slightly steeper (and potentially muddier) hike, be sure to make your way up to the Kalalau Lookout.
There you'll discover one of the most impressive views on the island over the Na Pali coast, and one tip before you go: it's best to set off early in the morning before clouds get a chance to settle over the scene.
Just a short hike from the lookout, pitch up at the Koke'e State Park Campground, where sites are separated by ginger groves and food is available up until the early afternoon. The area also provides a 'Comfort Zone' with weather shelter, bathrooms, a cooking area and power outlets. Be sure to reserve your site ahead or book one of the cabins to rent nearby.
Make sure you bring…
- A camping permit – print this out and bring it with you as it will be checked upon arrival
- A variety of clothing – the weather is highly changeable and temperatures can drop rapidly at night
- A rainfly – to protect your tent and belongings
Glacier National Park Camping in Montana
Resting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the edge of the Canadian border, you'll find one of the most extraordinary natural areas in the USA in the heart of Montana. The Glacier National Park sits at the heart of the "Crown of the Continent", an area of protected land many millions of years old.
Here, wild animals wander through ancient mountain peaks, streams rush all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, and over 1,000 different species of plants line biking trails, boating rivers and ski slopes. Spend your days exploring the vast wilderness on your own, or take part in one of the guided tours or ranger activities that take place throughout the year.
Glacier National Park has 13 campsites to choose from. Apgar and Fish Creek are the two largest, and both offer basic amenities, nearby eateries and plenty of things to do throughout your stay – including nightly presentations from park rangers.
Make sure you bring...
- A campsite reservation – particularly during busier summer months
- Food storage boxes – to avoid visits from hungry critters
- Bear spray – in case of emergencies
Badlands National Park Camping in South Dakota
For eerie landscapes that transport you right into the heart of Bjork music videos and avant-garde art projects, look no further than the bizarre terrain of South Dakota's Badlands National Park. Not just an awesome name that conjures wild images in the mind’s eye, the old hunting grounds of sabre-toothed cats today draw fossil-hunters, hikers, and film crews from across the world.
Don’t worry too much about crossing paths with your fellow visitors though – Badlands has 370 square miles of wilderness to discover, from the lushest valleys to the dustiest buttes (a technical term, we promise). A car will help you explore the the wide variety of landscapes quickly, and there are plenty of hiking trails for all abilities when you arrive.
There are two campsites in Badlands that are open all year round, both providing basic amenities. Alternatively, backcountry camping is also allowed throughout the park. If you’re heading off the beaten track, your tent must be at least half a mile from any roads or trails and not visible from any park roads. Topographic maps are also recommended for anyone going off-route.
Make sure you bring...
- Water – around a pint per person for every hour of hiking
- Sturdy boots – to protect against cacti
- Hot and cold weather clothing – for changeable desert climes
Glacier Bay National Park Camping in Alaska
One part science lab, one part modern-world escape, the Glacier Bay National Park (not to be confused with our earlier entry in Montana) is the spot for any Blue Planet lovers out there. Share your holiday spotting incredible wildlife, including harbour seals, humpback whales and grizzly bears (from a safe distance of course); gazing at towering icebergs and exploring deeply coloured glades, all within a protected area and designated World Heritage Site.
As well as travellers hiking, boating and driving their way through this inspiring wilderness, you might spot a scientist or two monitoring one of the many studies happening in the area. Because of Alaska’s remote and difficult terrain, guided tours are advised for less experienced visitors.
Once you’ve finished your day’s exploring, pitch up at the Bartlett Cove Campground. The site has basic facilities and is only accessible by foot from the nearby parking lot, but the peaceful soundscape of songbirds and feeding whales will make you want to stay forever.
Make sure you bring...
- Appropriate clothes and footwear – prepare for coastal temperate rainforest conditions and near-freezing evenings
- Bear spray – just in case the locals get friendly
The Best Vehicle for a USA Camping Holiday
Most cars in the Alamo fleet will easily handle the drive to these USA campsites, but for roads less travelled, a 4-wheel drive SUV is ideal. These are better equipped to deal with changeable weather, muddy roads and steep terrains. Please note: neither off-road driving nor trailers are permitted with an Alamo Rent A Car vehicle.
If you're ready to start your next adventure, hire a car with Alamo today!