1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Why It’s Cool: Maine is known as the Pine Tree State for a reason: It’s covered in 17 million acres of forest. Plus it has 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams—basically a camper’s paradise. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the ideal destination for nature lovers of all skill levels.
Where to Camp: The park has three campgrounds: Blackwoods (closer to the island’s town center, Bar Harbor), Seawall (a more rustic, less touristy environment), and Schoodic Woods (surrounded by water on the Schoodic Peninsula).
When It’s Open: Blackwoods campground is open year-round (permit required December to March). Seawall is open from late May through September. Schoodic is open from late May until Columbus Day.
Cost: Blackwoods costs $30 per site per night from May to October, $15 in April and November, and is free December to March. Seawall and Schoodic will set you back $22 for a walk-in site, plus $8 to $18 for drive-up tent, camper, and motor home sites.
2. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for a more rustic experience in the Northeast, the White Mountains are your best bet.The sights here are particularly stunning in the fall when the foliage turns shades of red, orange, and yellow.
Where to Camp: While the forest does have 24 drive-in campgrounds (with a combined 800 campsites—wowza!), the eight walk-in state park campgrounds in the northern part of the state are where it’s at. Developed campsites require reservations. Backcountry tent camping is also allowed
When It’s Open: Forest accessible year-round. Visitor center hours vary.
Cost: Daily passes to the park are available for $3; seven-day passes for $5.Campsites vary from $18 to $24 per night, while backcountry tent camping is free.
3. Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont
Why It’s Cool: Vermont’s Long Trail is one of the Green Mountain National Forest’s biggest draws, so try finding a camping spot close by to hike a portion of it during your stay. Aside from being stunning, the 270-plus miler is the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S.! It follows the ridge of the Green Mountains through Vermont from the Massachusetts border to Canada.
Where to Camp: The forest offers five developed campgrounds. There are no electrical hookups or dump stations, so arrive prepared.
When It’s Open: Year-round. Visitor center and campground accessibility vary by season, but at least one campground is always open.
Cost: There are no entrance fees, and most campsites are free too. The maintains about 70 campsites along the Long Trail, all with a water source and privy (which require a small fee in summer and fall).
4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Why It’s Cool:A stunning getaway is just 75 miles away. The park contains more than 500 miles of trails, some leading to magnificent viewpoints or waterfalls, and others through miles of quiet, peaceful wilderness. The eight-mile hike to is the toughest route in the park.
Where to Camp: The park’s four campgrounds are open in spring, summer, and fall. Reservations at any site are recommended, but some first-come-first-serve spots may be available.
When It’s Open: Year-round. Portions of road are closed during bad weather and at night during deer-hunting season (mid-November through early January). Visitor services are typically open only March to November.
Cost: Entrance fee is $20 per vehicle and valid for seven days.
5. Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York
Why It’s Cool: Located just 94 miles north of New York City, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve is the perfect escape for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Featuring 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike, or simply enjoy, it’s home to natural rock formations, several waterfalls, three crystal clear lakes, densely wooded forests, sheer cliffs, and ledges opening onto breathtakingly beautiful views.every inch of this place is ‘grammable. Plus you can try horseback riding or technical rock climbing.
Where to Camp: The tent-only campground includes a pavilion and cooking area, bathhouse, restroom facilities, and trails. There are 24 drive-in spots (one vehicle per site) and 26 walk-in spots. All sites accommodate up to two tents (and four people) per pad, so reservations are a good idea.
When It’s Open: Camping is open mid-May through mid-November, weather permitting.
Cost: Nonmembers pay $38; Mohonk Preserve members pay $24.