Best Scenic Campground (2015)


At their most basic, campgrounds offer a place to rest up in the great outdoors – whether in a state or national park, national forest or recreation area. But some campgrounds offer something even better: a view!

  • Chisos Basin

    Chisos Basin
    Big Bend National Park

    The Chisos Basin Campground in Texas is one of the area’s most popular campgrounds among hikers, due to its great location with easy access to some of the Big Bend National Park’s best trails and the proximity to the Rio Grande. Hit the Pinnacles Trail, which will take you to the park’s highest peak, although the views back in camp aren’t lacking. Tall, dramatic cliffs dotted with aspens and pine trees frame this 60-site campsite. Beyond hiking, explore the river and look for wildlife, especially birds.
    Photo courtesy of Joshua Honeycutt / Flickr

  • Okefenokee Canoe Shelters

    Okefenokee Canoe Shelters
    Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

    Go camping in the swamp, at this unusual campsite in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. The refuge itself features a handful of different overnight options, including special, private platforms built to keep your tent off the marshy ground (and away from the gators). By day, cruise the swamp in a canoe, take a car tour down Swamp Island Drive, go hiking, grab the binoculars for spectacular bird-watching and spend quality time in barely touched, pristine wilderness and solitude.
    Photo courtesy of Joy Campbell / Okefenokee Adventures

  • Oceanside

    Assateague Island National Seashore

    The Assateague Island National Seashore is a popular destination, known for its many wild horses and great outdoor activities, but it’s not easy necessarily easy camping. The Oceanside campgrounds (there are three: the drive-in for tents, trailers and vehicles; the walk-in for tents; and backcountry camping options) are located on a large sand barrier island , where weather can be pretty hardcore and windy. But the views can’t be beat. Not to mention the unique opportunity to live among the wild horses on the beach.
    Photo courtesy of Mrs. Gemstone / Flickr

  • Arch Rock

    Arch Rock
    Valley of Fire State Park

    Petrified wood, thousand-year-old petroglyphs and primitive campsites await at the Arch Rock Campground, in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park. This state park is Nevada’s biggest and oldest, and it gives visitors a glimpse into ancient history. The year-round campground is near Atlatl Rock, with some of the best views of sandstone formations in the park. Go hiking, pack a picnic or learn more at the visitor center, before retreating to the 29 sites tucked amid the tall rocks.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Garden Key

    Garden Key
    Dry Tortugas National Park

    Remote island camping, amid coral reefs, clear water and sand in a 19th-century fort, is what you get when you stay in the Garden Key Campground in Florida’s Dry Tortuga’s National Park. There are no resorts or restaurants here, and the seven small islands of the park are only accessible via boat or plane. Just Florida wilderness, sea life and sunshine, so come fully prepared. Garden Key is small, with just 10 sites. Go snorkeling, grill dinner and leave no trace when you leave.
    Photo courtesy of Joe Parks / Wikimedia Commons

  • White Tank

    White Tank
    Joshua Tree National Park

    If a visit to the renowned Joshua Tree is on your bucket list, sleep under the remote stars in the national park’s White Tamp Campground. No need to get extreme. This campground is accessible by car, but it tends to be quieter than other pockets of the park. Sites present awe-inspiring views of the rocks, but there are only 15 places to camp. This California park boasts more than a half a million acres of nature to explore.
    Photo courtesy of Joshua Tree National Park

  • Twelvemile Beach

    Twelvemile Beach
    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    Twelvemile Beach, at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, is the perfect place to pop up a tent near Lake Superior. With only 36 campsites, complete with a picnic area, these sandy spots book out quickly. Aside from visiting the lake, campers can go for a day hike along the short White Birch Interpretive Trail loop. Twelvemile Beach is also a great place to stop along the North Country National Scenic Trail, the longest hiking path in the nation, from New York to North Dakota. The trail cuts right through this campground.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • North Rim

    North Rim
    Grand Canyon National Park

    Why visit the Grand Canyon when you can stay here? Find designated RV and tent campgrounds in the Grand Canyon National Park on the North Rim. This is the less busy, more rustic region of the park, where visitors are more likely to run in to wildlife and can escape the crowds on scenic trails. Take a bike through the forest on the Bridle Trail, or walk to the visitor center via the Transept Trail. The campsites are popular and often filled, so plan in advance.
    Photo courtesy of NPS Photo by Michael Quinn

  • Tuolumne Meadows

    Tuolumne Meadows
    Yosemite National Park

    The Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is high-country camping at its best, and the Tuolumne Meadows Campground is a nearby favorite place to set up camp. Here, lulled by the Tuolumne River and colored by wildflowers, campers enjoy rock climbing, fishing and hiking. The campgrounds is located near trails, waterfalls, sweeping meadows and geological wonders. Bring your camera, and beware of bears. Take a guided bus tour if you want to learn more about the region.
    Photo courtesy of Steve Dunleavy / Wikimedia Commons

  • Watchman

    Zion National Park

    If you can’t get enough of the Zion National Park by day, stay overnight at the on-site Watchman Campground. These year-round sites are close to the visitors’ center and shuttles, which take you to the famous Zion Canyon, a half-mile-deep,15-mile-long dramatic, sandstone valley. Zion National Park in Utah still contains paths and signs of its ancient inhabitants, and the many birds, animals and plants that thrive there today make it a popular tourist destination. The campground itself is nestled below tall red cliffs with access to the river.
    Photo courtesy of NPS Photo/Sarah Stio

We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to vote daily for their favorite scenic campground in the nation, and after four weeks of voting, the polls are closed and we have a winner!

Located in Big Bend National Park in Texas, Chisos Basin took home the title of Best Scenic Campground thanks to its great location with easy access to some of the park's best trails.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Scenic Campground are as follows:

  1. Chisos Basin - Big Bend National Park
  2. Okefenokee Canoe Shelters - Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
  3. Oceanside - Assateague Island National Seashore
  4. Arch Rock - Valley of Fire State Park
  5. Garden Key - Dry Tortugas National Park
  6. White Tank - Joshua Tree National Park
  7. Twelvemile Beach - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  8. North Rim - Grand Canyon National Park
  9. Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite National Park
  10. Watchman - Zion National Park

Additional nominees for Best Scenic Campground included Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park, Gallo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Haena Beach Park in Kauai, Jedediah Smith in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Kayenta in Dead Horse Point State Park, Kirk Creek in Los Padres National Forest, Sage Creek Primitive in Badlands National Park, Salmon River in Sawtooth National Forest, White River in Mount Rainier National Park and Wonder Lake in Denali National Park.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

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Larry Bleiberg

Larry Bleiberg

Larry Bleiberg

Lydia Schrandt

Lydia Schrandt

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