Truth be told, camping isn’t always a wonderful escape. How often does the great outdoors look strangely like a car park in a farmer’s muddy field? Your sense of peace and seclusion slowly evaporated by the screaming children in the tent next door, and the couple across the way arguing over a forgotten can opener. Well, before you give up hope and vow to go all-inclusive next year, why not let these five incredible campsites in the USA inspire you.
Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
Dominating most of eastern Tennessee and the border with North Carolina, the Cherokee National Forest offers just over 650,000 acres of pure freedom. With eleven official wilderness areas over two districts around the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, camping is permitted anywhere unless clearly marked as prohibited. Campers are simply asked not to pitch within 100 feet of water, trails or developed recreation areas, and must observe a ‘leave no trace’ policy at all times. No fees are charged or permits required. Liberty!
Tonsina Point, Alaska
Along the shore of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, this remote location is as far from the crowds as you can imagine. Just south of the small community of Seward, reaching Tonsina Point can be as exhilarating as the stay itself, as campers embark on a 3 mile trek along the beach, or for those that are less confident, a water taxi offers more straightforward access. The reward for those willing to make the effort is the true Alaskan wilderness experience, and the freedom to pitch your tent among the woods or on the beachfront itself.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan
With black bears wandering curiously amongst the trees and peregrine falcons circling overhead, this state park is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Towering ancient forests, wide rivers and secluded lakes, with 59,000 acres, getting away from civilisation is not difficult. Trailside camping is permitted throughout, provided that pitches are at least a mile from any cabins, shelters, scenic areas or roads. Why not hike west along the shore of Lake Superior, and after striking camp, take advantage of what has been described as the best skinny dipping site in the USA!
Kalalua Beach, Hawaii
Situated on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, Kalalua Beach is the real deal of secluded camp sites. This beautiful stretch of sand is only accessible by one of the most difficult hikes on the Hawaiian Islands, the 11 mile Kalalua trail. So remote is this beach that campers are obliged to carry their own supplies with them, supplemented along the route by a natural buffet of wild mangoes, guava and passion fruit. Even in paradise though, not everything is free, and permits do cost $10 per person per night. It is also important to think about your water supply as this is one campsite where you most certainly will not find it on tap!
Kalaloch Campground, Washington
More of a conventional campsite, Kalaloch is on my list more for its breath taking location overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The occasionally-present fog and mist along the Washington coastline still offer a sense of seclusion, and add to the otherworldly atmosphere. After a stroll along the beach below the campsite, Kalaloch Lodge is close by to the north, offering a restaurant and warm refreshments. This combination of scenery and facilities lends the site perfectly to small group tours as much as to individual and family travel. Permits cost from $14-18 depending on the time of year, and reservations are permitted no more than 6 months in advance.