Camping in National Park

Camping can be a rewarding experience, no matter where you are. However, camping in national parks is one of the best ways to experience the great outdoors, because national parks offer the most options. You can also find a campsite to fit any budget. These options range from full-service campgrounds with all the facilities you need for wilderness camping with no facilities whatsoever.

When planning your camping trip, you must know that there are two types of campgrounds. There are those that accept reservations and those that are operated on a first-come, first served basis. Those that accept reservations are a little more expensive than the first-come, first served campgrounds.   However, on a big weekend such as Memorial Day, you may want to make a reservation, because you may not find a campsite in a first-come, first served campground. In this article, I will explain everything I mentioned in this paragraph in detail. No matter which option you choose, cheap campsites can be found.

Full-Service Campgrounds With All the Facilities

These campgrounds are perfect for the family outing. They have full bath facilities complete with sinks, toilets, and showers. They also have electric power hookups as well as a camp store. Some of them even have an amphitheater where you can watch a show or a clubhouse where they hire DJ’s or live bands for you partying and dancing pleasure. There are usually quiet hours starting at 10:00 and pets are required to be on a leash. They also offer three options for camping (some, not all). There are cabins for those who do not want to set up anything. There is almost always an RV area for those that do not mind some set up (such as hooking up the RV to get electric power) but don’t like to camp in tents. Then there is tent camping for those that really like the outdoors, but want all the amenities that these campgrounds offer. I am going to stick to tent camping for the purposes of this article.

Back Country Camping With Limited Facilities

These campsites are great for those that want to be a little rowdy without having to deal with quiet hours.   However, the facilities are very limited.   You may just have an outhouse.   However, some of these have a small building with a single shower, a toilet, and a sink.   Every year, I camp in a place where you have to drive 1/2 mile to the closest bath house.   That doesn’t bother me, because I am not one for observing any kind of quiet hours when I am camping.   If the site has more than just an outhouse, these sites are also perfect for a romantic experience alone with your girlfriend or wife without your neighbor being a few feet away from you.   You do need a permit for this type of camping.   Each park has its own rules for getting this permit.   Sometimes it is as simple as filling out a form on the day of arrival.   Other times, you have to apply for it months in advance.   In the latter, it is all about timing.   Always plan ahead, or you could be left out in the cold.

Wilderness camping with no facilities

This type of camping is perfect for the all-out adventurer from the kayaker to the backpacker.   However, you must never travel alone.   It is always a good idea to have at least one other person with you to go for help.   Both of you should be CPR certified in case of an accident that renders one of you unconscious.   If there is more than two of you, only a couple of you need this certification.   This ensures that everybody has a high expectancy of coming back alive.   Nothing is ever 100%, but the chances are better than average. You also need a permit for this type of camping.

How To Make Reservations?

The best way to make a reservation is through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).   Through the NRRS, you can make reservations for the USDA Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation outdoor recreation facilities and activities.   You can reserve individual campsites up to 240 days in advance, cabins (booking window varies from 180, 240 and 360 days in advance), Alaska cabins up to 180 days in advance and group facilities up to 360 days in advance.

You can make reservations online at or by calling NRRS at 877-444-6777.  If you do not want to make a reservation, you can take your chances at one of the many first-come, first-served campgrounds.   Remember, this can be a tough way to go if you are planning your trip on a big weekend.   You may end up staying in a hotel if you can even get a room there. What a bummer. At any rate, camping in national parks is really the best way to enjoy the camping experience.   However, sometimes you have got to plan in advance, or you could be left out in the cold.