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Camping in the mountains
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Camping & RVs

Staying in the great outdoors in the USA

The United States offers a wealth of camping experiences including federal- and state- operated campgrounds with amenities like showers and playgrounds, as well as private campgrounds with swimming pools, Wi-Fi and convenience stores. The bulk of campgrounds across the country are federally managed facilities in national forests, national parks and waterways.

If camping in an RV or tent isn’t your thing, cabins, yurts and fire lookout towers provide a unique opportunity to stay in historic facilities and awe-inspiring locations on federal lands. Many are open year-round and provide an authentic experience in the forests and parks, surrounded by wildlife viewing opportunities, bountiful recreation and landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. 

Reservations and information for federally managed campgrounds, cabins, yurts and fire lookout towers are available on Recreation.gov. Please read each facility’s description carefully to understand the amenities that are provided so you can be prepared and fully enjoy your stay.   

Camping in National Forests, National Parks and on Other Federal Lands:

  • Family and Individual Campgrounds: Available for reservations up to six months in advance (with some exceptions like Yosemite National Park), these RV and tent campgrounds typically accommodate six to eight people per campsite. Amenities may include showers, flush toilets, RV hookups (water and electricity), drinking water, playgrounds, ranger-led educational programs, convenience stores, picnic tables, firewood and campfire rings. Some of these facilities may offer more basic amenities with just toilets, picnic tables and campfire rings.

  • Group Campgrounds: If you’re traveling with a group of people, consider a group campground. These facilities typically accommodate groups of 25 or more and can be reserved up to 12 months in advance. Campgrounds often offer picnic shelters, large kitchen or barbecue areas, tables, campfire rings, toilets, electricity and drinking water. Most group campgrounds can accommodate both RVs and tents. 

Cabins, Yurts and Fire Lookout Towers on Federal Lands:

  • Cabins and Yurts: Filled with rustic charm and surrounded by beauty, these special facilities can be reserved up to six months in advance. Maybe the simple lines of a yurt surrounded by pine trees appeals to you. These circular domed tents come in many different styles and sizes. If opting for a cabin or yurt, you’ll likely need to provide your own bedding, food and cooking supplies.

  • Fire Lookout Towers: Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras. The views from these structures provide an experience like no other. Before modern day wildfire detection systems were put in place, lookouts were built for the purpose of providing people a vantage point from which to spot wildfires in the forest. In fact, some forests still use these lookouts for their original intention. It’s worth the effort to rent and reach these secluded peak-top cabins. Sitting high atop the mountains, with 360-degree views, allows you to experience the entire landscape. Visitors must bring their own supplies and pack out what is left, including trash. Lookouts are often isolated and without easy access to services. They are generally not stocked with water, bedding, cooking supplies, toilet paper or similar necessities.

In addition to national campgrounds, there are thou