Forget what you may have heard—camping isn’t just an activity for the summer months. No matter what time of year, rustic escapes around America welcome travelers, along with their tents and RVs, for nights of roasted marshmallows, cookouts, and campfire songs in some of the country’s most spectacular locales. Turn off your cell phone, take a deep breath of fresh air, and plan an off-season excursion to one of these year-round campgrounds. —Zachary Laks
Devils Garden Campground
WHERE: Arches National Park, Utah
One of America’s natural wonders, Arches National Park, is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Formed by erosion from a salt bed below the ground, the arches accentuate the desert landscape with a majestic orange glow best viewed at sunrise. With a 50-person limit at the campsites for personal tents and some RV lots, Devils Garden Campground, situated 18 miles in to the park, requires reservations up to six months in advance for March through October. From November to February, the sites are limited and available on a self-serve basis. At night, the moon’s glow brings a glimmer to the hollow arches, set amidst the La Sal Mountains, creating a mystical setting for evening stargazing.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Arches National Park Travel Guide
WHERE: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Cozy up in the comfortably outfitted cabins of Namakanipaio Campground as the lava illuminates the night sky in the near distance. Namakanipaio offers a rare chance to enjoy recreational activities as well as relaxation steps away from active volcanoes. The solidified lava rock, resembling shiny tar, stretches throughout the park in wild formations that make for unique hiking opportunities. Trails throughout the park showcase the natural beauty that grows from the active volcanoes, with wild orchids and red lehua flowers native to Hawaii. The campground offers 10 cabins (with wifi), tent and camping equipment rental, and well as campsites for the DIY set.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Big Island Travel Guide
Yosemite Pines RV Resort
WHERE: Yosemite National Park
On the western edge of Yosemite National Park sits the Yosemite Pines RV Resort, where rustic cabins, ample RV spots, and tent sites make up a multifaceted year-round resort. A swimming pool, sand volleyball court, and a playground for children highlight the woodsy campground set about 30 minutes from a main entrance to Yosemite. The cabins range in quality based on price, with the premium cabins offering well-appointed wooden abodes that have modern amenities, such as TVs, full kitchens, and accommodations for larger families. Yosemite Pines RV Camp stands out for its variety of lodging options, cleanliness, and picturesque evergreen mountain backdrop.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Yosemite Travel Guide
Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area
WHERE: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona
The calming and peaceful Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area on the eastern end of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest provides a great opportunity to disconnect from the rat race. At 6,300 feet above sea level, the 800-acre recreation area and 150-acre lake have long been a treasured spot for fishing, swimming, boating, and bird watching. Look to the sky for bald eagles, blue heron, and red-tailed hawks as they soar over the 100-foot pine trees. With ample space for RVs (92 sites) and tents (31 sites), the campground makes for a welcome retreat, letting the natural splendor of the area take center stage.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Arizona Travel Guide
Rock Island State Park
WHERE: Rock Island, Tennessee
Set in central Tennessee near the cascading waterfalls of The Caney Fork River Gorge, Rock Island State Park is a year-round river oasis. The whitewater sections of the river here are challenging and intense, attracting professional kayakers from around the world. The lively gorges of the area link to great hiking trails, nine in total, with many opportunities for swimming, fishing, and skipping rocks. There are 10 cabins run by the Tennessee State Parks commission on site, which are well-crafted and maintained, as well as 60 campsites.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Tennessee Travel Guide
Ash Grove Mountain
WHERE: Brevard, North Carolina
Dupont State Forest in western North Carolina is a lesser-known natural reserve optimized for a romantic winter weekend getaway. The four quaint cabins at Ash Grove Mountain Cabins & Camping have satellite TVs, full kitchens, and fireplaces—perfect for staying in on a brisk winter’s eve. Look for Brevard’s white squirrels scampering about the many creeks and gorges as they camouflage themselves with the snow. Come summer, the popular natural Sliding Rock, a 60-foot smooth rock waterfall slide, is the most thrilling way to enter the river for a swim. With sites for both tents and smaller RVs, Ash Grove Mountain is a small gem in the forest.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s North Carolina Travel Guide
Hot Springs National Park
WHERE: Hot Springs, Arkansas
The thermal hot springs of the Ouachita Mountains are centralized throughout downtown Hot Springs, designated as Hot Springs National Park, America’s smallest national park. For 200 years, the natural baths have been sought out for their healing abilities and relaxation. Two historic bathhouses built in the nineteenth century, The Buckstaff and Quapaw, can be found in the center of town. Stop by the Fordyce Bathhouse for a tour of the history of the springs and the area’s rise. The low-touch campsites at the nearby Gulpha Gorge Campground are available without reservations.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Arkansas Travel Guide
Joshua Tree National Park
WHERE: Joshua Tree, California
Natural quirk and character sprout up from the desert floor throughout the 800,000 acres of Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua trees, the park’s namesake, dot the landscape with wildly twisted branches topped with prickly blossoms. The best part about camping in the park is the sunrise, as the trees’ silhouettes take dramatic form in the early morning rays. Rock climbing is a popular sport among the boulders, as well as mountain biking and hiking. With a total of nine campgrounds, there are hundreds of sites available each night for tents and RVs.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Joshua Tree National Park Travel Guide
Long Key State Park
WHERE: Long Key, Florida
One of the Florida Keys’ many gems, Long Key State Park offers the rare chance to pitch a tent on the sandy beaches off the Atlantic coast. The park’s 60 campsites are all ocean-side, providing the best possible sunrises and sounds of the sea to lull you to sleep each night. Spend the day in the ocean with kayaks and canoes that are available for rent, swimming in designated areas, snorkeling, as well as fishing for dinner (state licenses are required for saltwater fishing). Reservations for the sites can be made up to 11 months in advance, and they tend to go quickly, so be sure to plan ahead.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Florida Keys Travel Guide