camping, mountains, adventure

These campgrounds are the best kept secrets in the West

Words: Lena Kouyoumdjian 
Photography: Flickr/Mad Hippies Life

Break your daily routine and plan your next adventure with these five gorgeous camping spots

Knock Instagram all you want, but it does have some redeeming qualities. Sure, it can be blamed for everything from unhealthy body image to ruining relationships, but it’s made it easier than ever to find inspo for your next camping trip - and to get a pretty accurate idea of what you’ll find there should you decide to make the trip. There’s nothing worse than getting to the spot you chose online only to find that the lake you were promised is an alternate fact, and in reality, you are camping alongside a muddy puddle.

The West boasts an impressively wide array of terrains to choose from when planning a camping trip. From beach camping both hot (Southern California) and cold (Pacific Northwest), to desert camping (Southern California, Nevada, Arizona) and beautiful forest sites (Sierras, Cascades, and more as you go north) with more lakes, rivers and streams than you can count along the way.

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And while the most popular places are well-loved for good reason - it’s tough to argue that Yosemite isn’t spectacular - there are also a lot of gorgeous camping spots that are farther off the beaten path. Read: You can actually get a campsite.

Here are five hidden-gem campgrounds in the West.

Red Rock Canyon Ricardo Campground
red rock, canyon, camping

© Wikimedia 

Located in Southern California, this campsite is oft-overlooked for its Nevadan counterpart of the same name. Boasting stunning views from every single site around the campground’s 1.4-mile loop, Red Rock is a little known treasure. Explore the caves tucked into the cliffs, or try out one of the trails that lead from the campground. The best part? It’s under two hours away from Los Angeles, making it a perfect weekend getaway.

island in the sky

This gem is located in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, and boasts spectacular panoramic views. The canyons rival those of the Grand Canyon, but without the crowds - with mostly gravel or dirt roads, this is a no-tour-bus zone. Yay! There are a ton of trails to explore, but be sure to check out the park’s pride and joy: the Mesa Arch.

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This campground is located on the Lower McCloud River in Northern California. With 16 remote sites just off a dirt road, this campground is often passed over, earning it its hidden-gem status. Lush with foliage and wildlife, the Lower McCloud River is perfect for a dip on a hot day, and is famour for its trout fishing.

Channel Islands
islands, ocean, california, camping

© Flickr/David Wan

When people think Southern California island camping, their go-to is often Catalina Island. But the nearby Channel Islands offer a similar experience - and actually have availability less than a year in advance. With easily arranged boat transportation, getting to and from the islands is much more of a breeze than it might seem. Just make sure you bring everything you need, because, after all, it is an island.

Eagle creek

Located in the heart of Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, Eagle Creek campground is lush with maple and fir trees, and is home to a wide array of Pacific Northwest wildlife, including osprey and wild salmon. There’s a lot to take in, but be sure to make time to hike the Eagle Creek waterfall trail - you won’t regret it.

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