Best States for Happy Campers
Camping is a quintessential American pastime that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but it's especially fun when the weather gets warm. People rush to campgrounds around the vast country to spend days hiking in the woods and swimming in lakes, followed by nights roasting marshmallows on a warm fire and looking up at the starry sky.
If you're planning on spending some time outdoors soon, head to one of these 10 best states for camping. They have numerous grounds, access to amazing trails and plenty of natural beauty to share. You'll leave a very happy camper.
10. North Dakota
Camping index score: 58.81 (out of 100)
Because of its remoteness, North Dakota is often ignored by most campers. But for those committed people who make it out here, this translates into more space and fewer crowds. See roaming bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park or sleep under the stars in one of the state's 40 campsites.
* Note: This ranking was based on 2023 data collected from Adventures on the Rock.
Camping index score: 59.86
With four national parks and 42 state parks, Colorado is a state where the outdoors reigns. From the Rocky Mountains to the tallest sand dunes in North America to deep canyons, you'll have your pick of scenery. Plus, because camping is a state pastime, you can be sure most campgrounds will be organized, clean and safe.
8. New Hampshire
Camping index score: 59.93
Many people associate New Hampshire with liberal arts schools and colonial architecture. But this state is also an overlooked camping destination. It has hundreds of gorgeous trails, many RV parks, and too many historic and natural landmarks to ever visit.
Camping index score: 60.15
With five national parks, Utah offers some of America's most astonishing landscapes. In the north, you'll find slopes that provide hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. In the south, the landscape turns almost Martian with desert hoodoos and deep canyons at national parks like Arches, Canyonlands and Zion.
6. South Dakota
Camping index score: 61.12
Like its neighboring state to the north, South Dakota remains underrated, but it does get a bit more traffic, especially to its iconic Badlands National Park. The rural state has managed to keep much of its natural beauty intact and offers 75 trails per 100,000 residents. So, you'll never be far from a campsite or a place to enjoy the outdoors.
Camping index score: 61.23
The northeastern state of Vermont is renowned for its woods and mountains. It has the second-highest number of trails, which is partly how it landed in the top five. In the summer, the weather will be pleasant enough for day hikes, and in the fall, the foliage will color your memories of camping.
Camping index score: 63.62
One-third of Yellowstone National Park is located in Idaho, but the state also features treasures like Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve and the spectacular Twin Falls. In truth, there is more nature here than there are cities, so no matter where you are, you're likely to find a pretty spot to set up your tent.
3. New Mexico
Camping index score: 65.94
New Mexico has two otherwordly national parks: Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Park. In the latter, you'll find a white desert that hides unique species like white foxes, lizards and mice that have adapted to their surroundings. The southwestern state is one of the most biodiverse in the country, which is what makes it a favorite for camping fanatics.
Camping index score: 69.29
Of course, Montana had to be included as one of the top places to camp in the United States. The state is known for having two of the most incredible national parks: Glacier and Yellowstone. In each, you'll see so many wondrous landscapes that you'll almost have a hard time believing they're real. But even outside the parks, the mountains, valleys and rivers provide plenty of spaces to disconnect from the world.
Camping index score: 72.12
Beautiful, beautiful Wyoming is blessed with effortless good looks that every other state envies. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are located side-by-side, making it easy to plan a truly epic camping adventure. The state has more RV parks than any other and also boasts 45 free campsites for those who want less structure and more freedom in the woods.