Spring Break: For the Camper Extraordinaire

Travel Lists Spring Break
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Spring break is here and the weather is absolutely divine. The sun is out and nature is at its finest. It’s practically begging you to spend the week being outdoorsy. We’ve compiled a list of some fantastic campsites across the country—from New York to California. Many of our favorite sites can be found in state parks, and you know how we love those. Pitch your tent, roll out your sleeping bag and spend some time finding your inner Zen.

Big Sur, California

Photo via Flickr/Paul Lovine

Road-trip to the Golden State and spend a few starry nights camping in the state parks or privately-owned campgrounds throughout Big Sur. Luxuriate during the early mornings with a coffee in hand listening to the babbling of the stream in the Big Sur Valley or enjoy ocean views or set up HQ on the bluff at the southern end.

If you have a hankering for hiking, you must journey into the Ventana Wilderness, a 240,026-acre sector of the Los Padres National Forest. Venture up the steep-sided, sharp-crested ridges that separate the valleys and cool off in the waterfalls and thermal springs found along major streams. You’ll never be bored, as there are 55 designated trail camps spread across 237 miles. Try a different one every day for a unique experience each time.

Visit the second Sunday of the month for a special Big Sur treat—a Condor Tour, a two-hour viewing tour down the coast to see the beautiful and endangered Californian condors. Make sure to book a tour in advance because chances to see these magnificent creatures go quickly.

Arches National Park, Utah

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Photo via www.nps.gov/arch

Located 18 miles from the park entrance, Devils Garden Campground is a great site to pitch a tent and rough it under the stars. The campground is open year-round and includes 50 individual sites for $20 per night. The facilities include potable water, picnic tables, grills and pit-style and flushable toilets … but no showers.

After rolling up your sleeping bag and slipping on your hiking boots, you can trek the park on a Fiery Furnace Tour, a three-hour long, vigorous hike—starting April 5. Make sure to get your tickets in advance.

Adirondack Lakes Region, New York

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Photo via Flickr/Mitchell Joyce

Franklin County offers a one-of-a-kind camping experience in the Adirondack Lakes Region among the gorgeous balsam-firs and water lilies across the Saranac Lake Islands. Fish for trout and large-mouth bass, canoe down one of nine major rivers or take advantage of the perfect locations for boating and paddling.

Spend your week off at one of 87 campsites equipped with picnic tables, fire pits and the occasional glimpse of Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and playful otters. Take a swim in Lake Flower or take your poles out and catch something to fry for dinner. Just make sure you have a New York State fishing license if you’re over 16.

If you’re feeling adventuresome, see how you measure up on the trails of six peaks known as the Saranac Lake 6ers. Climb them all, test your skills and enjoy a breathtaking, aerial view of the lake region.

Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

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Photo via Flickr/Kevin Oliver

Pine Grove Furnace State Park is 696 acres of natural and historical elements, located at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains—an area called South Mountain. Stay in one of 70 rustic tent and trailer sites, available beginning in late March.

One of the most famous paths in the world, the Appalachian Trail, runs right through the heart of this state park, giving direct access to campers wishing to brave the 2,186-mile mountain trail. The camp is also home to other hiking trails along places like Mountain Creek and Michaux State Forest.

Take your little motorboat to 25-acre Laurel Lake to fish for stock trout, perch, bass and pickerel. Or, if you’d like to try to snatch up some rainbow trout, head down to Mountain Creek for cold-water species. After you’ve had a successful day on the water, take a trip to the first hiking museum ever in the U.S.—the Appalachian Trail Museum. Learn about the founding, construction, preservation and enjoyment of the trail since it was created.

Catalina State Park, Arizona

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Photo via Flickr/Lars Hammar

This campground is located in Tucson and includes 120 campsites; 95 of these have electric and water hookups (for those of you who aren’t quite into the whole Bear Grylls scene.) Catalina State Park’s sites consist of picnic tables, BBQ grills, paved roads, modern-flush toilets and hot showers. Hey, who said you couldn’t be comfortable while you rough it?

Campers can hike, ride horses or bicycle down their choice of eight different trails, depending on their desired hike length and level of difficulty. The Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail loops at under a mile, while the Romero Canyon Trail is a 7.2-mile, one-way hike that gets progressively more challenging as you head down the unmaintained wilderness trail.

Don’t feel like sweating quite that much? Wake up early or stay out a little late to get a view of the stunning desert wildlife, including nearly 200 species of birds. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the coyotes and bobcats that tend to lurk about the trails.

If your kids are on spring break in mid-April, you’ll want to take them to the Family Campout Program, a weekend filled with tips on how to be a better camper with fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Register now and surprise your little ones with an adventure they won’t soon forget.

Gabbi Markle is a Travel intern at Paste Magazine and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.