Last summer (2015) I asked my Active Outdoor Journal readers to tell me about their favorite camping spots. Since the Journal had just been launched I had just a little response, but I went ahead and wrote up an article about it anyway. Here it is. I called it…
Camping Spots Worth Writing Home About
Sometimes we like going back to our favorite camping spots and sometimes we’re ready to discover someplace new.
But with limited vacation time, active families, yada yada, we don’t just want to pick out of a hat. We want to know it’s going to be great!
Criteria for awesomeness
Just like real estate, location is key. Even individual campsites within a campground can vary widely. Pick a stunning location and you’re well on your way.
This can’t be totally controlled, of course, but we have better chances of good weather if we’re strategic . I wouldn’t camp in the floor of the Grand Canyon in the summer, for example (I don’t enjoy 115 degrees). And one of the reasons we love northern Minnesota in August is less chance of getting rained out than earlier in the summer.
The point? Plan with weather in mind if you want a better chance of a great experience.
Other Area Activities
According to the 2013 American Camper Report (published by the Coleman Co. & Outdoor Foundation), 87% of us campers engage in several outdoor activities while we’re camping. Yes! We want great hiking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, etc. too.
So, without further ado, here are suggestions for you in three different states. Take your pick!
Moraine Park Campground — Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
I chose this one because I was just there this month with my husband and son. We spent a couple nights here before meeting up with family and heading down to Denver.
Let’s face it, anywhere in the mountains is going to be gorgeous. There are several campgrounds in Rocky. Moraine Park happened to have a handful of spots left when I was booking online in June.
(Hint: Campgrounds fill up really fast in all the popular national parks in the summer. Book online ahead of time or you may be out of luck!)
Our site (#43 in Loop A…see photo at the top) was one of the best in the campground. Almost 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. Up on a little knoll away from the other sites. Not far from the facilities. We even had the community bear box right next to our picnic table.
Great hikes within just a few miles. Two riding stables within 15 minutes, offering anywhere from 2-hour to all-day rides. The mountain town of Estes Park 10 minutes east. On the way out, we drove Trail Ridge Drive through the park and saw more amazing scenery.
Sunset Bay RV Resort & Campground, Ahmeek, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)
This recommendation — and the pictures — sent in by Sandy. She says:
“We have LOVED Sunset Bay RV Resort and Campground. It’s on the South Shore of Lake Superior on the Keweenaw Peninsula.
“The shores are shallow which provide warmer crystal-clear waters to swim in and enjoy the sandy white beaches. The area is rich in history of the copper mining days complete with copper mine tours, original recipe pasties, and buildings made of bacon rock.
“The campground sits right on the Lake Superior shore. There isn’t a campsite in the place that doesn’t have a view. It’s quiet and privately-owned. We’ve camped there with our popup camper using water and electric.
“I love the campground because of the location on the Lake, and all there is to do on the Keweenaw Peninsula.
“After spending the majority of my life enjoying the North Shore of Lake Superior, it was amazing to see how different and wonderful the exact same Lake can be on the other side.”
Campsite somewhere on Seagull Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Ok, so I do know where it is, but the BWCAW sites don’t have numbers. They’re just red dots on a map. This is on the west end of 4,000-acre Seagull Lake.
This site is amazing. As our friend said who we were with: It’s a 10!
And really, there are dozens of “10” campsites in the Boundary Waters. This one happens to be one of the more accessible ones. It can be reached without portaging — just a 4-mile-or-so paddle across Seagull. (If you really want to know where it is, let me know!)
Of course it’s a tent site only. No amenities other than the “throne” (picture an outhouse without the walls). This is wilderness camping.
The site is large enough for several tents, flat, grassy and on a peninsula. That means a nice cross-breeze to keep the bugs down. The shoreline is large rocks that drop right off to many feet deep. Great for a quick (and cold!) dip.
One of the coolest things is a big granite outcropping that’s maybe 40-50 feet high. We scrambled up on top for a fantastic view of the entire west end of the lake.
The bummer? There’s no way to tell if it’s occupied until you’re there. If it is, you’ll have to find yourself another campsite. We’ll definitely look for this one again next time we’re on Seagull for a canoe trip.
(Photos: Top two: Rocky Mountain National Park; Middle two: taken by Sandy Hanson, used with permission; Bottom two: Boundary Waters Canoe Area campsite on Seagull Lake)