America’s Most Unusual Campsites

While traveling the countryside in search of campgrounds, our photographers occasionally come across some pretty unusual or unique campsites.  We thought we’d share several of what we think are some of America’s most unusual campsites. These campsites are generally next to some unique or unusual natural features, geologic wonders, strange areas or historic sites.

Norris Geyser Basin / Norris Campground (WY)

Norris Geyser Basin is the “hottest and most dynamic thermal area in Yellowstone National Park”. It’s also a short 1.5 mile hike to Norris Campground. If you don’t want to make the hike, you can listen to the (larger) geysers blast away from your campsite.

Norris Campsite W14

Lost Dutchman State Park (AZ)

Lost Dutchman State Park campsite #4 (and others) are within view of the mysterious Superstition Mountains and a legendary lost gold mine.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (CA)

There are just 2 (primitive) walk-to campsites at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park but they are on some prime real estate. From either site you can view the spectacular Big Sur Coastline.

Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area (AZ)

Gordon Hirabayshai campground is rather unique because it is on the grounds and among the ruins of an historic WWII Japanese internment camp. Campsite #11 is below.

Goblin Valley State Park (UT)

There be goblins and all sorts of colorful rock sculptures you can see right from your campsite at Goblin Valley State Park.

Del Norte Coast State Park (CA) and Jedediah Smith State Park (CA)

Share your campsites with old-growth giants (hundreds of feet tall) at Mill Creek campsite in Del Norte Coast State Park or at Jedediah Smith State Park.

Mill Creek Campsite #8

Jedediah Smith Campsite #6

Death Valley National Park / Furnace Creek Campground (CA)

Death Valley National Park has many amazing geological wonders. One of those is the Devil’s Golf Course (pictured below). It is about 11 miles from Furnace Creek Campground, where you can camp 190 feet below sea level. If you don’t want to drive the 11 miles to play at Devil’s Golf Course, the Furnace Creek Resort course (with grass) is right next door.

Furnace Creek Campsite #21

Bahia Honda State Park (FL)

Bahia Honda is in the Florida Keys and has some lovely campsites with views of the Caribbean. Not a bad place to hang out for a few days.

Ballarat Camp (CA)

A bit on the creepy side, but Charlie Manson’s old truck is parked at Ballarat Ghost town and very near the Nadeau Road Dispersed Camping area. About 10 miles away is the not-to-be-missed trail up Surprise Canyon to Panamint City Ghost Town.

White Sands National Park (NM)

The Park includes one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white “sands” of New Mexico. And if you’re up for a little backcountry camping, you can stay at one of the ten campsites set against the beautiful glistening gypsum dunes and incredible starry nights. Campsite #5 is pictured below.

Angel Island State Park (CA)

Angel Island State Park is a must-see attraction if you find yourself visiting San Francisco.  A short ferry ride will take you over to the island where you can explore the many historic sites like the Immigration Station for the west coast and historic military sites like Camp Reynolds. There are also miles of hiking and biking trails, along with bus-tours. Campers can stay at one of the 10 primitive campsites (group camping also available). Most have amazing views, but campsites 4, 5 and 6 offer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline – like campsite #4 below.

The Battery Wallace ruins are also behind campsites 5 and 6. Constructed in 1899, it had two 5-inch wire-wound guns to protect the harbor from bad guys.

Santa Rosa Lake State Park (NM)

Nothing particular unusual or exciting about campsite A6 at Santa Rosa Lake State Park. We just liked the cool green bus/camper. Okay, moving along . . .

Valley of Fire State Park / Arch Rock Campground (NV)

Who said the ancient Egyptians never visited America? Valley of Fire State Park’s Arch Rock campsite #22 sure looks like it has a sphinx watching over things. And if you think that’s something, check out all the other campsites at Arch Rock and Atlatl Rock campgrounds.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (UT)

Not only will you see incredibly starry nights, but you’ll also get to camp next to a forest of petrified trees at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Although the trees look more like stumps or cut up logs. Here’s a photo of campsite #11:

Holcomb Valley Campground (CA)

Now this is special. Holcomb Valley Campground is next to the old ghost town of Belle, up in the San Bernardino National Forest. Not much remains of the town, but there are a few crumbling ruins and historic mining sites. There is also an authentic hangman’s tree just a short walk from the campground. You can even see several of the limbs that were cut off to hang the rope and noose.

Most campsites are spacious and nice like #6 below. Campsite #6 is one of the closest to the hangman’s tree. Watch out for angry ghosts though. You’ve been warned.

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)

What else is there to say about Joshua Tree National Park that already hasn’t been said?  Truly a magical place, with a number of campgrounds and unique campsites set among a desert landscape and giant boulders.

White Tank Campsite #10

Indian Cove Campsite #31

Hidden Valley Campsite #45

Gaviota State Park (CA)

The campsites at Gaviota State Park/Beach are next to and have dandy views of the iconic Southern Pacific railroad trestle. They are also a short walk to the beautiful beach.

Lee’s Ferry (AZ)

Lee’s Ferry is the only developed campground where you can camp next to the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It’s also just downriver from where rafters launch for their trip into the Grand Canyon. Lee’s Ferry campsite #45 is below.

Grand Canyon National Park / Bright Angel (AZ)

Hike or take a delightful burro ride down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp at Bright Angel campground. There are many nice sites right along the creek and close to Phantom Ranch.

Itasca State Park (MN)

Camp where the mighty Mississippi River starts (the headwaters) – at Itasca State Park.

Campsite #117

Gallo Campground (NM)

Gallo Campground, in Chaco Culture National Monument, has a few campsites that are next to some ancient cliff dwellings. Campsite #25 is below.

Catalina Island (CA)

Catalina Island is a great place to visit and it has some really nice primitive campsites at Two Harbors and Little (Shark) Harbor campgrounds.

Two Harbors Campsite #11

Little (Shark) Harbor Campsite #SH9

Arches National Park / Devil’s Garden Campground

And last but not least (for Part I of America’s Most Unusual Campsites), Devil’s Garden Campground (Arches National Park) has some campsites with amazing views (day or night). However, we’re pretty sure that God had his hand in it rather than the devil.

And that wraps up Part I of America’s Most Unusual Campsites. Let us know what you think and if you have any other suggestions. We’d be happy to add those to Part II.

2 Replies to “America’s Most Unusual Campsites”

  1. Ginger Combs says:

    The information was incredible! Thank you for descriptions and pictures.

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