If you live in the north country, chances are that many (if not most) campgrounds are closed Labor Day through Memorial Day. But that doesn’t mean you have to put away your camping gear until spring. In fact, in some parts of the U.S., camping’s traditional “off season” is actually one of the best times to be outdoors. Rather than wait until the spring thaw or Memorial Day weekend (whichever comes first!), consider taking a road trip to a new destination. (Or you can also file away these ideas for the warmer months. Well, except for #8 on our list.) Here are 10 places where you can camp all year:
Hot Springs National Park is the country’s smallest national park but it’s a great place to visit year-round. The star attraction—the hot springs—are in the center of town and can be accessed through one of the historic downtown bathhouses. After a relaxing soak, head for camp at Gulpha Gulch Campground in the Ouachita Mountains. All 40 campsites have full hook-ups and are available for both tents and RVs. The park also has several hiking trails that are accessible all year.
This privately owned campground is about 20 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. (It’s worth mentioning that winter and early spring are slower seasons at the national park which means fewer crowds.) Accommodations range from RV sites with full hook-ups to tent sites, cabins, yurts—and even some glamping options. (Stay in a vintage camper or better yet, an air-conditioned Conestoga wagon! The latter also comes with heat for the cooler seasons.) Other amenities include nature trails, playground, deli, and a petting farm.
This Alabama state park is located in the scenic and popular city of Gulf Shores. With two miles of sandy beaches, there’s plenty to enjoy without leaving the park. Paddle a kayak on nearby Lake Shelby or go on a hiking, biking, or parasailing adventure. The park has more than 500 campsites (including more than 400 RV sites with full hook-ups). Or you stay at one of the park’s new “outpost” campsites where you can spend the night in a military-style tent. (Cots provided.)
If your ideal camping trip involves golf, beach-combing, deep-sea fishing, or the slow pace of a historic walking tour, Georgia might fit the bill. The Savannah South KOA is the perfect launching point for exploring historic Savannah and nearby beaches on Tybee, Jekyll, and Hilton Head islands. It has tent and RV sites as well as cozy cabins on a 35-acre lake where you can watch ibis, egrets, and blue herons. Bringing along your furry friend? The campground also offers a dedicated off-leash area where pups can play.
This scenic park on the edge of the Willamette Valley is known as the “crown jewel” of Oregon’s state park system. It has more than 9,000 acres to explore including 35 miles of mountain bike, equestrian, and hiking trails. (The park’s famed “Trail of Ten Falls” will take you on a 7-mile loop past ten scenic waterfalls. One of them—South Falls—is 177 feet high.) The park’s campground has 45 sites and 14 camping cabins. There’s also a lodge and conference center with rustic-style accommodations.
Florida will always land on the list of winter destinations. Despite the beautiful weather—most tourists choose strictly indoor accommodations. The St. Augustine KOA offers a bit of both—traditional tent and RV site plus camping cabins. The campground is located on Anastasia Island near St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. If beach life is what you’re after, the ocean is just a 3/4-mile walk from the campground. The KOA also offers laundry facilities, a dog park, and a gift shop. Plus, you can rent paddle boats and banana bikes. If you decide to head into St. Augustine, visit the site where famed explorer Ponce de Leon first landed (and subsequently named the state of Florida).
Sitting at the confluence of three rivers (the Caney Fork, Collins, and Rocky), Rock Island State Park is a paddler’s paradise for anyone who loves whitewater. Even if you don’t, the park’s rugged beauty and river views are still worth the trip. The park has plenty of hiking trails to explore. Stay at one of the park’s campsites (both tent and RV-friendly) or book one of their premium cabins. (The latter is not your standard camper cabin. These 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes come with a full kitchen, gas fireplace, and TV.)
Truth be told, winter is probably the only time you’d want to visit Death Valley National Park. Average daytime temps are in the 60s while nighttime temps are in the 40s. During the rest of the year, however, average daytime temperatures soar to 100+ degrees. (According to the park’s website, it can even be 100 degrees at midnight!) There are 9 campgrounds in the park but your best bet might be Sunset Campground. It’s first-come, first-serve but it hardly ever fills up.
Enjoy the high desert beauty of New Mexico—and views of the nearby Sandia Mountains—at the Albuquerque KOA. This pet-friendly resort has RV sites, tent sites, and camping cabins. Additional amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, mini golf, bike rentals, and camp store. When you’re ready to leave camp, explore the nearby Old Town shopping district or take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway, the world’s longest aerial tramway. Once you reach the top, you’ll have an 11,000 square mile panoramic view.
Edisto Beach is one of four beachfront state parks in South Carolina. Walk 1.5 miles along the ocean or explore other hiking and biking trails. There are 120 campsites plus 7 cabins that are located along a salt marsh. If you want to get on the water, you can take a sunset cruise or eco-tour where you can learn about local wildlife—including dolphins! The park is a popular destination for birders and anglers.