If you can survive in the wilderness without a hot shower and a toilet, and aren't horrified by the idea of sleeping where bears or large reptiles roam free, then you're probably a practiced camper. But travelers who aren't as comfortable with outdoor accommodations, take heart: camping doesn't have to resemble your week of mosquito hell at fifth grade summer camp.
Many campgrounds have running water and public restrooms, or even cabins, lodges or yurts. In fact, you may be surprised by how little you miss your everyday conveniences while camping. After all, it's easy to forget about luxuries like 500 thread count sheets and refrigerators when you're gazing at stars over the Grand Canyon, exploring a sea cave in Hawaii or spotting crocodiles in the Everglades.
Go camping and enjoy a variety of activities right outside your tent flap -- like boating, fishing, biking, hiking, rock climbing and spotting wildlife. Find inner peace on a forest hike, tone your arms and abs while kayaking, or learn about the importance of protecting the environment as you observe endangered animals in their natural habitats. As an added bonus, campgrounds also offer great value for travelers looking to trim their vacation budgets.
Ready to hit the great outdoors? The following campsites offer lots of activities, they're located in some of the most beautiful destinations in the country and many have on-site facilities like cabins or bathrooms. Check out our list, and then post your own favorite places to camp!
If sleeping in a tent isn't for you, hang your hat in a remote Arizona lodge set along the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Phantom Ranch can only be reached by mule, foot or raft, so don't expect to see any cars or convenience stores during your stay (the ranch offers breakfast, lunch and dinner). Enjoy views of the Grand Canyon while hiking or riding mules through trails near the ranch. The least expensive option here is a stay in the single-sex dorms, which are outfitted with bunk beds and shared baths. Cabins are only available with the overnight mule trip, which includes a canyon mule tour, meals and cabin accommodations. Due to the popularity of this place, which is the only hotel located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, be sure to plan your trip early; you can book up to a year in advance.
Picture black sand beaches, hiking trails, sea caves and an ancient Hawaiian temple and you'll be imagining Waianapanapa State Park, a natural reserve located three hours east of Kahului Airport in Maui. We love this park because it shatters Hawaii's image as an expensive vacation destination; stay in a state park cabin from $50 per night for up to four people, or bring your camping equipment and pay just $18 for a campsite for up to six people! Staying in cabins or tents is a rustic experience, but your views of Hawaii's rugged beaches will be just as beautiful as those from a five-star hotel.