Back to articles

Your summer camping list: An exploration of our national parks


Unplug and unwind. Plan a summer camping trip to one of the nation’s beautiful national parks. Enjoy sunrises, sunsets and share stories under the stars. There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sound of nature and taking time to reconnect with family and friends.

When school’s out, the national parks can get quite busy. So, before you hit the road make sure you plan ahead! Keep reading for our summer camping list of helpful tips and favorite spots to circle around a campfire this season.

The benefits of our nation’s parks.

  1. National Park Service Birthday – Created on August 25, 1916, the NPS offers special events and waives entrance fees on this day every year.
  2. Every Kid in a Park – Fourth graders can get a pass online for free admission for the entire year.
  3. Other Passes – There are so many great offers to help keep on budget, especially if you’re a senior, in the military, will be visiting parks more than once, or are a volunteer. Check out the options and see if you qualify for one of these special passes.
  4. Junior Ranger Program – Keep learning, even when you’re on vacation. Kids ages five to 13 can complete activities during their park visit and receive an official patch and certificate.
  5. More Park Info – Stop by the ranger station or visitor center of the park you’re visiting and gain helpful tips from experts. These folks also have information about programs and guided tours. Some parks even have an app with calendars and maps!
  6. Safety – Make sure to follow all safety guides provided. Also, pack plenty of liquids, food and sunscreen for your summer visit. Hydration is a must, so bring extra water just in case.

Father and Daughter Outdoors

Unique parks across the country.

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona – The panoramic views are endless! Carved out by the Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park offers stunning layers of earth, spotted with vegetation that meets the vibrant blue sky. This famous park offers several ways to explore its gorgeous grounds. If you’re staying at the rim, make sure to secure your sunset viewing spot early!

    Grand Canyon
  2. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon – Formed from a collapse after a volcanic eruption, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA. Enjoy one of the many hikes offered in the area and then cool off with a dip in the crystal blue water. Swimming is the only water sport allowed here, so leave the snorkel gear and rafts at home.
  3. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming – Home to “Old Faithful” and several other geysers, Yellowstone National Park offers a plethora of sights and activities. Of course, hiking and camping are available, but boating, fishing and horseback riding are as well! Dive in and check out a variety of the park’s ranger-led programs. Get ready for a packed schedule of outdoor fun!
    Children Watching Old Faithful
  4. Zion National Park, Utah – If you’re an experienced and adventurous hiker, check out The Narrows, a trail that is cut through the river. Come prepared to get at least your feet wet. It’s also recommended to have some form of walking stick or pole as the river rocks tend to be slick. The challenge is worth it for this hike! For an easier path, you can explore a paved and ADA-accessible option with similar views!
  5. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky – For a cool option for hot summer camping, set up outside of the cave entrance. Take the time to explore inside the 400 miles of this incredible cave system. Temperatures tend to be cooler underground and sun exposure will also be reduced. This is a great option if you’re looking for an active camping experience without too much sun.

Are you ready for your summer camping adventure? These national parks are sure to provide an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and share a unique journey with family and friends—making memories that will last a lifetime.