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National Forest campgrounds alternatives to most popular National Parks

Site at Jacob Lake campground

Site at Jacob Lake campground

In 2009, the New York Times TRAVEL Section published an article by Jame Margolies titled The Last-Minute Guide to Summer Camping? We contributed to that article.  Since it seems everyone is looking for the best camping experience, I thought I’d publish a shorten version of Ms. Margolies’s  article.

Yosemite National Park is surrounded by Inyo, Sierra, and Stanislaus national forests.
– For the Park’s southern entrance there is Summerdale campground (Sierra)
– For the Park’s western entrance there is Diamond O campground (Stanislaus)
– For the Park’s eastern entrance there is Tioga Lake campground (Inyo)

Yellowstone National Park is surrounded by Beaverhead, Gallatin, Custer, Targhee, and Shoshone national forests.
– For the Park’s southern entrance there is Cave Falls campground (Targhee)
– For the Park’s western entrance there is Bakers Hole campground (Gallatin)
– For the Park’s northeastern entrance there is Soda Butte campground (Custer)
– For the Park’s eastern entrance there is Three Miles campground (Shoshone)

Teton National Park is surround by Targhee, Bridger, Teton, and Shoshone national forests.
– For the Park’s southern entrance there is Hobart campground (Teton)
– For the Park’s northern entrance there is Cave Falls campground (Targhee)

Grand Canyon National Park is surrounded by Kaibab National Forest
– For the Park’s southern entrance there is Ten-X campground.
– For the Park’s northern entrance there is Jacob Lake campground

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are surrounded by Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia national forests.
– Hume Lake and Princess campgrounds (Sequoia) are convenient to the entrances of both Parks.

Olympic National Park is surrounded by the Olympic National Forest.
– For the Park’s northern entrance there is Klahowya campground.
– For the Park’s southwest entrance there is Falls Creek campground

Rocky Mountain National Park is surrounded by Roosevelt, Routt, and Arapaho national forests.
– For the Park’s western entrance there is Stillwater campground (Arapaho)
– For the Park’s eastern entrance there is Olive Ridge campground (Roosevelt)
– For the Park’s northern hikers’ entrance there is Long Draw campground (Roosevelt)

Acadia National Park has no National Forests near by.

Great Smoky NP is surrounded by the Cherokee and Nantahala national forests.
– For the Park’s southern side there is Tsali campground (Nantahala). This campground is special for two reasons: 1) Hot showers!: and, 2) there is a huge network of trails (almost 40 miles worth) perfect of mountain biking and equestrian riders.

Glacier National Park is surrounded by Flathead and Lewis and Clark national parks.
– For the Park’s western entrance there is Big Creek campground (Flathead) adjacent to the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center.
– For the Park’s southern entrance there is Devil Creek campground (Flathead) with some of the sweetest huckleberries you have every tasted. Grizzlies love huckleberries too so camper at this campground should practise “Bear Awareness.”
– For the Park’s east entrance there is Summit campground (Lewis and Clark), straddling the Continental Divide. Note: Even at 46 miles, this is the closest Forest Service campground to the Park’s east entrance.

All the National Forest campgrounds listed are very close, within an estimated 10 miles, of the given Park’s entrance.

If I were going to any of these Parks, my personal preferences and the reasons follow:
– Diamond O campground (Stanislaus) when visiting Yosemite National Park because of it history, lush vegetation, and peaceful atmosphere.
– Cave Falls campground (Targhee) when visiting Yellowstone and Teton national parks because it is so undiscovered, rustic, and beautiful. Plus it has delicious drinking water.
– Demotte Park campground (Kaibab) when visiting the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Next to a huge mountain valley, this campground features good wildlife viewing and is close to the wonderful sights of the Kaibab Plateau and North Rim.
– Eshom campground (Sequoia) when visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This campground is a challenge to reach, a dusty drive down a long dirt road, but the rewards are great. The location was used by Native People for centuries and campsites are nestled among young, 100-year old Sequoia trees.
– Klahowya campground (Olympic) when visiting the Olympic National Park. This campground is magical and mysterious and gorgeous.
– Jacks Gulch campground (Roosevelt) when visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park for its electric hook-ups and good hiking trails.

(Note: Some of my personal preferences are not as convenient to the Park as the one given earlier.)

Okay, I am a diehard fan of national forest campgrounds but with so many alternatives, why would anyone opt to camp in a overpriced, overcrowded, and oversold national park campground?

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Fred and Suzi Dow