After a long winter, one of the best ways to get back outside is to go on a spring camping trip. But, if your favorite campsite isn't quite ready yet, or you're simply looking for new options on where to pitch your tent, we have tent great destinations that are perfect for that first outdoor escape of the season. So, pull your gear out of the closet, get it ready for the warm-weather ahead, and don't forget to make a reservation for you spring campsite ahead of time. Chances are, you won't be the only one who is eager to soak up some sun.
Enchanted Rock State Park
Camping in the heat of the summer in Texas isn't always the most comfortable experience, but the spring is still a great time to head outdoors and reconnect with nature. One of the best places to spend a few nights in the backcountry is at Enchanted Rock State Park, home to one of the largest granite batholiths in the entire U.S. The park is worth visiting just for the views from the top of the giant rock slab itself, but there are excellent hiking trails that circumnavigate the granite dome that are worth a walk too.
Wander further into the backcountry and you'll not only leave the crowds behind, but discover some remote and quiet campsites as well. Once there you'll get the chance to experience Texas Hill Country in all of its glory and sleep under a sky as big as Texas itself and filled with countless stars.
Yosemite National Park
Let's face it, Yosemite National Park is a great destination all year round, but there are a couple of reasons why it is especially fantastic in the spring. For starters, the large crowds that arrive in the park during the summer months haven't begun to arrive in just yet, so the campsites are often peaceful and quiet. On top of that, the spring thaw allows Yosemite's famous waterfalls to swell to epic proportions, making them even more spectacular than they are throughout much of the rest of the year. As if that wasn't reason enough to visit in the spring, when the dogwood trees blossom the Yosemite Valley is an even more spectacular sight to behold. Just be sure to book your campsite in advance and don't be afraid to wander out of the valley itself. You might find some hidden gems that you didn't even know existed.
Oh Be Joyful Campground
After a long winter, the warm spring temperatures bring new life to the mountains of Colorado, which has plenty of amazing campsites sprinkled throughout the state. One of the best however, is the Oh Be Joyful Campground located just outside of Crested Butte. The site sits beside the Slate River and features utterly spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, not to mention some of the best fishing Colorado has to offer. Those who are looking to stretch their legs a bit will find wonderful hiking as well, with the spring bloom bringing amazing colors to this alpine setting.
In the summer months this is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike, but in the spring it is relatively quiet and peaceful. Just be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag, as the Colorado nights can still be a bit chilly even into late May and early-June.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Home to more than 1500 different flowering plants, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an incredible place to be in the spring, when many of those species start to go into bloom. The park comes alive with color and fragrant smells as the warmer temperatures usher in a change of season. Traditionally, this is the most visited national park in the U.S., and in the summer it can become quite crowded at times despite its massive size. But during the spring it is still relatively quiet and campsites are fairly easy to obtain. Go before June however, as by then many of the flowers have gone dormant for the year and the larger crowds start to arrive en masse, turning the once-peaceful backcountry into a busy hive of activity.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is another destination that you wouldn't dare go camping during the summer, when temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But during the spring it is pleasantly warm there, offering a nice respite from the chill of the fading winter. The park is seldom very busy, even during the peak travel season, which means solitude is plentiful throughout the year.
If you happen to be in Death Valley during a spring rainstorm, you might even be lucky enough to witness the park's fabled wildflower "super-bloom," during which thousands of flowering plants sprout from the ground, creating a multicolored sea across the landscape. It is a sight that is spectacular to behold, although it is also fleeting. The fragile flora doesn't last long in the intense warmth found within the park and many of the blooms peak and disappear within just a day or two.
Iron Gate Campgrounds
Located just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico at an altitude above 9000 feet, the Iron Gate Campgrounds are nestled in between the aspen and the pine trees, making it a sheltered place to set up camp. It serves as a gateway to the Pecos Wilderness, which is an excellent place for both hiking and horseback riding throughout the warmer months of the year. Both the wilderness, and the campsite itself, come alive with wildflowers in the spring, adding to the elegant beauty of the place. Backpackers and campers will also find themselves enthralled with the clear, open skies overhead which make for great stargazing after sunset.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Another national park that tends to get awfully crowded during the summer months, Bryce Canyon is nevertheless a fantastic destination in the springtime. The breathtaking—almost otherworldly—landscapes found within the park include towering rock spires carved from the reddish sandstone and miles of trails that interconnect throughout the canyon itself.
When it comes to camping, there are options for both tents and RVs, although for our money the backcountry sites are the best for those looking for some seclusion. During the spring, Bryce is known for having warm days and cool nights, so bring a cozy sleeping bag and enjoy having the park to yourself.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Those looking for a completely different kind of camping experience will want to add Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina to their list of places to visit. The park gives travelers an opportunity to camp right on the beach, which is quite lovely all year round, but especially so in the spring.
There are absolutely no designated campgrounds on the National Seashore, which means you're free to set-up your tent anywhere you choose. Visitors aren't even required to have a permit, which makes this a great spot for a list minute getaway or an impromptu visit. By the time summer arrives, the beach can get extremely crowded at times, but in the spring it is generally relaxed and open. No matter when you go however, you'll have to share the beach with the famous wild horses that roam the cape, giving the place a unique feeling that is all its own.
Tishomingo State Park
Spring comes early in the South, which means warmer temperatures and sunny days even in late-March and early-April. That makes Mississippi's Tishomingo State Park a great option for those itching to spend a few nights under the stars. The park is a nice blend of wooded trails, archaeological sites, and lake shore, with great fishing and even a beach for the warmer months. The water is likely to still be a bit on the chilly side in the early spring, but warms up quickly as the calendar edges towards summer. Visitors will find towering rock formations and brightly-colored wildflowers throughout the area, making Tishomingo feel completely different than any other part of the state.
Valley of Fire State Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas and head to nearby Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada for a great spring escape. The park features two different campgrounds with 72 individual sites, not to mention miles of hiking trails, and some of the most scenic landscapes imaginable. With 40,000 acres of blazing red sandstone rocks to explore, its easy to understand how the Valley of Fire got its name. Intrepid explorers may even spot some of the park's famous petrified trees that date back more than two millennia.
Open year round, the park is often quite hot during the summer, but is exceptionally comfortable and accommodating in the early spring in particular.