Once winter comes to a close and spring shows up, we can all see the light shining on the dust that has gathered on our stored camping gear. Sure, many hardy outdoor-loving folks are up for camping all winter and rightly so, but some of us have been spending our free time ice fishing or shed hunting. When it comes to camping, Americans have some of the best places available to us, and we love to share info on the best of the best. These spring months, and even a few into the summer, are perhaps the best time to go. School kids aren't out yet and the "summer vacation" crowds haven't closed in. Getting under the stars as the weather warms and the wildlife emerges from its cold weather state is what it's all about, even if it's just for the weekend. These are the places that should pique your interest.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas
Texas can be a bit uncomfortable for camping in the heat of the summer, but the Lone Star State offers some of the best camping experiences in the U.S. That's why spring is the ideal time to hit up Enchanted Rock. Sightseeing the natural beauty of Texas is basically defined by a trip to Enchanted Rock, because it offers some great vistas and sure-to-please early season camping. In recent years, visitors have had to register with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to reserve a day pass or overnight stay, so make sure you check in on that before you plan your trip.
Yosemite National Park, California
There is so much to see and do at Yosemite National Park and it's difficult to do it all in one trip. Maybe the best reason for an early season getaway here is that the camping crowd hasn't quite grown unbearable, the spring blossoms are underway, and you can knock out a bunch of itinerary entries even with a short duration. Pro tip: Waterfalls are usually at their best in Yosemite during mid- to late-May.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia
With decent early spring weather and many choices for the car camper or the RV crowd, it's a good idea to find a site near the Blue Ridge Mountains in the spring and take advantage before things get elbow to elbow. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and its incredible vistas are a great way to traverse to and through this destination, and the spring blooms make it really come alive.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains National Park may straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, but you'll think you've landed in a massive garden. The sprawling landscape that surrounds lush forests with 1,500 different flowering plants that bloom year-round can make any camper's dream, especially in the spring. Keep an eye out for salamanders; the park is home to several species and spotting one was the highlight of the trip our editor Eric and his family took there last spring.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Spring camping in California is best represented by a stay at Joshua Tree National Park. You can find a nice place with good weather as early as February, but you can certainly visit this iconic spot all year. If the landscape and flora isn't beautiful enough, then the incredible view of the stars at night will have you coming back every season.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
This area is almost always found on lists like this, and for good reason. Hot Springs National Park includes such great areas as Gulpha Gorge Campground for those that want all the amenities in an easy to access camping area. Of course, you can go more primitive too if you want. Travelers to this region can bathe in vintage bathhouses and drink beer that is locally brewed after a day trip up Hot Springs Mountain.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park's diverse wilderness is a hallmark for any traveler, but settling into a spring campsite with family and friends within sight of glacier-capped mountains and old-growth temperate rain forests is amazing. During the spring, everything is beginning to wake up after the northwest winter, and it is the stuff that camping legend is made of.
The Many, Many Choices
There are many region-specific locations to choose from, but you should consider that the weather can still be fickle in the early part of the year. Spring camping trips can provide some of the prettiest scenery and most resounding memories without the crowds of summer.
The multitude of campgrounds and campsites available in this great country of ours seems to only grow, and there's no bad place to do it this time of year. Get outside, pitch the tent or set up the RV, and do some spring camping. It'll be the best decision you make all season.
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