11 Magical Campgrounds for Families in the USA

We’ve partnered with several travel bloggers to provide you with details about some of the most magical campgrounds for families in the United States!

From the east coast to the west coast, you’ll find something that fits your style. Whether it’s the redwood forests of California, the unique rock formations of Utah, or the Little Grand Canyon of Georgia, these sites are the perfect place to pitch your tent for a night, or two…or more!

magical campgrounds at providence canyon state park in georgia

Providence Canyon State Park

Lumpkin, Georgia

Recommended by Mike from FivePax

Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, Georgia offers one of the most unique geological attractions in the Southeast United States. One of the seven natural wonders of Georgia, and known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” the park boasts excellent hiking around the rim and through towering chasms and canyon walls. Camping is available in either backcountry or pioneer sites, both options offering direct access to trails through the canyon. 

The canyon itself is an example of unintentional beauty caused by mankind’s interference with Mother Nature. Poor farming practices in the 1800s coupled with erosion cut through 150-foot canyon walls exposing stunning and vibrant sediment of salmon, scarlet, orange, yellow, and even purple. While about 1/30 the size of the actual Grand Canyon, Georgia’s version packs an accessible punch without the crowds.

The campsites are remote, primitive, exceptionally large, and magical. The clearings above the campsites are large enough to expose one of the few areas of excellent stargazing in the southeast. Families camping in pioneer sites enjoy a solid 200 yards from the neighbors with large open space, lean-to sheds, picnic tables, and dedicated outhouses.

Nearby attractions include the Coca Cola Space Science Center, which hosts the largest collection of NASA artifacts in Georgia, swimming and additional camping at Florence Marina State Park, and the National Infantry Museum


About Mike

Mike Baron is an outdoor enthusiast, husband, and father of three wild boys. When he’s not outside, he’s usually writing about it, either on his own Family Travel Blog, FivePax, or as a freelance travel writer. 


magical campgrounds at watkins glen state park in new york with tents in a wooded forest

Watkins Glen State Park Campground

Watkins Glen, New York

Recommended by Neha from Travelmelodies 

Watkins Glen State Park is the most visited state park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It is famed for its scenic vistas and numerous waterfalls, and it’s amazing to spend a night at the Watkins Glen campground. 

The campground in the State Park is spread over a large area with around 300 campsites and wooden cabins. The Watkins Glen campsites are spread out in six loops, with each loop identified with a village name that can be easily booked online at the Watkins State Park website. 

Each campsite is spacious and equipped with a fire pit, benches, and tables, with parking for cars. The best part is the campground is being surrounded by lush green trees, fresh air, and serenity.

The campground is best for families and includes facilities like restrooms, showers, a dumping station, and a firewood shop.  There are food concession shops, gift shops, and cabins. Near the campground are a kids’ playground and swimming pool, making it a hit amongst families.

During the day, explore the state park by hiking the scenic gorge trail that traverses the 19 waterfalls formed in the creek. The hike can be done with the kids! There are other trails to choose from as well! 

The fee for a campsite ranges from $18 – $30 with some additional booking charges. Non-residents of New York state pay an additional $5.

Summer is a popular time and hence it is advisable to book the campsite well in advance.

The Pines Campgrounds in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley, California

Recommended by Melanie from SuitChase

If you think that camping in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world surrounded by granite cliffs 3,000 feet tall sounds like the stuff dreams are made of, we would agree! Yosemite Valley boasts some of the most magical campgrounds, not just in the United States, but in the world.  

The campsites themselves aren’t the most magical part–it’s the setting. Everyone else seems to agree, as these campsites can be difficult to come by. They typically are booked within seconds of becoming available on the reservation system. And that’s not an exaggeration.

There are three “pines” campgrounds in Yosemite National Park: Upper Pines, Lower Pines, and North Pines. All three sit along the Merced River and can be used for both tent or RV camping. Be advised that while there are no hookups, there is a dump station available.

Yosemite Valley allows campers to enjoy the beautiful wilderness with the modern conveniences. Pay showers are available at the nearby Curry Village that includes body wash, shampoo, and a towel! If you need ice or almost anything else, it can be purchased at the General Store.

Visitors enjoy hiking to any of the stunning waterfalls, participating in the Junior Ranger Program, rock climbing, visiting the museum, or riding bikes around the valley. If you’re traveling with kids, check out four of our favorite family-friendly hikes in Yosemite!


ACT Campground

Moab, Utah

Recommended by Angela of Life by the Horns

Are you looking for a campground that is close to National Parks, has plenty of amenities, and is still accessible to civilization? Look no further than ACT Campground in Moab, Utah.

ACT is truly unique in its approach to sustainability, community, and exploration of the natural world. Located in downtown Moab, ACT is close to Arches, Canyonlands (Island in the Sky), the La Sal Mountains, and Dead Horse Point State Park.  Within reasonable driving distance is Natural Bridges, Canyonlands (Needles District), Goose Neck State Park, and Monument Valley.

ACT Campground is perfect for campers from all walks of life. In fact, it attracts travelers from all over the world! Whether you prefer tent camping, have an RV, or prefer one of its cabins, ACT delivers.

This campground views its visitors as a community! It offers both indoor and outdoor gourmet kitchens where people from all walks of life often come together to share their adventure stories and love of the outdoors. They also have a business center and lending library. 

Self-sustainability is also one of its core values. The property is solar operated, has a garden, and guests are encouraged to recycle and compost on-site

Our family has visited ACT each year for the past five years, and it is one of our favorite places. It’s like coming home.

entrance sign of magical campgrounds at fort wilderness in florida

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Orlando, Florida

Recommended by Margie with DQ Family Travel

Fort Wilderness is not your typical campground. It is located in the “most magical place on Earth”, Disney World.

While sites here can easily run over $100, the people who choose to camp here, know that location comes at a premium. Fort Wilderness is located on Disney property and has free transportation to all the four theme parks and the shopping/dining area of Disney Springs.

In addition to being so close to Mickey Mouse, Fort Wilderness offers guests a pool with a waterslide, food trucks, walking trails, a country-themed dining show, character appearances, and some of the largest and cleanest Comfort Stations (showers) I’ve ever seen. 

While most guests who stay here take advantage of the boat rides to Magic Kingdom and bus transportation to the theme parks, some just visit Fort Wilderness to get away from the hustle and bustle of Disney hotels. Some of the best things to do in Disney World besides the parks can be found at Fort Wilderness. Guests staying at the campsite or cabins have access to some great amenities and rentals. Some activities available are archery, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, and using the various sports courts found around the property. So, if you’d like to combine some Disney magic with a campground experience, then Fort Wilderness might be the place for you. 

Enjoy Fort Wilderness, one of the most magical campgrounds on the east coast!

view of river of magical campgrounds at longhorn ranch in wyoming

The Longhorn Ranch RV Resort

Dubois, Wyoming

Recommended by Brittany of Family on Standby

As if Wyoming weren’t stunning enough, the Longhorn Ranch keeps the magic coming. It offers plenty of grass and shade, which is not so common throughout Wyoming. The sites are spread out enough so you’ll have your own large, green space. And you can choose from a variety of sites: big rig friendly, riverfront, tent camping. Not only does this place have all the standard amenities like showers, laundry, playground, free wifi, and a general store, but you’ll get the views to go along with it. The campground is located on a gorgeous river with beautiful mountain views in the background.  It’s perfect for strolling around and admiring the scenery.

But the best part: its location. Longhorn Ranch is nestled in Dubois, Wyoming – a true cowboy town. You’ll feel like you stepped into an old western movie, but without the cheesy touristic side. Dubois is charming and authentic. While staying at the Longhorn Ranch, visit the famous Cowboy Café in downtown Dubois.

When you’re ready to start exploring, Grand Teton National Park is only an hour away.  Yellowstone is also within reach. Head to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton for one of the most gorgeous, and family-friendly, hikes, the Moose Ponds Trail. Admire the mountains from Schwabacher Landing. And snap your picture in front of the famous T.A. Moulton Barn in the historic Mormon Row.

The campground is the perfect distance for a relaxed stay, but close enough to enjoy all Grand Teton and Yellowstone have to offer.

magical campgrounds kids playing at Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara in California

Refugio State Beach Campground

Santa Barbara, California

Recommended by Melanie from SuitChase

Have you ever camped somewhere with the sound of crashing waves lulling you to sleep? If not, you’re in for a treat when you visit Refugio State Beach Campground just north of Santa Barbara in California.  Easily one of the most magical campgrounds on the California coast, you’ll want to add Refugio to your camping wishlist.

While the campsites themselves are on the small side, the palm-lined beach is the starring feature of this campground. Flush toilets and coin-operated showers are a nice bonus during your stay at Refugio State Park.

Kids will enjoy bodyboarding, playing in the sand, or going on a beach walk to hunt for seashells. Kayaking, paddleboarding, and surfing are other popular water activities. There’s also plenty of room on the beach to bump a volleyball or throw a frisbee.

For added adventure, drive 15-minutes south to visit Santa Barbara. Explore the marina, go for a bike or surrey ride, visit the zoo, or enjoy any of these adventurous family-friendly activities.

Refugio State Beach is popular, especially on the weekends, so make sure to secure your spot as soon as reservations are released (six months in advance). If you love sunshine, the best time to visit this enchanting campground is in the spring or fall.

magical campgrounds girls standing by water at sand hollow state park in Utah

Sand Hollow State Park

Washington County, Utah

Recommended by Kristina of Million Miller Mom

If you’re on the lookout for a camping experience that offers a gorgeous backdrop and plenty of amenities, be sure to check out one of Utah’s newest state parks, Sand Hollow State Park. With options for primitive camping, tents, and full hook-up, there is something for every visitor.

After you have settled into your campground, explore the Sand Mountain Dunes by ATV, go boating or simply enjoy the red sand beach and a dip in the reservoir. The mix of modern amenities, the number of options of things to do within the park, and the Mars-like red sand make this a truly unique place to camp.

Outside of the Park, Zion National Park is only 45 minutes away by car. Additionally, Utah has several state parks within the vicinity to check out including Quail Creek State Park (15 minutes), Snow Canyon State Park (30 minutes), and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (1 hour). In nearby St. George, check out the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site, and Red Hills Desert Garden (free). For those traveling with younger children, be sure to add St. George Children’s Museum and Thunder Junction All Abilities Park to your travel itinerary.

Book your campsite here


About Kristina

Kristina Bullock is a family travel blogger based in San Jose, California. Follow her and her family on their adventures near and far on Million Miler Mom and Instagram.

kids playing on a redwood log in magical campgrounds in big basin state park near santa cruz

Big Basin Redwood State Park

Santa Cruz County, California

Recommended by Melanie from SuitChase

Camping in Big Basin near Santa Cruz is a fairytale experience. There are no words to describe these magical campgrounds! 

Sites are fairly private, especially in the Huckleberry Campground, with plenty of space behind the campsites for exploring and playing. The campsites are nestled amongst the tallest trees in the world, the Coastal Redwoods.

These redwoods are related to the Giant Sequoias that can be found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These awe-inspiring trees can grow to heights over 350 feet and typically live 500-700 years. However, some of these trees live up to 2,000 years!

Campgrounds boast coin-operated showers, a dish-washing area, picnic tables, fire-pits with grills, and bear boxes for food storage.

Kids will love climbing giant fallen trees, crawling inside trees hollowed out by fire, hunting for banana slugs, and hiking along the creek to a small waterfall.  For added adventure, take the Roaring Camp Railroad through the redwoods to the beach and explore the Santa Cruz Boardwalk!

While California wildfires in 2020 destroyed much of these campgrounds, most of the big trees survived. They are in the process of rebuilding this beautiful park, and hopefully, they’ll be open to overnight guests once again in the near future.

dock at magical campgrounds at sugar pine at lake tahoe in california

Sugar Pine Point Campground

Lake Tahoe, California

Recommended by Sierra from Free to Travel Mama

Of all the places in the United States, Sugar Pine Point Campground in Lake Tahoe, California is one of the most magical campgrounds. Located on the west shore of the lake, this campground offers 175 campsites with plenty of space to explore and relax. The sugar pine trees are some of the tallest in the world and can be heard beautifully swaying in the breeze. Wildlife is also abundant, so don’t be surprised if you see a black bear, and make sure to utilize those food lockers! Miles of hiking trails meander through the park, many of them paved, as well as a two-mile-long swimming beach.

This popular area requires early reservations that open six months before your arrival date. Summer weekends fill up fast so prepare to start your trip mid-week, if you can, in order to grab a spot. Luckily, every campsite in this campground is beautiful, spacious, and well-located within the park.

Across the street from the campsites, and still within Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, is a day-use area complete with lake access, kayak rentals, the historic Hellman-Ehrman Estate that is open for touring, picnic areas, walking trails, Nature Center, and a beautiful pier. Evidence of the Washoe Native Americans that inhabited the area for many years can be seen around the park. This beautiful stretch of the Lake Tahoe area is arguably the most picturesque and peaceful, yet its water activities and hiking can also keep you busy all day!

magical campground near haviland lake called chris park group campground in colorado near durango

Chris Park Group Campground

Durango, Colorado

Recommended by Melanie from SuitChase

If you’re looking for a campground that will accommodate a large group (or even a small group), check out Chris Park Group Campground near Durango, Colorado.

Located in the San Juan Mountains, a range in southwestern Colorado that is part of the Rocky Mountains, these  magical campgrounds are perfect for a summer getaway!

The largest of the group sites has a large pavilion with picnic tables that will keep everyone dry during afternoon thunderstorms. There is a 15amp electrical hookup, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. Bathroom facilities are primitive, offering vault toilets and no showers. If you don’t have an RV, and swimming in the lake isn’t your thing, you can pay for a shower at the Durango Rec Center.

If you’re searching for family-friendly activities, you’ll have plenty to choose from! At the entrance of the campground, there is a stable offering horseback riding. The nearby Haviland Lake is perfect for activities like fishing, swimming, and kayaking/canoeing. Hike around the lake or explore one of the many trails in the area. For an additional adventure, ride the train from Durango to the mountain town of Silverton, where you can step back in time to the mining days of the 1800s.

Chris Park Group Campground is a wonderful place for family reunions or just to meet up with a group of friends!


Are you ready to start planning a camping trip?  If you’re planning your first tent camping trip, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping: 102 Things to Pack to get you started!

Which of these magical campgrounds do you want to add to your bucket list for your next family adventure? Do you know of any other campgrounds in the United States that are perfect for adventurous families? We’d love to hear about them! Drop your recommendation in the comments below!

Visit Mesa Verde National Park (Includes a 1-Day Itinerary)

Visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is a must for families.

While Mesa Verde National Park may not be as popular as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Yellowstone, this park is a huge hit among kids and should be part of a family road trip! 

Mesa Verde is home to some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States. These ancient ruins are truly remarkable. 

Kids love the hands-on exploration

Hiking to Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling

About Mesa Verde National Park

Who Lived in the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings?

For over 700 years, Native Americans called the Ancestral Puebloans (also known as the Anasazi) inhabited the flat mountaintops and eventually constructed living quarters in the sandstone mountainsides of Mesa Verde National Park. 


What Does Mesa Verde Mean?

Mesa means “table” in Spanish and verde means “green”. So, Mesa Verde literally translated means “green table”. Some mountains are flat on top with no mountain peaks. These are commonly referred to as mesas because they are straight like tabletops! Green likely describes the shrubs that grow on top. 


Where is Mesa National Park Located?

Mesa Verde is located in southwest Colorado within a short driving distance of Four Corners Monument (where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet) and the popular travel destination of Durango, Colorado.


How Many Days Do You Need at Mesa Verde?

Most people find that a one-day visit to Mesa Verde National Park gives them a good overview of the park. If you want to see as much as possible, a two-day trip is advised.

The park is 52,000 acres and has over 600 cliff dwellings.  Most of the dwellings are small with only one or two rooms, but the larger dwellings, like Spruce Tree House, has over 100 rooms!  Not all rooms are accessible to the public, but there is plenty to see and experience during one full day in the park.


When is the Best Time to Visit Mesa Verde?

During the winter months and into early spring, park guests aren’t able to explore the cliff dwellings and ruins, but they can still view them from scenic lookouts. If your family wants to physically explore the Mesa Verde ruins (highly recommended!), plan a visit when the cliff dwellings can be toured, preferably during late spring through fall.


Can You Explore the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde?

Yes! While not all the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are open to the public, some are. Places like Spruce Tree House allow self-guided tours, while places like Cliff Palace and Balcony House are paid, ranger-guided tours.

Visit the park website for tour details and to check for any closures or alerts that may be in effect.


Mesa Verde Hiking and Trails

For those families who love to hike, Mesa Verde offers almost a dozen trails to explore! Most hikes are in the 2-3 mile range.

1-Day Mesa Verde Itinerary

To help you plan your visit to Mesa Verde National Park, we’ve put together a one-day itinerary to help you save more, see more, and enjoy more!


Stop by the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center

After entering the park, you’ll want to stop by the visitor center. It’s here that you can learn more about the park, get a Junior Ranger booklet for the kids, and schedule a ranger-guided tour. While tours can be reserved online before your visit, you’ll still need to get a hard-copy ticket from the visitor center.


Become a Junior Ranger

The National Parks Junior Ranger program is a fun educational opportunity…with the benefits of a free souvenir! Kids who complete the program (usually a small activity booklet) and take the Junior Ranger pledge, will receive a small wooden Mesa Verde Junior Ranger badge!

It doesn’t take a lot of time, it’s free to participate, and the kids can complete pages while driving from one location to another or while sitting on the side of the trail. Each booklet teaches about the park’s history, ecosystem, and geology.

Simply return your completed booklet to a ranger at the visitor center at the end of the day and claim your reward!


My kids love asking the rangers questions–park rangers are the best!

Tour the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

From the Visitor’s Center, you wind your way through the mountains to the hub of the park, The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and the trailhead for Spruce Tree House Cliff Dwellings.

The museum has a variety of exhibits about the people of the park as well as a 25-minute film that gives an overview of Mesa Verde.  

While you certainly can hike before watching the film, we like learning some of the park’s history before exploring.


Hike to Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House is visible from the museum, and it’s a fairly easy hike to the cliff dwellings. Kids will love exploring at their own pace, climbing ladders, and peeking through ancient windows.

visit mesa verde national park

Eat a Picnic Lunch

Find a picnic table, or sit cross-cross-applesauce on the ground, and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you eat your packed lunch. If you didn’t pack and lunch, you can also grab a bite to eat at the Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe.


Take a Ranger-Guided Tour of Another Cliff Dwelling

After lunch, take a guided tour with a ranger! The cheapest one to two-hour tours include Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House.  

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde while Balcony House has a short tunnel. All tours require visitors to climb large, sturdy ladders, so they may not be suited to very young guests…although we all know that 18-month-olds are the world’s fiercest mountain goats. 


If You Have Extra Time in Mesa Verde

If you find yourself with extra time in your day (some of us hike and eat faster than others), try exploring Petroglyph Point Trail (more challenging) or Soda Canyon Overlook Trail (easy)!

young girl climbing ladder in kiva at mesa verde national park
family hiking spruce tree house trail at mesa verde national park

Enjoy Your Day in Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is such a unique place and the perfect place to spend a day exploring. Are you planning a trip to Mesa Verde? Do you have any questions? Ask me in the comments below!

Dinosaur National Monument in Utah (a must-see for kids who love dinosaurs)

Do you have a budding paleontologist in your family? Or, is your child obsessed with geology and fossils?

We have a couple of kiddos in our family who are. They spend hours looking at rocks they find in the riverbed behind our house, trying to guess what fossilized creatures they’ve discovered.

When I knew we would be passing through eastern Utah on a road trip, inspiration struck. Without a doubt, I knew we needed to add Dinosaur National Monument as a stop.  

It’s one of those places I hadn’t heard much about, and none of our friends or family had visited. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s not close to any other attractions, but off by itself in the middle of nowhere.

Honestly, I thought it would be fun for our dinosaur-lovers, but I wasn’t prepared for how much ALL of us would love this little hidden gem.

Two States, One Monument

Dinosaur National Monument sits right on the border of Colorado and Utah. There are two areas of the park, the Canyon Visitor Center located in Colorado, and the Quarry Exhibit Hall located in Utah.

If you want to see dinosaur fossils (you do), you’ll want to visit the Utah side. A large building called the Quarry Exhibit Hall houses the fossils.  

The Quarry Exhibit Hall is built around a huge riverbed discovery. About 1,500 dinosaur bones are on display!  

Quarry Exhibit Hall fossil collection (over 1,500 bones)

Get In Free If You Have a Fourth Grader

We had a fourth-grader when we visited, so we were able to use her “Every Kid Outdoors” pass to get the whole family in for free. If you have a fourth-grade student, you’ll definitely want to get a pass of your own!  Not only does this pass get you into national parks free for one year, but it also grants you access to over 2,000 national monuments and federal recreation sites!

Quarry Visitor Center

The visitor center is small, consisting primarily of a theatre and gift shop. First, view a short film about the park and learn more about the history of Dinosaur National Monument.

Become a Junior Ranger

Also, while you’re at the visitor center, be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for your young adventurers. Young explorers can complete activities in the booklet and earn a Junior Ranger badge–for free!

At the entrance to the Quarry Visitor Center in Utah

Ride the Tram

From the visitor center, guests can take a tram/shuttle ride up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Depending on the season (and COVID precautions), guests may take their own vehicle instead. 

Obviously, the tram ride is a hit with kids. It made the trip to the Exhibit Hall more exciting and mysterious!

TIP: Bring plenty of water if you’re visiting during the summer. It was scorching hot when we visited in July. We had to wait for the tram for about 15-20 minutes.

Riding the tram to the Quarry Exhibit Hall

Dinosaur fossil heaven

Visit the Quarry Exhibit Hall

This is where the magic happens! Guests will get to see dinosaur bones up close and personal. They even get to touch them!

My eldest was especially in awe. “My mind is just blown. I just can’t believe it. It’s just completely blown! I’m looking at all these real dinosaur bones, AND I’m actually getting to touch them.”

Blissfully content after touching REAL dinosaur fossils

Explore More at Dinosaur National Monument

Turn your visit into a mini-vacation! If you have more than a day, you can explore even more at Dinosaur National Monument.

Visit the Canyon Visitor Center in Dinosaur, Colorado, and spend some time hiking, fishing, and discovering petroglyphs throughout the park. Some camping is available as well.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, go white-water rafting on the Green River!


Scheduling a stop at Dinosaur National Monument is a must if you’re passing through north-eastern Utah! This was a highlight for our kids, and they have asked to go back.  They want to camp and explore more of the area.

However, if camping isn’t your thing, you can stay in the town of Vernal, Utah, just a little north of the park. 

Do you have aspiring paleontologists in your family? Have you been to Dinosaur National Monument? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!