The United States has hundreds of National Parks, founded to preserve some of the country’s most beautiful and pristine spots while allowing any visitor to enjoy their natural beauty.

Of the hundreds of National Parks, more than 100 allow camping. Camping in National Parks is a great way to see America, have a few adventures and save money in the process.

History

The first publicly protected park, transferred to California State ownership in 1864, was the Yosemite Valley. The first National Park was Yellowstone, established in 1872. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to manage and protect the growing number of National Parks throughout the nation.

Access and Amenities

Campsite amenities vary: some have hot showers, campfire rings and laundry facilities, while others may not even offer water. “Developed” campsites can generally be reached by car and offer more amenities, including RV hookups. “Primitive” campsites are usually private and scenic but often can be reached only on foot.

Cost and Reservations

Most National Park campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis (so arrive early on holiday weekends). A few campgrounds accept reservations. Campsites usually cost $10-$20 a night.

Wildlife and Fire Dangers

When you enter the park or the campground, you’re likely to see signs or meet a Ranger who will warn you about any park dangers. These vary from park to park: in Yosemite, you may be told to store your food in “bear boxes”; in Indiana, you might hear about a firewood quarantine for pest control. Fire danger varies by area as well. Follow all instructions to the letter; National Parks are the property of all U.S. citizens, and it’s every visitor’s responsibility to keep them beautiful and safe.

Time Limit

Enjoy your stay, but don’t linger: the maximum stay in a National Park is 14 days.