15 Epic Southern Campsites To Escape To This Summer
Camp more. Worry less.
1. Big Bend National Park in Texas
About as far west in Texas as you can possibly go, you'll find this isolated sanctuary of wide open skies, breathtaking desert wildlife and flora, and the clearest stars you'll ever set your eyes on. Despite its remote location, the park features three developed campsites, a fully stocked visitors' center for all your camping needs, and, if roughing it isn't really your thing, 72 air-conditioned and fully furnished rooms!
2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee
Nestled on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is one of America's most prized regions — the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several types of campsite available at the park, including backcountry sites for backpackers, developed sites with running water, and sites that are even accommodating for your pet horse!
3. Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia
Located on Georgia's southernmost barrier island is a magical park straight out of a fairy tale. Besides its 50 miles of hiking trails and 18 miles of beaches and beachside camping, the park also boasts a colony of feral horses that roam wild to their hearts' content. Ah, the freedom!
4. DeSoto State Park in Alabama
Located on Lookout Mountain, near Fort Payne, Alabama, Desoto State Park offers a whole spectrum of camping opportunities among its rushing waterfalls and lush greenery, including furnished mountain chalets and wood cabins, campsites with running water, and isolated primitive sites for those seeking a more rugged experience.
5. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
It's hard to believe that only 75 miles outside of Washington DC is the remarkable wilderness sanctuary of Shenandoah National Park. Amid a slew of cascading waterfalls, breathtaking views, and unadulterated wildlife, the park also offers four cozy campsites to hang your hat after a day of exploring the park.
6. Dupont State Forest in North Carolina
Over 10,000 acres of forest are home to four breathtaking waterfalls along North Carolina's Little River, as well as scenic views of the rolling hills and mountain ranges of the Little River valley. You might also recognize several of the park's locations as film sets from the movie The Hunger Games. While camping is not permitted within the forest, there are plenty of great sites just a short trail away, including the Black Forest Family Camping Resort and Ash Grove Mountain Cabins and Camping.
7. Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi
At the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is Tishomingo State Park, which takes its name from Chief Tishomingo, one of the most influential leaders of the Chickasaw Nation. This park offers a unique landscape riddled with gigantic boulders, flowing spring waters, and hiking trails enveloped with blooming wildflowers. Like many of the parks on this list, Tishomingo State Park also offers several camping options, including RV sites, cottages, and primitive campsites.
8. Blue Spring State Park in Florida
Every winter, from around mid-November through March, a population of West Indian Manatees call Florida's Blue Spring State Park home. While swimming with these gentle giants is strictly prohibited, it's possible to spot upwards of several hundred of these creatures in the waters during these months. Stop by one of the park's 51 campsites for an adventure you'll never forget.
9. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world's longest cave system with over 400 miles of explored caverns. And with over 105 campsites on the premises, you're pretty much guaranteed a sweet spot to kick back and relax before your spelunking adventure!
10. Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina
You'll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful South Carolina destination than Hunting Island State Park. A stay at the park's 200+ campsites allows immediate access to the mesmerizing Palmetto tree forest that lines the island's beaches. The Hunting Island lighthouse is also a popular spot to visit, as it's the only lighthouse in South Carolina that's open to the public — plus, the view is breathtaking!
11. Lake Bistineau State Park in Louisiana
Louisiana's Lake Bistineau is home to a wide array of wildlife and flora, many of which thrive on the ecosystems supported by cypress trees in the lakebed. During the fall, you might even catch the blossoming of wildflowers across the lake's surface. There are 61 available campsites in this park, many of which offer electricity, restrooms, and water.
12. Jekyll Island in Georgia
Purchased in 1886 to be a vacation getaway for Georgia's elite and wealthy, this island has since become an ideal retreat for anyone looking to escape the bustle of daily life. The campgrounds on Jekyll Island are just steps away from its gorgeous beachside views of the Atlantic Ocean, while the option of bicycle rentals makes touring the island even easier. Did we mention that this campsite also offers WIFI?!?
13. Buffalo National River in Arkansas
The Buffalo National River is a free-flowing body of water and one of the last remaining undammed rivers in America. Due to the river's length (135 miles), the campsites are divided in three "districts," each offering its own unique environment and features to explore.
14. Ocala National Forest in Florida
Located just north of Orlando, this subtropical forest contains more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs to explore by hiking, canoeing, and even scuba diving. With everything from comfortable lodges to primitive campsites available, this park also makes sure that you have a nice place to rest your head after a day of exploring the Florida wilderness.
15. Devils Fork State Park in South Carolina
Don't let the name fool you — Devils Fork State Park is heaven on Earth. Surrounding the 7,500 acre Lake Jocassee, this park offers it all — scenic views, swimming, hiking, and of course, some of the best campsites in the state.