The West's best camping

Fair warning: Waking up at any one of these places will hook you on camping for good

Northwest: 27 best campgrounds

Our favorite campgrounds in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and British Columbia

IDAHO

19. Hells Gate State Park, Lewiston
Take in Lewis and Clark country from this grassy, shaded campground along the shores of the Snake River. Hike an easy 1.5 miles south to the basalt rocks, a 150-foot-tall ancient lava formation. From $12; 208/799-5015; book at parksandrecreation.idaho.gov

20. Point Campground, Near Stanley

At Sawtooth National Forest’s Point Campground—especially tent sites 11–17—wake early to see the morning light on the striated Sawtooth Range and 9,000-plus-foot Mt. Heyburn and Grand Mogul. Nearby Redfish Lake Lodge serves up civilization with boat rentals and a restaurant with trout and wild game on the menu ($$). $15; late May–mid-Sep; book at recreation.gov

21. City of Rocks National Reserve, Malta

From site 22, near Lookout Rock, you get a sweeping view of the 14,000-acre City of Rocks in southern Idaho. The “city” is hundreds of granite monoliths, some more than 600 feet high, that rise out of a gently rolling sagebrush landscape. Take in a desert sunrise, watch the rock climbers as they spider up the planetary formations, and keep your ears peeled for the song of the reserve’s 142 species of birds, including mountain bluebirds and warblers. $23; book at reserveamerica.com

ALASKA 

22. Porcupine Campground, Chugach National Forest, West of Hope
On a bluff on the northern part of Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, this campground has great ocean views. In mid- to late summer, watch for beluga whales. $14; 907/224-3374; book at recreation.gov

23. Wonder Lake Campground, Denali National Park
Set near Wonder Lake, this is one of only a handful of campgrounds inside Denali, and it’s the one with the best views of Mt. McKinley. No cars are allowed into Denali, so take the Camper Bus ($32; reservedenali.com) from the park’s Wilderness Access Center. It’s beautiful but buggy, so pack insect protection. $16 (plus $5 reservation fee and $20 park entrance fee per vehicle); 907/683-2294; book at reservedenali.com

24. Camp Homer, Homer

A quiet alternative to the generator-filled sites along the Homer Spit, Camp Homer (6 miles inland from town) offers 15 tent pads amid a field of fireweed that produces shoulder-high blooms from late July through August. The fuchsia “walls” shield your view of other campers; some sites include vistas of 10,000-foot Mt. Iliamna, an active volcano. A shower house and covered cooking pavilion are scheduled for spring completion. $20; mid-May–mid-Sep; camphomer.com

BRITISH COLUMBIA

25. China Beach Campground, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
Get a taste of the wild coastline of Vancouver Island at China Beach, situated at the southern end of the Juan de Fuca Trail. From the campground, follow trails to the two beaches for sea otter sightings. $11.75 U.S.; bcparks.ca; book at discovercamping.ca

26. Nairn Falls Provincial Park, North of Whistler
Just a half-hour north of Whistler, this campground is a good base for exploring B.C.’s "Sea to Sky" region. Request a campsite overlooking the Green River. $11.75 U.S. (plus $4.65 U.S. reservation fee per night); bcparks.ca or 604/986-9371; book at discovercamping.ca

27.  Sunshine Coast Trail, From Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay

You don’t have to hike the entire 112-mile Sunshine Coast Trail to stay in one of its 12 huts. Many are easily accessible from nearby logging roads. The most spectacular digs are the winterized (i.e., cozy) Tin Hat hut, built in 2011, which sits high on a ridge facing the Salish Sea, Vancouver Island, and the B.C. coast. You may share the sleeping loft with a few other campers, but the chanterelles you find in the forests below are yours to keep. Free; no reservations or potable water; sunshinecoast-trail.com

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