Top 10 beginner campgrounds

These campsites will turn even the most doubtful campers into true believers.

New Mexico

Sundial Springs, Gila National Forest

Steaming hot springs make this privately run campground northwest of Silver City feel as sumptuous as any spa. Ten RV and two tent sites overlook the San Francisco River, and campers enjoy access to two rock-lined mineral pools. Reserve one (from $20) for a private soak and views across hills where bighorn sheep are known to roam. Showers, fishing, yurts/tent cabins/cabins, and RV/ trailer hookup; from $15; no children under 12; sundialsprings.com.   

Oregon

Silver Falls Campground, Silver Falls State Park

Some of the waterfalls at this Cascade Range park, including 177-foot South Falls, drop from overhangs so large that hiking trails actually pass behind the splashing water. That’s just one of the cool things about Oregon’s largest state park, 25 miles east of Salem. Whether you come for mountain biking, strolling by huge western hemlock and lush sword ferns, cooling off in a Silver Creek swimming hole, or warming up by the fireplace in the 1930s stone lodge, you always have a hot shower to come home to. And even Fido can run (a bit) free: There’s an off-leash area for dogs. Showers, fishing, yurts/tent cabins/cabins, and RV/ trailer hookup; from $19; $5/day park fee; oregonstateparks.org.   

Utah

Goblin Valley Campground, Goblin Valley State Park

Roughing it is de rigueur in Utah’s rugged canyon lands (where even outhouses can seem like luxuries), but Goblin Valley, west of Moab, is the Ritz-Carlton of the desert. These 24 sites pamper campers with showers and with shade. Two yurts have wooden floors and bunk beds—even swamp coolers offering relief from summer heat. All sites enjoy views of eroded pinnacles and mushroom-shaped rocks; tenters should nab sites 10 through 12, which are tops for seclusion and scenery. showers and yurts/tent cabins/cabins; from $20; $8 park entry; stateparks.utah.gov.  

Washington

South End Campground, Moran State Park

All five campgrounds in Moran State Park—on Orcas Island in the San Juans—are set among skyscraping evergreens and sit steps away from swimming, paddleboating, fishing, and 38 miles of hiking trails. But it’s the 17 sites of the park’s South End Campground that have all the creature comforts (showers, real toilets) without the crowds—and you can pitch your tent on the edge of a private beach along sapphire Cascade Lake. Showers and fishing; from $23; $10/day park fee; parks.wa.gov/547/moran.  

Wyoming

Lizard Creek Campground, Grand Teton National Park

Delightfully off the radar for most park visitors, this privately run lakeside campground gives campers the chance to enjoy stunning mountain views without the crowds that clog other parts of the park. Some of its 60 sites sit near the edge of Jackson Lake, with views of the jagged Tetons. Pines separate tents and trailers (the prettiest spots are designated a generator-free zone). And the nearby marina and restaurants increase your dining options. Fishing; $22; $25 park entry; no reservations; open Jun 13–Sep 1; signalmountainlodge.com

Unless noted, these 10 campgrounds have potable water and flush toilets.

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