This summer, stop coveting the lifestyle of Instagram influencers and get out there and live it. For real. In the wild. You don’t need to shell out money for Lightroom presets or work on your yoga postures for your next post. You can just throw some camping gear in the back of your car and head to a cool campsite for the weekend. Take a few days to sleep under the stars, breathe deeply in the fresh air, and appreciate the free (or very cheap) things in life. Throw your cell phone in a lake, or leave it in the car for when you have to return to your life. Here are some of the coolest places to go camping this summer.
Acadia National Park: $22/night for a walk-up site
There are three separate campgrounds within Acadia and a dozen more in the picturesque wilderness surrounding the national park. Basic campsites come with picnic tables and firepits, and flush toilets are nearby at most camping sites. Pay-showers are available in the nearby Otter Creek village for people staying at any of the surrounding campsites. Once you’ve pitched your tent, you can relax and leave the car parked thanks to the Island Explorer shuttle. Propane-powered vehicles follow ten routes around Desert Island, connecting campsites with restaurants, beaches, visitor centers, and trailheads.
Assateague Island Campgrounds: $30/night
This Maryland barrier island is infamous for the wild horses that live there. There are campsites in the National Park, both walk-in and drive up on both sides of the island, facing the ocean and the bay. For the more adventurous, the park accommodates camping with horses and backcountry sites accessible only through hiking or paddling.
Big Bend National Park: $16/night
You won’t want to leave the picturesque Chisos Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert that this national park encompasses. Luckily, they allow up to 14 consecutive nights of camping, and up to 28 days in a calendar year. They have sites available for all camping experience levels, from developed drive-in sites to backcountry campgrounds only available to those who hike in.
Badlands National Park: Free
The Sage Campground on the west side of the Badlands Wilderness Area is free and right next to the spires, canyons, and rock formations of the park. It’s a primitive campground with pit-toilets, but some campsites come with covered picnic tables. All the sites at the Sage are first-come, first-serve, and popular during the peak summer months.
Arches National Park: $22/night
Just north of Moab, you’ll find thousands of sandstone formations in the desert. It’s a must-see and worth a summer road trip. There are plenty of campgrounds in the area with flush toilets and seasonal staff. But if you’re feeling adventurous, with a permit from the visitor center, you can head off-trail into the desert for a once-in-a-lifetime camping experience.