Of all the search-engine-optimized, readily available information just a few keystrokes away, the best campsite locations are still oddly (and sometimes blissfully) analog—you have to be there to find them. And in a broadening arena of cramped tent sites and overused outhouses, there are still those campsites that offer all of the things we love about the Great Outdoors: a picture-worthy view, an uncrowded landscape, access to incredible hikes and paddles, and a few basic amenities. We're letting the proverbial cat out of the bag with five incredible campsites you'll want to fight, plead, and bargain for before the end of summer.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
It's tough to find a site with a bad view in a park that's, well, all about the view, but try to nab sites 16, 18, or 11 for extra space and a head start on the Bright Angel Point trail. Fire rings, hot showers, and laundry facilities are included and RV spots are available as well—just don't come for a hookup. Make sure to reserve your spot at least six months in advance.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Nestled along the banks of the White River (hence the name), campsites in this patch of land offer unmatched views of Mount Rainier and are located just miles from Sunrise Point, the absolute best place to watch the sun come up and toss its light onto the snowy mountain. Add to that convenient flush toilets and a $12 price tag, and this may just be our favorite campground in the state.
John Flood's family will take you to one of eight campsites in their 72-acre wilderness area by motorboat, but the best way to get there is most definitely by kayak. Paddle around the tip of the wooded island and land on one of the small beaches on the western side, where you'll find secluded picnic tables, fire rings, and a rainbow-colored outhouse. Sit among the trees and soak up the salty air as you gaze over the bay and nearby islets for a true New England experience.
San Juan National Forest, Colorado
Andrews Lake is reason enough to visit this stunning campground—it's a glassy blue alpine lake stocked with fat rainbow and brook trout that reflects the snowy San Juan mountains rising in the distance. There's excellent access to the Colorado Trail topped off with world-class rock climbing and a beautiful waterfall six miles down the south side of Molas Pass. Hail and rain storms do nothing to mar the beauty of this campground—just bring your weather gear.
Sand Flats Recreation Area, Utah
Park in any of the slick rock campsites in this sprawling hill-top campground and you'll be treated to an ever-changing spectrum of color as the sun plays out its daily show on the desert surrounding you. Listen for howling coyotes at dusk and watch for more stars than you've ever seen pop up in the night sky. Mountain bikers will appreciate the 10-minute pedal to the Slick Rock Trailhead—just don't forget to stock up on water back on town.
Tortugas National Park, Florida
White sand beaches, a sprawling barrier reef ecosystem, and glassy turquoise water—the view that meets you at Garden Key Campground can rival that of even the most pristine all-inclusive resort. You'll have to take a round-trip boat journey to get there and there are only 10 sites with no water and just a few composting toilets, but the view is well worth the struggle.
More on GrindTV