5 State Park Campsites in the West

With weather warming, start making plans for more camping trips. 

5 State Park Campsites in the West

When looking for a campsite in the western United States, it is easy to default to campgrounds in the national parks or national forests—especially if you’re not from the state that you’re planning to visit. But the better-known campgrounds get a much higher volume of visitors, which means you may not get a reservation or, perhaps worse, get stuck in bad site in a packed-to-the-gills campground. One way to avoid such issues is to do some research about state parks in the area. Many are quite close to better-known national parks but don’t attract nearly the same number of visitors. From California's redwood forests to Utah's sweeping canyons, here are just a few of our favorite state park campsites in the West.  

Campsite 12, Goblin Valley State Park, UT

Located midway between Capital Reef and Canyonlands National Parks, Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park offers much of the same type of desert-hoodoo landscape formations, as well as incredible canyoning opportunities, as its neighbors. The campground is not particularly secluded or tree-lined, but it is an excellent gateway to all that the park has to offer. 

Campsite 12 is a tent-only site that is set back a little away from RVs and other campers. The site includes your own shaded picnic table and a brilliant, uninterrupted view of the rock formations that Goblin Valley is known for. Not feeling like setting up and taking down your own shelter? Grab one of the yurts available for rent in the park.

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Koke’e State Park, HI

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii—or planned a trip to Hawaii—you know lodging is not cheap. A great way to avoid exorbitant lodging costs in the Aloha State is to camp. Many of the state’s parks offer excellent camping options and facilities. Those visiting the Garden Isle of Kauai will appreciate the picturesque beauty of Koke’e State Park.

Perched 4,000 feet above the lush vegetation of the Kalalau Valley, with sweeping views out to the Pacific, Koke’e offers several tent camping opportunities in campsites that have been minimally developed. In addition, several cabins are available for rental in the park if you’re hoping for a break from tent camping.

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Campsite G, Blue Heron Campground, Lake Cascade State Park, ID

Lake Cascade State Park in west-central Idaho comprises 86 miles of shoreline along the edge of the eponymous lake. The park is tucked into the region’s wooded mountains near the Payette National Forest. Popular with anglers, Lake Cascade is known as a prime spot for trout and salmon fishing. The surrounding area offers miles of trails for hiking, cycling and birding. The park’s 41 square miles of surface water are ideal for paddling or boating.

Dispersed primitive camping is available at several locations throughout the park. But if you’d like a few more amenities (restrooms, for example), the Blue Heron Campground is tent-only and located on a peninsula that juts out into the lack. Site G is a lakefront site that is set back an away from the other sites, so you have your own little slice of heaven.

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Campsite 153, Blooms Creek Campground, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, CA

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is just west of—and a world away from—the Bay Area megalopolis in California. It is the state’s first and oldest state park. The park’s main feature, as the name implies, is the ancient, coast redwood trees marching up and down the slopes. Blooms Creek Campground in the park affords the opportunity to sleep among these beautiful giants, which are up to 1,800 years old.

Site 153 is a hike-in site that is away from the main campground but close to a water source. It connects to the Blooms Creek Trail, which in turn, connects to many of the other trails in the park.

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Walk-in Campsites, Ainsworth State Park, OR

Oregon’s Ainsworth State Park lies within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and encompasses spectacular natural features like Horsetail Falls and 620-ft. Multnomah Falls. There are many hiking trails in the park, itself, that take advantage of the fantastic beauty of the Gorge. The park also connects to several trails that lead to other points of interest like the majestic St. Peter’s Dome, which rises 2,000 feet over the river.

The campground at Ainsworth offers six walk-in tent sites that are set back and away from the main campground and connect to trails that allow you to avoid walking through the main part of the camping area. Any one of the sites puts you in the midst of all that the park has to offer but provides the illusion of a secluded site away from civilization.

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