Summertime has finally arrived, increasing our sense of wanderlust ten-fold. The best way to enjoy the season? In the great outdoors, of course. And what better opportunity to become one with nature than through camping?
In the gloriously illustrated, coffee-table worthy camping guide Fifty Places to Camp Before You Die (Stewart, Tabori and Chang), open-air aficionado Chris Santella reveals 50 of the most incredible places to pitch your tent around the world. From the Grand Canyon and Big Sur to hidden gems like Dry Tortugas and the Namib Desert, his bucket list destinations will appeal to uber-experienced campers and amateur “glampers” too.
Here are our 10 favorite spots from Santella’s book that are must-see destinations for your summer travels.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
Beloved by many, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s most well-known natural attractions. The canyon itself is nearly 300 miles long with depths in some locations clocking in at over a mile. In his book, Santella describes the landscape as, “A seemingly endless series of gentle slopes and abrupt cliffs.” What a sight to see!
2. Crater Lake National Park
Nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon’s Fort Klamath region, Crater Lake National Park features a breathtaking expanse of glistening blue waters. Surrounded by a 6-mile-wide caldera, Crater Lake is almost 2,000 feet deep, earning it the title of the deepest lake in America. After hiking the mountain trails, visitors can jump into the waters to cool off.
3. Torres del Paine National Park
Located in Patagonia, the Torres del Paine National Park provides sweeping views amongst an incredibly serene atmosphere. Crowning the southern tip of the Andes, Torres del Paine park has many trails paved around its abundant lakes and glaciers. Santella notes that the base camp even has a “glamping” facility, for those less willing to get down and dirty.
4. Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore, located just off souththern Maryland, stretches for 48,000 acres. Boasting temperate waters perfect for fishing, surfing and kayaking, Assateague is the perfect place for a family trip. You may even catch a glimpse of the native horses that freely roam the park, although attempting to mount them is not advised.
5. Namib Desert
The oldest desert in the world, the Namib desert sprawls 1,200 miles along the Namibian coastline, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean. Not a destination for amateur campers, the desert is one of the hottest and driest places on earth, but arguably one of the most beautiful as well. The only catch, as noted by Santella, is that there are actually no campgrounds—or roads—in the Namib. “The only way to experience the desert is via 4×4,” he says.
6. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is located in California’s Big Sur region. Santella understands why people travel far and wide to reach this destination. “The Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly by the Pacific and misty valleys shelter forests of giant redwoods, creating some of North America’s most iconic coastal vistas,” he says. This one is definitely at the top of our bucket list!
7. Abel Tasman National Park
Despite its ranking as New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman draws over 150,000 visitors a year, notes Santella. The main attractions are the golden-pink shores along the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, which are beautifully juxtaposed against the blue-green waters in a sight one must see to believe. The sand contains a high amount of orthoclase minerals which provide its radiant hue, and is perfect for lounging and building sandcastles alike.
8. Dry Tortugas National Park
Located west of Key West, Florida, Dry Tortugas is about as remote as U.S. parks get. Only accessible by boat or ferry, this park is actually a cluster of seven small islands all with golden sandy beaches and the clearest of blue waters. The park’s Fort Jefferson (shown here) is the largest all-masrony fort in the United States, and was once utilized as a prison. In fact, Samuel Mudd, one of the men who conspired in Lincoln’s assassination, was imprisoned here.
9. Waldseilgarten Höllschlucht
A tongue-twister that is definitely worth the trip, Germany’s Waldseilgarten Höllschlucht is a high-elevation campground not for the faint of heart. Located just southwest of Munich, the park allows visitors to pitch what is known as an “air tent” along the side of the Alps’ Allgäu mountain region. “There’s a certain exhilaration that comes with high elevation camping,” Santella says. That’s for sure!
10. Bryce Canyon National State Park
Last but not least, Utah’s sprawling Bryce Canyon is nothing short of remarkable. At just under 60 miles wide, Bryce Canyon is on the smaller side—but don’t let that fool you. The incredible views seem to extend forever, and the limestone canyons are an intricate maze that one can wander for hours and never be bored.