We've had the opportunity to live and backpack throughout the world. And although we find hidden gems everywhere we go, we've narrowed down our top 5 U.S. camping spots below.
#1 BOWMAN LAKE | TAHOE NATIONAL FOREST
Bowman Lake is in an extremely remote area of Tahoe National Forest.
To get to Bowman Lake, you must have an SUV with 4-wheel drive. The terrain is very rough, rocky, and narrow...but so worth it. This is a remote back-country expedition, so don't expect to find any bathrooms or showers. It's also bear country, so you need to plan accordingly. Although the terrain may seem challenging at first, we encourage you to keep going (if you feel safe) about 30 minutes into the forest. It ends up being only 10 miles or so, but it takes some time to get into the forest due to the terrain.
Keep your eyes peeled to the side and take your pick with where you want to set up your campsite. There are only 7 campsites with bear lockers and grills, but you can post up anywhere. We haven't used the campsites; however, we find the remote spots just as good. We suggest getting as close to Lake Bowman as possible. The sunset is out of this world and lakeside waves make for a peaceful sleep.
#2 SAWTOOTH LAKE | SAWTOOTH NATIONAL FOREST, IDAHO
The landscape in Idaho is spectacular. The drive east from Boise to the Sawtooth National Forest is especially breathtaking and takes about 3 hours. We recommend taking the Ponderosa Pine scenic route. You can camp alongside the Payette River or stop for a picnic. By far one of the most beautiful road trips we've ever taken!
We recommend starting early and taking the Iron Creek trail to Sawtooth Lake. The trail is relatively even but does turn into an incline about half-way through until you reach Alpine Lake. Continue a bit further and you'll reach Sawtooth Lake.
Keep in mind that the weather fluctuates, so it's important to bring the right gear. We took the trek in June and were surprised to be trudging through snow and seeing that parts of the lake were still frozen. Aside from your terrain hiking gear, we recommend bringing hiking poles for this expedition. We also rolled up our army green wool blanket, which came in handy when we reached the summit.
#3 TUMALO FALLS, | BEND, OREGON
Bend, Oregon...This is what the Pacific Northwest (or PNW) is all about. A magical outdoor haven for explorers alike.
We set up camp at Tumalo, which is an oasis of trails, rivers, and serenity. This is also a great spot to check out if you have kids, as there are bathrooms and showers nearby. Not far away is Smith Rock. No words can describe just how magnificent and powerful this landmark is. We took Misery Trail (and yes, it was hard) up to the top where the views went on for days. Smith Rock is about 30 minutes outside of Bend, and well worth the trip. It's also an oasis for rock climbers.
#4 PREWITT RIDGE | BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA
Imagine a magical place located above the clouds, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Prewitt Ridge off the Pacific Coast in California is just that. Easily considered the crown jewel of Big Sur, Prewitt Ridge is in the Los Padres National Forest. And although we've seen cars make the trek, we recommend a 4-wheel drive SUV because of the terrain on Nacimiento-Fergusson road. There are no reservations and no toilets. Show up as is and pack plenty of extra water. The air is very dry. The closest gas station is 16 miles away, so be sure to fill up before trekking to the top! Because of the dust and dryness, we opted to pack our gray and yellow wool blanket for this trip. This is part of our Farmhouse Wool Blanket Collection and has more of a brushed, airy finish. It's not as dense and quicker to shake out (which we had to do multiple times!)
#5 ZION | ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
Looking for pristine wilderness and panoramic, coral views in every direction? Look no further than beautiful Zion National Park.
Zion is home to some of the most beautiful and strenuous hiking trails. Campsites fill up quickly, so it's best to reserve in plenty of time. We lucked out and grabbed a last-minute cancellation and captured some of the most beautiful night photography.
Angel’s Landing and The Narrows are incredible trails that will leave you wanting to go back for more. We recommend hitting the trails early to avoid long lines and give yourself plenty of time to savor the view from the top.