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Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Travel | 2 comments

The Best Places to Go Camping: Part 1

Nearly 40 million Americans* will pack up tents, hitch up the RV or open the door to a rustic cabin this year. They’re exploring new campsites or returning to old family favorites, and they are traveling an average of 200 miles to get there. Whether it’s the desire to get back to nature or take a breather from a plugged-in world, there are plenty of ways to go camping this summer.

Since people have different ideas of what makes for a good camp-out, check out Part 1 of our Top 10 places you’ve always wanted to see, and places you’ve probably never heard of. There are perfect places for you and your sweetheart, the family, and even the family pet. And right now our partners at Kmart are offering a coupon for 10% off camping accessories. You’ll sleep even better at night under those starry skies.

Best Biking: L.L. Stub Stewart Memorial State Park – Buxton, OR


If exploring on two wheels is your thing, look into the growing number of bike-friendly camp sites, including eco-friendly Stub Stewart State Park. A mere 34 miles west of Portland, you leave city life behind as you explore 1,800 acres of forests, canyons, streams, fields and rolling hills.

The Atmosphere
Unspoiled wild landscapes beckon with 25 miles of bike and equestrian trails to feed your soul and feel the wind on your face. Need a new ride? Check out the Schwinn’s Women’s Riverside 26 inch bike on sale now.

The Amenities
There are a variety of campsites and charming cabins to stake your slice of peace and quiet. Enjoy views of the Coast Range as you pedal across a spider web of trails. You will also find opportunities to go canoeing, horseback riding, golfing and hiking. Check out the Welcome Center’s Discover Depot, where you can learn all about the area’s plants and animals.

For RVs – Dairy Creek Camp West offers 40 complete hookup sites and 12 walk-in tent sites. Flush toilets and hot showers. It’s open year-round. Dairy Creek Camp East, open in season, offers 35 full-hookup sites, 23 primitive campsites with nearby showers and toilets, a playground and Hares Canyon Horse Camp.

Cabins – Mountain Dale Cabin Village encompasses 12 single-room cabins (one allows pets) and three double-room cabins with toilets and hot showers.

ADA Accessible camping – Five campsites and 13 cabin rooms are universal accessible.

Cost: Daily day-use pass $5; campsites from $7 for primitive hike-in to $50 per night for a cabin

Contact L.L. Stub Stewart State Park to book your stay.

Best for Newbie Campers: Jordan Lake – Apex, NC


Just west of Raleigh and south of Durham, NC is 15-mile B. Everett Jordan Lake. Along this reservoir’s shores are more than 1,000 family-friendly campsites that offer a mix of everything you want to do. Because it’s very close to civilization and accessible by well-traveled highways, it’s a great place for new campers to get away from it all without feeling isolated.

The Atmosphere
Enjoy a quick, easy-to-get-to campground that offers spectacular sights of water and nature. Whether you fancy boating, fishing, water-skiing or hiking, you will find the facilities user-friendly and simple to navigate.  Watch for bald eagles and learn about the area’s ecosystem and history at the Exhibit Hall if you need a starting point.

The Amenities
Popular campsites include Poplar Point, the largest campground with 579 camper and tent sites; Parker’s Creek offers 250 sites; and Crosswinds has 182. Each area has water and electricity, fire pits, showers, restrooms, a dump station and trash bins.

Feeling adventurous? Try primitive camping in the woods of New Hope Overlook. It has just 24 campsites located 100 yards from the parking lot to a half mile into the forest. Each spot has a grill, lantern holder and picnic table, with toilets and water close by.  Grab the eco-friendly Whetstone 36 LED Solar and Dynamo Powered Camping Lantern.

Gather extended family and friends and sleep under the stars at two large-group campsites with electric, water and restroom facilities. Vista Point offers 50 sites for group RV camping and five sites for tents.  Parkers Creek accommodates six sites for tent groups.

Cost: $13 – $48 per night.

Reserve your spot at Jordan Lake.

Most Dog-Friendly Camping: Fort De Soto Park – St. Petersburg, FL


Not only can you bring Fido with you; he can actually run on designated areas of the beach and in two large enclosures at Fort De Soto Park on the Gulf of Mexico. This camping experience is a paradise for more than just pet-lovers; you’ll also find seven miles of the most pristine beaches in the country for water activities, fishing, shell-collecting and bird-watching.

The Atmosphere
Minutes from the artsy bustle and vibrant nightlife of St. Petersburg but a world apart, Fort De Soto has topped the list of the world’s most beautiful beaches for many years. Enjoy a refreshingly remote ambiance among the white sand beaches – named among the world’s best by “Dr. Beach” and Trip Advisor – as well as quiet hammocks and woods. Keep mosquitoes at bay with a Northwest Territory 14 x 12 Screenhouse on sale now.

The Amenities
Book a spot in Area 2 (86-164) if you want to bring your dog, or look over the selection of nearly 240 sites for tents and RVs. This is among the most environmentally-sensitive land in the nation and enforces a strict “leave no trace” policy.

Enjoy the use of grills for those fresh Gulf catches, Wi-Fi service to send pictures to your envious friends, plus water and electric hookups, 15 picnic shelters, restrooms and showers, washers and dryers, play areas, sanitary disposal sites and a camp store. Seven miles of paved trails connect North Beach, East Beach, the camping area and the boat ramp and the camping area.

Primitive Camping Florida-style
Reserve a spot on Shell Key Preserve for an experience not unlike those lived by Spanish explorers and Florida pioneers. It offers primitive camping on an island accessible by watercraft only. There are no facilities so bring a portable toilet. Sorry, no dogs here!

Cost: $33 to $45 per night

Reserve online at Fort De Soto Park.

Most Natural: Priest Lake State Park – Coolin, ID


Just 30 miles south of the Canadian border, Priest Lake State park earns our top stop for cleanest and pristine-est. The lake area is called the crown jewel of Idaho, and Priest Lake offers amazing views of the lake and the Selkirk Mountains.

The Atmosphere
Enjoy life on the reaches of a pristine lake with boating, boat camping, fishing and kayaking. On land enjoy miles of hiking, volleyball, horseshoes and biking along miles of trails.

Start at the visitors’ center off Highway 57 on the southern end of the lake. Get provisions and a heavy dose of small-town nostalgia at the Leonard Paul Store in Coolin, or learn about the area at the Priest Lake Museum. Explore the stunning Lakeview Mountain trail and the cedar hemlock trees along the Hanna Flats Grove trail.

The Amenities
There are three main units Indian Creek, Dickensheet and Lionshead. You can not only bring your dog, but they are allowed on sections of the lakefront.  Relax on the water and do well-deserved “nothing” in an Intex Sit n Float water lounge.

Choose from 151 campsites and five cabins. Tent and RV sites include showers, flush toilets, and a full-service store with a filling station.

Cost: $5 vehicle entry fee, camping fees $12 per night up to $250 for group sites.

Contact Priest Lake State Park for reservations.

Best Trout Fishing: Bull Shoals-White River State Park – Bull Shoals, AR


Head to the Natural State’s crystal clear White River and Bull Shoals Lake for an angler’s paradise. In addition to its reputation for record-setting brown and rainbow trout, the confluence of waters in the heart of the Arkansas Ozarks is also a hot spot for catfish, lunker bass, bream and crappie. Rent a canoe, a boat, a kayak, or just a motor for your own vessel. Before you go, be sure to pick up an Igloo Island Breeze™ 28 Qt. Rolling Cooler to keep your catch cold.

The Atmosphere 
The park is located on a wide stretch of lake and river just below Bull Shoals Dam. Waterfront camping makes it perfect for more than trout fishing; enjoy water-skiing, kayaking, picnics, hiking and exploring. It’s also a prime spot for butterfly and bird watching. Check with the visitors/education center high above the dam to get started.

The Amenities
Clean and serene, the park offers more than 100 campsites that accommodate the needs of most campers: 83 RV and tent sites with hookups, 20 with no hookups, and 34 with sewer and 50-amp electrical hookups. There’s a playground for the kids and a welcome mat for dogs on a leash. The park is also ADA accessible.

If you like to travel light, you can rent one of three RVs that sleep up to eight people each, or rent a permanent tent that sleeps two quite cozily. The park also has hot showers and restroom facilities, a dump station and rental pavilions to set up a BBQ picnic.

Cost:  From $12 – $80 per night for tents/RVs; facility rentals extra

Reserve your space at Bull Shoals White River State Park.

*[source: 2013 American Camper report, The Coleman Company and the Outdoor Foundation]

This post was sponsored by Kmart. Click here for Kmart Coupon Codes.


Marie Hickman, Digital Content Writer at Valpak, focuses on what’s new in couponing, money-saving tips, entertaining and home improvement.


  1. This is an impressive collection of mats but what is your favorite mat?

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