National Park Service

Without question, national parks are the destination choice of campers. Where would campers be without the National Park Service? The simple fact is we owe a great deal to the men and women who work daily to preserve and maintain our national parks. Without the National Park Service (NPS), we’d be hard-pressed to find scenic, natural environments where we could safely camp outdoors. When you get down to it, camping in the national parks is about the only way we can see and experience plants and wildlife up close and personal in their natural habitats.

The National Park Service offers camping in one of two ways. You have the option of camping in the backcountry of the national parks, which requires a permit, or staying at one of the developed campgrounds maintained by the park service.

Camping in the backcountry is a true primitive experience and it should only be undertaken by people who are in good physical condition. Backpackers, hikers, and avid nature lovers enjoy backcountry camping, while your everyday camper might find it a bit intimidating. Backcountry campsites are generally miles away from public or populated areas and your campsite may be as rustic as a simple three-sided lean-to. Backcountry camping isn’t something to do on the spur of the moment. A lot of preparation goes into this type of camping.

The National Park Service requires that backcountry campers obtain free permits before they can head into the backcountry. Permits help the park keep up with their backcountry campers in the event someone should get lost or injured.

The National Park Service maintains well over a hundred developed campgrounds in the national parks. Before heading out to a campground in a national park, understand what type of campsite you are going to. All of the developed campgrounds will have restrooms and either fire rings or grates for grilling, but not all of them are equipped with showers or laundry facilities. Finding a national park campground that has water and electrical hookups may be a challenge—depending on which national park you are visiting.

Most of the campgrounds operate on a first-come, first served basis, but there are a few that do take reservations. Fees for staying at developed campgrounds in national parks are very affordable. They generally range from $8 to $40 and are dependent upon the location, season, and amenities of the campground.

Whichever campground you stay at in the national parks, be on the lookout for employees of the National Park Service, and take time to talk with these people. National Park Service employees are full of information that can make your camping experience more enjoyable. They can tell you interesting history and facts about the park, and they can also give you tips on things you can see and do in the park that the general public may not know. Also, let them know how much you appreicate all the work they do to make camping in their park an enjoyable and safe experience.