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15 Gorgeous American Campsites You Should Visit At Least Once In Your Life

15 Gorgeous American Campsites You Should Visit At Least Once In Your Life

Camping may not be your “thing.” It’s not for a lot of people. They prefer hotels with heated swimming pools, nice restaurants, and the comforts of indoor resting places during vacations. If you do enjoy camping, however, here are 15 of the most amazing campgrounds you will find anywhere in the world – all right here in the U.S.

And for those of you not into camping? You owe it to yourself to find a hotel close by and take some of the greatest day trips you will ever have. From wildlife, to amazing rock formations, to spring, summer and fall foliage, to panning for gold, these national “treasures” of ours, that we call state and national parks, offer some extraordinary experiences.

1. Watchman Campground – Zion National Park, Utah

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    Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr Creative Commons

    Sunrise and sunset are probably the most phenomenal sights at Watchman Campground. There is just something about the way the sunlight hits these magnificent sandstone cliffs that campers never tire of seeing. Add to that the gorgeous walking trail that takes you to the Virgin River which meanders through the canyon and provides cool relief from the heat in the height of the summer months. And in every direction, there are still those cliffs.

    As a campground, for tent camping only, there are lots of amenities for the novices who not want to completely rough it, and the park is open year-round! Take a look at the typical campground site at Zion South!

    2. Assateague Island, Maryland

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      Image by highboom via Flickr Creative Commons

      If beach camping is your thing, you cannot beat Assateague Island off the costs of Maryland and Virginia. This 34-mile long island boasts beach camping and all of the other regular activities that accompany a vacation in this environment. A truly unique feature of the island are the legendary wild horses that roam freely about and don’t seem to mind the human guests, even those that choose to get married there! They have been on the island for at least 200 years, although their origin is uncertain. Today, they are managed by auctioning off male colts every summer.

      There is no place in the world that has more beautiful sunrises and sunsets than Assateague, and for those who camp on the beach, this is your view every morning.

      3. Lake McDonald, West Glacier, Montana

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        Image by Kent Kanouse via Flickr Creative Commons

        The Glacier National Park in Montana truly could be one of the major wonders of the world. Lake McDonald specifically demonstrates the awesome power of ancient glaciers as they carved valleys through mountain ranges. In most instances, these valleys then became lakes, also called basins. Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and offers a very private 25-site campground at one end – Sprague Campground. In late spring and through the summer, it is highly popular, and it may be difficult to get a site, particularly on weekends.

        One of the highlights of any camping trip to this Park will be the 50-mile drive on the “gong-to-the-sun” road, a ride that will take visitors alongside mountains and through the wild interior of the Park. During the drive, you will cross the Continental Divide. It’s quite chilly at night so be certain that you have brought plenty of warm camping gear.

        4. Carvers Gap, Round Bald, North Carolina

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          Image by Joe Giordano via Flickr Creative Commons

          If you have never walked any of the famous Appalachian Trail, a marked trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine, then you have missed an amazing part of the scenery of the Eastern United States. The Trail was carved out and marked, starting in 1925, by a conservancy group that wanted to provide an amazing journey for anyone so moved, through the crests of this mountain range. In North Carolina, campers can park their cars and hike a short ½ mile trek to Carvers Gap which provides a huge panoramic view of a part of this magnificent mountain range. Several other campsites are located a bit further up the trail, and all of them offer the same views. This is not a campground with any amenities, so bring all that you will need!

          5. Albion Basin, Utah

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            Image by carfull… via Flickr Creative Commons

            Another glacial valley carved out and now a panoramic wonderland. The great feature is hiking up to Lake Cecret and getting the amazing view. And if you travel during the spring and summer, the wildflowers are extraordinary. As there are no organized campings available in area make sure you have packed all your overnight camping gear and sufficient supplies for the trip. Also, it’s worth remembering a few basic survival tips and tricks like always carrying water purifying tablets with you and using them correctly. Knowing how to quickly make a fire in moist environment and cook food fast will come essential as well. You will need pretty sturdy boots for this trek, but the view from the top is more than worth it!

            6. Joshua Tree National Park – White Tank Campground, Joshua Tree, California

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              Image by ilirjan rrumbullaku via Flickr Creative Commons

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              The Joshua Tree is a member of the Yucca plant family, and is most prevalent in the Mojave Desert. It was given its name by Mormons crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-1800’s, because they thought it reminded them of a passage from the Bible in which Joshua raised his arms up to the sky. Congress named and designated this area in California as a national park, and it has a number of campgrounds. White Tank Campground is smaller than most and is far less crowded, probably because there is no running water. But the highlight? You will be camping right next to the Arch Rock – an amazing geological formation that spans about 30 feet. Of course, there are other unusual rock formations throughout the Park, but this is the most famous.

              7. Gros Ventre Wilderness – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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                Image by lord the air smells good today via Flickr Creative Commons

                Choose your spot – a regular campsite or a backcountry setting that you pick. Whichever you choose, however, the Bros Ventre Wilderness camping areas of the Grand Teton National Park is far less crowded and touristy than any other. And you are in for some amazing sights, whether they are of the Grand Tetons or the Gros Ventre Range. Wildlife (bear, moose elk, and a huge population of marmots) and fishing are huge draws to the area, but nothing can equal the absolutely breathtaking views.

                8. Wildwood State Park, Long Island, New York

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                  Image by sandy richard via Flickr Creative Commons

                  Nothing about New York City is relaxed, laid back, or filled with nature, unless, of course, you decide to get away from the madness and escape to a retreat on Long Island known as Wildwood State Park. There, stressed and burnt out city dwellers will find a beautiful wooded camp ground with sites dotted among the rich foliage. And, if the weather is right, there is beachcombing and swimming on some of the most beautiful natural beaches to be found.

                  In fact, that is one of the big draws of Wildwood – the beaches remain natural, sitting below bluffs above which sport small pine forests. There are waterfalls dotted about, about 600 acres of pristine forests, and great views of Long Island Sound from the tops of those bluffs which are accessible by a 3.8 mile hike or drive that loops around the Park.

                  9. Polihale State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

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                    Image by Andy Beal via Flickr Creative Commons

                    Beautiful white sand beaches is one of the most incredible features of this hugely popular camping mecca, along with an almost no-rainfall year, extraordinary sunsets, and the famous Na Pali Cliffs. Kauai has been nicknamed the garden island because of the tropical rainforest that inhabits most of the island. For those campers interested in rainforest wildlife, it is in abundance on this island. Because the campsites feature bathrooms, showers, and BBQ grills, campers can enjoy an extended stay in this little piece of paradise.

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                    10. Death Valley National Park, California

                    A colorful pre-sunrise at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California.

                      Image by Dave Toussaint via Flickr Creative Commons

                      The Eastern California Mojave Desert does not really “feel” like a desert. Here you have rolling hills, surrounding amazing sand dunes, with campsites dotted about. If you are looking for great sand dune fun, desert wildlife for photography, and amazing sunsets, then these campgrounds are perfect for you. Even if you don’t run around the dunes and play in the sand, they are a phenomenon worth photographing.

                      11. Treehouse Point, Washington, “Winter Camping”

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                        Image by Tony Guyton via Flickr Creative Commons

                        30 minutes from Seattle; the sight of all of your childhood dreams come true. Against the backdrop of the Raging River, you can stay in your very own treehouse. Not the “roughing it” of campgrounds, but still an experience to have. This is a romantic and certainly a bit magical place – a place to get married and a place to pan for gold, if you so choose, to fish, or just explore the secluded forests along the River. The “campground” is open year-round for any “snow bunnies.”

                        12. Nugent Mountain Camp Site – Big Bend National Park, Texas

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                          Image by Steve Dunleavy via Flickr Creative Commons

                          If you want a really primitive camping experience, and the solitude that comes with it, then you will need to travel to Nugent Mountain Campsite. Either car camp or bring a tent, but make sure that you are outside when the stars come out – it is one of the most amazing star-gazing places in the country. Other features are, of course, the scenery, the rivers, and the wildlife. You will also find some really unusual rock formations!

                          13. Whitewater State Park, Minnesota

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                            Image by darosenbauer via Flickr Creative Commons

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                            This campground is definitely for the nature lover in the spring and fall, first for the flowers and second for the fall foliage. Most of the park is quite high, on bluffs overlooking the Whitewater River. Campers will find great hiking trails, great trout fishing, and good mushroom hunting, especially for Morels.

                            14. Timber Creek Campgrounds – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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                              Image by Wally Gobetz via Flickr Creative Commons

                              This absolutely breath-taking park has 98 campsites that are set along the Colorado River. The highlights of any camping trip will be hiking to the Big Meadow and to the Granite Falls – there are waterfalls throughout the Park, but the Granite Falls is a 50-foot fall that is almost shocking to see. Among the animal life are elk, moose, black bear and fox who are easily seen along the shorelines. Because this park is nestled so far away from city lights, if you can plan your trip at the time of a new moon, you will have a spectacular view of the Milky Way. Late spring, summer and early fall are the best times to camp, and even then, nights can get chilly, so be prepared.

                              15. Mogollon Rim, Coconino National Forest, Arizona

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                                Image by Coconino National Forest via Flickr Creative Commons

                                This is one of the best kept secrets in Arizona! The Mogollon Rim is located in Eastern Arizona and is a part of the Colorado Plateau. In some spot the rim provides a 2000-foot high overlook on the Coconino National Forest. The forest itself is thousands of acres, and is an amazing sight in the fall. The Rim is a great place for hiking and exploring during the daytime, but the bigger draw are the sunsets and the star gazing at night. There are loads of campsites on the Rim, so campers generally don’t have difficulty finding one.

                                It is so easy to forget about the wonders that the U.S. has to offer. We seem to be so anxious to explore foreign lands, to soak up the countryside of France or the vineyards of Italy. We take Rhine River cruises and marvel at the beautiful bluffs along that River. We travel to mountain ranges, to deserts, and to beaches all over the world. If, on the other hand, we would begin to experience all that our own parks have to offer, we could spend the rest of our lives exploring them and still not run out of places to go and things to see!

                                Featured photo credit: John Fowler via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                                How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

                                Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

                                I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

                                You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

                                When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

                                If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

                                1. The Inner Critic

                                This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                • Other people’s words—many times your parents
                                • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
                                • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
                                • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

                                Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                2. The Worrier

                                This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

                                The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

                                This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

                                4. The Sleep Depriver

                                This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
                                • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                How can you control these squatters?

                                How to Master Your Mind

                                You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

                                The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

                                Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                1. For the Inner Critic

                                When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

                                “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

                                This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                • They rile up the Worrier.
                                • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                2. For the Worrier

                                Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

                                You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                • Muscles tense

                                Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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                                Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

                                Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

                                Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

                                I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                Breathe in through your nose:

                                • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                • Focus on your belly rising.

                                Breathe out through your nose:

                                • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                • Focus on your belly falling.
                                • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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                                One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                4. For the Sleep Depriver

                                (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

                                From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
                                • Shut down your thinking
                                • Calm your feelings
                                • Simply focus on the present moment

                                The Bottom Line

                                Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

                                You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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                                Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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