Pathloom Picks: Best Campsites of 2021
Our annual staff picks for our favorite campsites visited this year
Moonrise over Loon Lake: Eldorado National Forest, CA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Happy Holidays from the Pathloom family! 2021 hasn’t been easy for anyone, but here’s to us all for making the most out of the toughest of situations! For us, and for many of you, our escape from this year’s sheer insanity involved getting out into the middle of nowhere, pitching a tent, and soaking up every last drop of the outdoors we could possibly take in (to be fair, that was our escape last year too... OK maybe every year, but even more so lately).
We’d like to share with you some of the Pathloom staff’s favorite sites we camped at in 2021. However, in keeping with our annual tradition, once again we're going to switch it up a bit from the typical list you'd find on other websites, and give you our favorite sites for each time of day. Do you love a good sunrise? Check out our “Morning” picks. Prefer to stay up late and see a night sky filled with stars? We’ve got you covered there too, scroll down to the “Night” section! Whatever makes the particularly perfect campsite for you, we’ve got you covered!
Do you feel like your area of the country isn't properly represented on our list? Let us know, we're always looking for the best campsites to share with our community! If you’ve got some recommendations (and pictures!) for your favorite campsites in other parts of the country, we’d love to hear about them! Send an email to email@example.com , or click here to check out our story submission guidelines!
Without further ado, here are Pathloom’s Picks for our favorite campsites of 2021!
Grand Teton National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Sierra Jones
Best for the Morning:
Lone Rock Beach Campground (dispersed camping), Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ: “Got there in the pitch black of night with no idea what was around us - woke up at sunrise to the sound of the water from the beautiful lake meeting the shoreline. Beach camping for the win!”
Wolfe's Neck Oceanfront Camping, Freeport, ME: “One of the more developed campgrounds on this list, but offers some of the best oceanfront sunrises I've encountered anywhere on the East Coast. Sits on the land of a fully-operational farm, allowing visitors (especially kids) the opportunity to spend the day seeing the agriculture process in action and tasting fresh food from their quaint farm store.
Leigh Lake (backcountry site), Grand Teton National Park, WY: “The best views of the Teton Range, and we were able to witness the ’smoky’ lake effect with the morning evaporation. Also a great spot to jump into the lake for a morning dip!”
Island Lake: Bridger-Teton National Forest, WY - Photo Credit: Brett Stanton
Best for Mid-day:
Island Lake (backcountry site): Titcomb Basin Trail, Bridger Teton National Forest, WY: “Awe-inspiring scenery wherever you look. Great place to set up and explore around one of the many picturesque alpine lakes on this route. Really, any backcountry site along the Titcomb Basin Trail will provide an unforgettable experience.”
Mill Creek Campground, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, CA: “As quiet and relaxing as it gets. Sit among the giants and take in the serenity of this lesser-known valley campground, offering plenty of fantastic sites. ”
South Fork Cascade Canyon Camping Zone, Grand Teton National Park, WY: “Many of the sites immediately upon entering the camping zone sit on elevated rock croppings, separated by classic alpine meadows and various little creeks. On the way between our two private ‘villas’ we encountered a mountain goat mother and her kid and stopped to watch them for nearly an hour - hard to beat a moment like that!”
Marufo Vega Trail: Big Bend National Park, TX -Photo Credit: Brett Stanton
Best for the Evening:
Big Bend National Park (Marufo Vega backcountry site), TX: “A truly incredible sunset in one of the most remote places in the entire contiguous U.S.”
Loon Lake (dispersed camping), Eldorado National Forest, CA: "Breathtaking sunsets over this crystal clear alpine lake, plenty of opportunities for swimming or kayaking, close proximity to the Rubicon Trail for offroading or hiking. The moonrise reflecting off the water is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen (check out the cover photo above!)"
Chihuahuan Desert (dispersed camping), Lobo, TX: "Deep in the heart of the West Texas desert, mile after mile of scrubland without a tree in sight. The only shade in the area comes from immense mountains just to the Southwest, which are the only thing separating the US from Mexico. Wispy clouds reflect vivid oranges, pinks, purples, reds, and yellows splashed across the evening sky."
Williams Bottom Campground: Moab, UT - Photo Credit: Abby Voce
Best for the Night:
Williams Bottom Camping Area, Moab, UT: “Hard to beat the night skies anywhere in Southern Utah! This particular destination sits far enough away from the hustle and bustle (and light pollution) of the town of Moab to offer spectacular stargazing opportunities.”
Cottonwood Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND: “Hours away from anything resembling a major city, the utter lack of light pollution and sparse tree cover provide a 360-degree view of an impossibly bright starscape.”
Tom's Best Spring Road, North of Bryce Canyon National Park, UT: “A true hidden gem, this dispersed camping zone allows you ample opportunity to take in the famous Utah night skies.”
Happy holidays everyone! Stay safe and healthy so we can see you at one of these campsites sometime soon!
Sunset over the Chihuahuan Desert: Lobo, TX - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Get exclusive stories, trail reports, National Park alternatives, recipes, and more delivered directly to your inbox from our growing team of experienced thru-hikers, former National Park employees, and fellow adventure lovers.
Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may find interesting:
All Hands on Deck! Seeking Stories From The Trail
How to Recreate Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Sign up on our website for exclusive early access to the Pathloom BETA app, and let us help you plan your next outdoor trip! As an early user, you will receive exclusive access to our BETA app, outdoor guides and information, created solely for you by Pathloom!
Sign up today and we will send you a list of our favorite dispersed camping places in California!
Pathloom is a Bay Area-based technology startup on a mission to get more people outdoors, more often by reimagining the way people discover the outdoors.