5 Bucket List Campgrounds

 

You have your own for a list that you would recommend and we would love to hear from you in the comments section. These are ours. Some of these are sort of campgrounds in the loosest sense...but they are places to camp and all are public.  Here you will find a wilderness mountain campground in NW Colorado, a beach area campground on Lake Michigan, a campground in Coastal Maine, a river campground in the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways, and a fire tower in NW Montana. As I do a periodic check on this article, it reminds me that as time goes by, we experience additional places that might replace these 5.  To make a change, we need to see the new campground be heads and shoulders better...and in a few cases, we keep special places held private...(sorry).

 

These campgrounds are relatively spread out across the country, so you should find something you like.

1. TRAPLINE CAMPGROUND, TRAPPER'S LAKE, FLATTOP WILDERNESS AREA IN NORTHWEST COLORADO

This is one of the most picturesque campgrounds we have come across, and with access to great hiking and fishing, there is plenty to do.  

 

There are minimal "amenities" as this really is as close to true wilderness you can encounter in an actual campground. If you want a little more there are cabins available just outside the campground and start at $70 per night as of this writing.  Additionally, just outside the campground there is a restaurant and small camp store with basics.

 

There is water and there are toilets in the campground. That's what's there.

 

In 2002, a fire swept through the region and the scars are still evident. But, as is always the case after forest wildfire, the area is coming back stronger than before.  

Trappers Lake Campground
Camping in Colorado's Flattops
Trapper's Lake Campground
Small stream Trapper's Lake
Trapper's Lake wildflowers

Photos taken by David and Daniel Mann on 2011 trip. We have been visiting this campground since about 1995...before David and Daniel likely recall.  On one trip back after we'd moved from Colorado, Laura suffered from altitude sickness here and we had to leave, so keep this in mind.

2. LAKE MICHIGAN RECREATION AREA, LOWER PENNINSULA, MICHIGAN

This area is vastly overshadowed by its neighbor on Lake Michigan just north, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.  That's ok, because you will enjoy amazing sights and a much less restrictive and crowded environment.  Hiking, camping, and swimming for the brave-hearted are all highlights of this beautiful area.  The campground is loaded with amenities including hot showers.

Lake Michigan sunset
Swimming in Lake Michigan

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Sand beaches of Lake Michigan Recreation Area
Evening on Lake Michigan at Lake Michigan Rec Area
Grilling dinner Lake Michigan Recreation Area
Campsite in Lake Michigan Recreation Area
3. GEM PEAK LOOKOUT  TOWER, NW MONTANA

So here is an outside of the box suggestion for a place to "camp."  Having said this, it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that you will never forget.  The lookout has a stove and a "one-holer" at the bottom of the tower.  Given the height of the tower, it is certainly not for young children or those with fear of heights.  Great hiking with abundant wildlife, and some of the most incredible view in North America await.  Bring your bear spray as we observed grizzlies active in the area when we went.

 

View from Gem Peak Fire Tower
View from Gem Peak
Gem Peak firetower
View from 80 Peak, not far from Gem Peak
4. BLACKWOODS CAMPGROUND, ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE

It's not as much the campground here, though it's plenty nice, as the myriad of awesome activities and natural beauty on and around Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

The Bubbles, Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park
Loon near Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park
View of mast ship from drive thru Acadia National Park
Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
Gulf of Maine, Acadia National Park
Campsite, Blackwoods Campground, Acadia National Park
5. BUFFALO SCENIC RIVERWAYS, NW ARKANSAS, STEEL CREEK CAMPGROUND

You are not from Arkansas and neither am I (maybe you are but I am about to make a point)... Mountainous beauty, great hiking, beautiful clear waters for paddling - this is an outdoors person paradise.

 

My son had made several trips when he was residing down in SW Missouri - Springfield. Even when he showed me the photos of trips he and his wife took, sometimes with their friends, I was struggling to accept that it could be in Arkansas and be so beautiful.  At least this part of Arkansas is stunning!

Whitaker Point, Buffalo National Scenic Riverway
Clear waters of Buffalo River
Whitaker Point Panorama, Buffalo River National Scenic Riverway