25 Best Low-Cost Camping Spots in America
Americans should really spend more time outdoors. Only 6 percent of adults go outside once or twice a week, according to a survey by the National Recreation and Park Association.
A number of factors could be contributing to this low percentage, but financial costs shouldn’t be one of them. GOBankingRates assembled a list of some of the best cheap camping spots in the U.S. to help you explore the outdoors. Click through to find out where you can enjoy an adventure on a budget.
Disclaimer: Pricing does not include entrance fees.
Acadia National Park Camping
- Price: Free to $22 per night
- Location: Maine
Against the scenic Maine landscape, Acadia National Park is a popular option among campers on the East Coast. The National Park Service (NPS) recommends making reservations. Acadia offers plenty of campsites with prices ranging from free to $22:
- Schoodic Woods Campground: $22 per night for hike-in tent sites
- Seawall Campground: $22 per night for walk-in tent sites
- Blackwoods Campground: $15 per site per night from April to November; from December to March, camping is free.
Alabaster Caverns State Park Camping
- Price: $12 to $20 per night
- Location: Oklahoma
Alabaster Caverns State Park gives you a window into the rare beauty of what lies beneath the earth. Besides guided tours of the underground caverns, the park offers cheap camping, including the Water Cave. Tent campsites cost only $12 a night while RV campsites with electricity and water are just $20. If your worried about safety, try looking into resources that can help you travel safely in the US
Assateague Island Camping
- Price: $10 per person for seven-day backcountry permit
- Location: Maryland and Virginia
Assateague Island National Seashore is located in Maryland and Virginia and offers seaside camping with ocean views, as well as sightings of wild horses. But according to the NPS, camping is only available in the island’s Maryland district, and unless you go backcountry camping, it’ll cost you more than $25.
Assateague Island camping includes six areas designated for backcountry campers, which is ideal if you want to paddle your way around the island and set up camp at night. Backcountry camping will require a permit, which costs $10 per person and is good for seven days.
Big Cypress National Preserve Camping
- Price: $10 to $24 per night
- Location: Florida
Big Cypress National Preserve has plenty of campgrounds to choose from with plenty of different prices. If you want primitive campsites and the cheapest camping, stake out Gator Head, Bear Island or Pink Jeep where it costs just $10 per night. But if you’re feeling a bit classier, tent sites at Midway, Mitchell Landing, Monument Lake and Burns Lake campgrounds are all $24 per night.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Camping
- Price: Starting at $16 per night
- Location: Colorado
Carved out of the earth by the Gunnison River over 2 million years ago, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison offers three campgrounds with a combined total of 116 campsites. Campsite prices vary from $16 a night at East Portal Campground to $22 a night at South Rim Campground.
Black Canyon boasts some challenging activities for visitors. Kayaking in the Gunnison River requires an expert kayaker to complete, and rock climbing is equally difficult, featuring nearly vertical canyon walls that reach heights of 2,000 feet.
Boston Harbor Islands Camping
- Price: $8 to $10 per night
- Location: Massachusetts
The Boston Harbor Islands provide scenic, cheap camping spots right off the coast of, well, Boston. You can choose from a number of campsites spread across Bumpkin Island, Grape Island, Lovells Island and Peddocks Island.
Overnight campsites are just $10, but it only costs $8 for Massachusetts residents. Considering the low cost and its proximity to Boston, the Boston Harbor Islands fill up quickly with campers, so make reservations six months in advance.
Crater Lake National Park Camping
- Price: $10 to $22 per night
- Location: Oregon
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon gets its name from the majestic caldera — or remnants of a collapsed volcano — that’s home to a sparkling lake. Crater Lake offers two campgrounds, Mazama and Lost Creek, that are only open in the summer. Mazama will cost you $22 a night per tent site, but if you want cheap camping, Lost Creek Campground offers campsites at only $10 per night. Backcountry camping is allowed as well, and the permits are free.
Death Valley National Park Camping
- Price: Free to $18 per night
- Location: California and Nevada
With over 3 million acres of wilderness and the highest-recorded temperature in the world, Death Valley National Park offers visitors incredible sights, hiking and cheap camping. If you want greater amenities, Furnace Creek Campground costs $18 per night and includes water, tables, fire pits and flush toilets. On the low end, Wildrose, Thorndike and Mahogany Flat campgrounds are free but have few amenities.
Denali National Park Camping
- Price: $12 to $22 per night
- Location: Alaska
Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, is the highest peak in North America and, fortunately, also a great camping spot. Denali National Park offers six campgrounds, but prices vary so you’ll have to choose wisely for cheap camping:
- Igloo Creek Campground: $12 per night for all campsites
- Riley Creek Campground: $14 per night for “C” campsites and $22 per night for “B” campsites
- Savage River Campground: $22 per night for “B” campsites
- Sanctuary River Campground: $12 per night for all campsites
- Teklanika River Campground: $22 per night for all campsites
- Wonderlake Campground: $16 per night plus an additional $6 reservation fee
Devils Tower Camping
- Price: $12 per night
- Location: Wyoming
The 1977 Steven Spielberg film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” made Devils Tower a pop culture icon and a hot spot for tourism. In addition to great hiking trails and climbing routes, Devils Tower offers the Belle Fourche River Campground, complete with 50 campsites, at a cost of $12 per night.
Glacier National Park Camping
- Price: $10 to $23 per night during the summer season
- Location: Montana
Glacier National Park in Montana offers both first-come, first-served campsites as well as campsites that require reservations. Although camping is allowed only in designated areas, there is a great amount of flexibility when it comes to how long you can camp at Glacier National Park: From July 1 to Labor Day, campers are limited to 14 days, but from Labor Day until June 30, the maximum limit is 30 days.
If you’re looking for primitive, cheap camping, your go-to spots are Cut Bank Campground, Logging Creek Campground and Quartz Creek Campground, all of which cost $10 per night. Here’s a campground cost breakdown of non-primitive camping spots at Glacier:
- Apgar Campground: $20 per night
- Avalanche Campground: $20 per night
- Bowman Lake Campground: $15 per night
- Fish Creek Campground: $23 per night
- Kintla Lake Campground: $15 per night
- Many Glacier Campground: $23 per night
- Rising Sun Campground: $20 per night
- Sprague Creek Campground: $20 per night
- St. Mary Campground: $23 per night
- Two Medicine Campground: $20 per night
Grand Canyon National Park Camping
- Price: $12 to $25 per night
- Location: Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona offers the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon as well as three major camping spots: Mather Campground on the South Rim, North Rim Campground — both of which take reservations — and Desert View Campground, which is first-come, first-served.
At Mather Campground, it costs $18 per site per night, but you do get a maximum of two vehicles, six people and three tents. Also in the South Rim, the Desert View Campground is just $12 per night, but there are no group campsites. North Rim campsites run $18 to $25.
For Grand Canyon camping outside of designated campgrounds, you’ll need to request and obtain a permit from the park’s Backcountry Information Center up to four months in advance since demand to camp there is high. Permit costs are as follows: $10 per permit and $8 per person for each night camped below the canyon rim, or $8 per group for each night spent above the rim.
Great Sand Dunes Camping
- Price: $20 per night
- Location: Colorado
If you like snowboarding but want a slight twist, then Great Sand Dunes could be your answer. Here, you can go sandboarding and sand sledding down the park’s massive sand dunes.
When it comes to camping, there are a few options, including Pinon Flats Campground. It offers 44 campsites you can get through reservations and 44 campsites that are first-come, first-served. The campground costs $20 per night.
Great Smoky Mountains Camping
- Price: $14 to $23 per night
- Location: North Carolina and Tennessee
With black bears, fireflies and beauty to be found no matter the season, the Great Smoky Mountains are an excellent spot for cheap camping. There are campgrounds to fit all different budgets. Camping spots such as Abrams Creek and Balsam Mountain are only $14 a night per site while Elkmont Campground is on the higher end, costing between $17 and $23 per night.
Hawaii Volcanoes Camping
- Price: Free to $15 per night
- Location: Hawaii
It’s hard to believe you can camp alongside a volcano, but at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you can — and for not much money.
Besides an entrance fee, the Kulanaokuaiki Campground is free, and you won’t need a permit or reservation. Namakanipaio Campground costs $15 per night for drive-in sites but offers amenities like restrooms, water, picnic tables and barbecue pits. While there, explore Hawaii’s natural beauty along its many backcountry hiking trails — just be sure to get a permit, which is free.
Joshua Tree National Park Camping
- Price: $15 to $20
- Location: California
Joshua Tree camping provides a very different experience from Yosemite despite both parks being in California. Like Yosemite, however, Joshua Tree is extremely popular, with weekend campgrounds from October to May usually being full.
The majority of Joshua Tree campsites are first-come, first-served, but you can make reservations for Black Rock and Indian Cove between October and May. Cheaper camping will cost you $15 per site per night, but without access to water. Campsites with potable water will run you $20.
Lake McConaughy Camping
- Price: Campsites start at $8 per night
- Location: Nebraska
Lake McConaughy offers a variety of campsites with varying prices. At the high end, you can pay $35 a night for a campground with water, sewer and electricity. On the low end, you can score cheap camping — just $8 a night during the off-season — if you go primitive camping.
Padre Island Camping
- Price: Starting at $5 per night
- Location: Texas
South of Corpus Christi, along the Gulf of Mexico, you can take advantage of cheap camping at Padre Island. For $5 a night, you can score campsites at Bird Island Basin Campground, which offers fun activities like kayaking, boating and fishing. But one of the coolest activities to do at Padre Island is windsurfing, with Windsurfing Magazine ranking Bird Island Basin as one of the best windsurfing spots in the continental U.S.
Pictured Rocks Camping
- Price: $14 to $16 per night
- Location: Michigan
You can take in Lake Superior’s natural beauty by visiting Michigan’s Pictured Rocks, the first national lakeshore in the U.S. Most campsites have an overnight fee of $14, but the lakeside sites at Twelvemile Beach Campground cost $16 per night. Note that the campgrounds don’t have telephones, water, electricity or sewage systems, and cellphone reception is poor.
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Sequoia National Park Camping
- Price: Starts at $12 per night
- Location: California
Backpacking and other backcountry, overnight camping at Sequoia National Park in California requires a permit. During the busy season — May to September — these permits are limited to a quota but can be reserved in advance or acquired the day of your camping trip at a cost of $15, including $10 per permit and a $5 per person wilderness permit fee.
Sequoia, of course, also offers more traditional campgrounds within the park. Here’s a breakdown of some of the popular campgrounds’ prices:
- Atwell Mill Campground: $12 a night
- Azalea Campground: $18 a night
- Buckeye Flat Campground: $22 a night
- Cold Springs Campground: $12 a night
- Lodgepole Area Campground: $22 a night
- Potwisha Campground: $22 a night
- South Fork Campground: $12 a night
Shenandoah National Park Camping
- Price: $15 to $20 per night
- Location: Virginia
Shenandoah National Park offers both on-site campgrounds and backcountry camping. Loft Mountain Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground and Matthews Arm Campground all cost $15 per night. Big Meadows Campground is a bit higher at $20 per night, but you can camp there for $17 during the late spring and early fall.
White Mountain National Forest Camping
- Price: Less than $25 per night for most campgrounds
- Location: New Hampshire
The White Mountain National Forest has plenty of activities for visitors, including hiking, hunting, fishing and, of course, camping. The park offers many campgrounds, broken up into three districts. Although prices vary, many campgrounds cost less than $25:
- Sugarloaf I Campground: $20 per site and one vehicle
- Sugarloaf II Campground: $18 per site and one vehicle
- Big Rock Campground: $22 per site and one vehicle
- Blackberry Crossing Campground: $22 per site and one vehicle
Yellowstone National Park Camping
- Price: Starting at $3 per person per night
- Location: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, which is shared by Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, is a popular tourist attraction — especially for its famous geyser Old Faithful. Once again, reservations fill up fast for campsites, so make them early. Park campgrounds start as low as $15 per night, but others can cost over $25.
Yellowstone camping can get even further off the beaten path, however, with the option of backcountry camping. Campers are required to obtain a backcountry permit and camp at a designated campsite. Yellowstone backcountry permits cost $3 per person, per night — capped at $15 per group. Annual backcountry passes are available for $25.
Yosemite National Park Camping
- Price: $6 to $18
- Location: California
Yosemite National Park in California stretches across 1,200 square miles of wilderness and offers 13 popular campgrounds, with seven on a reservation system. That being said, the demand for camping at Yosemite is so high you must time your reservation almost perfectly. Send it in by 7 a.m. on the 15th of the month in order to have a chance at getting a camping spot.
If you want cheap camping off the beaten trail, go for a Yosemite Wilderness Permit. They cost $5 per confirmed reservation and $5 per person.
You can really score some cheap camping if you visit the Wawona Campground October through March. For only $18 a night — instead of the usual $26 — you can camp in the A loop of Wawona on a first-come, first-served basis.
Zion National Park Camping
- Price: $20 per night
- Location: Utah
Zion National Park in Utah juxtaposes red sandstone against lush green wilderness and rivers winding through slot canyons. There are three campgrounds: South, Watchman and Lava Point. The Lava Point Campground has six primitive campsites that are first-come, first-served.
South Campground and Watchman Campground are located in the desert but fill up quickly, so definitely make reservations ahead of time. Individual camp sites at South are $20 a night, and tent-only campsites at Watchman are also $20 a night.
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