For our April Best Campgrounds Series, we asked writer/photographer Bert Gildart, Becky from Rosie the Riveted and writer/traveler Drea Knufken to share with us their favorite National Park campgrounds. Be sure to check out their blogs and Instagram accounts!
Two Medicine Campground – Glacier NP
Flanked as it is by Rising Wolf, Pumpelly Pillar, Scenic Point, and Sinopah mountains – and the turquoise waters of Upper Two Medicine Lake – Two Medicine Campground is nestled in one of the nation’s most inspiring settings. Because of its majesty, Blackfeet Indians referred to mountains of the Two Medicine region as the Backbone of the World.
Native Americans were not alone in their adulations. In the park’s early years, Two Medicine was one of the first backcountry stops for visitors electing to embark on extended horse pack trips. In those days, visitors arriving on horse would stay in either the tent camp or, as time went by, in a Swiss-styled mountain chalet. The old log chalet is still there and is listed as a historic landmark. It provides an excellent break from meals cooked over a campfire or in your RV.
Today’s visitors also enjoy Two Med for the same reason I used to enjoy the area as a backcountry patrol ranger. Not only are the mountains and trails inspiring, but so is the wildlife. Expect as you hike one of the valley’s many trails, to see grouse, osprey and eagles as well as mountain goats and bears. Expect too, to see moose with heads submerged in the small ponds flanking the campground. Study them as they cast around for something green on which to munch. Remain quiet and time the duration for which they keep their heads submerged. They’re amazing!
Two Med Campground offers 110 sites, and is said to be off the beaten path because it doesn’t link with Going-to-the-Sun Road. Nevertheless, arrive early if you want a campsite, especially in the busy summer months. Sites with the best vistas are at the far end, so if you want one of those sites you really need to arrive early. And don’t forget: keep all food inside for bears do roam the campground, and they do know how to open coolers. It’s like they’ve been trained. – Bert Gildart
North Rim Campground – Grand Canyon NP
North Rim Campground is off the path beaten by the millions of visitors to Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It is the only campground located within the northern part of the National Park but retains a small and natural atmosphere. The higher elevation is much cooler than the South Rim, and is home to bright aspens and massive ponderosa pine. There are a small number of sites, but they are spacious; while several offer great canyon vistas, everyone can grab a chair and head to the edge along the tent area to see spectacular sunsets. The campground is also conveniently located to some of the best hikes in Grand Canyon, including Transept Trail and pet-friendly Bridle Trail to the lodge. While all sites are dry-camping, the campground is located next to great groceries/cafe with wifi, a full service gas station, showers and laundry. Forget the hundreds of buses unloading on the southern rim, and lose yourself in the serenity and beauty of the North Rim. – Becky, Rosie the Riveted
Azalea Campground – Sequoia NP
Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are linked together into one beautiful stretch of the Sierras. A day pass to one of the parks will get you into both. For some reason, Kings Canyon, while as stunning as its better-known neighbor, isn’t nearly as crowded. Azalea Campground is the most central campground, within walking distance to the General Grant grove and close to amenities. Its proximity to the Kings Canyon park, and the fact that’s its an intuitive, beautiful drive away from the Sequoia NP area, makes it a convenient place to set up camp if you’re keen to explore both areas. Spaces have good separation and the campground feels wild—no giant parking-lot effect here. Do watch for bears! – Drea Knufken