Hammock camping allows you to sleep suspended above the ground. Campers who opt for sleeping between the trees over traditional tenting often say it’s a comfortable and rewarding experience and a fantastic way to connect with nature. Lightweight hammocks are a great option for people looking to pack less gear, too.
It’s possible to hammock camp in many areas that allow backcountry or dispersed camping, as well as designated public and private campgrounds and national forests. Hammocks are allowed in most national parks in the U.S., though some have requirements regarding protected sleeves and padding for the trees or the thickness of tree straps.
Check national park or campground websites ahead of any trip as each location will have its own rules. Parks may state that hammocks need to be placed over hard ground or cleared areas intended for public use instead of fragile fauna. It’s not safe to place a hammock over sharp rocks, uneven terrain, or wet surfaces, and to protect fragile shorelines and water sources they should be hung at least 200 feet away.
What to Know About Hammock Camping
- Look for stable trees with strong root systems. They should be 10 to 12 feet apart for optimal hammock height. Hang only one hammock per area; don’t stack hammocks.
- Get straps wide enough to support your hammock without destroying the tree bark.
- Have at least two carabiners to connect your hammock hooks to the tree straps.
- Invest in a hammock stand if the trees aren’t suited for hammocks or are too fragile.
- Get a hammock with a built-in mosquito net and water-resistant fabric (recommended) or pack a separate bug net.
- An underquilt adds padding and can help limit cold air and drafts.
- Try to have a 30-degree angle between tree straps and the ground; hang the hammock no more than 18 inches off the ground.
Where to Hammock Camp in the U.S.
Oak Mountain State Park, the largest state park in Alabama, has more than 50 miles of trails, and its Red Trail has been included on the International Mountain Biking Association’s list of EPIC rides. Check out Peavine Falls and the Alabama Wildlife Center or view birds from Tree Top Nature Trail, an elevated boardwalk.
Prescott National Forest offers dense tree cover and is located 100 miles east of the Mongolian Rim, a 200-mile-long escarpment ideal for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. To the east is the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest area, with a variety of fir trees, aspen, and blue and Engelmann spruce. Petrified Forest National Park allows hammock stand camping.
Certain national parks and forests like Lassen National Forest, Yosemite (try the Boothe Lake, Echo Lake, and Young Lake areas), and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks allow hammock use with tree protection straps. Note that Redwood National Park doesn’t allow hammock campers.
Housatonic Meadows State Park is located in the rugged hills of the northwestern uplands and its campground has tall pine trees where you can hang hammocks. Many sites are located along the Housatonic River, which is an excellent spot for fly fishing.
Hoosier National Forest, located northwest of Louisville, Kentucky, has towering trees and lakeside views. Historic sites and rural communities are also located nearby. Brown County State Park and Buffalo Ridge Campground are reliable hammock options, as is Spring Mill State Park, located south of Bloomington and Bedford.
At more than 430,000 acres, Ocala National Forest has plenty of space for hammock enthusiasts and contains several wet prairies. Check with park rangers as to where you can safely hang a hammock since alligators and wild boar can be active. You can chill between palm trees in Biscayne National Park and in Everglades National Park where hammocks with stands are permitted.
There are multiple waterfalls located in Cloudland Canyon State Park. The state park also offers guided cave tours and bike rentals. Known for its rugged geology and exceptional hiking, it’s a cool spot to hammock camp in the northwestern part of the state.
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island is home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. East Coast; the popular bayside town of Bar Harbor; and beautiful woodlands and seaside views. Hammock camping is permitted in developed campgrounds and for day-use outside of campgrounds.
The Upper Peninsula’s (UP) Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore located near Munising on Lake Superior offer hammock camping, forest hikes, and stunning views. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, located in the western UP, is the largest state park and has vast wilderness and remote lakes; be bear aware here. Huron-Manistee National Forests have oak trees, marshes, grasslands, and dunes to explore as well as hammock camping options.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, allows backcountry hammock camping; all campers must obtain a free permit upon arrival. The park features more than 100 caves and a rare desert wetland called Rattlesnake Springs.
Getaway Campgrounds in the Catskills offers campsites built for comfort with pre-hung hammocks. The company also has a location in Moss, Tennessee.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in western North Dakota, where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands, allows hammock camping with a free permit. Campers need to protect trees when hanging hammocks. Hammock stands are also an option.
Hammock camp and canoe at Wallowa Lake State Park. Hammock campers can also try Forest Park, located in Portland, Trillium Lake in Mt. Hood National Forest, or Cape Arago State Park in the Coos Bay area. In Willamette National Forest and Santiam State Forest, located just east of Salem, you can suspend yourself among mighty Douglas firs. Hammock camping is permitted at Crater Lake National Park, but padding must be wrapped around hammock straps to protect trees from damage.
New hammock camping structures are located at East Canyon State Park ($10 hammock rental; $35 for site reservation) and Red Fleet State Park (free hammock rental; $35 for site reservation). The campground sites each hold up to eight hammocks. Arches National Park allows hammock camping, but hammock stands are recommended due to the lack of strong-rooted trees. Bryce Canyon National Park permits hammock camping with free-standing supports.
Experienced hikers, climbers, and hammock fans will enjoy Raven’s Rock in Coopers Rock State Forest, located in the northwest part of the state. It has rocky crags to hang hammocks from, and incredible mountain views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Other scenic locations for hammock camping are Rifrafters Campground (with wooded sites for tents and hammocks) and the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, popular for whitewater rafting.