Pelican Flyer • February 16, 2021
Avid campers need more than a summer to decompress with nature. Good thing there’s plenty of year-round campgrounds! Whether you need a break from the world for a weekend or intend to take a winter camping trip with the entire family, take a look and explore these year-round camping spots. From California to the Florida Keys, there’s something for everybody.
Joshua Tree National Park offers 800,000 acres of a desert landscape with many year-round camping opportunities and nearby activities. Go rock climbing throughout the boulders or cover a lot of ground on a mountain bike or hiking. With nine campgrounds spread about, there are hundreds of sites for both tents and RVers – take your pick and take in the Joshua tree-lined silhouette during sunsets. Just know how to start a campfire – even the deserts can get rather chilly at night!
Utah is a vast state with lots of wonderful outdoor activities and camping opportunities. But above all of them is the year-round camping of Arches National Park, which offers 2,000 natural sandstone arches formed by erosion from salt beds below the earth. You can’t go wrong here with the beautiful desert sunrises that cast shadows across the landscape. Inside Arches National Park, you’ll find the Devils Garden Campground, which has a 50-person limit, making it a highly desirable place to camp year-round. So desirable that you’re looking at a reservation six months in advance for March’s peak seasons through October. The rest of the year is first-come, first-served. Just remember to bring a flashlight for those dark desert nights.
If you’re brave enough to sleep near an active volcano, check out Hawaii’s Namakanipaio Campground. Made up of a series of 10 modern cabins (complete with Wi-Fi), you can enjoy many nearby activities, such as hiking, while taking in the unique lava rock landscape. Along your trails, you’ll come across native species such as wild orchids and lehua flowers. If you prefer a more rugged camping experience, you can rent tents and other camp gear, too.
Yosemite is a camper’s paradise, but one year-round site, called the Yosemite Pines RV Resort, offers lots of amenities to keep families entertained and happy. They offer rustic cabins and plenty of RV spots and tent sites, complete with a nearby pool, volleyball court and a playground. Many cabins even offer modern amenities such as televisions and kitchens while providing you the nearby mountains’ scenic backdrop.
If a deep soak is what you desire, look into Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park, where the thermal hot springs of the Ouachita Mountains offer a natural bath that offers complete relaxation and, some say, healing abilities. Within the town of Hot Springs, you’ll find two 19th century historic bathhouses, the Buckstaff and Quapaw. Need a site for the night? Check out the Gulpha Gorge Campground.
Heading east, you will find the Caney Fork River Gorge area of Rock Island, Tennessee, and the Rock Island State Park. Surrounding this year-round camping spot are thrilling whitewater rapids that offer professional paddlers an intense ride. If whitewater rapids aren’t your thing, stick to the hiking trails that weave around the gorges, providing swimming and fishing holes. In Rock Island State Park, you’ll find 10 rustic cabins and 60 sites.
Heading further east is North Carolina’s Ash Grove Mountain, tucked inside Dupont State Forest. With year-round camping, consisting of sites made for both tents and RVs, Ash Grove is known for its romantic winter getaway made of four cabins, where couples can take in the nearby mountains while enjoying amenities like fireplaces and full kitchens. Outside the winter season, you can keep a lookout for the region’s famous white squirrels and take a slide down the natural 60-foot Sliding Rock waterfall slide.
Headed into the great state of Florida is none other than the Florida Keys. And nestled between Key Largo and Key West is Long Key State Park, where one will find a place to pitch a tent right on the beach. Choose one of its 60 campsites to set up your tent for the evening and wake up to a full day of activities, including kayaking, snorkeling or just taking a dip in one of the reserved swimming areas. Just make sure to carry a protective case for cameras and other gear, keeping out the sand, water and more.
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