Experts Weigh in on Their Favorite Camping/Hiking Spots!
Experts Weigh in on Their Favorite Camping/Hiking Spots!
We are always looking for ways to connect with the outdoors community while providing some great reading and resources for our customers and readers! So today, I'm excited to share this article with you. We've reached out to dozens of experienced hikers, campers, and nature photographers to get their feed back on their favorite camping and hiking spots! Most locations are right here in the US and some from across the oceans!
I would like to also thank some of them for sharing their personal photos of those spots (Note: All photos shown with locations are owned and used by permission of the respective contributor.) Please feel free to visit their website and check out their blog. They have some of the most useful information one could ask for on camping and hiking. While many of our customers are avid RVers, it's not uncommon for hiking, photography and camping to be part of the RV lifestyle! Enjoy!
Also, if you are a hiking or camping enthusiast and would like to contribute to this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear about your experiences and stories!
In Sonora, Mexico, not far from the border with Arizona is a wonderfully weird park known as the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve. Most of the park is a black sand desert, and it can get very, very hot. But since so few people visit the Pinacate Desert, you can often have the whole place to yourself. The black volcanic sand, the sublime wildflowers, the tall cactuses make for a place like nowhere else. Since day-time temperatures can reach upwards of 120 degrees, it is easy to visit the nearby town of Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) to swim in the Sea of Cortez, and return back to camp in the afternoon when temperatures begin to cool.
Notes from the Road
My favorite place to hike and camp is known as Shining Rock Wilderness in Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina. This is NC high country, as there are eight mountains that rise above 6,000 feet in a relatively small area. Most of these mountains are bald on top, so the views are long distance and panoramic. Home to black bear and grouse, wild turkeys, bobcat and coyote, this is a luscious ecosystem that just happens to be great fun for the human species as well. So come enjoy a hike on the Art Loeb Trail and camp in wilderness solitude at Shining Rock.
My favorite hiking location would have to be Little-Big Econ State Forest in Geneva, FL. With only a short 20 minute drive from Orlando you can be hiking the Florida Trail along the Econlockhatchee River. Between the river, shade, and views of alligators, the Little Big-Econ has always been my go to day hike location in Central Florida.
It takes a certain kind of person to go out alone and enjoy wild places. I am not that kind of person. I've been to lots of great places in thirty years of Scouting but my favorite location for camping is not a place on a map.
My favorite place to go camping is anywhere my Scouts are because wilderness is something I feel compelled to share. It all seems more meaningful and sweeter if I can show someone what I have found, share a view or a campfire, and enjoy the challenges of the journey together.
The secret to enjoying a wilderness sojourn is not the places we go, but who we share them with. However, here are a couple places I do enjoy:
Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario
The Gasterntal Valley in Switzerland
My choice for Colorado is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Located in the southern part of the state, this unique area has the desert-like dunes with the Sangre De Cristo range forming a dramatic backdrop. The adjacent campground has spaces for RVs. Dogs are allowed on-trail in the park. Go in the fall to avoid the crowds and see the aspens that are blazing yellow.
Sandra Friend & John Keatley
One of the most pleasant camping areas in the Ocala National Forest, the Juniper Springs Campground is set under a canopy of sand live oaks amid the sand pine scrub. It's an easy walk down to the springs for swimming, to walk the nature trail between the springs, or to launch an adventure on Juniper Creek in your canoe. The Florida Trail crosses the entrance road so you can take off on a long day hike in either direction to enjoy the Juniper Prairie Wilderness.
Juniper Springs (FloridaHikes.com)
Sandra Friend & John Keatley
My favorite camping location has to be in the High Atlas Mountain Range of Morocco. Although it's isolated, the Berber community lives in the valleys (and sometimes even high in the mountains) and so you can effectively thru-hike the entire mountain range in 2-4 weeks, which is what I did for The Unseen Africa TV show.
Jolly Green Giant
While the smells and sights of Yosemite and Yellowstone are tough to beat, as a grateful Virginian who celebrates local history and the origins of America, and as someone who appreciates the flora and fauna only available under a dynamic tree canopy - give me the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are estimated to be over 400 million years ago making them some of the oldest mountains in the world. Noted for their bluish color from the isoprene (an organic plant compound) released into the atmosphere creating a haze on the mountains, the area is full of white tail deer, song birds, black bears, coyotes, grouse, wild boars, wild turkey, fox, opossum, raccoons, and a host of amphibians, reptiles, and fish. Oak forests, hemlock, spruce-fir, and a mix of pine oaks supplement wild blueberries and blackberries available to anyone willing to put in some dirt time on the trail. The Blue Ridge Mountains host the highest mountains in eastern North America to include 125 peaks over 5,000 feet in elevation. Tent and hammock campers, in addition to RV's with more formidable accommodations, can find a tranquil temporary home throughout one of the many private, state and federal parks in the area. A short hike out of these immediate public areas can put the more adventurous onto the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail which starts in Georgia and terminates in Maine. If seeking family fun for a weekend or a few extra days, the author recommends Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia or Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina. Bring a camera, a picnic, and leave your watch at home.
Jolly Green Giant
Travel to the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada for an unforgettable hiking and camping experience.
Climb precipitous ladders, wade mud bogs, ride cable cars, scramble slippery ocean boulders, walk drift logs, race the tide crossing sandstone shelf, skirt dangerous surge channels, insert body parts into the maws of carnivorous giant green sea anemones, photograph shipwreck relics, haul yourself up rocky cliffs on pull ropes.
You'll be blown away by the scenic splendor. Beaches, bays, coves, creeks & cliffs. Storm-chiseled caves & magic waterfalls. Weird moonscape geology. Explore fascinating tidal pools.
Enjoy the sun streaming through the gigantic misty forest cathedral. Douglas fir, Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, & wonderfully fragrant Cedar.
Bring plenty of film for the fantastic Pacific sunsets, photogenic sea stacks, coastline & wildlife. Hear whales spout and smell sea lions!
Meet hikers from all over the world in sociable, though undeveloped, wilderness campsites.
It is wonderful to access coastal wilderness so quickly & easily from a major city, Victoria, BC.
My favorite place to hike has to be the High Country Pathway In Michigan. It's a 72-mile loop that a fit hiker can tackle in 4-5 days. Water is easy to find, there are plenty of great campsites, and there are well marked points of interest along the rolling hills. The area is also home to one of the largest free-ranging elk herds East of the Mississippi. I hiked this with my dog Beau in 2005 and plan to hike it again in 2015 with Ranger and Halo.
Swiftcurrent Pass:Although this is one of the toughest hikes in Glacier National Park, it includes tons of spectacular scenery. Along the way you'll have outstanding views of a waterfall, six lakes, as well as Swiftcurrent Glacier. At the pass you'll have stunning views of Heavens Peak and Granite Park.
(Photo Credit: www.hikingglacier.com)
Gregory Bald: Gregory Bald in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is most famous for the spectacular azaleas at its summit. Azalea lovers from all over the world come here to visit one the finest displays of azaleas on the planet. Even if you canu2019t visit in June, the commanding views of Cades Cove make this a year-round destination.
(Photo Credit: www.hikinginthesmokys.com)
Hallett Peak: If you're like me and think that Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is too hard or dangerous, Hallett Peak just might be the perfect hike to satisfy your big mountain, "summit fever". Topping out at 12,713 feet, you'll feel like you're standing on top of the Rockies!
(Photo Credit: www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com)
Hiking in the Smokys
One of my favorite places is Cottonwood Lakes in the Eastern Sierra. Its only a few hours drive from Los Angeles, but the drive takes you from the desert quickly up to 10,000 feet. The hike is only about 6 miles in from Horseshoe Meadows (your driving destination), and they are relatively flat miles (though already at altitude). The lakes are your first stop, with lovely campsites around each one. This would be a great trip for a first-time backpacker or someone who just wants to relax away from it all (including crowds). But if you want more adventure, you could continue into the backcountry for as long as you want, even up to the top of 14,000+ ft. Mt. Langley or Mt. Whitney.
I also love Rainbow Springs in the Ocala National Forest. The campground is right on the river, and usually not crowded. You can spend all day kayaking and snorkeling, and its a great family destination. Plus, they have a resident bard owl that often shows up to hang out with you at night.
One of my favorite places to hike/backpack to in Colorado is the Wheeler Geologic Area near Creede, CO. Located in La Garita Wilderness lies a remote and beautiful one of a kind geological area with vertical hoodoo formations rising up to the heavens The trail is moderate with a distance of 8.1 miles starting from East Bellows Creek at the Old Hanson's Mill. There are actually 5 different routes to the formations, all varying in difficulty. Half Moon Pass, Farmer's Creek Trail, East Bellows Trail, West Bellows Trail and lastly a Bone jarring drive down FR 600 (Highly recommend a high clearance vehicle). The destination is worth the journey no matter the path taken. There are plenty of dispersed camping locations scattered near the formations. It's also a very quiet trail and a remote location. Don't count on seeing a lot of other visitors. If you're looking for isolation this is a great spot with a unique view. Best time of year is mid-late June through September.