14 "Once in a Lifetime" Places to Camp for a Night

Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon are summertime standbys for camping enthusiasts. But nestled in mountains, tucked in trees, and dropped into deserts are a slew of seldom slept-in spots where visitors can experience nature without encountering rafts of fellow travelers. Scroll through this collection of 14 unlikely campgrounds around the planet, in places where you probably never thought to pitch a tent.

Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Landmannalaugar Camping

Through the Iceland Touring Association, you can crash for the night in a mountain hut in Landmannalaugar on the outskirts of the more than 500-year-old Laugahraun lava field. This camping spot in the Highlands of Iceland will put you a hop, skip, and a jump away from the area's geothermal hot springs and the 34-mile hiking trail of Laugavegur.

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High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

High Atlas Mountains Morocco

The undulating peaks of the High Atlas range carve a striking silhouette against the azure sky of central Morocco. Atlas Mountains Camping can help you explore this exotic locale. The adventure begins at a campsite on the land of a local villager, followed by an invigorating two-day guided trek to the 13,670-foot peak of Jbel Toubkal.

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Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach Culebra Puerto Rico

Dubbed the second most beautiful beach in the world by Discovery Channel, bustling Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra is a paradise for snorkelers and swimmers—and the site of the only campground in Culebra, just a few feet away from the beach.You'll be able to dive into the turquoise waters beyond the shoreline, then cool off Caribbean-style with a piña colada from a drink kiosk at this well-appointed campsite. 

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Calima Lake in Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Calima Lake

There are few better places to take in the staggering span of the longest mountain range on the planet than from Calima Lake, a glittering 27-square-mile reservoir at the foot of the western Andes. With Zona de Camping Berlin, you can enjoy a kayaking excursion by day and spend the night in a tent close to the shore of this man-made lake.

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Cochamó Valley, Chile

Cochamo Valley

The U-shaped Cochamó Valley is an ideal base camp for ambitious hikers or travelers hoping to spy Andean condors and Patagonian trout. Camping La Junta maintains a spacious site along the Cochamó River, where you can set up your tent in a broad, grassy plain. 

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flickr.com via McKay Savage

Sahara Desert, Morocco

Sahara Desert Camping

Trekkers in the Sahara Desert seeking refuge from the heat can arrange accommodations through Wild Morocco, which offers appealing options like a Berber camp in Erg Chigaga, the largest sand sea in the desert, or a private nomadic camp secluded in the dunes, with camel-trekking and hiking on the agenda. Should you grow weary of your explorations, partake in a picnic, relax in a hammock, or savor a once-in-a-lifetime sunset. 

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Ladakh, India

Ladakh Camping

Camps of Ladakh makes it possible for you to spend a night under the stars in a valley north of the Indus River,
in a rural Ladakh village with front-row seats to jaw-dropping views of the Himalayas. The camp is run by a Ladakhi family, so be sure to sample some regional delicacies before you continue on your journey.

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Mount Everest, Nepal

Mount Everest Camping

Adventure-seekers with high-altitude hiking experience can take the journey of a lifetime through Intrepid Travel. Embarking from Kathmandu, you'll fly to Lukla and begin an eight-day trek up to Mount Everest's South Base Camp, situated at an altitude of 17,500 feet. Along the route, enjoy nights in traditional Nepalese tea houses and, of course, spectacular views of the Himalayas.

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Leticia, Colombia

Leticia Colombia

After a day of exploring the Amazon rain forest, put on some mosquito repellent and retire for the night to a treehouse in Leticia, an Amazon port town in Colombia. Let Untamed Path Adventures take you off the grid, up to the treetops, and into the river as you explore the Amazon, including a stretch of water where a colony of friendly, chittering monkeys will be eager to make your acquaintance. 

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Seward, Alaska

Seward Alaska Camping

With Alaska's glaciers mostly on the retreat, now's the time to see these marvels before they melt. Let Exit Glacier Guides take you on a summertime adventure, where you'll be transported via helicopter from Seward to a secluded spot on the banks of a glacier-fed river. Roam a nearby glacier and hike the backcountry with an experienced guide who will also prepare a tasty meal when you all return to camp.    

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Devils Tower in Wyoming

Devils Tower Camping

You're unlikely to come face-to-face with any extraterrestrials if you pitch your tent at the foot of Devils Tower, the butte featured in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." But at the KOA campground in the shadow of this 867-foot formation, you're pretty much guaranteed a close encounter of the natural kind—as well as vistas of the verdant prairie and a clear sky perfect for star-gazing. 

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Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah

Mystic Hot Springs Utah

Set up your tent, park your RV, or rent a cabin at this quirky destination in the Utah desert, built around millennia-old hot springs. Soak away your stresses in the eight bathtubs and two pools filled with mineral-rich water from the springs, kept between 98 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. With the hot springs, nearby outdoor activities, and the chance to spot koi, guppies, and cichlids in the warm-water fish ponds, a weekend at Mystic Hot Springs is bound to be refreshing and relaxing.  

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Hermit Island in Phippsburg, Maine

Hermit Island Camping

Proof that waterfront living isn't just for the wealthy, Hermit Island Campground lets you hit the hay on the edge of Casco Bay for as little as $45 per night. While Hermit Island is known for its white sand beaches and hiking trails, don't forget the site's other amenities: You can purchase lobsters and clams on-site, which you can have cooked or cook yourself (they rent pots!), and you can eat at the Kelp Shed, the campground's restaurant, snack bar, and general store. 

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El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas

 El Cosmico Camping

From the electrifying indigo sunsets to the unconventional trailer, yurt, teepee, and Safari tent sleeping options, El Cosmico campground in Marfa caters to the bohemian lifestyle. Hammock groves, outdoor kitchens, and other imaginative shared spaces allow you to feel at one with both nature and mankind as you revel in the company of like-minded fellow campers.

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flickr.com via ovogon

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