Design People & Places

The Best Winter Camping Destinations in America

If you’re feeling cooped up at home and long for a change of scenery, a winter camping trip might be the perfect escape.

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Enjoy the benefits of nature while camping this winter!

Outdoor recreational activities have seen an uptick in popularity, especially with restrictions on indoor gatherings implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are seeking experiences where they can be immersed in natural surroundings for leisure, relaxation, and exercise. After all, outdoor experiences have research-proven benefits for both physical and mental health. So if you’re itching to travel with a lower risk factor, consider a winter camping trip! That’s right, with quality gear like a tent heater, warm wool socks, and even heated vests, you can enjoy the fun of hiking, exploring, and sleeping among nature even in cold weather. Read on to learn about some of the best winter camping destinations all over the USA.

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Chugach State Park, Alaska

No tent? No problem! Alaska has over 300 reservable public use camper cabins located along trails and near remote lakes, streams, and ocean waters. The cabins sleep from three to 12 people and are equipped with rustic accommodations like wooden sleeping platforms, a table, chairs or benches, and a nearby latrine. Some of these rustic residences, like the Eklutna Lake Dolly Varden Cabin, are accessible by highway vehicles, while others can only be accessed in the wintertime by hiking, snowmobiling, skiing, or dogsledding. 

The High Sierras of California

You, in a yurt? Yup! The circular tent-like structures that originated on the grassy plains of Central Asia have caught on among campers across the globe, including California’s High Sierras—an area known for scenic trails, majestic waterfalls, boulder outcroppings, and more amazing natural beauty. Many rentable yurts are furnished and have heat and electricity; some accommodations, such as High Sierra Snowcat, offer guided packages including mountain transportation and cooked meals that make the camping experience not only an adventure, but a vacation from the responsibilities of home.

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Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Beach camping can be a fun winter experience, especially in warmer areas like the Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. Here you can find 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats that abound with all kids of life. You’ll have better luck reserving a good beach campsite in the off season and can still have a lot of fun around a campfire and exploring the seaside.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

If you are looking for a white winter experience—but without the ice and snow—consider camping at or near White Sands National park. Sledding down the dunes on plastic saucers is a fun, exciting activity that’s a great alternative to traditional winter sports. The park offers primitive backcountry campsites in the heart of the dunes, and there are many public and private campgrounds and RV parks within an hour’s drive. Daytime temperatures average 60 degrees Fahrenheit from December through February, but take note that nights are quite cold, averaging around 23 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

For thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, nothing beats camping on a frozen lake, where ice fishing is the recreational activity of choice. In Northern Minnesota, you can enjoy traditional camping in a tent or RV, or go glamping (that’s camping with a touch of glamour) at a luxury fish house through the many resort rentals in Lake of the Woods. Services with these accommodations include clearing an ice road so you can drive your vehicle right out onto the frozen lake to your heated abode, complete with bunks, a small kitchen, and a bathroom—not to mention a hole in the ice floor so you can drop your line.

Hayward, Wisconsin

The American Birkebeiner—held every winter from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin—is the largest Nordic ski race in the Northern Hemisphere. The event weekend (scheduled this year for February 24-28) draws over 10,000 racers, and the area has become host to all sorts of outdoor recreation-oriented races and events. Communities in the area have developed many top notch campgrounds and camper cabin rentals to accommodate winter sport adventurers.

Adirondack Park in Upstate New York

Adirondack Park in Upstate New York is made up of more than 6 million acres of protected land. Within the diverse landscape you will find towering mountains, pristine waterways, boreal forests, and wildlife. Though you should be prepared for snow and cold, camping in one of the many available lean-tos (three-sided fixed structures) in the region can be an enjoyable option for hardy individuals who long for a backcountry winter camping experience.

Coastal Florida

Snowbirds from all over the country flock to RV camping resorts in coastal Florida to enjoy warmth, sunshine, and good vibes. There are many great private campgrounds to choose from with amenities such as full utility hookups, pools, golf, and ocean views. Florida also has several coastal state and national parks and reserves including Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, Everglades State Park, and Everglades National Park, which have four-season RV and tent camping options.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

An off-season camping experience in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park will provide incredible scenic views, hiking trails, and impressive wildlife. Cades Cove is one of the year-round campgrounds in the broad mountain valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While this campground has a primitive feel, you’ll have the convenience of sites with electricity and water as well as flush toilet facilities.