5 Unique Camping Trips to Add to Your Bucket List
The best camping spots have a spectacular view, plenty of privacy, and easy access to all your favorite recreation.
The second best campsites are the ones you can locate before your kids weaponize their toys and start bludgeoning each other in the backseat. Thankfully, with a little help from The Dyrt, you can get both sorted out on the fly from the passenger seat.
So, for those of you looking for a new, unique camping experience, here are 5 fantastic options that are well worth the road trip!
Let’s kick off the list in style with an option that is decidedly a step up from traditional tent camping. That said, they do have some van camping sites that are a bit more like the hookup sites you’ve seen elsewhere.
Situated right on Bend’s trail system—they cut a trail right to the property a few years back— and just 20 minutes from Mount Bachelor ski resort, the Loge is a hip year-round adventurer’s basecamp complete with a bar, cafe, and demo center renting high-end mountain bikes, cruisers, and kayaks.
It truly does offer an ideal remote working setup for guests. And, after logging off of Zoom for the day, in minutes you can be peddling the Haul Trail to reach classic rides like COD, Super D, and KGB.
Then as the evening rolls in, it’s time to wind down with new friends under the ponderosa pines in the Loge’s hopping common area. Or sip microbrews from the bar while you smoke a brisket on the free-to-use Traeger grills.
“It’s like instant community,” says telehealth worker Eve Barnett, who posted up at the Loge for a week this summer. And don’t forget to check out the free live music every Saturday night during the summer!
This spot is so sweet I almost kept it a secret.
Dewey Point may have the best reward-to-effort ratio of any backpacking trip anywhere.
Just a gentle 4-mile hike from Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road, the designated camping zone atop the Yosemite Valley’s famed granite cliffs boasts epic views. You can sit back and take in all of Yosemite’s greatest hits: El Cap, Yosemite Falls, Cloud’s Rest, and Half Dome.
The hardest thing about the journey is scoring the permit. Plan ahead and get in the lottery 24 weeks in advance of your trip, or you try to luck into a spot a week out! The week prior option really is possible, because 40% of the campsites are saved for first-come first-served claimants.
For the best odds at scoring a site, try mid-October through April—though you’ll need to beware of (and prepared for) snow!
The Easy Way to Find Last-Minute Campsites
Did you know some campers have:
- Pre-saved lists of hand-picked free camping across the US
- Text messages for last-minute openings
- Scans set up for National Park site openings
This is the easiest, most surefire way to find last-minute campsites every time, and it’s all included in the #1 camping membership called The Dyrt PRO. It costs just $35.99 per year and is an easy way to make sure you have better camping trips every time — and that you can actually find a spot last minute.
You can check it out for free today, you can even use it for free for 7 days to make sure you like it. After the trial it is $35.99 for a full year — most campers find it pays for itself after a night or two. If you camp more than 2 times per year, it may be perfect for you.
Itching to use that 4WD low, rooftop tent, and spacious awning on your rig? Give this dispersed camping spot in Utah’s ultra-rugged San Rafael Swell canyons a try.
From I-70, exit at State Route 24, and then head south and burrow your way deep into the Swell, as locals call it. Stop when you find a level spot to your liking, maybe something underneath the spectacular razorback ridge of the San Rafael Reef.
The beauty of dispersed camping is that it’s, ya know, dispersed. You don’t need to whisper. And the kids—if you have them—will be so perplexed by the lack of 5G that they’ll actually spend their time enjoying the peaceful surroundings. Looking at screens will be replaced by looking at the stars!
But please remember…while the camping is free, the off-road vehicle recovery service from the nearest town is decidedly not.
So be careful, bring supplies, plan accordingly, and try not to give in to those lingering thoughts that this could be your chance to employ that sweet new bumper-mounted electric winch.
The best thing about island camping? Sunsets over the water.
The second best thing? Watersports.
Set in the middle of South Carolina’s enormous Lake Murray, Dreher Island State Park draws boaters and anglers from across the region. A string of 3 narrow islands, the park features 97 campsites in two separate loops, the majority of which offer direct access to kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing.
If you’re new to angling, know that the generous state of South Carolina will loan anyone with a fishing license a rod, reel, and lures to stalk some of the lake’s famous largemouth or striped bass.
“The folks running the tackle shop were really eager to show my daughter and I how to fish and where to fish,” says Legend-level reviewer on The Dyrt, Stuart Kirby, who first visited Dreher in June, 2023. “That was one of several a-ha moments for me.”
Blessedly free from cell service, with spacious sites shielded from one another by thick vegetation, Virginia’s well-kept Beartree Campground feels far more remote than it is.
Surprisingly, it’s just a 15-minute drive from the bustling adventure town of Damascus, and less than a mile from the famed Virginia Creeper Trail (and the Appalachian Trail).
The campground makes a great getaway for a week of off-grid adventuring. The Dyrt reviewer, Elizabeth Gulberteau, discovered Beartree while hiking a section of the AT several years ago and has returned many times since.
“The sites and showers are so clean,” she says. “In the fall, the colors are spectacular. It’s just a great place to hike or swing in a hammock.”
Beartree offers 81 sites for tents and RVs—though no hookups are available. Plus, it makes a terrific basecamp for the 35-mile Virginia Creeper, one of the nation’s most celebrated rail trails.