Rachel is our resident outdoorswoman. She has spent countless weekends overlanding and camping with her family over the years (don’t feel bad if you need to stop reading to Google “overlanding” right now — almost everyone in our office did!). We would even go as far as saying that Rachel is a semi-professional camper these days since her husband and brother-in-law launched their guided camping business Camp Yoshi in 2020. So what does this mean for you? It means that you get the inside scoop from a pro! Rachel is spilling her secrets and sharing five of her favorite camping destinations near and far…
Cape Lookout in the NC Outer Banks
One of the most unique outdoor experiences in North Carolina because you can camp directly on the beach. The only way on and off the island is via a ferry. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time – the further ahead of time, the better – because the ferry can get very busy during peak times of the year. You’ll also want a 4×4 vehicle because you’ll need to do a good amount of driving on the sand. Most importantly, double-check (actually, best to triple-check) that you have packed everything you need to be fully self-sufficient. You’ll be on a remote island with only your scheduled ferry departure date to guide you, but it’s well worth it to experience the beach like you never have before!
More Information: Cape Lookout Camping
Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia
Rachel’s top spot for first-time campers because Grayson Highlands is true “car camping”, meaning that all of the camping sites are drive-in. Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, the park has excellent light hiking trails leading to waterfalls and scenic overlooks. Bonus: you might even see a herd of wild ponies roaming free across the trails!
More Information: Grayson Highlands State Park Camping
Catawba River Area Walk-In Campground at Lake James State Park
Twenty walk-in campsites line the shore of the Catawaba River, offering the most serene setting and captivating views. After parking in the designated lot, campers will need to hike about 300 yards (think 3 football fields) along a trail that includes a 100-foot elevation change. Pack light and strategically since you’ll have to carry everything you need. Also, be sure to bring some fishing gear to keep the kids – and adults – entertained!
More Information: Lake James State Park Camping
If you’re willing to travel cross-country, every camper should have Arizona on their bucket list. Camping in the Western U.S. is amazing because so much of the area is public land, meaning you are allowed to pull over and camp wherever you see an amazing spot! Rachel loved Sedona and Lake Powell specifically. To date, Rachel ranks Lake Powell as one of the coolest camping spots she has ever visited because her family literally camped on the lakebed itself due to the historically low water levels that year. No matter where you go in the state, one thing to keep in mind is that the desert has its own set of wildlife. Be sure to keep an eye out for scorpions!
More Information: Arizona State Parks Camping
Why camp in one spot when you can take a tour of several locales? Unlike the Western U.S., most of the Eastern U.S. including New England’s mountains and wooded areas are privately owned. You’ll want to be careful about where you choose to camp. Designated campgrounds are definitely the safest bet. On Rachel’s last trip, she stopped in Maryland, Vermont, and her home state of Maine. While you won’t need to worry about scorpions in this part of the country, you’ll want to lock up your food and other scented items to keep local black bears at bay. Did you know that black bears’ sense of smell is so strong, that they can even smell unscented chapstick?
More Information: New England Camping
Now, who’s ready for an adventure in the great outdoors? We certainly are! Be sure to share your favorite camping destinations with us in the comments below. We’ll add them to our list.