Camping in the mountains is an experience like no other. When you’re in the mountains, you’re higher up than you ever will be as long as you’re still alive in this world.
The mountains are not only high above the sea, they are also the closest to the sky and the clouds.
Summer and very early fall is the most popular time for camping in the mountains. However, there are plenty of locations available for those who are into winter sports.
They are the ideal place for taking lessons in winter sports because of the natural long ranges.
The mountains are also very ideal for nature watching. If you’re into bird watching, for example, some areas are home to birds of prey like eagles. However, some caution is warranted as camping near a lot of nesting areas is prohibited.
In the mountains, you’re expected to treat nature with the utmost respect. This means dumping your trash only in designated areas. This includes proper RV dumping sites.
This also means not bringing more than you absolutely need or doing things like spraying bug spray directly on bugs.
Every site has slightly different regulations. Some are more strict than others. Many, for example, have regulations for gathering firewood and/or about the kind of firewood.
Most have very strict regulations about handling pets while at least one has a horse rack available.
Camping in the mountains is a very rewarding experience no matter when or why you decide to do it. It is perfect for those who love very cold weather and those who love to get away to cooler weather during the hotter times of the year.
Below are the top 10 longtime favorite locations of mountain camping. No matter where you go, however, you are guaranteed to have an experience of your lifetime.
1. Mount Hood
If you’re a skier or snowboarder who needs to polish your skills, like the idea of taking tours in snowshoes or taking a bus tour to the meadows, this is the place for you.
There are lessons available on Saturday nights as well as other events such as the Women’s Midweek Clinic and Super Bowl Sunday. They will also be hosting a Valentine’s special of a romantic dinner for two.
You also have a number of camping sites scattered throughout the forest on and around Mt Hood. With the close proximity to Portland you better reserve a spot or get there early in the morning because on the weekends they fill up fast.
You have you traditional campsite where you just drive in and set up camp. You can rent cabins or park your RV. But you also have camp site where you have to walk a mile or two to get to from your car. So there is something for everyone. All you have to do is research what you want to do. Check out this website to help you plan your trip.
2. Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier is a stratavolcano located in Cascadia south-southeast of Seattle. Its National Park currently has three campgrounds. They are open all year, however, summer is their peak season. For safety, they have their own regulationsabout parking and visiting hours.
Most campgrounds are first come, first serve. However, Cougar and Ohanapecosh Rock require reservations. There is no electricity or running water on the grounds and some of the larger tents have been known not to fit in the ground space well.
3. Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons is located in Moose, Wyoming. It contains approximately 200 miles of trails and a ride on the Snake River. There are also opportunities to backpack through the backcountry, climbing, and mountain viewing.
You can bring your pets. However, unless they’re service animals, they’re not allowed in places like park trails. 17 of the Tetons’s areas are accessible to those requiring wheelchairs through the Self Evaluation Transition Plan.
Their fun Junior Ranger program is available for children.
Mount Denali is located in the Cordilleras in Alaska. It is the third largest mountain peak in the world at over 20,300 feet above sea level.
Several rivers, creeks and lakes serve as campgrounds. Riley Creek, Savage and Teklanika River have the option for either RVs or tents. Whereas, Wonder Lake, Sanctuary River and Igloo take only tents.
You can rent all of your camping equipment from your tent to your hiking clothes.
There are several resorts and lodges. However, Otto Lake Cabins and Campgrounds is no longer accepting reservations.
5. Mount Adams
Mount Adams is a stratavolcano in the Cascade range. It is the second highest peak in the state of Washington.
Many of their campgrounds require reservations. Everything from the fees to seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. None of the sites have electric service. There are some private sites, such as Cougar and Trout Lake available.
Mount Adams has everything from fishing to horseback riding available. Most of their forest area is open to FAA drones. However, there are some safety restrictions on that as well.
Yosemite is a National Park that is best known for its waterfalls. Overall, it is the picture perfect representation of the ideal mountain with its beautiful scenery of deep valleys, meadows, sequoias, etc.
Camping is usually quite full between April and September so early reservations are very strongly recommended. RV sites are available in most areas.
We would like to note that Tioga and Glacier Point Road are usually closed during the winter and open in May or June. Some places may require tire chains.
7. Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountain is located in northern Colorado and reaches across the Continental Divide. It is known for its Trail Ridge and Old Fall River Roads that span across numerous rivers and aspen forests.
The Rocky Mountains has both winter sports and summer camps. The latter is usually full so early reservations are strongly recommended. Their busiest hours are between 9:00 am and 3pm so they warn that there is a lot of congestion and long waits during those hours.
For winter sports, equipment can be purchased or rented.
8. Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains span across the Tennessee and North Carolina borders and are an Appalachian subrange.
They have several different types of campsites. The backcountry is reserved for backpackers and the frontcountry is a developed campground.
The latter has group reservations for eight or more available. The horse camps have hitch racks available for horses.
Roads are often closed in the winter. As a result, summer and early fall are usually the best times to camp there. However, late spring tends to have the smaller crowd.
9. Olympic Mountains
The Olympic Mountains are a range in the Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest.
Kalaloch, Mora, and Sol Duc require reservations. Otherwise, it’s first come, first served. Payment is in cash or check only and they state that they can’t give change for cash overpayments. There is no electricity or running water available on the campgrounds.
Personal plans are available for backpackers.
They do have a lot of safety regulations. Hunting and firearm use are both strictly prohibited. Pets must be kept on a leash and only eight people per group.
10. Mount Shasta
Dispersed is camping au naturalle, along the shoreline. The campgrounds have running water but electrical hookups and RV dump sites are not available. Group camping is like the campground but with larger tables, grills, etc.
Mount Shasta is rich with legends. The most well-known one being that giant Lemurians that survived the sinking of Lemuria reside in the hidden city called the Telos.
When it comes to mountain camping, for the most part, it pays to make a reservation ahead of time. Summer and very early fall are usually the best times to visit the mountains.
The mountains are usually cool when everywhere else is hot though it depends on the location and it’s weather conditions.
Camping in the mountains is sometimes hectic and sometimes calm. However, it is almost always very rewarding. It could even be a good therapeutic experience and is almost guaranteed to give you good exercise as most involve a lot of walking.
If you love camping but haven’t tried doing so in the mountains, we strongly recommend it. Mountain air is usually very fresh. It makes a good change scenery and can help you put life into perspective in a way that nothing else can.
Every site is different and has its own unique features. We recommend that you pick the one that’s best for you and your family or friends. There are some places that take backpackers have au naturalle spots and some are more of a frontcountry of cabins and tours.
Again, you will need to figure out which location will be best for you and/or your group. Remember that some locations allow pets and others allow only service animals.
You will need to explore all of the regulations and rules before making your reservation or deciding to go to a site. Some of them are pickier about their regulations than others. For example, the Olympic Mountains are definitely not for hunters.
Some have running water and electricity and others don’t. However, if you’re looking for off-grid solitude, we guess that the ones that don’t are what you’re looking for.
However, if you’re looking for something more vacation-like, a campground with cabins is probably more your style.
As a bonus, in case you’re wondering what tent camping in the snow is like, here is a video of that.