This guidebook is badly needed. Ever since Coleman quit publishing its excellent directory of U.S. National Forest campgrounds in 2003, there has not been a comprehensive guide to these wonderful, and typically scenic camping areas — until now! National Forest Camping is fresh off the press, published in late May 2021. It’s a joint effort of Roundabout Publications and the Ultimate Campgrounds Project.
The U.S. Forest Service manages nearly 193 million acres of public land in 154 National Forests and 20 National Grasslands. These areas provide a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation including wonderful, often secluded campgrounds. From remote mountaintops to secluded canyons, alongside streams, rivers and lakes, Forest Service areas offer some of the best camping experiences in the United States. In this directory, you’ll discover 3,704 camping areas in 41 states.
National Forest campgrounds perhaps most beloved
National Forest campgrounds, with their long history, are perhaps the most beloved of all campgrounds, dating back to the early 20th century. In 1912, the Forest Service reported 231,000 campers in its forests. By 1924, the Forest Service budget included a line item for campground development — a whopping $37,631, which was a drop in the bucket.
In 1938 the Forest Service had 3,587 developed campgrounds used by 3 million visitors, and by 1952 more than 4.5 million camping visits were reported. That number nearly doubled to 8 million camping visits ten years later, in 1962.
Today’s Forest Service campgrounds range from primitive to highly developed. Most are primitive, with designated camping sites with no hookups and one or two pit toilets. Fresh water may or may not be available. Rarely, campgrounds may include bathrooms with flush toilets and showers and RV hookups. Many of the campgrounds include beautiful lakes with provided swimming beaches, fishing, power boating, canoeing. The distance between campsites is typically far greater than in most commercial RV parks.
For anyone who enjoys camping in mostly beautiful, peaceful settings, National Forest Camping should be essential for both trip planning and as a carry-along resource.
CAMPING ON PUBLIC LANDS:
Another excellent resource for campers who enjoy boondocking away from crowds is Roundabout Publications’ Bureau of Land Management Camping, which describes 1,142 camping areas in 11 western states managed by the BLM. Like the National Forest Campgrounds guide, it’s a joint effort with the Ultimate Campgrounds Project.