Norris Campground, Yellowstone
Norris Campground, Yellowstone (Crazy Rabbit Lady)

What are the best campgrounds in the west?

My parents are healthy 70-plus-year-old experienced hikers who want to take their 13-year-old grandson on an outdoorsy vacation in the American West. Any ideas?

Norris Campground, Yellowstone
Greg Melville

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My suggestion would be to go car camping and use the campsite as a base for hikes and other adventures during the day. Heck, you don’t need to be a grandparent to enjoy being able to sleep in a giant tent on a queen-sized inflatable mattress, or grab a cold drink from a big ol' cooler, or laze around in a ten-pound folding camp chair with a footrest—-all while enjoying the wilderness. You don’t even need to be dragging around a kid to love these five best campgrounds in the West.

1) Bridalveil Creek Campground in Yosemite, CA

Too far off the main traffic route of Yosemite to be crowded, this roomy, 110-site area sits at 7,000 feet in the southern portion of the park. It's as quiet as it is magnificent The surrounding meadow is garnished with pines and wildflowers, and quiet, crystal brooks that converge on Bridalveil Creek ($14 a night).

2) Green River State Park Campground near Green River, UT

The draw for this park in the town of Green River is the scenery and location (ignore the golf course). Lying on a verdent bank of the Green River, the park is a put-in and take-out point for rafters and boaters. It's also less than two hours from Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks ($16 a night). 

3) Doheny State Beach near Dana Point, CA

Stretching a mile along the Pacific shore in southern California, this his 62-acre state park is arguably the best car-accessible beach camping spot on the West Coast. Its 122 sites are clustered by the sandy shore on the park’s south side, and the north area is open for day use. ($60 a night). 

4) Chambers Lake Campground in Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, CO

This 51-site campground about an hour northwest of Fort Collins has just about everything. There’s an alpine lake, soaring peaks in the distance, and more than a million surrounding acres of wilderness. You can boat, fish, hike, mountain bike, or just wade idly along the shore of Chambers Lake ($18 a night).

5) Norris Campground in Yellowstone, WY

Fall asleep to the sound of coyotes, and wake up early the next morning to catch a glimpse of elk sauntering by at the Norris Campground in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. This secluded 100-site area is within walking distance of the Steamboat Geyser and the Museum of the National Park Ranger, and is not too far from anything else in Yellowstone ($14 a night).

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: Crazy Rabbit Lady

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