The 4 Best National Forests for Year-Round Camping

A view of rocky hills and tallgrass in Coronado National Forest (National Forest Foundation)

Peak campaign season in North America runs anywhere from the start of May all the way through the end of August and into early September. But for the few of us who can’t get enough of the open road, four or so months of adventure just won’t cut it. So, we asked our friends at the National Forest Foundation to share the top National Forests that are prime destinations for RVers—no matter the time of year. Here’s what they had to say. 

1. Ocala National Forest, Florida

Nestled between well-known theme parks and white, sandy beaches, the jewels of the Ocala National Forest attract visitors from around the world.

The Ocala features more than 600 lakes and rivers where visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, snorkeling, canoeing, and boating. From migratory birds and playful manatees to delicate freshwater springs and some of the world's rarest plants, the Ocala is a haven where people (and animals) escape to one of Florida's remaining wild places. Here, opportunities abound for all to bask in the wonders of Mother Nature 365 days a year.

A bridge over swampy water in Ocala National Forest

RV Camping in Ocala

Of Ocala's 14 developed campgrounds, only Salt Springs offers full hookups. However, several campgrounds have dump stations and shower facilities. Others offer limited amenities.

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2. Coronado National Forest, Arizona

In Coronado, you can experience all four seasons during a single day's journey. Enjoy spectacular views from the mountains, wander through the desert among the giant saguaro cactus and colorful wildflowers in the morning, linger over lunch beside a mountain stream or lake, and play in the snow all before the day's end.

Tall green cactus on the side of a rocky mountainside in Coronado National Forest (National Forest Foundation)

RV Camping in Coronado

There are several larger campsites and RV campsites in Coronado National Forest including: Calabasas Group Sites, Gordon Hirabayashi Campground, Molino Basin Campground, Rose Canyon Campground, Lakeview Campground

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3. Los Padres National Forest , California

The Los Padres National Forest stretches across almost 220 miles from north to south and consists of two separate land divisions. The northern division is within Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County and includes the beautiful Big Sur Coast and scenic interior areas. The "main division" of the Forest includes lands within San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern Counties.

The spectacular Big Sur Coast, an international treasure, is one of the outstanding features of Los Padres National Forest. The Forest manages, through a concessionaire, several popular recreation facilities along the coast that attract visitors year-round.

An Airstream parked on a beach overlook at Los Padres National Forest (National Forest Foundation)

RV Camping in Los Padres

The Los Padres National Forest offers beautiful camping areas that range widely from low to high elevation, riverside to forested, and primitive to developed.  Most of the campsites tend to be directed toward the more primitive camping experience.

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4. Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

The Pisgah National Forest is a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls and heavily forested slopes. Comprising more than 500,000 acres, the Pisgah is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. Pisgah National Forest is home to the United States first forestry school which you can still see today at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site. This Forest is also the site of two of the first designated wilderness areas in the Eastern U.S including Shining Rock and Linville Gorge.

A flowing waterfall in Pisgah National Forest (National Forest Foundation)

RV Camping in Pisgah

Pisgah National Forest has a wide variety of campsites to choose from, some more developed and others more primitive. Check out this helpful table to learn more about your choices.

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