Top Ten Camps in North America

Drive-In: Gooseberry Falls Campground, Gooseberry Falls SP, Minnesota
  |  Gorp.com
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Prime real estate so prime, in fact, that wilderness buffs who normally scoff at camping within sight of their Subarus make reservations in February to secure relatively bug-free, breezy August nights around a Gooseberry campfire. Sheltered by a Minnesota evergreen forest 100 yards west of Lake Superior's basalt-cliff-lined north shore, this 70-site, restroom-equipped campground hugs the pebbly mouth of Gooseberry River. There's also a riverside site for kayak-borne campers.

The Stuff

Cool off in the spray of the five-story-high, three-tiered lower falls, located about a mile's walk upstream. A few hundred yards farther, past the 30-foot upper falls, you'll find a footbridge that links up with the Superior Hiking Trail. Follow its 3.5-mile traverse of the 1,641-acre park and continue as far as feasible along its 220-mile route. From the campground, bikers should follow the road to Minnesota 61 and cross the bridge; the trails north of the river furnish short yet steep hills aplenty. Along the Superior shoreline you can kayak, cast for trout, and jump right in (though the 40-degree summer water will have you scrambling ashore awfully fast).

The Specs

Gooseberry Falls is 200 miles north of Minneapolis. Take I-35 through Duluth and then follow Minnesota 61 north through Two Harbors. Thirteen miles farther you'll find the park entrance; follow signs to the campground. Sites cost $7 per night, plus $8.50 reservation fee and $7 for a vehicle permit per day. Call the Minnesota State Parks reservation line (866-857-2757) at least 90 days in advance. For general information, call park headquarters at 218-834-3855.

Next Time Try

Jenny Lake Campground, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The tent-only area near the lake's southeast shore fills up by 9 a.m. in summer months. So arrive early and be pushy. Then hop a ferry across the lake and pick up the Paintbrush Canyon Trail loop, where for 19.5 miles it'll be just you, 2,000-foot granite canyon walls, and a black bear here and there.

Location: 20 miles north of Jackson

Details: 49 sites; pit toilets; $12 per night

Prime Time: September

Contact: 307-739-3300

Site 23, Wheeler Peak Campground, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

A welcome diversion from U.S. 50 (aka the Loneliest Road in America) is Site 23. At 9,950 feet, it's nestled on the edge of a meadow with 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, Nevada's second highest, looming just 4.5 miles away and stands of 4,000-year-old bristlecone pine nearby.

Location: 245 miles north of Las Vegas

Details: pit toilets; $10 per night

Prime Time: late June to September

Contact: 775-234-7331


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