Top Ten Camps in North America

Drive-In: Gooseberry Falls Campground, Gooseberry Falls SP, Minnesota

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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