Top Ten Camps in North America

  |  Gorp.com

I once was a bootleg camper, poaching any old roadside BLM or Forest Service patch of property like it was my own backyard. But this disregard for campsite aesthetics (not to mention etiquette) was less a lack of taste and more a lack of time.

As a waitress at a Colorado ski resort, I had one precious day off a week. So, the routine went like this: Late Saturday night, my boyfriend and I would get off work, pack the truck, and drive as far up the closest fourteener as the fire roads would allow. At around midnight, we'd park the car and pitch a tent on any horizontal surface we could eke out in the inky blackness. One morning we woke up in the middle of a field full of bellowing, moon-faced Jerseys. Another time, I zipped open the tent flap to find that we were perched on the precipice of a gully with no visible bottom.

While these quasi-legal camping episodes gave us our weekly wilderness fix along with some fantastic stories, I secretly longed for legitimacy, a time when we could hike into a campsite (reserved in advance, of course) with 360-degree views, a fire ring, and a pit toilet—and stay there for an entire week. The staying for a week part still eludes me, but in the past decade, my campsite life list has expanded beyond cow paddocks in Colorado. In fact, I daresay I've become—through personal experience and hours of research—somewhat of a campsite connoisseur.

Take it from someone who has spent many a restless night longing for horizontal tent pads with a view: these sites are as good as it gets in the great American outdoors.


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