Best Base Camps

The top locales in the United States for blissful, unfettered retreats into the wilderness, where a good book and days of leisure accompany your backcountry wanderlust.
  |  Gorp.com
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Being outdoors typically involves some sort of kinetic commitment, but let's be honest, sometimes it's better to just stop. Stay in one place. Leave those tent stakes in the ground and venture out armed with a daypack to explore what the trails offer. Catch a fish for dinner. Read a book. Paint with watercolors or write in your journal. Take photographs. Or just sit there for a while. In other words, do all the things you don't have time to do when your major goal involves covering miles between Point A and Point B.

To get you started, we've assembled ten great base camps—places beautiful enough to idle at for a day or more, but ones that offer side trips and plenty of areas to explore. Our list encompasses everything from easy hike-ins to quad-searing adventure in some of North America's most rugged and remote terrain. Either way, these campsites give you time to focus on why you hit the outdoors in the first place.

One note: Many of these sites involve camping near lakes and streams. Please respect minimum impact camping rules: camp at least 100 feet away from water, or more if possible. In some fragile areas, permits may be required, and additional camping restrictions may be in place.


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