The smell of a crackling beach bonfire, the feel of bare feet buried in the sand, and the meditative pulse of waves lapping at the shoreline make beach camping one of the great pleasures of the outdoors. While many campers travel to the coastline for their beach destination, beach campgrounds are everywhere, even in landlocked states.
Your beach options aren’t confined to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—there are also sandy river banks and lake shores that can satisfy your beach camping needs. Whether you’re traveling through desert, mountainside, or forest, there could be a gorgeous beach campground close by.
Dig Your Toes in the Sand at These 10 Beach Campgrounds
From coast to coast and everywhere in between, these campgrounds can make your beach camping dreams a reality.
1. Francis Beach Campground—Half Moon Bay, CA
Natural worlds collide at Half Moon Bay State Beach, just under an hour’s drive from San Francisco. Surfers love the massive waves at the nearby Mavericks surf spot, Montara Mountain towers on the horizon, and a redwoods preserve shades the nearby landscape.
At Francis Beach Campground you can pitch a tent or park an RV and be surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the beach, and a grassy field of gorgeous wildflowers. On days when the bay fog blocks the sun, this natural paradise turns hauntingly beautiful.
There are 52 beach campsites, which can accomodate tents and some RVs/trailers. You won’t find sewer and water hookups, but some campsites have electrical hookups. Rinse off the bay water with coin-operated showers that provide two minutes of shower time per quarter. Reservations are highly encouraged, and walk-ins may only reserve one night at a time. You can make a reservation online or by calling (800) 444-7275.
“HMB in general is pretty cold and foggy most of the year, but I was most recently at this campground on Christmas and it was gorgeous. I would recommend going in the fall if you want sunny weather.” —The Dyrt camper Corrin S.
2. Nickerson Beach Campground—Long Island, NY
Get away from the city and into the Atlantic with a beach camping trip to Nickerson Beach in Long Island. You’ll find all types of recreation facilities for an ideal family vacation, including play parks, miniature golf in the dunes, basketball courts, a skate park, and baseball, volleyball, and soccer fields.
The campground fits up to 74 RVs and each site comes equipped with water and electric hookups. Most plots also have sewer. Residents of Nassau County can also be entered into a lottery to access one of the beach’s 498 cabanas.
“I grew up in Long Beach. If you’re looking for a spot to camp so you can surf, this is perfect!” —The Dyrt camper Mackenzie B.
3. Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping—Page, UT
For a landlocked state, Utah has some incredible beach campgrounds. Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping takes you right to the edge of Lake Powell, where you’ll have your choice of camping spot. None of the camping plots are marked and reservations are not accepted, so it’s important to arrive early to claim your ground.
Besides the company of the ever-present “lone rock,” the open spaces stretch far and wide across Lake Powell and the sand dunes. Fires are permitted at this beach campground. Campers can find micro-flush toilets, outdoor cold showers, a dump station, and seasonal potable water. Wind storms can blow through without warning, so secure your camp.
“Right on the shore of Lake Powell. There are accessible 2wd spots but much more selection with 4wd. Outdoor showers and bathroom available.” —The Dyrt camper Thais & Natchez
4. Sweetwater Bay Chickee—Everglades National Park, FL
Camping is plentiful along the Florida coast, but you can take beach camping to a whole new level by camping directly out on the water in Everglades National Park. These floating platforms, known as “chickees”, allow you to drift to sleep with the gentle rocking of the waterways. The chickees are considered backcountry camping and are only accessible by canoe or kayak, so make sure you have all gear, food, water, and bug spray with you.
Sweetwater Bay Chickee is a double platform chickee hut that can hold six people on each side, and is equipped with a portable toilet. Campers will need a free-standing tent and fires are not permitted.
“Chickees, Seminole for “thatched roof,” are one of the coolest features of the national park. There are several of these available along the Wilderness Waterway (this one is at marker 99) located on the inside (non-Gulf side of the islands).” —The Dyrt camper Sarah C.
5. Sheridan Lake Campground—Black Hills, SD
Not all beaches are hot. In fact, you might find that beach campgrounds have iced-over water, depending on when you go. Nevertheless, Sheridan Lake Campground is an excellent beach campground for fishing, hiking, skiing, or as a basecamp for an RV trip through the Black Hills and the Badlands.
There are about 90 camping plots at Sheridan Lake, most of which can be reserved for tent or RV campers, but none of the sites have electric hook ups. Only a few spots put campers right on the shores of the lake, so check the interactive map when making a booking to make sure you’re getting the plot number you want. The 2019 camping season at Sheridan Lake runs from May 22 to Sept. 2.
“Situated within an hour’s drive of many of the Black Hill’s more famous attractions, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Wind Cave National Park, this campground provides a great basecamp for all your regional adventures.” —The Dyrt camper Shari G.
6. Orchard Beach State Park—Manistee, MI
Beautiful freshwater beach camping is possible from the bluffs of Lake Michigan at Orchard Beach State Park. Sit in the sand or wade into the water while camping at one of the 166 available campsites, with restrooms and showers on site. High water levels can impact beach access, so check the weather and water conditions before booking your trip.
If you want to leave the 25 miles of sandy shoreline, look to the Arcadia Marsh for another natural Michigan wonder, or visit the historic downtown.
“This campground has the best views. The sites closest to the lake are right on the bluff. There are stairs to walk down to get to the water.” —The Dyrt camper Caty M.
7. Sea Camp Beach—Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA
Georgia’s coastline is often forgotten as far as beach campgrounds go, leaving much of its shoreline in a state of raw wilderness. Sea Camp Beach is located in the Cumberland Island National Seashore, and its wild side is very much still intact. Herds of horses roam the island, surviving off the land by eating natural vegetation. Stay at least 50 feet away, because they’re liable to bite and kick.
Sea Camp Beach has remained one of the most well-preserved beach campgrounds in part because of its strict camping rules. Campers must reserve in advance and bring a copy of the printed reservation with them. The island is only accessible by ferry unless you kayak in, which is only advisable for experienced paddlers. Hang your food to prevent unwanted visits from armadillos, snakes, and horses. Sea Camp Beach is the most developed of the beach campgrounds on Cumberland Island, so drinkable water is on site.
“Waking up to the sound of the waves can’t be beat! Prep for a steady breeze (not fun when cooking unless you like sand in your food).” —The Dyrt camper Jeanene A.
8. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness—Northeast MN
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a maze of more than 1,200 miles of canoeing and kayaking trails located within the Superior National Forest. There are also more than 2,000 designated campsites, meaning you can plan your own multi-night waterway adventure. All developed sites require a permit, but if you’re able to plan your trip around the 254 backcountry campsites, you won’t need a permit. All backcountry sites have a fire grate and vault toilet.
The BWCAW runs into the Canadian border. If you plan on entering the country, make sure to have your passport and all other necessary documentation in your paddle boat. In the winter months, the BWCAW transforms into an icy tundra, with dog sledding and skijoring replacing canoeing and hiking.
“Trail’s End Campground is another one of our favorite campgrounds. At the end of the Gunflint Trail it is secluded and very peaceful. There are also a number of hiking options available relatively close by. I would highly recommend hiking to the Magnetic Rock!” —The Dyrt camper Kara K.
9. Osage Beach RV Park—Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Osage Beach cradles the Northwest side of the Lake of the Ozarks, and is one of the best beach campgrounds to take in the plateaus, lake waters, and steep mountain ridges of the region. The Osage Beach RV Park won’t have you parking directly on sandy lake shores—it’s about a quarter mile from the lake, but it’s the only RV Park in Osage Beach.
Not only that, but it’s close to area attractions like Bagdell Dam and the public swimming beach. The forest-shaded RV campground features pull-through sites, 50 and 30 amp service, water, electric, sewer, cable TV, and free WiFi.
Be the first on The Dyrt to tell us about your RV trip through the Lake of the Ozarks and earn your Pioneer Badge!
10. Willow Beach Campground & RV Park—Willow Beach, AZ
Hot deserts and parched cacti are more likely to come to mind than a watery oasis when thinking of the Arizona landscape. But the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through the desert dryness at the state line, creating the ideal beach setting at the Willow Beach Campground & RV Park.
Willow Beach has a marina, RV park, and tent campground at the banks of the river. As part of the Lake Mead Recreational Area, Willow Beach is an excellent destination for water recreation. If you prefer to stay on land, hike the Black Canyon City, or take the 45-minute drive to the Las Vegas strip.
Willow Beach has 28 full-service RV spots, nine tent camping sites, and laundry and shower facilities. Watercraft and fishing gear can be rented at the marina store.
“Perfect place to camp for some boating and fishing and if you want a little night life Las Vegas is only about 45 minutes away. Keep your eyes open for wild burros and Bighorn sheep!” —The Dyrt camper Sandy K.