Shari G.
Boone, NC
Joined June 2016
Environmental Educator, Photographer, Traveler, & RV Adventurer. We found Freedom in Can in 2012 and haven't looked back! http://freedominacan.com
Gorgeous Coastal Backpacking along the Gulf of Maine

The coast of Maine offers very few places for overnight backpacking or even just seaside hiking. The Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land is one great option. The length of the hiking trails makes this the ideal, weekend getaway location for a two-night campout– just get there early. The sites are few in number, small and difficult to get to, but oh-so-worth-it! 

As backcountry sites, there are no picnic tables or fire rings, but each has a clean and convenient composting toilet with a stunning view of the Gulf of Maine.  Each campsite is located close to a freshwater source and a few are within site of a small pebble beach– perfect for swimming if you don’t mind the chilly water.  But, come prepared for bugs -- mosquitoes and black flies are impressive in the late spring and summer!   And, the trails can be quite muddy and soggy.  There is a price for this much beauty in one place!

Located 16 miles east of East Machias, the closest town with gas and a convenience store. Five miles further west along route 1 the town of Machias offers a wider selection of restaurants, farmers markets and grocery stores.

Could be the quietest place on Earth

When we pulled up to this quiet campground during a warm and sunny day in October, the light shone through the trees on an idyllic pond wreathed in fall color. With no one else around we thought, “welcome to the perfect campsite.” 

Each site offers a picnic table, fire ring, and access to the pond. The pit toilet bathrooms were clean and centrally located in the campground. There is a hand driven well pump for fresh water close to the boat ramp (canoes, kayaks, rowboats only). The water was a little rusty tasting, but perfectly fine to drink. 

A trail lead directly out of the campsite to another pond about a mile away offering a short round trip afternoon hike.  Further up the road, about a mile from the campground, the Mt. Albany trailhead offers a longer and more challenging hike up to the summit as well as connection to other trails in the area. Along the way we found amazing views of the surrounding mountains in all their fall glory!

The campground is only 8 miles from the town of Bethel, ME. This small hamlet offers a few restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

On the shores of GORGEOUS Moosehead Lake!

This gorgeous state park along the shores of Moosehead Lake near Greenville feels like the campgrounds of my youth. Sites are all tucked into the woods with easy access to trails and the lakeshore. Each site offers the usual picnic table and fire ring. 

Well-kept latrines are scattered throughout the campground, as well as drinking water faucets.  A centrally located, and clean bath house with flush toilets, warm individual-use shower rooms, and a great dishwashing sink is a recent addition to this large facility. The only downside is that it can be a 10 to 15-minute walk from the farthest campsite, making most people get in their vehicles just to take a shower or wash dishes.

The great network of trails offer opportunity for hiking and biking in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The lake, over 35 miles long offers sailing, paddling, swimming and even power boating.  The closest town is conveniently located about 6 miles away for gas and groceries.

Worth the hike-in, very close to the AT

Beautiful hike-in sites located along the Pleasant River, and a great access point for hiking on the Appalachian Trail or in Gulf Hagas area!  We didn’t stay at these sites, but came across them while hiking just off the AT. 

Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, with access to a clean latrine (with TP!).  No potable water is available, but the river is easily accessible for dishwashing and boiling/filtering. Firewood is available for purchase at the access gate at Katahdin Iron Works, but keep in mind you’ll have to carry it about ¾ of a mile, and across a river. 

For safety, no bikes or ATV’s are allowed beyond the Katahdin Iron Works gate, as these roads belong to the logging companies in the area and there can be many fast-moving logging trucks. The town of Milo is where you’ll find the closest grocery stores and gas stations, but it’s a bit of a drive so come prepared. 

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate at Katahdin Iron Works, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee.  Note: If you are planning to backpack on the AT from this location, the pricing is very different, so be sure to ask!

Camp Perfect!

Camp Perfect is what we nicknamed this spot along the Western Penobscot River. It’s missing a sign, but clearly marked on the map as a camp spot. Although this is backcountry camping, these spots each have a picnic table, an established fire ring, and a very clean pit toilet (bring your own TP though).  There are bears and moose in the area, so come prepared with a bear proof container to keep your food safe.

We loved it so much, we stayed 2 nights and explored the stream nearby, swam in the bend of the river that offered a perfect swimming hole, and watched the gorgeous sunsets.   A truly gorgeous spot!

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate along the Golden Road, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee. And, then there’s the shuttle. It’s expensive, but if you go with a group and share costs, it’s a treat! Maybe a once in a lifetime adventure for some people.

Fresh water lobsters? Don't let the name fool you!

This was the first campsite along our Maine North Woods canoe adventure – about 4 miles from the Lobster Launch. It is a gorgeous campsite along the sandy shores of Lobster Lake, with plenty of room for a group of 8-10 people.  It's called Lobster Lake because it's shaped like a lobster claw.  

Has a huge picnic table, separate food prep area, fire ring and toilet (bring your own TP). Bring plenty of fresh water (though you can filter from a stream feeding the lake/river, but we were advised not to use the lake water, even filtered). Very easy access to the water for swimming, hauling gear up, etc. 

Note about costs: Getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate along the Golden Road, pay a daily road access fee, and daily camping fee. And, then there’s the shuttle for your vehicle. It’s expensive, but if you go with a group and share costs, it’s a treat!  Maybe a once in a lifetime adventure for some people.

First time we've seen moose FROM our campsite!

This was an unexpectedly beautiful site and great access point for hiking on the Appalachian Trail or Gulf Hagas area! We were seeking a place to stay 1 night just before embarking on a backpacking trip. The woman at the Katahdin Ironworks gatehouse selected the site for us and couldn’t have picked a better one. 

Lots of privacy, beautiful view of the river, and we even were visited by a moose and her calf one evening! Each site has a covered picnic table and fire ring, with access to a private, clean latrine (with TP!) across the road. No potable water is available, but the stream is easily accessible for dishwashing and boiling/filtering. Firewood is available for purchase at the access gate at Katahdin Iron Works. 

For safety, no bikes or ATV’s are allowed beyond the Katahdin Iron Works gate, as these roads belong to the logging companies in the area and there can be many fast-moving logging trucks. The town of Milo is where you’ll find the closest grocery stores and gas stations, but it’s a bit of a drive so come prepared. 

Note about costs: Located in the Maine North Woods, getting here is quite a journey, but ooohh so worth it. It’s on the way to nowhere, you have to pay to get through the gate at Katahdin Iron Works, pay a daily access fee, and daily camping fee. Note: If you are planning to backpack on the AT from this location, the pricing is very different, so be sure to ask!

First to Review
Spot for Just 1 Tent...Barely!

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island is small with barely a tent space, but a good stop for us on our 9 day journey and a perfect launching spot for crossing Jericho Bay (4.5 miles) to Marshall Island the next day.   Gorgeous shell covered beach and a beautiful view of Isle au Haut, just next door.

This can be a tricky island to land on at high tide, so plan accordingly. Be prepared for mosquitoes. We thought we were passed mosquito season in early September, but alas, they were pretty bad all day long. 

Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). Site is first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
Perfect island for those new to sea kayak camping

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites – one larger area up in the woods, the other quite small near the granite shore, but both accessible from the east side of the island. We stayed at the site by the shore and had a gorgeous view of the sun setting. 

This is a perfect island for those new to sea kayak camping as the sandy shore, which is exposed for a good portion of the day, is easy to land on and a short walk to a trail into the woods. 

Come prepared with fresh water(there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
Gorgeous Views of the Gulf

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites– one very small one on the northeast side, the other perfect for larger groups on the southwest side. We stayed at the larger site and had a gorgeous view of the sun setting and full moon rising. 

Perfect island for exploring the close-by Isle au Haut, a remote section of Acadia National Park, but very hard to get reservations at Duck Harbor Campground. This can be a tricky island to land on at high tide, so plan accordingly. 

Be prepared for mosquitoes. We thought we were passed mosquito season in early September, but alas, they were pretty bad at sunset. Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). 

Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members.

First to Review
The Most Magical Island in the Gulf of Maine

One of the MITA (Maine Island Trail Association) camping areas in the Deer Isle Archipelago, this island has 2 sites– one on the southeast side near Sand Cove and the other on the northeast side of the island. We stayed at one of the 2 sites near Sand Cove which is a truly gorgeous wooded area with a tent platform and a picnic table at each site. Sand Cove is perfect for a beach fire and stargazing on a clear night– some of the best stargazing spots we’ve ever seen! 

Despite the fact that the other islands had pesky mosquitoes, this site had none. Come prepared with fresh water (there is no fresh water for filtering) and wag bags (no toilets). If you happen to need a food or water resupply, Swan’s Island is a short paddle away and has a very small grocery store and town office with fresh water. Sites are first come, first served and completely free for MITA members. And, if you do a beach clean-up during your stay and send in a picture, you will receive a Maine Coast Heritage Trust hat!

Quiet, Spacious, Lots of Amenities

While we don’t usually stay in private campgrounds due to their high cost, the price was reasonable for the quality of this campground and amenities provided. We were in need of a shower and a place for the night and this campground was perfectly situated off the highway to Greenville. 

Most of the sites are designed for larger RVs with full hook-ups, but they have just a handful of simple tent/small camper sites without services, which is exactly what we needed.   Just a picnic table and fire ring and some privacy and we were happy campers.

The shower house was newly remodeled and very clean, as was the laundry facility with dishwashing/utility sink. The campground has access to over 1000 miles of trails, which are designed for ATV’s. They even have an ATV washing station. While it was not open in late September, the campground offers a nice pool, game room for the kids of all ages, a small camp store, and even has a snack bar and ice cream counter.  And, if you are seeking some amazing hiking, it's relatively close to Borestone Mountain and sections of the Appalachian Trail.

The young husband and wife team who own/run the place are very sweet folks who seem to really pay attention to the needs of their customers.  For instance, they recently spent a good deal of money on high speed wifi because that is what their customers said they wanted.  We didn't need it, so can't comment on its quality, but it's there if you do.

No wild horses, but a great campground!

This Nevada State Recreation Area is in a beautiful very remote location, along the Wild Horse reservoir. There are two camping areas with about a dozen sites in each. Each site has a nice picnic table, rain / sunshade, and fire ring…and lots of sun for the solar panel. The bathroom facilities are the fanciest we've ever seen for $15 per night. Can you say, "Custom tiled shower?" Someone did a really nice job. And, the campground is kept emaculate.

Just below the campground is a boat ramp and parking lot and swimming beach area. The lake is great for boating, fishing and paddling. The winds we experienced would make it a great lake for sailing, and sailboarding. There are numerous hikes along forest roads in the area that will get you up into the mountains (and even up to an old gold mine), but not alot of "trail hikes." Mountain biking is a great option along these backroads.

The nearest town with services is Owyhee, gas and small grocery store, about 35 miles to the north. There was no cell service in the campground, but we found it on our hike up the mountain!

Bird watchers paradise, with amazing views to boot!

Just like the next door campground of Coyote Cove, these shoreline campsites lack a lot of charm. But with your eyes constantly drawn to the Ruby Mountain's striking beauty, who needs anything more than the usual picnic table, sunshade, wind block screen, and fire ring. The pit toilets were clean and tidy, but there was no drinking water available at this campground.  

The Jet Ski Beach is a great beach for swimming, launching canoes, kayaks, small fishing boats, or personal watercraft. The boat launch and boat trailer parking lot is in the nearby Coyote Cove campground. The area offers opportunities for water sports of all kinds, hiking & mountain biking along many trails, or just sitting by the shore with a line in the water. Bird life is abundant in this area, with many species stopping along their migration route. We saw Loons, Dowitchers, White Pelicans, Coots and even the shy Hermit Thrush.  

The closest town with services is Spring Creek a short 12 miles away, a dozen more miles northwest is the city of Elko which has all the usual suburban amenities and big box stores and interstate 80 running through the middle of town. We had good mobile service and data throughout the campground. Showers, water and a dump station are available at the developed campground across the lake, though it is only open from Spring until Fall, depending upon weather conditions.

Ruby views will keep you coming back!

Along the south west side of South Fork reservoir, these functional spots carry all the charm of a dirt parking lot, but the views of the Ruby Mountains reflected in the lake will keep you coming back. Each site offers a picnic table, sunshade, wind block screen, and fire ring. The pit toilets were clean and tidy, but there was no drinking water available at this campground.  

The Coyote Cove is a great beach for swimming, and launching canoes and kayaks, or small fishing boats. The boat launch and boat trailer parking lot is on the south side of the campground. The area offers opportunities for water sports of all kinds, hiking & mountain biking along many trails, or just sitting by the shore with a line in the water. Bird life is abundant in this area, with many species stopping along their migration route. We saw Loons, Dowwitchers, White Pelicans, Coots, and even the shy Hermit Thrush.  

The closest town with services is Spring Creek a short 12 miles away, a dozen more miles northwest is the city of Elko which has all the usual suburban amenities. We had good mobile service and data throughout the campground. Showers, water and a dump station are available at the developed campground across the lake, though it is only open from Spring until Fall, depending upon weather conditions.

Up Up Upper Lehman...keep on climbing!

Sitting at about 7750 feet within Great Basin National Park, this small campground offers glorious views of the surrounding mountains. Each site has 1-2 huge picnic tables, fire pit and grill, and many have tent pads. The campground is well-maintained and the pit toilets are kept stocked and immaculately clean. We visited in late April and the water in the campground was not yet turned on for the season (though there is an active stream running through the campground, so you can filter water). The Lehman Caves Visitor Center also has drinking water available.

One issue to note is that most of parking pads are not very level (to help with snow melt) in the upper campground, so it made it quite challenging to level our little camper -- probably the most challenging over the past 6.5 years! But, we got it leveled and had plenty of sun for our solar panel in site 10. Lots of trees between sites offer a good deal of privacy, too.

Because of the big winter in 2019, the scenic road was not yet open, so we walked up it for a few miles to enjoy some long range views of the desert valley (Great Basin) below. The road is an 8% grade, so be ready to expand those lungs at 8000 feet! We also went on a challenging snowshoe hike up the Lehman Creek trail, which starts right from the campground.  The jewel of this park during the off/shoulder season is Lehman Cave, with fun ranger-led tours starting right from the visitor center.

This park is truly in the middle of nowhere, with almost no development (yay!!) close to the entrance. What that means is that you need to come prepared with groceries and supplies as not much is available in the tiny hamlet of Baker, which is about 6 miles from the campground. There is a tiny café by the Visitor Center if you need it, too.

Campsites are first-come, first-served and you can use a credit card or cash to make your payment. Not much service in the park as a whole, but we could get a call out if need be.

Caves, Glacier, and Deserts...Oh My!

Sitting at about 7300 feet within Great Basin National Park, this small campground offers glorious views of the valley below. Each site has a huge picnic table, fire pit and grill, and many have tent pads. The campground is well-maintained and the pit toilets are kept stocked and immaculately clean. We visited in late April and the water in the campground was not yet turned on for the season (though there is an active stream running through the campground, so you can filter water). The Lehman Caves Visitor Center also has drinking water available. Lots of trees between sites offer a good deal of privacy, too.

Because of the big winter in 2019, the scenic road was not yet open, so we walked up it for a few miles to enjoy some long range views of the desert valley (Great Basin) below.  The road is an 8% grade, so be ready to expand those lungs at 8000 feet! We also went on a challenging snowshoe hike up the Lehman Creek trail, which starts right from the upper campground.  The jewel of this park during the off/shoulder season is Lehman Cave, with fun ranger-led tours starting right from the visitor center.

This park is truly in the middle of nowhere, with almost no development (yay!!) close to the entrance. What that means is that you need to come prepared with groceries and supplies as not much is available in the tiny hamlet of Baker, which is about 6 miles from the campground.

Campsites are first-come, first-served and you can use a credit card or cash to make your payment. Note: This lower campground fills up fast during busy weekends because the sites are good and level for RV's.

Superbloom in the BLM: Camping in a Natural Desert Garden

Wildflowers at their peak. a full on superbloom of California poppies amidst cacti greeted us at this BLM spot just southeast of Mt. Graham. Lots of places to pull over for a night or for a week or two along Tanque Road, and almost no road noise since the highway is far enough away. Tanque Road is dirt but was doable for our vintage trailer for the first mile or so, but we've heard it gets sandy and harder to navigate the further in you get.

Well-positioned in between the Coronado National Forest and the Hot Well Dunes area. No services, no water, no toilets, just beautiful open desert. Come prepared with drinking water and please Leave No Trace.

Closest town is Safford, AZ about 30 minutes away, and has all that you need.

Kayak Camp in this Gorgeous Desert Canyon

About 2 miles upriver from the Mormon Flat Dam, the Tonto National Forest maintains 4 official campsites, complete with a covered picnic table and fire pit at each, as well as composting toilets and a great boat dock for larger boats. 

The sites were in a bit of disrepair and the bathroom wasn’t stocked and smelled a bit, but the views and location of this site can’t be beat!  Just come prepared with what you need. And, there was an emergency call button by the bathrooms (something we have never seen in any place we’ve camped?). No drinking water available, so be sure to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day.

Warnings: We found that this site could either feel extremely remote, or a total party scene with music blaring from a boat moored at the dock, depending on who is there and how they got there. Also, the wind can blow strongly up/down this canyon, so check the weather before heading in. 

Keep on the lookout for lots of birds and Big Horned Sheep as you paddle/boat up river to the Horse Mesa Dam area. The dam is on lock down (you won’t actually see it), but the journey upriver is absolutely gorgeous with fascinating geology and beautiful Sonoran Desert cactus!

First-come, first-served, and…FREE!

The River Between Two States

Along this gorgeous stretch of the Colorado River downstream of Hoover Dam, you will find numerous backcountry camping options on both the AZ and NV sides, many with existing fire rings. In addition, you’ll find emerald green waters, hot springs/hot waterfalls, sauna cave, slot canyons and interesting features along the sides of the canyon.   All camping is first-come, first-served and no permit is needed.  Water can be filtered in an emergency, but it is the Colorado River; so we’d recommend bringing 1 gallon of fresh drinking water per person per day. Please Leave No Trace by bringing Wag Bags or other poop removal method, including your toilet paper. 

Weather & River Concerns: 

  • If you are camping in a wash, be sure to keep an eye on the weather as flash flooding is a major concern during the rainy season.  
  • We launched from Willow Beach marina (AZ side) and paddled up stream to the dam and back over 4 days. We had an amazing weather window, but have heard from locals that this place can be VERY windy (25-50mph), making it impossible to travel against the wind. 
  • When the dam releases, it can also make upriver travel quite difficult (not impossible but difficult depending on your boat and paddling skills). Also, the river can rise 4-6 vertical feet when the dam releases water from Lake Mead, so haul your boats at least 50 feet up the washes and don’t camp close to the water or you’ll find yourself floating downstream in the middle of the night.
  • Cell service in the canyon is very limited. We found a bit near the dam, but otherwise it was emergency calls only.

Note: If you’ve never done backcountry kayak camping, hire a guide or go with a group. There are numerous companies taking groups down the river each day.