Top 5 Camping Sites in the USA for EXTREME Adventurers

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park via Flickr

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For some, camping is a peaceful and relaxing experience. An opportunity to experience nature first hand, to sleep in silence for one in your life, and to not have to worry about the bustle of day to day life.

But for others, for the adventurers among us, those of us who like to take things to the extreme, camping can be something completely different. It’s just another opportunity for a brand new adventure.

Let’s think about what the term ‘extreme camping’ means in a little bit more depth though. It doesn’t just mean hanging off the side of a cliff in your sleeping bag or pitching your tent in the depths of a cave, adventure also means exploration.

Seeing new and incredible places. Places that not very many people have actually experienced first hand because they’re dangerous or they’re difficult to get to and stay in for long periods of time.

There are some great extreme camping sites around the world, but the United States is the perfect place for extreme adventurers because it is full of these kinds of places. You’ve got camping sites spread across this country which only the toughest-willed campers out there will have the stomach for.

So if you are an extreme adventurer and you’re looking for some new and intense camping experiences, here are the 5 best sites in America for you to check out:

1. Gates of the Arctic

Why don’t we start right at the very top with the site that will be furthest north on this list, and that’s the Gates of the Arctic in Bettles, Alaska. Right in the center of the Brooks Range of mountains, this is a very remote spot.

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As you can probably guess based on the fact that it’s got ‘Arctic’ in its name, this site can get very, very cold. With temperatures often hitting as low as -42.6 °F in the depths of winter and the summers being pretty cool in their own right.

The extreme climate isn’t the only thing about this site that makes it an ideal spot for adventurers though, the fact that it is such a secluded and empty landscape makes it intimidating for even the most seasoned of campers.

There’s no trails, no roads, it’s just miles and miles of wilderness. While this does give campers freedom in terms of where they hitch their tent, it also means that you’re in for an experience that’s almost unsettling in how lonely it is.

Camping_in_Thunder_Valley._Gates_of_the_Arctic_National_Park by Paxson Woelber via wikicommons

2. Death Valley

If there is another spot in the world with a more appropriate name than Death Valley, I’ve never heard of it. The hottest place on the entire planet, the name comes from the fact that the environment faces such extreme heat that nothing can live there.

Much like Gates of the Arctic, Death Valley is empty. This California National Park is the lowest one in the country, and there’s nothing down there that even resembles a typical camping site. If you do want to camp there, you have to get yourself a permit.

Camping in Death Valley feels like trying to survive in an apocalyptic wasteland. It’s hot, it’s dry, there’s nowhere to restock on food, water, and other supplies, and because it’s such an intimidating place, you’re likely not to see a whole lot of other campers while you’re down there.

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We’re here to talk about extreme camping sites, and it really doesn’t get much more extreme than Death Valley. This is strictly for the most experienced adventurers out there, but it’s an experience like no other.

Death_Valley_sunrise_California by romainguy via wikicommons

3. Zone of Death

Another camping site with death in its name? Yep, but the Zone of Death is named as such for somewhat different reasons. This is a section of Yellowstone National Park where the Wyoming and Idaho borders cross.

And because of a loophole in the U.S Constitution, this particular zone is a little bit of a legal anomaly. Technically, you could get away with some seriously extreme crimes in this spot, and that includes murder.

It’s also uninhabited with no roads or trails, and in spite of all of that, it’s a popular camping spot. Perhaps that’s just because it’s a part of the legendary Yellowstone Park, or maybe it’s because of the thrill of the risk it presents.

Whether or not you consider that risk worth it or not is up to you, but regardless, there’s no denying that this is one of the top extreme camping sites in America.

Zone of Death Yellowstone National Park

4. Moraine Lake

This is the first site on the list that actually has a designated trail you can follow. Isn’t that crazy? An actual trail for actual campers to follow while they’re enjoying their outdoor adventure. How generous is that?

Well, you’re thinking this makes it any less extreme than the others we’ve talked about, think again because this trail is one of the most difficult and one of the most treacherous in the country.

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The end result of following this trail to the Three Sisters Wilderness is a relaxing place to rest and a beautiful view, but to get there you need to navigate vast evergreen forests, the expansive Devil’s Lake, and climb South Sister, the tallest mountain in Oregon.

An extreme hike that requires a lot of endurance and determination, even physically fit adventurers will find this one a struggle.

Moraine Lake South Sister, Deschutes National Forest

5. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Is there anything more intimidating than hiking up the side of a literal volcano? Extreme camping sites don’t get any more terrifying than what you can experience at Mauna Loa in Hawaii Volcanoes park.

At the summit of this 13000-foot monstrosity, you will find a small lodge and camping site, but you have to get up there first. The journey to the top is intense, demanding, and notorious for altitude-related illnesses.

This is not a hike that you can rush through. You need to pace yourself, you need to take breaks when you start to feel drained, and you need to be well prepared with water and supplies, but reaching the top will be incredibly rewarding.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii, United States

Adventurers have many tough but satisfying options when it comes to extreme camping sites in America, and these are 5 of the best ones for you to try. Have fun, challenge yourself, and always stay safe out there.

Norma Spencer
Author bio for Norma Spencer: Norma is a writer with a Ph.D. in Business Administration (Management). At the moment of writing this bio, Norma is in Germany, planning to spend at least a few more years in Europe in the coming years 🙂

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Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

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