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Best Ever Summer Camping Experiences in National Forests or Grasslands.Mendenhall Glacier view from Tongass Camping is a terrific way for families to reconnect, strengthen family bonds, and counter the stressful effects of busy lifestyles. 

Our taxes support federal lands so in theory when you are camping on public land, it is your land and my land (Mom always said it is best to share.). So, it makes sense to make use of your land, right? Introducing children to America's amazing natural beauty is rewarding. To share the uniques sounds of a forest dawn or to hear the whispering of the grasslands on a sunny summer afternooon cannot be beat. Running barefoot along a pine needlecover path or wandering amid six-foot-high prairie grass creates memories of a lifetime. America's national forests and grasslands offer the possiblities to create amazing family experiences. The fact is many national forest campgrounds were developed with camping families in mind, making them outstanding and affordable family vacation destinations.
Here’s the scoop. I have discovered a useful website which is an excellent resource for finding the right campground fit whether camping with tykes, older children or grandpa and grandma. offers alternatives to staying in more popular national park campgrounds by suggesting nearby national forest campgrounds. Location which may not have as many organized activities but it will offer spacious campsites more than likely nestled in a forest of towering trees and less congestion. Many locations are close enough to a ranger-led hikes or one of the other activities available within the national park. Sawbill Campground Boundary Waters Canoes

Here’s the deal! The website has an inventory of more than 2,400 developed campgrounds in 175 national forests and grasslands scattered across the country in 44 states. Holy cow! Right? Listed below are a few terrific family camping examples:

Alaska: Mendenhall campground in Tongass National Forest. The Land of the Midnight Sun is an ultimate family camping adventure destination. Tongass offers full hookups, hot showers, plus fishing, hiking, a glacier, and a visitor center that is outstanding.
California: Stanislaus National Forest’s Diamond “O” campground. Just A day’s drive from Sacramento this campground, on Yosemite National Park’s west side, offers space and is a short drive to the Park’s entrance.

Oregon: Umpqua National Forest’s Diamond Lake campground. An easy drive from Eugene, Umpqua is just a few miles from the north side entrance of Crater Lake National Park. 

Arizona: Kaibab National Forest with Ten-X campground. Not far from Flagstaff, Ten-X campground is near the Grand Canyon National Park’s south rim. This is the location to camp amid towering Ponderosa pines with ample shade and awesome starry nights. 

Minnesota: Sawbill campground in Superior National Forest. The advantage of this spot is that Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is just steps from every campsite. The adjacent outfitter has everything needed for a memorable one day or weeklong canoe trip into the BWCAC including canoes and guide. Imagine listening to loon calls while eating pancakes stuffed with fresh picked blueberries. 

Idaho: Glacier View campground in Sawtooth National Forest. This location is one of 37 developed campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Centrally located, it is convenient to the breathtaking Sawtooth Wilderness with fabulous hiking trails, Redfish Lake with Rainbow, Brook, and Mackinaw trout, historic Redfish Lake Lodge offering a boat shuttle to Sawtooth Wilderness The location offers trail rides, a cook's night out, and interpretive programs during the summer months.Red Fish Beach

North Carolina: Lake Powhatan campground in Pisgah National Forest.  This campground, popular with camping families for decades, offers full hookups, modern bathroom facilities, a beach with swimming area, fishing, hiking, and educational programs. The location is convenient to Cradle of Forestry Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Biltmore Estate. 

U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. offers a complete and comprehensive guide to developed campgrounds in US national forests and grasslands. Fred and Suzi Dow, founders of the useful website, also self-publish Ebook CDs and downloads of eleven U.S. National Forest Campground Guides. They have devoted 17 years to personally visiting, researching, and providing the public with free, detailed information about 175 national forests and grasslands plus more than 2,400 personally surveyed campgrounds. 

Make it happen.
To get the whole picture go to  

Content examples and images provided by Fred and Suzi Dow. Additional comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for Family Travel Files. Updated copyright 2015.

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