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Coolest Campgrounds Offer Unique Family Vacation Experiences and Extra Fun - No Tents Needed. Snow Mansion Teepees and Sunflowers Family Camping near Taos, New Mexico Gone are the days when family camping meant a cozy tent, a collection of slightly damp sleeping bags, and a lantern. New age family camping includes extra cool sleeping spots and plenty of unique vacation activities including fun stuff you don't get to do at home.
Here’s the scoop. Campgrounds offer contact with Mother Nature but no longer require tents ensure the camping experience is real. From teepees and treehouses to rail cars and bunkhouses the coolest campgrounds offer families extra amenities, unique sleeping spaces, and extra ways to have fun with kids. While our Camp Out folder features oodles of great camping vacations, our readers and staff have taken time to TELL MOM about a few new places “too cool” to be overlooked.Hobbit House at Maryland Treehouse Camp
Maryland: Maple Tree Campground Sleep in a Hobbit House – Really! Maple Tree offers a clever mix of family camping options in a serene, earth-friendly spot in the forest near a river just minutes off the Appalachian Trail. The camping spot is just a few minutes from Harpers Ferry, WV, Antietam Battlefield, and Brunswick Railroad Museum. Guests may choose in a treehouse, tree cottage or bring a tent if desired and enjoy a “Leave No Trace” atmosphere with fire circles, picnic tables and charcoal grills provided. Extra cool: In addiiton to the cozy treehouses, a new hobbit house is now available onsite. Details: The Treehouse Camp Maple Tree Campground 20716 Townsend Road Rohrersville, Maryland 21779. (301) 432-5585 or The Treehouse Camp.

Nebraska: Two Rivers SRA, Sleep in a Caboose. Located southwest of Venice, Nebraska, the 622-acre recreation and camping area has miles of paved trails, playground, hiking trails, along with seven sandy bottom ponds adjacent to the Platter River. In addition to fishing, and boating, and swimming there’s plenty of stargazing to be enjoyed. Coolest thing: Forget your tent, pass on the cabins and select an authentic (except for the air conditioning) Union Pacific retired caboose. Permanently side-tracked on actual rails, each of the 10 fully outfitted cabooses offer a unique lodging opportunity from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Details: Two Rivers SRA 27702 F ST Waterloo NE 68069-7012. (402)359-5165 or Two Rivers Campgrounds.Summer Teepees at Snow Mansion near Taos, New Mexico.

New Mexico: Abomminable SnowMansion Summer Teepee Camping near Taos. Located about nine the Rio Grande River at the John Dunn Recreation Area the Snowmansion offers a western-style atmosphere easy to share with kids. Swim in a river, soak in hot springs, play lawn games, and practice stargazing. Try llama trekking with Stewart at Wild Earth Adventures and learn about the geology, botany and history of this area.  Guests have full use of the restaurant-style kitchen. Coolest thing: Sleep in an authentic high plains teepee and enjoy all the benefits of the complex. Details: Abominable SnowMansion 476 State Rd. 150 - Taos Ski Valley Rd. Box 429 Arroyo Seco de Taos New Mexico 87514. (575) 776-8298 or

Arkansas: Diamond John's Riverside Teepees and Cool Cabins.  Perhaps the most fun part of this location is the chance to sleep in a woodland teepee just a stone’s throw from the Little Missouri River. Guests have free use of kayaks, canoes, and boats, picnic benches, and barbecues. Go on a night time gem hunt; swim in the Little Missouri River or borrow a fishing pole and try your luck. In addition to a playground area kids will enjoy the resident animals which include peacocks, chickens, rabbits, horses, geese, ducks, and goats. Coolest thing: Guests have free use of diamond mining equipment for excursions to nearby Crater of Diamonds State Park. Details: Diamond John's 81 Roy Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. (870) 285-4027 or Fe Rail Car Cabin in Rose Texas

Texas: Country Woods Inn Reserve Your Own Rail Car near Glen Rose.  While this 40-acre location on the banks of the Paluxy River is not technically a campground (it is an earth-friendly B&B)it is too good not to mention. It offers plenty of thoughtful amenities for families seeking to combine quiet time and family fun - firefly jars, fire pits, picnic baskets, and red wagons. Onsite you will find several play areas, tether ball, tire swings, and farm animals to feed. It’s adjacent to Big Rocks Park which is ideal for climbing rocks, swimming, fishing, and wading in the river where dinosaurs once roamed.  Extra cool: While there are several lovely cjoices, choose to stay in a renovated Santa Fe Railroad Car nestled under the trees. Details: Country Woods Inn Glen Rose, Texas 420 Grand Ave, Glen Rose, TX 76043. (817) 279-3002 or

California: Rancho Oso Resort Sleep in a Covered Wagon. Escape to the Santa Ynez Mountains in the mountains near Santa Barbara and create a camping experience with a distinctly western theme – horses, pony rides, hay wagon rides, campfires, and trail rides on the 310-acre property plus volleyball, badminton, mini golf, an ice cream social and candy bingo. The complex includes RV & tent sites as well as western themed cabins. Extra cool: Reserve a covered wagon complete with cots, fire pit, electricity, and access to campfire activities or if you would rather “go native” select a teepee. Either way, you had best pack your sleeping bags. Details: 3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. (805) 683-5686 or

Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park and Observatory Sleep in a Frontier Log Cabin. Perhaps the best park of camping is the chance to observe the endless wonders of the night sky. At Bruneau Dunes families have the chance to join astronomers on Friday and Saturday nights and share time on professional caliber telescope gazing at the heavens. Daytime activities include fishing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, and kite flying. Extra cool: As the name indicates this is the place to practice sand dune skiing or sledding. Luckily sand boards are available at the Visitor Center. Details: Bruneau Dunes State Park 27608 Sand Dunes Rd Mountain Home, ID 83647. (208) 366-7919 or Bruneau Dunes State Park.

Oregon: Tree House Paradise Sleep in the Trees. While this location may not technically be a family camping spot because gourmet breakfast is included, it is a place for a tree-friendly family vacation in Southern Oregon, near the Redwoods and Oregon Caves.  Guest amenities include bathrooms, a BBQ / gas grill, food prep area, disc golf course, volleyball, horseshoes, fishing, disc golf and recreational technical tree climbing – including night climbs.   Super cool: Each of the three treehouses comes with its own theme such as living like the Swiss Family Robinson, and includes breakfast. Details: Vertical Horizons Treehouse Paradise Cave Junction, OR 97523. (541) 592-4751 or of the Rockies Family Fun Summer Camping

Colorado: Snow Mountain Ranch Stay in a Yurt Village. Summer family vacations should be about doing things you don’t do at home so unless you live in a yurt, staying in Snow Mountain Ranch yurt village is a pretty cool idea. Sleeping in the round can be an adventure – 12 yurts and so many possibilities. Families have access to many activities offered on the 5,100-acre property including mountain biking, walking trails, guided hikes, canoeing, archery range competitions, disc golf course, great stargazing. Extra cool: Snow Mountain Ranch’s new Summer Tubing Hill will be open in July and best of all free to guests. Details: Snow Mountain Ranch 1101 County Road 53 Granby, CO 80446. Toll-free 888-613-9622, (970) 887-2152 or Snow Mountain Ranch.

New York: Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort in the Finger Lakes. Hickory Hill has perhaps one of the best vacation locations in Upstate New York. The complex offers full service camping and offers family camping options from tents and RV spots to lodges, cozy cabins and super cool woodland cabins.  The complex has    free Wi-Fi, game room/arcade, geocaching, laser tag, wagon rides, disc golf, mini golf, pedal carts, swimming pool and a new “spray” ground water feature. Extra cool for mom: This is a campground with homespun style. In addition to all of the family fun activities offered, it is also possible to take advantage of spa services – yup, a massage, facial, manicure or a pedicure. Details: Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort 7531 County Road 13, Bath, NY 14810. Toll-free 1-800-760-0947 or

Coolest Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Campgrounds also offer unique family vacation possibilities including stays in yurts, bunkhouses, and extra water features. 

Content verified and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Hobbit House image by Steve Fulks. Copyright updated 2018.