10 finest island tenting locations within the US

Trying to escape the mainland crowds along with your tent? Island tenting locations throughout the US can usually present a extra distant expertise – together with pristine seashores to walk, sea caves to kayak into and all method of native island-dwelling wildlife (from elephant seals and bald eagles to black bears) to find.

Learn on for a number of the finest island tenting spots throughout the US – from California’s rugged Channel Islands and Wisconsin’s beautiful Apostle Islands to coastal barrier islands house to wild horses and historic ruins you might need missed alongside the East Coast, too. 

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia
 Driftwood left behind from years of abrasion on Driftwood Seashore on Jekyll Island, Georgia © MargaretW / Getty Pictures / iStockphoto

Jekyll Island, Georgia: Greatest for campers who wish to bike

Islands and seashores is probably not the very first thing most individuals consider after they consider Georgia. However the most effective locations within the US for island-style tenting is discovered on this inimitable barrier island that’s totally state park. Jekyll Island lies off the southern reaches of the state’s 110 miles of shoreline and could be reached by automobile.  You’ll wish to deliver your bike, too (or lease one when you get right here) since biking is one of the best ways to benefit from the roughly 25 miles of paved trails that circle the island. Jekyll’s golden seashores are so extensive at low tide, too, you can bike proper atop them for miles as properly. Jekyll Island Campground has tent and RV websites unfold throughout 18 acres shaded by a dense cover of oak timber. The island’s most lovely seaside, Driftwood Seashore, carpeted with logs and massive craggy limbs the tide washes in, is only a ten-minute stroll away. 

Knowledgeable tip: Driftwood Seashore steals the Instagram highlight right here. However for a less-crowded stretch of sand make your option to Jekyll Island’s southernmost stretches and the lonelier seashores at St. Andrews Seashore Park

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Spoil Islands in Indian River Lagoon, Florida: Greatest for BYO boat tenting

Making an attempt to snag a waterfront campsite at a state or nationwide park in Florida throughout the cooler months of the yr is not any straightforward feat. However boaters know that a number of the finest islands for tenting don’t even require a reservation. Situated throughout the Indian River Lagoon, one in every of North America’s most biodiverse estuaries that runs alongside 40 % of Florida’s east coast, the Spoil Islands provide an away-from-it-all tenting expertise to anybody with a ship to entry them. 

Right here, surrounded by native palms and mangroves, you’ll be able to camp on the sandy islands designated for leisure use (a number of the Spoil Islands are protected)–for free! A number of the prettiest amongst them are a brief cruise from the riverfront metropolis of Fort Pierce, on Florida’s east coast, the place Captain Mike Dedrick of Glad Pineapple Boat Excursions leads each day journeys and in a single day tenting adventures to sleep on secluded isles. 

The product of channel dredging within the Intracoastal Waterway, the Spoil Islands hardly look artifical since they’ve been reclaimed by native grasses and mangroves over the many years. On clear nights, search for capturing stars streaking the inky sky overhead. Frequent manatee and dolphin sights are par for the course in these elements, too. 

Knowledgeable Tip: Fill up on contemporary Florida citrus and different produce earlier than heading out to camp on the Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers Market, held each Saturday morning and thought of the most effective within the state. 

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Grazing horses at Cumberland Island Georgia
Grazing horses at Cumberland Island Georgia © Dan Reynolds Pictures / Getty

Cumberland Island, Georgia: Greatest for campers who love lonely seashores 

Reaching this different fabulous barrier island for tenting alongside Georgia’s southernmost coast requires hopping a passenger ferry 45 minutes from St. Marys (or arriving by non-public boat). However it’s well worth the effort to get to Cumberland Island in the event you’re on the lookout for beachfront and wilderness campsites with no RV tenting – to not point out far fewer crowds than Jekyll Island, which lies simply north.

You’ll have to pack your individual meals, as there aren’t any eating places or retailers on Cumberland Island. There are additionally no paved roads, however loads of sandy trails to pedal a fats bike alongside (deliver your individual on the ferry for a small surcharge, as you’ll be able to’t lease bikes on the island). 

The island’s almost 10,000 acres of congressionally designated wilderness span coastal maritime forests, towering dunes, marshes and freshwater lakes. And the 5 island campgrounds embody three wilderness ones that you just’ll have to hike or bike into with no facilities in addition to two campgrounds with facilities (flush bathrooms, hearth rings and the like) which might be nearer to the ferry dock. Don’t miss a go to to the Dungeness Ruins right here–the unimaginable stays of a nineteenth century mansion that served as a winter residence for members of the Carnegie household you can stroll via to discover. 

Knowledgeable tip: Until you’re staying at Sea Camp Campground, closest to the ferry dock, don’t even contemplate bringing a wheeled cooler as you received’t be capable of drag it to your campsite. Go for a backpack-style cooler, as a substitute. 

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Assateague Island National Seashore horses and ponies
A small group of ponies graze on marsh grasses; Assateague Island Nationwide Seashore © Joesboy / Getty Pictures / iStockphoto

Assateague Island Nationwide Seashore, Virginia: Greatest for automobile campers who wish to really feel distant 

Whereas the elegant east coast barrier island of Assateague Island reaches into each Maryland and Virginia, you’ll be able to solely camp on the Maryland aspect, the place bayside and oceanside campsites throughout the nationwide park (in addition to backcountry wilderness websites) welcome guests year-round. 

Assateague Island is known for the wild horses that roam in herds on both aspect of the state line. And also you would possibly see non-native Sika deer right here, too – a species from Asia launched to the island within the Twenties. Birders descend throughout the fall months to scout for some 300 species of migrating waterfowl that move via on routes south alongside the Atlantic Flyway. 

To flee a number of the crowds on the common oceanside camp websites, e-book one of many walk-in oceanside camp websites – only a brief stroll from the central parking zone, however far lonelier. 

Knowledgeable tip: Put money into a couple of extra-long tent stakes in the event you’re tenting on the oceanside right here, as they’ll assist your tent keep firmly in situ when the Atlantic Ocean breezes begin cranking. 

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Looking Island State Park, South Carolina: Greatest for low nation beachfront tenting 

South Carolina’s hottest state park, Looking Island State Park, stays comparatively underneath the radar to individuals who aren’t from these elements of the nation. What are they lacking out on? Attractive beachfront tenting on a semi-tropical barrier island situated roughly 15-miles east of the picturesque Lowcountry gem of a city of Beaufort, for starters.  

Along with the 5 spectacular miles of undeveloped shoreline and miles extra of climbing trails via maritime forests, the island is house to a historic lighthouse initially constructed throughout the Civil Conflict, Lowcountry marshlands and a fishing pier. The beachside campsites can accommodate RVs, too. 

Knowledgeable tip: A single cabin for lease close to Looking Island’s lighthouse is value reserving properly prematurely. It has an enormous screened porch that may allow you to keep away from the campground’s summertime mosquitoes and sleeps six individuals. 

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dolphins just off the coast of Channel Islands National Park
Dolphins simply off the coast of Channel Islands Nationwide Park, California © Antonio Busiello / Getty

Channel Islands Nationwide Park, California: Greatest for primitive tenting in extraordinary surrounds 

Camp within the realm of elephant seals, dolphins and passing humpback whales (whale season runs from mid-Might to mid-September, however anytime is truthful recreation to see them) on the distant islands of California’s Channel Islands Nationwide Park, accessible by ferry from Ventura in Santa Barbara County. Some 24 miles lengthy, Santa Cruz is the biggest within the eight-island archipelago (in addition to California’s largest island) and among the many quickest of the Channel Islands to succeed in, through an hour-long ferry experience from Ventura harbor. 

You’ll want to deliver all of the meals – and fairly probably water – you’ll want, as contemporary water is just obtainable on two campgrounds on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. As soon as out in these wilds, unimaginable climbing alongside the Pacific Ocean cliffs, chicken watching amongst colonies of nesting seabirds and sea kayaking in elegant surrounds (you’ll should BYO that, too) and unimaginable stargazing await – the skies over the Channel Islands are among the many darkest of all of the nationwide parks. 

Knowledgeable tip: Wily foxes and ravens will attempt to run off with any of your belongings that aren’t tethered down – collect rocks from round your campsite to place them atop something you don’t wish to disappear.

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kayaking the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Kayaking alongside the Apostle Islands Nationwide Lakeshore © JMichl / Getty Pictures

Apostle Islands Nationwide Lakeshore, Wisconsin: Greatest for campers who love kayaking 

You may pack your tent to camp and paddle off in a sea kayak with all of your gear to camp at a lot of the 21 islands inside Apostle Islands Nationwide Lakeshore, a pure paradise within the northern reaches of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Superior. 

Islands lined with purple cliffs and sea caves are house to such various species as bald eagles and black bears. In reality, one of many largest concentrations of black bears in all of North America is discovered right here on Stockton Island, the place you’ll undoubtedly wish to retailer all of the meals you introduced alongside throughout the meals locker to maintain prying paws out. 

Many of the islands can solely be reached by sea kayaks and different boats, together with shuttle companies. And in the event you don’t really feel snug DIYing your tenting journey, outfitters like Misplaced Creek Adventures are you able to lead you on guided kayak tenting journeys. 

Knowledgeable tip: Ditch your kayak and campsite for a spell to hike via hardwood forests alongside the beautiful Lakeshore Path, which winds for greater than 4 miles above the ocean caves, with unimaginable Lake Superior views alongside the way in which. 

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Ten Thousand Islands Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, Florida: Greatest for campers on the lookout for the true Florida

Undoubtedly a visit to save lots of for the principally mosquito-free, cooler months of winter and early spring (December via April is finest), the Ten Thousand Islands Nationwide Wildlife Refuge in southwest Florida affords unimaginable primitive tenting on distant sandy islands within the Gulf of Mexico. Right here, in environments that defend North America’s largest mangroves forests, you’re simply as more likely to occur upon a midden of shells left behind on an island by the Calusa Indians who as soon as inhabited the world as you might be to come across resident manatees and dolphins nonetheless plentiful right here at present. 

Skilled paddlers who can learn a map enterprise out into the Ten Thousand Islands to camp on their very own. However Everglades Space Excursions may deliver you out on guided multi-night tenting adventures from Chokoloskee Island via the mangrove maze to outer islands, the place all of the meals and drinks are supplied and syrupy sunsets are commonplace. 

Knowledgeable tip: Reward your self after an awesome journey with a feast of sustainable stone crab claws in Everglades Metropolis at waterfront native hang-out, Camellia Road Grill. Stone crab season runs from Oct. 15 to Might 1, which overlaps properly with the perfect time of yr to camp on this a part of Florida, too. 

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Orca whale emerging from sea just off the coast of Orcas Island
An orca whale emerges from the ocean off the coast of Orcas Island © roclwyr / Getty

Orcas Island, Washington: Greatest for campers and glampers 

With RV and tent campsites in addition to glamping obtainable at a number of areas, Orcas Islands – the biggest of Washington State’s legendary San Juan Islands, an hour-long ferry experience from the mainland – dishes up an reasonably priced tenting trip surrounded by iconic Pacific Northwest surroundings. Simply ensure you pack your rain gear in the event you’re trying to camp right here anytime exterior of the brief, dry summer season season, as wind and rain rattling your tent is much from unusual. 

You may strive glamping at Moran State Park, the place an exterior vendor affords glamping on raised platforms. You probably have your individual gear, the park affords commonplace tent and RV campsites, with easy accessibility to 5 freshwater lakes for swimming, mountain biking trails and extra. And West Seashore Resort, on the northwest aspect of Orcas Island, has canvas tents already arrange for campers–all with non-public decks with ocean views, picnic tables and hearth pits. 

Knowledgeable tip: March via October is prime whale-watching season within the San Juan Islands. Day journey from Orcas Island to San Juan Island to doubtlessly spot passing orcas and humpbacks proper from the shore at Lime Kiln Level State Park

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Madeline Island, Wisconsin: Greatest for outdoors-loving households who solely wish to tough it slightly 

Throughout Wisconsin’s fleeting however fabulous summers, spending as a lot time exterior as potential is the factor to do. And for a much less distant tenting expertise than the Apostle Islands Nationwide Lakeshore, set your sights simply south of there and hop the automobile ferry to Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, the biggest of the Apostle Islands, the place you camp at Huge Bay State Park or Huge Bay City Park. 

Households who wish to tough it with some facilities within the combine take pleasure in you can combine kayaking and climbing with listening to reside music at one in every of a number of island bars and eating places, gallery hopping or visiting a summer season farmers market – then head again to the campsite to gaze up on the star-filled skies. 

Knowledgeable tip: Open seasonally for the summer season months solely, Tom’s Burned Down Cafe within the island’s foremost inhabitants heart – La Pointe (pop. 302) – is the favourite native watering gap for chilly beers and sundown.

The most effective seashores in Wisconsin: Nice Lakes and nice seashores

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