7 Beautiful National Forests that Are Nearby Your Favorite National Parks

Published on March 17th, 2022

Thinking about visiting a national park but all the campgrounds are already booked? Why not try camping in some of the amazing national forests? Managed by the USDA Forest Service, the 155 national forests in the United States protect land meant for wildlife, livestock grazing, fishing, conservation, and yes, recreation.

National forests offer beautiful outdoor escapes for RVers, and many are near your favorite national parks. They also have campgrounds and dispersed camping options which make them great for a quick weekend trip or week-long getaway. So if you can’t find a camping spot at a national park, try one of these beautiful national forests that are nearby.

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest surrounds Olympic National Park on the western coast of Washington. This rainforest offers so much to do, including hiking to see waterfalls, wandering past the giant moss-covered trees, fishing in Lake Crescent, and even scuba diving in the Hood Canal. There are many great hikes to explore such as Native American Nature Trail that teaches how indigenous people used the resources in the forest. And make sure to do some star gazing at night!

Camping in Olympic National Forest

There are many campgrounds all throughout the different areas of Olympic National Forest. Some campgrounds in the forest take reservations, but the rest of the spots are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Check with the particular campground to make sure your rig length can be accommodated. Sites that are eligible for summer reservations can be reserved on recreation.gov. Need an RV? Check out these great local RV rentals.

Stanislaus National Forest

Stanislaus National Forest is adjacent to the northwest section of Yosemite National Park in California. It’s one of the oldest national forests in the country and covers about 898,000 acres with almost 3,000 miles of roads and 1,100 miles of trails. There’s something for everyone here, including beautiful forests, sweeping meadows, rivers and streams, and even a few lakes.

Camping in Stanislaus National Forest

There are many places to camp in in Stanislaus National Forest. The forest is split into three sections, Highway 108 Corridor, Highway 120 Corridor, and Highway 4 Corridor each with campground options. Some spots are able to be reserved online while other campgrounds do not take reservations and are on a first come first serve basis. Here are some great RV rentals nearby.

Bridger-Teton National Forest

Located between Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, Bridger-Teton National Forest is over 3.4 million acres and has tons to explore. Spend time backpacking, fishing, boating, hiking, and biking among the mountains, meadows, and forests. If you’re visiting in winter, you can also cross-country ski and go ice fishing.

Camping in Bridger-Teton National Forest

There are many campgrounds within Bridger-Teton National Forest, and all of them are on a first come first serve basis. The only campgrounds that allow reservations are the large group sites, which can be reserved at Recreation.gov. There’s also plenty of dispersed camping throughout the forest. Dispersed camping stay limits are generally 16 days with the exception of the Jackson Ranger District and Moran area. Winter weather and storms may also affect camping and opening dates so check with the forest office for conditions before you go. Need an RV? Check out these great local RV rentals.

Nantahala National Forest

Just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits Nantahala National Forest. It covers over 530,000 acres of land in North Carolina. “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “land of the noon day sun”. Established in 1920, this national forest offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, scenic drives, fishing, white-water rafting, and some excellent camping spots.

Camping in Nantahala National Forest

There are several campgrounds within Nantahala National Forest. Some campgrounds require reservations and others are on a first come first serve basis. Dispersed camping is allowed in the forest, but only in a few designated areas. Check with the forest service website for requirements on individual campgrounds and dispersed camping areas before you visit. Need an RV to get you there? We have a great selection of local RV rentals.

Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills National Forest covers more than 1.25 million acres in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming near Badlands National Park. Wind Cave National Park is also directly located to the west, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial is in the forest lands. So there’s plenty to explore here! With 11 reservoirs and over 1,300 miles of streams, this national forest is a great place to fish. There’s also over 353 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.

Camping in Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest has 30 different campgrounds that are mostly dry camping. While there are no hook ups, there are toilets and potable water at many of the campgrounds. Campground reservations may be made through Recreation.gov. Dispersed camping is allowed in most of the Forest for a maximum of 14 days in any 60-day period. Check with the national forest service website for dispersed camping restrictions. Need an RV? Check out these great local RV rentals!

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are located near Shenandoah National Park. The forest covers 1.8 million acres of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and into parts of Kentucky and West Virginia. The forest is vast and is a fantastic place for hiking, biking, fishing, and stargazing.

Camping in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

There are over 50 campgrounds in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. You’ll have your pick between developed campgrounds with picnic tables, fire rings, electric hook ups, and bathrooms, or choose to dry camp at some of the more rustic campgrounds. All campgrounds are first come first serve, but some do allow reservations. There’s also plenty of dispersed camping, with stays being limited to 21 consecutive days.

Kootenai National Forest

Situated to the west of Glacier National Park is Kootenai National Forest. This national forest covers over 2.2 million acres in northwest Montana and northeast Idaho. With everything from forests to lakes to impressive mountain views, this national forest has no end of outdoor activities. Pack up your RV and visit the forest for plenty of fishing, boating, biking, and hiking trails.

Camping in Kootenai National Forest

Due to the weather many campgrounds in Kootenai National Forest are only open during the summer months. Campgrounds in the forest can be reserved online through Recreation.gov, and many are right next to the numerous streams and lakes through the forest. Check with the individual campgrounds for any length restrictions before you book. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the forest for up to 16 consecutive days. If you’re looking for an RV to take you to this beautiful national forest, head over to RVshare.com to find your perfect rental.

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