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Plan a Camping Trip You'll Never Forget

7 Spots Where You Never Thought You'd Pitch a Tent

Yosemite, Zion, Denali—it's not unusual for these ultimate camping destinations to make anyone's bucket list. But what about those big trips that don't always enter the scope of your day-dreamy wanderlust? Sometimes we experience the best journeys when we close our eyes and throw a proverbial dart at the map. So next time that travel bug starts knocking, why not pick a spot you may have never thought you'd explore? Here are some ideas to get you going:

King Range National Conservation Area Campgrounds, Arcata, California

Camping where majestic cliffs plunge dramatically into the wild Pacific Ocean is an experience quite unlike any other. Otherwise known as California’s Lost Coast, this region is just about as rugged as the West Coast gets—it’s the perfect destination for serious outdoor adventurers.

Hiking King Peak, only 3 miles from the water’s edge, and whose summit reaches 4,088 feet is only a fraction of what one can get into here: hunting, mushroom foraging, world class surfing, salmon, tuna, rockfish, halibut fishing and abalone diving awaits any prepared adventurer.

Falls of Rough, Rough River Lake, Kentucky

Lying within the Pennyroyal region of Kentucky and, more specifically, the “Clifty” area, Rough River Lake provides tons of recreational activities for campers. But visitors can not only enjoy the waters and beautiful landscape—the area may be best known for Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world with more than 240 miles of mapped passageways.

The staff at Rough River works hard to schedule as many types of events for visitors and campers every summer and are happy to help you with your fishing, boating, camping, hiking and biking needs.

Appalachian Mountain Club Huts, Appalachian Trail, White Mountains, New Hampshire

The Appalachian Mountain Club's network of huts, each a day's hike apart along the Appalachian Trail of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, offer a friendly, unique camping experience—one with a real community feel. Huts have co-ed bunkrooms, separate washrooms with cold running water and no electrical outlets. Though services offered differ from full-service to self-service during the on- and off-seasons (winters are oh-so-cold but beautiful and rugged). During full-service season, a helpful and friendly staff serves breakfast and dinner family style. During the off-season, you're on your own--but your experience trekking through the raging fall colors or snow-covered silence of the White Mountains will be well worth the isolation. Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, P.O. Box 298, 361 Route 16, Gorham, New Hampshire, 03581

Ocracoke Campground, North Carolina

What hurricane? Coastal North Carolinians are so accustomed to weathering the storms in every season, the entire drill is second nature and they've got their towns up and running in a matter of days. Planning your trip between storms is well worth the effort once you arrive at your seaside escape. Orracoke Campground let’s you camp on sand dunes, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side of you and a bay on the other. Located on one of North Carolina's barrier islands, fish, swim, kayak, surf and play or run on the beach during the day, ride a bike into the charming coastal town for a fresh seafood dinner at night--if you aren't searing the day's catch over the campfire. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, North Carolina.

Caribbean National Forest: El Yunque, Puerto Rico

The rainiest of all National Forests, El Yunque's subtropical climate can surprisingly range from semi-desert to rainforest in a matter of steps, throughout all 28,000 acres of its expanse. Explore the dwarf or 'elfin' forest at the top of the mountain, hike the Mt. Britton trail to the historical lookout tower and camp on the south side for a peaceful, nighttime experience in the forest, listening only to the music of tiny tree frogs (or coquis). El Yunque National Forest, HC-01, Box 13490, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

Fall Creek Lake, Lane County, Oregon

Located on the west side of Oregon, Lane County, to be specific, miles of forest and beach surround this 1,852-acre lake. Aside from the hiking, watersports and other outdoor adventures you can have right in the lake’s vicinity, the Willamette Pass Ski Resort and Summer Skyway Gondola in within a few hours’ drive, and activities such as wine tasting, wine-tasting and a visit to the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum are all within the scope of your stay.

The lake itself is nestled in the Cascade foothills, which makes for some beautiful and rugged landscape. Plus, the sunsets at Fall Creek are amazing.

Camp Gateway, Brooklyn, New York

Camping in Brooklyn? Yep. Sleep under the stars all night; visit the Museum of Modern Art in the morning. Located in the depths of Floyd Bennett Field--New York's first municipal airfield that has long since shut down—this "urban outback," as it's been touted, provides an oasis smack in the middle of one of the world's most bustling cities. In fact, the park has just opened nearly 50 new campsites and is still expanding. You'll be able to do all those outdoorsy things you love like kayak, fish, hike and bike--well out of the shadows of skyscrapers—and then hit Fifth Avenue, Chelsea art galleries and the Broadway show of your liking all in the same day. Camp Gateway, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York.

By Christina Scannapiego

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