Best Places For Mountain Camping Holidays
Who wouldn’t love to unzip their tent in the coolness of the morning and take in a fresh breath of crisp mountain air and behold the glorious alpine scenery? There’s nothing like a real mountain camping holiday to get a true taste of that “getting away from it all” vacation vibe. No matter whether you are a hiker, a biker, or a horseback rider, there’s a mountain camping adventure out there waiting for you. If you’re up for an alpine trail hike, some canoeing on crystal blue waters, or campfire stories in the foothills, look no further.
Madeley Lake, Whistler BC, Canada
Madeley Lake is simply a beautiful and amazing place to set up camp. Nestled up high in Callaghan Valley’s ancient old growth forests, this secluded piece of paradise awaits the prospective mountain camping adventurer. Even though this destination is a bit of a popular fishing spot, it’s actually rare to see anyone else around the lake – especially in the fall camping season. There will be the occasional car or two at the trailhead to Hanging Lake.
If you’re hoping to get your paddles wet and explore the region by canoe, Madeley can’t be beat. Madeley Lake is an ideal canoeing camp spot! Discover a long forgotten mountain camping site waiting at the far end of the lake, which is accessible by canoe or by foot and only a short five minute hike away. There you will discover old fire rings, tent clearings, picnic tables, and an ideal little sunny beach. Running alongside the trail you’ll be pleased to find a rambling creek, adding to the location’s charm and beauty.
If hiking is on your camping agenda, the Madeley Lake Trail will take you from your mountain camping home base up to Hanging Lake, then on to Rainbow Lake. Although this trail had once been well known for some pretty muddy and wet sections through numerous bogs, the RMOW trail crew has recently implemented many sturdy foot bridges across the wet areas, greatly improving the hiking experience.
Pike’s Peak, Colorado, USA
Named after the American explorer Zebulon Pike, the Rocky Mountains’ Pike’s Peak is one of America’s most famous summits. Appealingly situated in the Rocky Mountains, the 14,115 foot “fourteener” (a mountain meeting or exceeding 14,000 feet above sea level) towers 8,000 feet high over what is called the “Pike’s Peak region.” This region encompasses the popular mountain areas of Colorado Springs, Colorado’s second largest city, Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek and Cañon City.
Pike’s Peak features everything from your basic tent camping areas to cabins with Wi-Fi, and is arguably the perfect family mountain camping destination. No matter whether you want to go camping or glamping, solo or with the whole family, Pike’s Peak has something for everyone. This location hosts a wide range of campgrounds, trails, and unique mountain camping activities for all ages.
Pike’s Peak features the Lone Duck Campground, offering visitors some of the best mountain camping experiences in the Pike’s Peak area. Located at the base of Pikes Peak, this campground offers its campers splendid views of the Rockies, full hook up sites with electricity, water, and sewer amenities. Each site at the Lone Duck has shade, trees and grassy camping area. There are restrooms and private showers, and maybe best of all – a delicious pancake breakfast every morning between 7:00 – 9:30 am!
Great Smoky Mountains, USA
The Great Smoky Mountains (sometimes shortened to “The Smokies”,) a beautiful range rising along the North Carolina/Tennessee border, are an ideal mountain camping destination for families, couples, and solo campers alike. The Great Smokies are famously known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. This national park was established in 1934, and, with over nine million visits per year, it is widely known as being the most frequented national park in the United States of America.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers mountain camping in several different types of campsites:
- Group Campgrounds – larger sized campsites, suitable for groups of eight people or more. These sites are located in the frontcountry campgrounds.
- Backcountry – ideal for backpackers. Access to these campsites requires a several mile hike to a campsite located in the park’s backcountry.
- Frontcountry – ideal for families. Campsites are located near your car in a developed campground, featuring restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets. Campsites come equipped with a fire grate and picnic table for each individual site.
- Horse Camps – horse camps are smaller campgrounds, accessible by vehicle, that offer hitch racks for mountain campers traveling with horses and the most bare basics of camping facilities.
Each mountain camping facility are different, and so are the procedures for obtaining your camp site, so it’s important to contact the administrator responsible for the campsite you wish to stay at well ahead of time, in order to ensure a place at your desired site and to be aware of anything else you need to plan for ahead of time.
An important note on firewood regulations: As of March 1, 2015 only bundled, heat-treated firewood that is certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or a state department of agriculture can be taken into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mountain campers may also collect dead and down wood found in the park for their campfires.
Certified heat-treated firewood comes packaged and clearly marked with a state or federal seal. Heat-treated wood
is made available from a growing list of private businesses in communities located around the park. Concessioners at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont will provide mountain campers with heat-treated wood for sale during their operating season, which typically runs from March through October at Smokemont and Elkmont and through December at Cades Cove.
Petit Praz, La Monta, Switzerland
Feeling somewhat adventurous? Resting 2000 metres up in the Swiss Alps is Petit Praz in La Monta, Switzerland. It comes as no surprise that Petit Praz offers mountain campers some of the most spectacular views the world has to offer, not to mention fresh air and a sense of adventure. Petit Praz claims the title of Europe’s highest campsite!
It’s said that the majority of Petit Praz’s sites face down the valley, allowing the mountain camper to behold the view of all the land unfolding beneath you, however if you if you pitch your tent on the shoulder of the hill you can enjoy the majesty of the 4,000 metre summit of the north face of Mont Collon and the Pigne d’Arolla.
It’s no secret that a climb up Petit Praz is a challenging one for the average camper. Aside from the challenge of the ascent, mountain campers can discover the magnificent walking trails including the must-hike Lac Bleu, accessible from La Gouille. It’s a relatively easy hike that winds through trees and meadows before a brief steep climb to the gorgeous crystal-clear lake, low-scale rocky waterfalls and an array of pools connecting with each other down the hill.
Regardless of how much effort you want to put into your mountain camping experience, there will always be the lush grassy campsite and all its magnificent views, making it the ideal camping spot to spend a worldly holiday in mountains.
Seiser Alm, Italy
Glorious Seiser Alm is hailed as being the largest high altitude Alpine meadow in Europe. Situated in the Dolomites mountain range of Italy’s South Tyrol province, Seiser Alm is a world renowned tourist attraction, famous for skiing and hiking. Whether you call it by its German moniker Seiser Alm, or the Italian Alpe di Siusi, this mountain camping location offers you a wealth of hiking and camping adventures.
Located in the centre of the mighty Dolomites, where enormous Triassic geological crags jut from the velvety soft blanket of pine trees and mountain vegetation, this tiny campsite sits nestled in the shadow of the impressive 2500 metre Sciliar Massif.
You’ll have your choice of more than 210 miles of marked mountain trails – and if hiking isn’t your thing, you can make the trip by cable car. The Alpe di Siusi Aerial Cableway and connecting chair lifts operate during the summer season from the 23rd May to 1st of November. The pristine Laghetto di Fiè, a natural mountain lake famous for its excellent water quality, is a must for a cool swim when the summer weather starts to heat up. If you’re a mountain camping biker or a road-cyclist, you’ll be happy to learn the Seiser Alm’s rocky terrain and winding trails offer the cyclist a wealth of scenic opportunity.
Best of all, a delicious and energy-packed German breakfast generally comprised of eggs, cheese and ham is served to mountain campers on a long terrazza in full view of the majestic Dolomites on one side and the sloping valley on the other.
Goldfield, Hayfork California, USA
Open to campers all year round with no camping fee, this terrific mountain camping destination makes a perfect rest stop after a long drive, or vacation destination for hikers. Prospective campers can wake up in the fresh mountain air, have breakfast and get their hiking gear organised for the day, and then take the trailhead to the south.
The trail makes its way along Boulder Creek, and a left turn at the junction leads to Boulder Lake. This beautiful little mountain camping hideaway inside the edge of the Trinity Alps Wilderness is one of the largest wilderness areas California has to offer.
Goldfield is undoubtedly one of the best campgrounds in California for a mountain camping backpacker looking for a great hike, and campers are sure to enjoy a splendid view of the California scenery along the way.
Mountain Camping Tips
No matter what summit your mountain camping wanderlust brings you to, there are a few things you should always keep in mind.
- Treat mother nature with respect. Leave your campsite as untouched as you can, leave no garbage.
- If camping solo, try to have a means of communication if possible. Always let friends, coworkers or family know where they can find you and what day they can expect you to arrive home. If plans go awry and you aren’t back when expected, you will have a much better chance of getting help sooner when others know how and where to find you.
- Respect the regulations of the area you are camping in, and the rules of any campgrounds. This includes fire safety regulations.
- Understand the area’s wildlife. A good understanding of what to expect from the flora and fauna can keep you out of a world of trouble. Know what plants are poisonous, and how to defend yourself from animals.
- Prepare for the weather by dressing in layers. Temperatures can rise and fall dramatically in mountain ranges.
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