Few experiences can rival the feeling of being awoken from your tent surrounded by fresh air, mountains vistas, animals, and lakes. It’s like being reborn. Nothing can kill that mood faster than discovering you arrived in the dead of night and parked next to a landfill you didn’t see. That’s the kind of morning that can break a person’s spirit. Not to worry, we've done the dirty work and dug up the most spectacular campsites around the world -- good vibes guaranteed.
Denali National Park – Alaska, USA
Denali defines wilderness and radiates majesty on every level – from the thick forests to the sprawling open meadows. The tallest mountain in North America, only the bravest and most experienced climbers will attempt to summit the imposing 20,310 feet. But it’s not the height that scares most people, it's the elevation gain. Starting near sea level, you're climbing nearly a full 20,000 feet straight up into the sky. Don't worry, hiking around Denali is equally spectacular, and far less dangerous. Backpackers can wander aimlessly through the vast network of trails that wend through the trails amongst the bears, moose, wolves and other natives. Most of the camping is restricted to designated sites, which you can claim when you arrive or book in advance.
Jasper National Park – Alberta, Canada
Canadians value this National Park like the Italians value the Colosseum and the French claim the Eiffel Tower. It is a region of unequalled wonder. Stark mountains stick up into the sky like snow-dappled daggers, while great pine forests stretch for miles in every direction, broken up only by smattering of campsites and turquoise blue lakes. Like national parks in any country, camping is limited to designated sites only in order to protect the vegetation, but Jasper's options are plentiful and open year-round.
Haleakala National Park – Hawaii, USA
The road leading up to this beautiful island park is twisted and meandering, snaking up into the highlands of Maui with campgrounds that are situated to provide some of the best tropical vistas you’ll find in America. You do need a permit to camp at either of the sites within the national park, so be sure to arrange that in advance. Keep in mind also that a visit here would be wholly incomplete without hiking to the top of Haleakala Crater. Tactically placed lookouts line the elevated rim of the volcano, offering sweeping views of Maui you won't find anywhere else.
Boya Lake Provincial Park – British Columbia, Canada
The peaceful lapping of gentle freshwater waves is one of the greatest alarm clocks on Earth. At beautiful Boya Lake, the shores are crowded with luscious pine trees, not people, as weathered mountains roll off in the distance. Visitors can explore the many islands and bays speckled across the water, taking in the serenity. The natural beauty of area is pierced only by the many water sports popular here: boating, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
Miyajima – Hatsukaichi, Japan
Unlike anything else on this list, Miyajima or "Shrine Island" is one of the most amazing places on the Japanese archipelago. While civilization might not be too far off, it’s still peaceful enough to channel your inner zen. Located on the beautiful Seto Sea, an inland island, it is romantic, historic and a designated World Heritage site. The campsites feature a cooking center, fireplaces, toilets and even provide all your equipment – just in case you forgot to pack your own.
Corcovado National Park – Costa Rica
Costa Rica's all about pura vida, and there's nowhere more peaceful than the lush, biodiverse rainforest of Corcovado National Park. Locals of the area include sloths, iguanas, giant colorful butterflies, frogs of every shape and size, snakes, centipedes, and even scorpions…it's truly a jungle out there! There are a number of trails that crisscross the park, and are ripe for exploration. Permits are required to camp, but you can get your hands on them either online or at the park.
Maasai Mara National Reserve – Kenya
Waking up as the sun rises over the African plains and watching as creatures begin to stir and spring to life is nothing short of a spiritual experience. One of the premier nature reserves in Africa, Maasai Mara is home to the Great Migration where up to two million Wildebeest stampede across the land. The camping here is different than other sections of the world, built to accommodate foreigners on holiday safaris. Some are quite luxurious, while others are simpler and fit smaller budgets – but they all provide the same incredible experience.
Lake Myvatn – Iceland
This chilly Icelandic lake is another amazing place to rise with the sun, and watch as light spills across the water like gold. And once the sun’s up, you have plenty of choices as to what to do with your day: hike, fish, canoe, or kayak… the world is your oyster. Bjarg campsite and Fjalladyrd are the main locations around Mynatn Lake to setup shop, some offering local food and accommodations if you decide it’s too cold for tent life.
Cordillera Huayhuash – Peru
Greatly overshadowed by Machu Picchu, this trekking circuit is one of the most spectacular trails you’ll come across anywhere on the planet. You are literally hiking around on the crown of the world, a place normally reserved for clouds and ambitious birds. There are a number of guide services available, and you will need to hire one to take you out onto the circuit. But the price is well worth the incredible experience – hands down one of the most stunning places to fall asleep beneath the stars and wake up amongst the mountains.