10 Campsites Perfect for Water Activities

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her top ten list of water-side camping destinations in the U.S.

Photo by Roxanne Desgagnes
Published on

Camping near water is an amazing experience. Surfing, swimming, fishing, rowing, sailing, kayaking—all of these (and more!) become possible when you camp by water. Although temperatures may be colder in the winter, camping by water is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while staying cool under the summer sun. While summertime can often mean more bugs (especially my worst enemy, the mosquito), camping on a lake or on the coast are still great ways to enjoy the shore and partake in water sports. Below are some great spots around the United States if you need some help planning your next water adventure camping trip.

Thornhill Broome Beach Campground: Malibu, California

First on the list is Thornhill Broome Beach Campground. Malibu is known for its wide variety of beaches, from the famous Zuma Beach to dog beaches like Leo Carrillo. Located in Point Mugu State Park, Thornhill Broome Beach Campground is perfect if you want to enjoy early morning surfing, swimming, or want to simply get away. There are over 60 primitive camping spots with water spigots and vault toilets nearby. This campsite and beach are also dog friendly. There isn’t anything particularly beautiful about this campsite if you turn away from the beach, but waking up to the crash of the waves and the ocean in front of you is worth it.

Make reservations here.

Black Rock Campground: Boise, Idaho

Located in the center of beautiful flora and fauna, this campground is also right along the banks of the north fork of the Boise River, which runs through miles of pine forest. On a hot summer day, enjoy putting your feet in the river, go paddling, or jump right in and swim around after a long day of hiking. Other activities in the area include horseback riding, climbing, hiking, and dirt biking. For more information or to book a spot, click here.

Seven Lakes Campground: Lake Goodwin, Washington

Seven Lakes Campground is a private campground that also features a private lake front. Take five steps out of your tent or hammock and go for a swim, catch some fish, or jump on a boat and take it out for a spin on the lake. Not too far from Seattle or Mount Vernon, this is an easy getaway close to multiple other state parks. At fifty dollars a night, it can be pricier than other campsites, but the lake is well worth it.

Click here for more information or to reserve a site.

Cape Lookout State Park Campground: Tillamook, Oregon

This campground is nestled between a lush forest and the shores of the Pacific Ocean. With over 200 sites, Cape Lookout State Park Campground is definitely one of the most popular coast campgrounds in the state, so be sure to book your reservation ahead of time. Besides tent sites, there are also yurts and one cabin that are all wheelchair friendly (but not ADA compliant). This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion, so add this to your bucket list if it isn’t on there already!

Go here to book your site.

A beige tent set up on the shore of a lake, the mirror-still water reflecting the mountains in the distance
Photo by Lesly Derksen

Paradise at Ponder Acres: Between Lyons and Estes Park, Colorado

Just half an hour away from the town of Estes Park is this gem of a campsite. It is meant for two people only on twenty acres of land. Next to the Roosevelt National Forest and a beautiful mountain stream, this place screams relaxing. Enjoy the full bathroom (featuring a huge tub!), a refrigerator, a freezer, and beautiful views. Go kayaking in Estes Park, hike in the forest, or stargaze all night long. There are some rules and regulations to this site, so make sure to read up before you go.

For more information and to make reservations, click here.

Beaver Lakes Campground: Calvin, West Virginia

Beaver Lakes Campground is close to national forests, whitewaters, fishing spots, and has six ponds located directly in the campground. Head here to whitewater raft, swim, fish, paddle, or take your boat out for a spin. There is potable water, a kitchen available for use, full bathrooms, and the campground is dog friendly. Head there in the fall for some beautiful foliage.

Go here to book your site.

Duck Harbor Campground: Isle au Haut, Maine

Duck Harbor Campground is located on the rugged island of Isle au Haut and is only accessible by mail boat from the mainland. There are only five primitive spots available (open from May 15th through October 15th) so make sure to reserve ahead of time. There are three wall shelters available, a fire ring, firewood, picnic tables, composting toilet, and absolutely beautiful views. Wake up to the sound of gentle waves and the beauty that Acadia National Park has to offer. Find more information on the park and how to reserve your spot here.

Yosemite Creek Campground: Mariposa County, California

Yosemite Creek Campground is perfect for those looking to dip their toes in a creek! However, this isn’t the only campsite in Yosemite near water—there are so many! Yosemite is arguably one of the most popular national parks, and for good reason. Climbers, hikers, bird watchers, and more come to this beautiful place to take in all the natural beauty. Yosemite Creek Campground is a first-come-first-served campsite, so get there early to get your spot!

Learn more here.

Bachelor Cove Shoreline Area: Near Roosevelt and Punkin Center, Arizona

The Bachelor Cove shoreline area features an array of primitive campsites. Camp near the lake to enjoy water sports such as swimming, paddling, boating, and more. Camping on the shore will also allow you to see vegetation that includes cholla, cat claw, desert broom, and more. Enjoy the great views of the Sierra Ancha Mountains and some epic sunsets.

To learn more, head here.

A campsite of tents next to a mountain lake
Photo by Nofi Sofyan

Lake Waramaug State Park: Kent, Connecticut

If you love fishing, head to Lake Waramaug State Park! It’s one of the best places to be on a nice summer day. Get out on the water and fish, read, or relax. You can also scuba dive, hike, swim, go biking, and more. There are 76 sites available with communal bathroom facilities. Other amenities include a dump station, potable water, showers, and picnic shelters.

Head here to learn more.

Did I miss your favorite waterfront campground? What is your favorite water sport or activity? Hit me up through my profile and let’s chat about all things outside!

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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