There's Still Time to Plan a Summer Outing
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If summer seems like it is passing you by, take a little time to discover a destination just down the road or beyond the horizon. Here are a few tips for finding places that are closer than you think.
- FIND IT: On the Recreation.gov homepage, scroll to the map and type in your location. The map will populate with recreation areas, campgrounds, trail heads and other destinations that you can learn more about or reserve.
- BUILD IT: Select the Trip Builder tool from the homepage. Enter your starting point and a destination. A map interface will populate with a selection of destinations and activities along your route. Discover places to camp, tour and visit. Book your trip.
- CHECK IT: You may already know where you want to go. Take a look to see if there is availability. Consider a mid-week visit to avoid the crowds and have a better chance of securing a site.
Consider a mid-week visit to popular destinations
Ok, we know what you are thinking. The places you want to visit are already booked, and have been for months. We get it; the competition for popular locations is fierce. Well, think about discovering a new destination that may have availability when you are able to visit.
Here are a few campgrounds we found near a six large cities with availability throughout the rest of the summer, especially midweek and first-come, first-serve options.
- About an hour from Seattle, the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is home to some campgrounds that still have availability for the remainder of the summer. Try the Middle Fork, Money Creek and The Dalles campgrounds.
- From the Los Angeles area the Dogwood or Heart Bar campgrounds on the San Bernardino National Forest or the Pyramid Lake or Mountain Oak campgrounds on the Angeles National Forest offer plenty of options for the rest of the summer.
- Just outside of Denver, the Columbine or Cold Springs campgrounds on the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest or the Geneva Park or Timberline campgrounds on the Pike and San Isabel National Forest have availability, especially during the weekdays and for first-come, first serve sites.
- Within an hour or so of Atlanta, you can find yourself at Allatoona Lake at Old Hwy 41 No 3 or McKinney campgrounds, both with lakeside availability.
- You might be surprised to discover locations with easy access from the heart of New York City. Camp Gateway within the Gateway National Recreation Area, is a short commute and offers plenty of availability for the remainder of the summer.
- Did you know that about an hour from Chicago is the Indiana Dunes National Park where the Dunewood Campground hosts 66 campsites, with more than 30 set aside as first-come, first-serve with a smattering of reservable sites available for the remainder of the summer.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (National Park Service)
You can also discover a variety of activities in areas you discover and plan to visit yet this summer. Here are a few that we think offer unique experiences that may be of interest to you.
- Set sail at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park on an historic wooden schooner for a three-hour tour of San Francisco Bay. There are still dates available in August for a mid-week, or weekend adventure.
- Join a ranger-guided kayak or paddle board tour in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in northern California. You are invited to explore the park's natural beauty, majestic views, and abundant wildlife via kayak or paddle board.
- Enjoy a ranger-led canoe cruise at the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York. Along the route to Skeleton Hill Island, paddlers will experience breathtaking views of Sandy Hook mainland and Sandy Hook Bay.
- Learn more about our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, during a tour of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in New York State. During Roosevelt's time in office, his "Summer White House" was the focus of international attention.
- Select among six Blanchard Springs Cavern Tours of varying difficulty during your visit to Arkansa's Ozark St. Francis National Forest. The active cave, with its glistening formations, stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones is constantly changing, providing return visitors something new to see each time.
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