for Camping in Canada and the U.S.
Camping in Canada and the U.S. offers another excellent way to save
money on accommodation, but you’ll need a vehicle to access
With the exception of a few places such as Banff, Grand Canyon,
and Jasper national parks, camping is totally impractical for Greyhound
and rail travellers in North America.
And, unlike in Europe, camping even with a car is impractical in
or at the edge of most large cities.
In deciding whether or not to camp, you have to consider the weather.
During the summer, in much of the eastern, central, and southern
United States, as well as in the areas of Ontario and Quebec near
Toronto and Montreal, you may find it too warm and too humid at
night to sleep comfortably in a tent.
These areas are much warmer and more humid than northern Europe,
New Zealand, etc.
Moreover, during July, and especially August, September, and October,
very heavy rains may fall at times in the eastern and southern U.S.,
as tropical storms move toward the United States.
Therefore, we suggest limiting extensive summer camping to the
Appalachian Mountains (where you may still get lots of rain at times),
to the hills of New England, to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada,
to anywhere in Canada north or west of lower Ontario (away from
the London and Toronto areas), to Quebec away from Montreal, and
to the U.S. from the Rockies westward, except for lower elevation desert
Camp anywhere for a few days during the summer, but limit extensive
camping to the areas mentioned above.
Book in advance?
You should book space in advance in popular areas during peak seasons.
The populations of Canada and the U.S. have unfortunately grown
far faster than the number of campsites.
Periodically, you may fall behind schedule and lose a camping deposit,
but that is a small price to pay for usually avoiding the hassle
of finding space at the most popular camping areas at the last minute.
Build some padding into your schedule, and you won’t likely
If you must show up at the most popular areas in peak season without
a reservation, show up early in the day.
Many provincial, state, and national parks have booking options
on their Internet sites.
many parks and also has an extensive selection of primitive campgrounds
on U.S. federal land.
Primitive campgrounds are very cheap, but tend not to have caretakers
on site at night. You not only have pit toilets and no hot water
to contend with, but your wilderness experience may be more likely
to be disrupted by loud music, drunken parties, etc.
Nevertheless, many of us enjoy the “away-from-it-all”
primitive camping experience, and have few problems.
California State Park system
We especially like ReserveAmerica’s campsite selection in
the wonderful California State Park system, but you have to book
these as far ahead as possible.
We can’t recommend the California state park system enough.
Decades ago, California decided to keep its state parks, including
their campgrounds, as natural as possible.
This sharply contrasts to the manicured lawns and other landscaping,
massive resort lodges, and even golf courses found in certain other
provincial and state park systems, and—sad to say—in
some Canadian national parks. One of the worst offenders is the
Ontario provincial park system, which sometimes removes trees and other natural
vegetation it doesn’t like, and plants something else. (Its
huge Algonquin Provincial Park is still a joy to visit, however.)
When Dr. Voyageur wants to experience a superbly manicured lawn,
he ventures into his yard.
In addition to government-run campgrounds, check out various commercial
The most popular of these in Canada and especially the U.S. is
KOA, which has great
amenities and generally well-run facilities. Its campsites tend
to be too close together, however. It’s as if one cookie cutter
plan has been used at all locations regardless of terrain. Many
KOA locations also rent cabins.
You'll usually pay more to camp commercially.
Both the Canadian (CAA) and American (AAA) automobile associations
offer campground guides with recommended places free to members.
These are highly recommended. Membership in these clubs gives good
value to automobile users.
If you don’t use a car, but still want to camp, check out
membership in the Sierra
Club, whose members arrange transportation to scenic areas in
both Canada and the U.S. This club is highly recommended for everyone
who wants to preserve and experience the natural beauty of North
America with like-minded people.
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