Top 10 National Parks for Dispersed Backcountry Camping

These National Park Service units do not require you to camp in a designated site, so much the better for privacy and quiet.  These are our 10 favorite spots to go backpacking and commune with nature in the backcountry.  Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles.

10. Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Georgia to Maine)

With the exception of some National and State Parks, camping is dispersed along the A.T.

9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Most parks in Alaska offer dispersed camping and this is the largest of all National Parks.

8. Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

While floating downstream, you can pull your boat to the shore and set up wherever you like.

7. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

Bison will be your only companions on the prairies and forests above the caverns.

6. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

This park has designated sites along its trails, but you can also get an off-trail permit by zone.

5. Sequoia National Park (California)

Much of this park has designated campsites, but the Mineral King section does not.

4. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

Incredible views can be found in Conata Basin and other free backcountry areas.

3. Death Valley National Park (California)

It is a hike to the Panamint Dunes, but you will likely have the place to yourself.

2. Cape Lookout National Seashore (North Carolina)

Take a ferry to these barrier islands and set up on the beautiful sandy beaches.

…and finally our #1 National Park for dispersed backcountry camping!

1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado)

A free permit allows you to set up camp anywhere in the dune field not visible from the road.

Honorable Mention

Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri)

Find the perfect spot along the shores of the Jack’s Fork or Current Rivers

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