Find Your Frontier With Hipcamp’s Campsite Recommendations
When you think "frontier," chances are you're not thinking of someone's backyard.
But what if that backyard is 100 acres of untouched wilderness? What if that backyard is a hidden black sand beach campsite tucked around a mountain range? What if that backyard has redwoods that go back generations? Or maybe... a totally unexpected vineyard?
That's where Hipcamp comes in.
Hipcamp is a user-friendly database of both public and private campgrounds across the US. Their mission is pretty simple and pretty brilliant: empower landowners to keep their land NOT developed by giving them a platform to rent out the wild spaces as camping property. The result is the conservation of pristine places and a cool way to discover campgrounds off the beaten path. This especially comes in handy during high season when a lot of the go-to spots are fully booked.
So as you look to find your frontier this summer, we asked our pals over at Hipcamp to highlight 10 of their favorite "Frontier Campsites" that will give you a break from the pack and challenge you to try something new.
Minie Ball, Mars Hill, North Carolina
(Photo by Alyssa Ackerman)
Here you can camp on top of your own private mountain 30 minutes north of Asheville—yep, you heard that right. Asheville is the outdoor adventure mecca of the American South, surrounded by endless opportunities to hike, kayak, raft, fly fish, mountain bike...the list goes on and on and on. Whatever you want to do in North Carolina, Minie Ball is your $25 a night ticket.
To start, there is incredible waterfall hiking in Pisgah National Forest just a bit east of Asheville. After a day of hiking, be sure to check out Pisgah Brewing Company and Amphitheater, which is by far one of the best places to see a show on the East Coast. Other great hikes include the Black Balsam Knob Area and Sliding Rock, which is a natural waterslide that is definitely really cool but can get a bit touristy, so plan a time to go wisely.
For rafting close to the city, we recommend Section 9 of the French Broad River, which is just a tiny bit north and has some really solid class 2 and 3 rapids. Some of the best rafting though in western North Carolina is on the Nantahala River and Gorge, which is a little over an hour southwest from the city. If you’re lucky (and up for it), the river runs a class 5 on weekends they release the Nantahala.
Mountain Creek Cottage, West Kill, New York
(Photo by Aimee Bartee)
Mountain Creek Cottage is the perfect gateway to exploring the Catskills, and only 2.5 hours north of New York City. Situated on a 30-acre property that is surrounded by hundreds of acres of New York State land, you can enjoy private creek access, an open grassy lawn and acres of beautiful, hardwood forest just outside your door.
Private Beach Farm, Goleta, California
(Photo by Lisse Lundin)
Behold: a private beach, with a surf break. Summed up nicely by the words of one Hipcamper, “The private point break was epic, had the water to ourselves and the waves were dope.” And, with the option to pitch your tent in a historic, glass greenhouse, you will literally wake up and smell the roses. This Hipcamp gets extra points for an epic outdoor shower view and a cob oven for baking pizzas.
When the surf is down, Santa Barbara is only 20 minutes away and is famous for its many scenic trails, fine dining and some of the best wines in the country.
The Landing, Index, Washington
(Photo by Evan Kubena)
The best time to visit the Pacific Northwest is anytime, really, but especially the summer when the weather is a bit more predictable but temperatures are still cool. This riverside campsite is an especially unique treat. Located on the South Fork of the Skykomish River (home to great rafting, kayaking and fishing) and at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains (hello, endless hiking), the Landing is a wonderful getaway to kick back and relax after your day of adventures.
The Hipcamp host at the Landing suggests hiking to Wallace Falls, Sunset Falls, Lake Serene, or Bridal Veil Falls. Index is also home to some sweet climbing areas that are ideal in the summer, with many cool shady spots for midday ascents. The area is known for having difficult trad routes, but there are also a considerable amount of under 5.10’s and even some places to set up top ropes. Mountain Project can give you the rest of the beta on this area.
Rocky Mountain Pikes Peak Hiking and Biking, Canon City, Colorado
(Photo by Kyle Sundman)
Welcome to Colorful Colorado! The cabin and tent accommodations at this property are your one-stop destination for basically any outdoor summer activity Colorado has to offer: hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, hunting. The Hipcamp is located on 140-acres of private property on the backside of Pikes Peak, the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and a famed 14er.
After a getting a sound sleep surrounded by Ponderosa pines, you can explore the ancient Florissant Fossil Beds, climb Mount Pisgah, float the Arkansas, visit the Colorado Paint Mines or tackle the Royal Gorge—all within a 30-45 minute drive from what can definitively be described as a Colorado adventure mecca. The cabin is simple but clean. Bring your food, water, fuel, paper products, and camera and leave with a full heart and great time in the mountains!
Shasta View Treehouse, Weed, California
(Photo by Brian Anselmo)
This is one of the most loved Hipcamps to date. The 400-square-foot cabin is outfitted with a full-sized air mattress, cooking supplies and glass windows on all sides. We highly recommend waking up early and hanging in the hammock over the small nearby creek; the experience is absolutely sublime.
From the property, there’s a stunning view of Mt. Shasta, a (potentially) active volcano that is also the highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range. While conquering Shasta is not for the faint of heart, the two-day climb is a pretty good introductory mountaineering feat as there are some very doable non-technical climbs to the top.
People climb Shasta all year round, but the best time to climb the most popular non-technical route (Avalanche Gulch) is usually between mid-May and mid-June. You want to climb Shasta when snowpack is still intact to avoid rock fall...and yes that means you can go skiing if you have the proper gear and know how. Definitely bring your crampons, ice picks and helmets—they’re a necessity for this one! You can find out more information about climbing Shasta here.
If you’re not ready to tackle Shasta, don’t worry—you’re in Northern California! There’s lots of nearby hiking, kayaking and exploring to be done.
Boot Mesa, Monument Valley, Arizona
(Photo by Maddy Minnis)
Someone please tell us what’s not to love about the American Southwest? It’s honestly hard to believe these colors and features actually exist in nature, much less so close to us within the American Lower 48. While you want to avoid the desert during the unbearable dog days of summer, high temperatures in places like this just don’t feel as hot as, say, New England in August. The desert is dry and primed for day adventures and seriously starry nights.
This campsite is hosted by a gracious Navajo family of children and grandchildren of a local matriarch and medicine woman and aims to raise funds for a community water project for Navajo Uranium Impactees. Only a few miles from the Monument Valley visitor center, there are endless ways to explore this striking landscape. Ask your hosts, the Holidays, to set you up with a Navajo horse guide and to tell you about their work preserving rights, history and the environment of native people – it’s fascinating and inspiring!
Cedar Arms Campground, Shelton, Washington
(Photo by Jordan Vaughn)
There are several primitive campsites to choose from around this secluded PNW campground, all with equally pleasant #campvibes. From the campground, you’ll have access to swim in the Skokomish River or hike upriver into the canyon and Olympic National Forest. Side note: if you’re into disc golf, you can play it here too.
Cedar Arms is also within a 1-hour drive to Olympic National Park. If you’ve never been to the Olympic Peninsula, you’re in for a treat. The Park encompasses over a million acres of diverse landscapes. We’re talking glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and 70 miles of wild coastline—endless adventuring to be done. The best part? Over 95 percent of the park is considered “wilderness.” “Wilderness” is defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act as “...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Wilderness is the highest form of land protection in this country, so Olympic National Park is truly a treasure to both respect and explore.
Read more: 24 Hours in Olympic National Park
Big Oak Treehouse, Wooldridge, Missouri
(Photo by Michelle Park)
This is less a treehouse, but more a tree platform. We’re into it either way. There are a couple really special things about this campsite. For one, sleeping in a tree is pretty much automatically cool and there are amazing views from all directions. Secondly, this property is within the path of totality for the Solar Eclipse gracing North America this August. Chances are you’ve heard about it—we can tell you, the hype is real. Campsites are booking out faster than we can say “Solar Eclipse” because, for many, seeing a dark, starry sky at midday will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. This campsite is still available for the Eclipse, which is crazy! Will you be the one to book it up?
If you missed your chance, or have other plans for the Eclipse, this campsite is ideal for any Midwest adventure or cross-country road trip. The property is located in between St. Louis and Chicago and only 10-minutes off I-70, which pretty much cuts straight across the country.
The Winona Shepherd Wagon, Belgrade, Montana
(Photo by La Vonne Stucky)
Here’s your chance to stay in an authentic 1920’s shepherd's wagon! If you’re road tripping from Glacier to Yellowstone National Parks, this sheep, goat, cow and llama farm is a perfect stop in between. It’s also only ten minutes from Yellowstone International Airport and 20 minutes from Bozeman, so the location of this 40-acre farm is pretty much the ideal for exploring the American West.
It’s hard to know where to start when thinking about exploring Montana and Wyoming. You’ve got Glacier National Park to the north, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to the south, with endless mountain ranges and rivers in between. Seriously just pick a sport, one direction to head in, and just go.
Read more: The Best Camping Near National Parks
Hipcamp has the largest database of public campsites across the US, and empowers private landowners to share their property with campers to create sustainable revenue and support in the conservation of land.