- Wyoming ranks as the best state in America for camping, featuring the highest number of free campsites and RV parks relative to its population.
- Montana ranks as the second-best state for camping, offering the highest number of hiking trails and the second-highest number of free and paid campsites.
- New Mexico ranked as the third-best state for camping, scoring well across several factors.
Wyoming has been named the best state for camping trips in the US, according to new research.
We analyzed ten factors that could contribute to a successful camping trip and scored each one out of ten to create an overall Camping Index Score out of 100 for all 50 states.
The factors analyzed within the index included the number of national parks and landmarks relative to state area, the number of hiking trails, RV parks and campsites relative to state population, average fuel prices, yearly average rainfall, diversity of plant and animal species, deaths per 10 million national park visits and deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposure.
The 10 best US states for camping are outlined below:
|Rank||State||Camping Index Score /100|
Wyoming ranked as the best state for camping in the US, with a Camping Index Score of 72.12 out of 100. The state ranked top for several factors, including the highest number of RV parks, as well as free and paid for campsites. The Cowboy State was found to offer 26 RV Parks, 118 regular campsites, and 45 free campsites per 100,000 residents. The state also had the third highest number of hiking trails of any state, at 350 per 100,000 residents.
Scoring 69.29 out of 100, Montana ranked as the second-best state for camping in the US. Per 100,000 residents, it had the highest number of hiking trails (418), offered the second-highest number of free campsites (32) and paid campsites (90) and the second highest number of RV parks (21).
New Mexico was found to be the third-best state for camping in the US, with a score of 65.94 out of 100. Per 100,000 residents, the state had the third highest number of free campsites (18), the seventh highest number of campsites (40) and the 15th highest number of hiking trails (103). New Mexico also has 4,583 different species of plants and animals, making it the fourth most biodiverse out of any state.
Idaho is fourth on the list, scoring 63.62 out of 100 across the ten factors. The mountainous state has the fourth highest number of free campsites and ninth highest number of hiking trails relative to its population, with 17 free campsites and 178 hiking trails per 100,000 residents. Idaho also had the ninth lowest yearly average rainfall at 481 millimeters.
Vermont ranked as the fifth best state to go on a camping trip in the US, with a Camping Index Score of 61.23 out of 100. The state has the second-highest number of hiking trails and seventh highest number of RV parks, with 405 hiking trails and 12 RV parks per 100,000 residents. The state also had 24 campsites per 100,000 residents, ranking tenth in this category.
South Dakota ranked sixth with a Camping Index Score of 61.12. Per 100,000 people it has the third highest number of RV parks (17), fourth highest number of campsites (45) and the 11th highest number of free campsites (6). Home to the Black Hills Forest and Mount Rushmore, the state was also found to have 75 hiking trails per 100,000 residents.
Utah is the seventh-best state for camping in America, with a score of 60.15 out of 100. The landlocked state has 212 hiking trails per 100,000 people, ranking sixth in this category and the fifth highest number of free campsites, at 13 per 100,000 residents. Utah also records the second-lowest annual average rainfall of all 50 states and is the tenth most biodiverse, with 3,892 different plant and animal species.
Coming in eighth place is New Hampshire, with a score of 59.93 out of 100. The Granite State offered the fourth highest number of hiking trails, at 309 per 100,000 residents, and the ninth highest number of RV parks at 11 per 100,000 residents. The state also had 1.45 national parks and landmarks per 1,000 sq miles, ranking ninth for this factor.
Colorado ranked as the ninth-best state overall for camping, with a score of 59.86 out of 100. Per 100,000 residents, Colorado has the sixth highest number of free campsites (12), the ninth highest number of campsites (27), and the tenth highest number of hiking trails (141). The home of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains also offers the seventh lowest average yearly rainfall of 405 millimeters.
North Dakota is the tenth-best US state for camping, with a score of 58.81 out of 100. Despite being home to the disconcertingly named Badlands Overlook in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the state has one of the lowest number of recorded deaths in its national parks, at just one death per 10 million visitors. Per 100,000 residents, North Dakota also has the sixth highest number of campsites (40) and the tenth highest number of RV parks (8).
This data provides a fascinating insight into which states offer nature lovers the most well-rounded camping experiences. Wyoming stands out as a top spot for campers, due to its abundance of RV parks, free and paid campsites, and range of hiking trails. As spring continues to bloom, campers may want to consider a trip to The Cowboy State if they are looking for their next adventure.
One of the key reasons people plan camping trips is for the adventure component. Exploring the great outdoors, observing different wildlife, and hiking trails are all part of the allure. However, safety should always be paramount, so it is crucial to research and plan ahead as much as possible before undertaking any camping trip.”
State size, national parks and landmarks, hiking trails, RV parks, paid and free campsites, average fuel prices, average yearly rainfall, diversity of plant and animal species, national park death rates, deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposure.
Data from the US Census Bureau, National Park Service, CDC, Campendium, Trailforks, Natureserve.org, AAA Gas prices and the National Climatic Data Centre was used to create a Camping Index Score for all 50 states. The index comprises ten factors that could contribute to successful camping trips.
These factors were: number of national parks and landmarks per 1,000 square miles, number of campsites, free campsites, hiking trails and RV parks per 100,000 people, deaths per 10 million national park visits, deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposure per 10 million people (1999-2020), average fuel prices, animal and plant species diversity, and average yearly rainfall.
Each of these factors was ranked out of 10 with each state scoring a maximum total score of 100. The figures for national parks and landmarks, camping sites and hiking trails were weighted at 3x the other factors. Fuel prices, species diversity, free campsites and number of RV parks were weighted at 2x, and deaths per 10 million national park visits and deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposure per 10 million people were weighted at 1x. Fuel prices, rainfall, and death rates were scored inversely so that lower levels were given a higher score out of ten.
The complete data table is below:
|Rank||State||State area (sq miles)||Population||Average fuel prices ($)||Species diversity (no of different species)||Average Yearly Rainfall (millimetres)||Deaths per 10 million national park Visits||Deaths Caused By Dangerous Animal/ Plant Exposure Per 10 million people||Number of national parks and landmarks per 1,000 sq miles||Number of hiking trails per 100,000 people||Number of free campsites per 100,000 people||Number of campsites per 100,000 people||Number of RV parks per 100,000 people||Camping Index Score (/100)|
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