If you love rocks, you probably love camping. Rocks and walls aren’t just meant for climbing, they’re also meant to explore and understand. Here are some cool destinations where geologists by trade and hobby can camp, hike, and take in these geological treasures, on or off trail.
Rock on at these cool camping destinations:
1. Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Utah
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Courtesy of Dyrt camper John M.
Home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, this national park boasts 65 million years worth of history. These geological arches were formed through various environmental forces that cause erosion. While these arches won’t go anywhere anytime soon, some have already fallen, so it’s best to get this adventure in when you can. Here are some other campsites in or near Arches National Park.
2. Koomer Ridge Campground, Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Red River Gorge. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation.
An incredible place for climbers and geologists alike, Red River Gorge is home to an array of rock formations including natural bridges, cliffs, and rock shelters. The area has more than 100 natural sandstone arches, and you can explore the artifacts of prehistoric indigenous peoples in some of the rock shelters. Camping is allowed in Red River Gorge, however you will need a recreation permit so plan ahead.
3. Toadstool Geological Campground, Toadstool Geological Park, Nebraska
Toadstool Geological Park. Courtesy of Dyrt camper Billy B.
Known as the “badlands of Nebraska,” the Toadstool Geological Park is a remote rock enclave within the Oglala National Grassland. Geologists and hikers can find themselves wandering through the park in search fossils along the trail (though you can’t take them home). Besides Toadstool Geological Campground, there isn’t much around. However, you can also stay at Soldier Creek Campground roughly about 22 miles away.
4. Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is the ultimate destination for rock hounds. The many rock layers of the canyon range in age from 200 million to 2 billion years old. Beyond its vast history, the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. So whether it’s for the rock formations or just the sheer beauty, it’s worth making a trip. Here’s the best camping in and around the national park.
5. Echo Park Campground, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument. Courtesy of NPS/Jacob W. Frank.
Another one from Utah’s incredible terrain, this national monument is located on the border of Colorado and Utah. Why is it on this list? Simple. Dinosaurs were here. In addition to paleontological sites, Dinosaur National Monument also features the “Wall of Bones” where you can see a rock layer that features hundreds of dinosaur fossils. There are plenty of campgrounds near Dinosaur National Monument.
6. Texas Spring Campground, Artist’s Drive and Palette, Death Valley National Park, California
Artist’s Drive in Death Valley National Park. Courtesy of Alan Van Valkenburg/NPS.
This place is a burst of color, which makes sense given the name. This rock formation shows the remnants of Death Valley’s volcanic period, and the variety of vibrant colors is as a result of chemical reactions. You can find more campsites near Artist’s Palette here.