Summer is finally here, and folks across the country are looking to escape the office and get outdoors. Thanks to a weak economy, they're also looking for cheap ways to do it. Why not head to one of the country's amazing parks for this weekend's Great American Backyard Campout?
Here are five scenic camp spots that will inspire you to get outdoors.
For New Yorkers, camping in the Adirondacks will let you actually see the stars and not those on Broadway. Ditch the city lights for the upstate New York wilderness, where over 6 million acres awaits with hardly any man-made light.
The camping sites run the gamut from full service sites near hiking trails to primitive sites only accessible by boat. Adirondack Park is home to the famous Lake Placid, a two-time host of the Winter Olympics. Or if you're feeling adventurous, head for Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, at 5,344 feet (1,629 m).
If the mountains are not for you, head south deep south to this famous barrier island. Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island , home to pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes. Wild horses one of the most well-known features of Cumberland roam the island's 36,415 acres (147 square kilometers). Cumberland Island is a crucial stopover for many birds migrating on the transatlantic migratory flyaway.
Just know that there are no bridges to Cumberland, and you'll want to make a reservation; ferries make only two trips per day, and the number of visitors is capped at 300 per day.
This park not far from Portland is perfect for those who like to sweat a little while camping. The scenic Sandy River draws swimmers, rafters and kayakers. Winding trails guide hikers through the ancient forest with centuries-old trees and ridges and ravines carved by volcanic and glacial flows. The park is jam-packed with wildlife, such as bears and cougars, so pets are not allowed on the grounds.
The park has a 67-site campground that closes at dark, so get there early.
For fishers, how does camping on a lagoon on the Pacific Ocean sound? That's what you'll get at this county park near Trinidad, Calif. Big Lagoon is the largest of the three lagoons along the Pacific Ocean in Humboldt County. Each lagoon is separated from the Pacific by a sand bar, and the brackish water is relatively warm, so it's rich with river otters, shorebirds and steelhead trout.
Launch your canoe right from your campsite or rent a kayak and paddle up to the sand spit to search for agate. Even better, the park is free for campers.
For the bird lovers, try the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, headquarters of the World Birding Center. This park features more than 325 species of birds and over 250 species of butterflies on 760 acres of riparian woodland. Witness amazing hawk migrations, and enjoy bird walks and natural history tours at this key migratory stopover.
The park features nature trails, a hawk tower, birding blinds and viewing stations, primitive camping sites, tram tours and numerous opportunities for bird and wildlife photography.