Largest Campground in US: Top Destination for Outdoor Enthusiasts

The United States is home to some of the most spectacular nature and diverse landscapes, from the soaring peaks of the Rockies to the crimson canyons of Utah. And what better way to experience these wonders than camping under the stars? If you really want to go big with your camping adventure, then look no further than Fish Lake National Forest in Utah – home of the nation’s largest campground.

Largest Campground in US

Sprawling over 10,000 acres with over 1,000 campsites, Fish Lake offers virtually endless opportunities for outdoor fun. Whether you prefer to pitch a tent or pull up in an RV, there are sites to accommodate every type of camper. Spend your days hiking through pristine wilderness, casting a line in the lake’s trout-filled waters, or exploring the ruins of ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings. As the glowing embers of your campfire fade into the inky night sky, you’ll gain a whole new appreciation of the term “roughing it”.

Key Facts and Figures

  • With 1,102 individual sites, Fish Lake has the highest campsite capacity of any National Forest campground in the USA.
  • Encompassing over 10,000 acres and 163 miles of shoreline, Fish Lake is Utah’s second largest freshwater lake.
  • Fish Lake lies at an altitude of 8,800 ft, ringed by forest and rocky peaks that extend as high as 11,300 ft.
  • Activities include hiking, fishing, boating, bird watching and horseback riding through miles of surrounding forest and meadows.

10 of the largest campgrounds systems in the United States

Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee)

Spanning over 640,000 acres across Tennessee, it has 100 designated campgrounds and thousands of camping sites. Offers tent camping, RV camping, backcountry camping, and group site options.

Chugach National Forest (Alaska)

The second largest national forest at over 5.4 million acres, it provides endless backcountry and dispersed camping opportunities across glaciers, rivers, lakes, fjords and mountains.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Minnesota)

Over one million acres with around 2,000 wilderness sites spread throughout the interconnected waterways and lakes. No motor vehicles or roads allow for a true wilderness experience.

White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire)

Nearly 800,000 acres with 48 developed campgrounds with amenities and services available. Well-known for camping in the scenic White Mountains region.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Nevada)

At over 6 million acres, this forest has over 300 campgrounds throughout 10 ranger districts spanning Nevada and a bit of Eastern California.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest (California)

Comprised of over 2.1 million acres and home to stunning mountain peaks, lakes and waterfalls. It has 46 developed campgrounds.

Sierra National Forest (California)

On the western slope of the Sierra Nevada range, it offers pristine nature across 1.3 million acres with glacier lakes and granite domes. 50+ campgrounds.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest (Idaho/Wyoming)

Spans the Idaho and Wyoming border with 3 million acres and over 175 designated campgrounds across various forest, peaks and lava landscapes.

Olympic National Forest (Washington)

Ancient rain forest, lakes, alpine meadows and glacier-capped peaks spread over 630,000 acres, offering outdoor adventures and 21 developed campgrounds.

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest (Arkansas)

With over 1.2 million acres it offers 9 large developed campgrounds and over 300 dispersed backcountry sites.

Diverse Landscapes and Ecosystems

One of the most spectacular aspects of Fish Lake is its diversity of landscapes and ecosystems condensed into a relatively small area. You can wake to golden meadows shimmering with wildflowers in the morning, hike through forests of gambel oak and quaking aspen during the day, and sit beside aquamarine waters framed by towering pines in the evening. This richness of habitats makes for excellent wildlife watching, so keep an eye out for moose, elk, mule deer and over 200 species of birds.

The lake itself is known for its excellent rainbow trout and splake fishing, some exceeding 10 pounds. Be sure to acquire the necessary Utah fishing license and adhere to all regulations. Or you can simply admire their acrobatic leaps from shore as ospreys swoop to snag their next meal.

Campground Facilities and Accommodations

Fish Lake campground provides a range of amenities to make your outdoor experience more convenient and comfortable. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings, with about 300 also featuring electrical hook-ups. There’s potable water spigots scattered throughout the grounds along with flush toilets and hot showers.

For those who prefer a solid roof, there are also a limited number of cozy cabins available which sleep 5-6 people. Or upgrade to an RV up to 45 feet long and enjoy your own bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms while surrounded by nature.

Several camp stores stock supplies, firewood and snacks if you forgot anything. And three established boat launches provide easy access for kayaking, canoeing and motor boats exploring the lake’s secluded bays and islands. There’s even a marina that rents various watercraft by the hour or day.

Peak Season and Reservations

Fish Lake campground is open from late May through September, with July and August being the most popular months. Sites fill up quickly, so it’s essential to make reservations well in advance, especially for weekend stays. Only a handful of first-come, first-served sites are held back each day.

You can reserve your spot by contacting the National Recreation Reservation Service via Recreation.gov or calling 1-877-444-6777. Most individual sites can be booked six months ahead, while group sites for 7-50 people are reservable nine months in advance. Be prepared to pay nightly fees plus separate reservation charges.

Cherokee National Forest being the largest campground in the United States:

Metric Detail
Total Area Over 640,000 acres
Number of Campgrounds Over 100 designated campgrounds and dispersed camping areas
Number of Camping Sites Thousands total across entire forest
Most Popular Campgrounds Big Creek, Round Mountain, Paint Creek with 50-100 sites each
Camping Options Tent camping, RV camping, backcountry camping, group camps
Annual Visitors Over 5 million

This table highlights the vast size of Cherokee National Forest along with the extensive camping options available across its over 100 individual campgrounds and thousands of sites, ranging from developed campgrounds to dispersed backcountry camping. The ability to support over 5 million annual visitors makes it arguably the biggest and most expansive campground landscape in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some beginner hiking trails around Fish Lake?

Some excellent trails for beginners include Owl Creek Trail through meadows and aspens, the Fish Lake Lakeshore Trail with gentle topography, and part of the Grandaddy Basin Trail for forest scenery. Ask at the visitor center for more recommendations.

Is there cell phone reception available?

Cell coverage can be quite patchy given the elevated terrain and forests. For reliable service drive to the top of Johnson’s Pass or trickier spots like Panangitch Overlook. Otherwise be prepared to enjoy some digital detox!

Are pets allowed?

Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are always leashed, cleaned up after and attended. Be aware the camp host does perform checks and may ask excessively noisy or aggressive pets to leave.

Can I gather firewood in the National Forest?

No, collecting wood, trees or forest products is strictly prohibited. Please purchase bundles of firewood at the camp stores or from third party vendors to prevent habitat destruction.

Is the water safe to drink?

Yes, the tap water from spigots throughout the campground has been tested and meets all EPA standards for safety and purity. But it’s always advisable to bring your own bottles and filtration system if you have any concerns.


My name is Evelyn and I started Camping The Camp to combine my love of the outdoors with my background in environmental science. I hope you’ll find helpful as you discover the joys of camping. It’s more than a weekend trip - it’s a chance to disconnect from devices, reconnect with loved ones, and make memories to last a lifetime

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