The Best Waterside Campgrounds in North America

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My tots aren’t as excited about hiking and biking as I am, so when we go camping we make sure to spend some time at the campsite just hanging out. While s’mores and ghost stories are great for nighttime entertainment, the one thing we love to do during the day is play in water.

That’s where choosing the best campsite is key. Whenever we go camping (or hiking) we try to find a river, lake or stream to entertain the kids. It’s great to play in, can cool off a hot day, and is a source for drinking water when filtered. It’s even better when that water is right by your campsite!

That’s why we’ve teamed up with some great outdoor family bloggers to share the best waterside campgrounds in North America. I listed some of my favorite camping spots near water, including some Oceanside jewels that have been some of the best family vacations we’ve ever had.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, California – The campsite is a short walk to the beach.

Carpinteria State Beach, California – The tide pools are absolutely amazing!

Payson Lakes, Utah – This spot is popular with campers and fishermen. Up in the mountains, surrounded by pine trees, it’s a lovely place and fun to swim in.

Tony Grove, Logan Canyon, Utah – This alpine campground has amazing wildflowers in June.

Primrose Campground, Kenai Preninsula, Alaska – This campground is on the border of Kenai Lake, with a stream running beside it. Best of both.

Black Ridge Reservoir, Utah – This isn’t a campground, but still a great place to play in the water.

Green River, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah – This campground has a great view of a canyon wall. Even if you don’t camp there it’s worth going to play in the river.

Preston Valley and Guinavah-Malibu Campgrounds, Logan Canyon, Utah – There are several campgrounds along the Logan River on this National Scenic Byway.

Exit Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park, Alaska – This was one of the coolest campsites I’ve been to since it was a hike in tent site with a glacier fed river nearby.

One dream vacation I have is to rent a house boat and live on the water for a week at Lake Powell or Lake Tahoe. I’m waiting until my kids can all swim for that one.

These campgrounds are our family faves, but there are so many other great ones to explore. Whether you’re by an ocean, lake, river or stream there’s lots of fun to be had camping by water. Check out these reviews and please comment below – where are your favorite places to stay near water?

Mommy Hiker: Find Your Inner Glamper at Santa Barbara’s El Capitan Canyon

Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockes: The 5 Best Waterside Campgrounds Near Calgary, Alberta

Chasqui Mom: Family Approved: Best Waterside Campgrounds

Play Outside Guide: Vanvouver Island’s Best Seaside Campgrounds for Families

Kid Project: Camping and Swimming at Sand Hollow State Park UT

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

4 thoughts on “The Best Waterside Campgrounds in North America”

  1. Our favorite in the mid-atlantic region is Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania. Three streams come through the forest, each good for fishing and they are just plain beautiful. The downed trees grow amazing mushrooms and, as the forest is old, there is very little undergrowth, making it an easy place for kids to run around without getting lost.

    Assateague Island is on our list of campsites to try here on the east coast. It is a habitat for wild ponies and they wander right up to the campsite and run along the beaches.

  2. Wild Ponies and amazing mushrooms? Caledonia State Park sounds awesome! I haven't done much camping on the east coast, but I would love to explore the forests out there someday.

    1. Honestly I’m not a fisherman (or fisherwoman if that’s a word) but there were signs up with instructions for fishermen, so I assume it’s got something worth catching in it.

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