A group of friends tries to start a fire while camping and one of them is miserable wrapped in blankets with smoke blowing in her face.

10 Worst States for Camping

When you go on a camping trip, you want it to turn out great. You read reviews, check out satellite images, and ask other traveling friends before booking.

But did you know some states are just bad for camping in general? If you’ve been camping enough, you might already know this and have your own list of states to avoid.

Let’s take a look at why some states are great options for camping and others fall short. 

What Makes a State an Inhospitable Environment for Camping?

Before looking at what makes a state an inhospitable environment, let’s consider what makes a state ideal for camping. Having several National Parks, diverse wildlife, quality campsites, and low crime rates make states like Rhode Island and Utah the top two states in the country for camping.

So when states lack these qualities or have high fuel prices or weak internet access, they become less hospitable environments for camping. Many campers also have to work while traveling. So having good, solid internet access is no longer a nice amenity but a requirement.

Many families travel, so feeling comfortable letting their children run and play outside is sometimes the number one priority. And for travelers on road trips, having convenient locations to stop for the night is critical. 

The 10 Worst States to Camp In

According to InsureMyTrip, these are the 10 worst states for camping. Factors like high fuel prices, lack of National Parks, and high crime rates contribute to their low scores. Let’s take a closer look at each state.

#1. Wyoming

Why It’s on This List:

At the very bottom of the list is Wyoming. One reason is that it’s a fairly large state with very few National Parks.

Another reason is the extreme temperatures. It could be over 90 degrees in the summer and below 0 degrees in the winter. Driving and camping in these kinds of conditions are difficult.

Additional reasons Wyoming ranked last are the small amount of forest coverage and the lack of quality internet access.

A man in a hat and vest sits on a fence in Wyoming looking upset.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

Two of the most famous National Parks in the country are in Wyoming. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park offer travelers fantastic scenery and varied landscapes.

These two National Parks cover hundreds of thousands of acres and are home to hundreds of different wildlife and flora species. Jackson Hole, Wyo., captures visitors’ attention every year, and Fort Laramie is a National Historic Site that details America’s westward expansion.

#2. Montana

Why It’s on This List:

Like Wyoming, neighboring Montana is a large state with few National Parks. The weather is extreme in the winter and makes camping almost impossible for several months. There isn’t much forest coverage, and internet access is hit-or-miss.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

One of the most pristine National Parks in the country is Glacier National Park. Here you’ll find majestic forests and amazing wildlife like buffalo, bears, elk, moose, and more.

Part of Yellowstone National Park is also in Montana. There are numerous places to visit to learn about the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) people who have inhabited this land for centuries. Montana earns its name as the Treasure State for its rich minerals, including gold and sapphires.

#3. Nevada

Why It’s on This List:

Like the previous two states, Nevada makes the list of worst states to camp in because of the few National Parks per 1,000 square miles. Death Valley and Great Basin National Park extend into Nevada, but no National Park calls Nevada home exclusively.

Very few forests grace the state, and the campsite quality certainly could be improved. Nevada also ranks high on the number of crimes per National Park.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

Numerous ghost towns and saloons give travelers a glimpse into the Wild West. Because Nevada’s population is so concentrated in a couple of cities, stargazing is another highlight of visiting. Nevada offers true dark skies. And if you’re into UFOs, Nevada is home to Area 51 as well as lots of other unique museums and points of interest.

#4. Indiana

Why It’s on This List:

Indiana is the smallest state of the top five worst states to camp in. However, like the previous states, Indiana has few National Parks and few forests. Additional negative qualities include higher gas prices, little rainfall, and a lack of diversity among wildlife and flora.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

Indiana isn’t known for its beautiful landscape, but there’s more this state has to offer. Even though there are few National Parks, the state parks are great camping destinations.

For museum lovers, Indiana offers a variety of educational experiences, from the Basketball Hall of Fame to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. And sports lovers travel to Indiana year after year for the NCAA Tournament, NBA games, and the Indianapolis 500.

#5. Idaho

Why It’s on This List:

Although Yellowstone stretches into Idaho, no other National Park calls Idaho home. And even with that statistic, Idaho has a very high crime rate and accident rate within Yellowstone National Park. There isn’t much diversity among the animal and plant life there, and forest coverage is minimal.

Sunset and trees reflecting in a broken window on a truck.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

If you love to ski, Idaho needs to be on your travel destination list. The ski lift was invented in Idaho.

Also, visit Frank Church Wilderness, the largest contiguous wilderness in the continental U.S. On the other end of the spectrum is Craters of the Moon, where you’ll see lava flows, cinder cones, and a landscape unlike any other.

Finally, the backcountry of Idaho welcomes rock climbers, hikers, and campers who wish to explore the City of Rocks in Almo.

#6. North Carolina

Why It’s on This List:

Although it has the highest rate of National Parks per 1,000 square miles of any state on the list thus far, North Carolina still only offers one. And it doesn’t entirely lie in the state. North Carolina also ranked low on rainfall and maintained higher gas prices than other states around the country.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

You don’t want to miss out on visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The most visited National Park in the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife and details a rich history of the Southern Appalachian people.

The weather in North Carolina is also desirable. Travelers can enjoy camping year-round, whether in the mountains, in the Piedmont, or on the beaches.

And the Outer Banks provide scenery and landscapes unlike any other place in the country. Visit the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Wright Brothers National Memorial while exploring this area of North Carolina.

#7. California

Why It’s on This List:

Although California is home to eight National Parks, it’s a large state and still ranks low in National Parks per 1,000 square miles. You’ll also find some of the highest fuel prices here.

The weather in California can also be a bit unpredictable during wildfire season. The state also sees little rainfall during the year. Finally, California has a higher crime rate in its National Parks than other surrounding states.

A forest fire raging in California with onlookers watching from a distance.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

California hosts eight National Parks. You can experience the tallest trees in America in Sequoia National Park or the crashing waves of the Channel Islands, or the powerful glaciers of Yosemite National Park.

The weather is as varied as the landscape, with the hottest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. happening at Death Valley. California is still one of the top destinations for outdoor enthusiasts because of the camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, and wildlife viewing available.

#8. Hawaii

Why It’s on This List:

The species diversity isn’t as great on the Hawaiian islands. Because of the tropical environment, only certain animals and plants live there. This is the biggest reason Hawaii makes the list. If you’re looking to experience variety, you won’t find it here.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

It’s Hawaii! The campsites are some of the best in the country, and with a low crime and accident rate, families can feel safe traveling and staying there.

Also, the environment in Hawaii is unlike any other state. The lush vegetation and beautiful scenery make Hawaii one of the top travel destinations in the U.S.

#9. Tennessee

Why It’s on This List:

Tennessee makes this list because it shares one National Park with North Carolina. The campsites aren’t top-quality, and the internet connectivity isn’t reliable. There’s little rainfall even though there’s a decent amount of species diversity and forest coverage.

A man cringing as he looks at his phone outside with fall leaves coloring the background.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

Just like North Carolina, Tennessee is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On this side of the state line, you can also visit tourist destinations like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville while exploring the Southern Appalachian mountains.

Or travel to central Tennessee and visit Nashville, where country music abounds. Many go to Tennessee for its whiskey and moonshine. Put the Tennessee Whiskey Trail on your list of to-dos and enjoy learning about this rich history.

Finally, it’s not just Nashville where music is king. Memphis is home to some of the best blues entertainment in the country.

#10. Mississippi

Why It’s on This List:

Mississippi is home to a few National Sites, but none of them are National Parks. The campsites here are some of the worst in the country, and Mississippi experiences very little rainfall. If you’re looking to work while traveling and need reliable internet connectivity, you may want to choose another state to visit because the access here isn’t very good.

Reasons to Visit Anyway:

Come learn about the Natchez people in the National Historic Park and surrounding area. The Natchez Trace Parkway runs parallel to the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. These hiking trails offer 60 miles of adventure and exploration.

There are also a couple of National Battlefields and National Military Parks. For history buffs, Mississippi is a great state to visit!

Balance the Pros and Cons

If you’re looking to explore numerous National Parks, these 10 states might be ones to avoid. But many of them still have a variety of wildlife and flora. Some of these states don’t offer great internet access if you need to work on the road. But many of them still provide beautiful scenery.

There are certainly negative traits, but each state is still worth visiting. Have you traveled to one of these states? Would you go back or keep it on a list of states to avoid?

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