Given the size of the country and the numerous (417 and counting!) state and national parks, it’s not too surprising that many Americans have an affinity for the great outdoors – especially camping trips.
From the scouts to band camp to pitching a tent in your own backyard, spending time beneath the stars is a rite of passage; an American tradition that while divisive has managed to seep its way into popular culture nonetheless. After all, many of us have felt the struggle of wandering out into the pitch black wilderness at 2am to find a bathroom. It’s part of what makes those camping trips you took as a kid so memorable.
And for those of us that managed to avoid the pre-teen awkwardness of the summer campgrounds and doorless latrines, there’s still a chance to experience that unique mix of childhood camping nostalgia (and shame) — through movies!
All the fun of the backcountry without ever leaving your couch.
Still, should you get inspired, we’ve compiled a list of a few familiar campsites you may want to add to your road trip wishlists. Once you’re done watching, of course.
1. Camp Hope, Heavyweights (1995)
Movie Location: Camp Hope
Actual Location: Camp Pinnacle, North Carolina
Camp Hope, or Camp Pinnacle as it’s actually called, is located just 10 minutes from DuPont State Forest. And though the park doesn’t allow camping, it’s 10,400 acres offer a multitude of hiking trails, horseback riding, and mountain biking, still make it an ideal spot for your camping trip list.
You can also go out a little further and take the 30 minute drive to Pisgah National Forest. With 500,000 acres of heavily forested mountain terrain, waterfalls, hiking trails, and untamed wilderness, Pisgah is a great place to unplug from the world for a while.
Or for Perkisizing – just don’t swing out over any mountains.
2. Camp Ivanhoe, Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Located in Narragansett Bay, Conanicut Island is the home of Jamestown; a historic town prized for it’s old-world charm and breathtaking views. Visitors here can find an eclectic mix of farmland, historic landmarks, coastal marshes, and forest area to hike through and camp in.
However, if you’re looking for something a little more untamed, Prudence Island isn’t too far off. Home to 60 to 70 year round dwellers (1,500 in summer), Prudence Island is a hidden gem where visitors can try their hand at sailing, fishing, hiking, and camping.
3. Camp Firewood, Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Movie Location: Camp Firewood, Waterville Maine
Actual Location: Camp Towanda in Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Seated just Northeast of Scranton, Honesdale is a rural area that offers a mix of small town living and recreational activities. Intersected by the Lackawaxen River, visitors to the area looking for things to do when camping can fish, hike, raft, bike and hunt.
If this isn’t enough, however, the town is also situated near the Northeast Pocono Mountains, or Poconos. With 261 miles of lushly wooded territory, waterways, and parks to explore, the Poconos should satisfy even the seasoned explorer and road trip master.
4. Camp North Star, Meatballs (1979)
Movie Location: Camp North Star
Actual Location: Camp White Pine and other locations near Haliburton, Ontario
While technically not the United States, Haliburton and the Algonquin Highlands are too good to pass up. Home to over 38 km of distinct hiking trails, 26 km of skiing trails, and a myriad of waterways, campsites, and cycling trails, there’s something to check off on everyone’s camping trip list.
Whether you’re looking to canoe the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails or take a backcountry excursion with the Algonquin Outfitters, you’re sure to get your fill of outdoor adventure. And if you’re looking for something slightly different, and a little more peaceful, the area also has a golf course or two.
5. Miss Inch’s Summer Camp for Girls, The Parent Trap (1961/1998)
Technically a mountain resort community, Big Bear Lake is littered with tourists activities. Situated 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, the area is home to a seven mile freshwater lake with 22 miles of shoreline, prime for fishing and boating. Which makes this spot ideal California camping.
Visitors can spend their time out on the water or hiking the numerous mountain trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans it’s way through Big Bear Valley. For anyone aiming for a lake side camping spot, this is camping road trip must.
6. Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th (1980)
Movie Location: Camp Crystal Lake
Actual Location: Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, Hardwick, NJ.
Set partially in the Kittatinny Mountains, the township of Hardwick is close to the Jenny Jump Mountain Range and the Jenny Jump State Forest. With impressive views of the Highlands in the West and the Great Meadows in the east, the eleven miles of Jenny Jump State Forest hiking trails are a breathtaking sight to behold.
Campers here are free to take the trails by foot or by bike, just be careful of the narrow paths and rocky terrains.
7. Coffin Rock, Blair Witch Project (1999)
Movie Location: Burkittsville, Maryland and Coffin Rock
Actual Location: Seneca Creek State Park, Montgomery County, Maryland
Boasting 6,3000 acres, Seneca Creek State Park features a myriad of hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails for visitors to peruse. Running along the Potomac River and centered around the the 90-acre Clopper Lake, campers can also boat and fish.
And if this wasn’t enough, the area also contains historic sites built in the 19th century, like the Seneca Quarry and Black Rock Mill – witches not included.
8. Pechoggin Lake Resort, The Great Outdoors (1988)
Movie Location: Lake Resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin
Actual Location: Bass Lake, California
A small resort town near Yosemite National Park, Bass Lake offers visitors multiple trail options with scenic views. Paths like the Willow Creek Trail takes hikers up the steep mountainside to Angel Falls and Devil’s Slide, while the Way-of-the-Mono Interpretive trail provides a historical perspective on the Mono tribe that once inhabited the area.
Guests can also make the trek to visit historic sites like the Fresno Flats – a town constructed during the 19th century gold mining boom – great for those looking for some atypical camping activities.
9. Camp Chippewa, Addams Family Values (1993)
Located in Kings Canyon National Park, Sequioa Lake is a great place for those who love to boat and fish. With multiple species of bass, catfish, crappie and more, any avid angler can while away their time here out on the water.
For those looking to stay on land though, the lake also offers access to a hiking trail through Kings Canyon National Park, a wilderness territory of 808,000 acres.
10. Camp Nowhere, Camp Nowhere (1994)
Movie Location: Binary Pines Computer Camp, Camp Sleek-a-way, Camp Alpha Charlie and Shakespeare Hollow AKA Camp Nowhere
Actual Location: Golden Oak Ranch, Newhall and Santa Clarita Valley, California
Situated in Southern California, Santa Clarita Valley is a goldmine for anyone looking for new camping trip ideas. At nearly 9,000 acres, the area has over 100 miles of trails to explore, mountain ranges to climb, and various lakes to swim.
And any time you feel like touching back in with the modern world, you can find outdoor concerts or head to the Placerita Nature Center to check out some wildlife.
In the end
And if you have any recommendations, let us know!