We get it – carrying a tent can be a nuisance, and not all of us are into the idea of spending big bucks on a luxury RV. Luckily, these three state parks allow you to come as you are (or at least without lugging a ton of gear) so that you can enjoy camping on your own terms.

Mt. Philo State Park

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Created in 1924, Mount Philo State Park (Vermont’s oldest state park) has a treat in store for tentless campers atop its 968’ peak. A small camping area offers 10 total campsites, 3 of which are lean-to’s. These primitive shelters, which measure approximately 13 feet by 9 feet, create an optimum space for multiple campers to spread out sleeping pads and bags while providing shelter from rain and wind. You will, however, want to consider mosquito netting – entirely open on one side, lean-to’s do NOT protect you from insects.

Don’t expect complete seclusion at Mt. Philo – tourists and locals alike often frequent its miles of trails, but for good reason: an easy hike to the summit provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Champlain Valley and Adirondack Mountains!


McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

While tent camping abounds at McArthur Burney Memorial State Park, in 2007, 24 shiny new cabins complete with covered porches were added to its repertoire. If snoozing on hard ground isn’t really your thing, you can connect with the great outdoors without sacrificing your beauty sleep by calling dibs on a bunk bed! Is it really camping? Some will say no – but we don’t judge.

These structures can be heated by propane, making them a solid option for colder months, but do not offer electricity or plumbing (bathrooms and showers are in a separate building nearby). Plus, you’ll have easy hiking access to McArthur-Burney Falls, arguably The Golden State’s most scenic waterfall. These cabins are also a great option for Pacific Crest Trail hikers seeking a night of reprieve, as the trail passes right through this state park.


Cayo Costa Island State Park

In the past, hammock camping has been a point of contention between lovers of the unique camping method and state park officials – done the wrong way, hanging a hammock can damage or destroy vegetation. Cayo Costa State Park settles the feud by providing a handful of campsites with posts at the ready so you can BYOH (bring your own hammock, of course).

While you’ll have to take a ferry to access this 2,426 acre park, the trip is worth it. Not only do you have access to fantastic hiking and bicycling trails, but you can catch sight of wildlife like manatees, dolphins, and several species of birds and fish while strolling the beaches, snorkeling, or even scuba diving.


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