Camping is the quintessential summer activity. There’s no agenda or media; it’s just you and the great outdoors. Although most campgrounds on public lands are scenic, some offer more “wow” factor and bang for your buck. If chilling out is your primary activity while camping, you can kickback in a hammock or chair and still enjoy nature’s eye candy right in camp at these top scenic camp picks. (AM)

WASHINGTON

Sullivan Lake

Location: Metaline Falls, Northeast Washington

Sullivan Lake features two spectacular campgrounds. Both of them provide exceptional views of the surrounding mountains, and both feature dramatic scenery when the larches turn gold in the fall season. Coincidentally, both campgrounds are connected by one of the best trail runs or hikes in the region—the Sullivan Lakeshore Trail. Don’t miss it. (JJ)

Steamboat Rock State Park // Photo: Aaron Theisen

Steamboat Rock State Park

Location: Banks Lake, Central Washington

This long-established landmark gained its name from the 800-foot basalt butte that rises up from Banks Lake. Truth be told, camping here is often windy and uneventful. However, the sunsets over Banks Lake and the early-season wildflowers are positively electric. More importantly, this coulee is a hotbed of desert wildlife and migrating birds. (JJ)

Pierre Lake Campground

Location: Colville National Forest, Northeast Washington

This small lake 25 miles north of Kettle Falls features private campsites with views of the water.  Wander along the short lakeside trail, or simply park a camp chair near water’s edge to enjoy the quiet setting.  Dawn and dusk can boast brilliantly colored skies and offer the best chance of hearing the lake’s resident loons.  (HW)

During sunset on the dock at Sam Owen Campground along Lake Pend Oreille // Photo: Amy McCaffree

IDAHO

Sam Owen Campground

Location: Lake Pend Oreille, North Idaho

Situated on a peninsula on the lake’s east side, on National Forest land, Sam Owen’s best qualities are its stunning water views with pink and purple-hued summer sunsets and dog-friendly beach. Skipping Stone Loop is the closest one to the lake. Dogs are welcome along the long stretch of rocky beach located to the right of the boat launch and dock. Because of the expansive lake and forested hills on the opposing shore, the view from here is reminiscent of the Puget Sound’s San Juan Islands. (ASM)

Beaver Creek Campground

Location: Priest Lake, North Idaho

Located on the northwest shore of Priest Lake, this campground’s proximity to the Thoroughfare to Upper Priest Lake make this a desirable location. A mixed sand-pebble beach blends into forest, with campsites only a short uphill walk away. Though only a few campsites provide peekaboo lake views, most people, especially families with young children, bring their blankets and chairs to the day-use swimming area—or anywhere along the beach in the small bay—to swim and launch a paddle-craft.  (ASM)

Fishing at Beaver Creek Campground at Priest Lake // Photo: Amy McCaffree

Roman Nose Lakes

Location: Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Directly in the shadow of 7,260-foot Roman Nose Peak, campers and backpackers have three lakes to choose from. The main lake is a simple stroll on a boardwalk. The other two lakes are a short walk from the parking area. You can hike all three lakes in less than four miles. The views are remarkable year-round, and the huckleberry picking is unbeatable in August to early-September. (JJ)

View of Priest Lake from Beaver Creek Campground // Photo: Amy McCaffree

OREGON

Wallowa Lake State Park

Location: Wallowa Lake, Northeast Oregon

The state park at the southern end of Wallowa Lake near the town of Joseph remains one of the best gateways to endless recreation opportunities. They have dozens of camping and hiking options, along with RV hookups and rental cabins. Even better, they’re within walking distance of the Wallowa Lake Tramway. This aerial cable gondola lift runs from the lake to the summit of Mount Howard and provides scenery unmatched to any other campground in the Inland Northwest. (JJ)

Written by Jon Jonckers, Amy McCaffree, and Holly Weiler