Nothing brings history to life like a visit to the actual place where great events happened. You can’t get the scale of the past without standing on the battlefields, seeing the forts, or viewing the endless stretches of prairie that the pioneers had to cross. Maybe you love to visit living-history centers, where people dress and work the way their ancestors did, wearing bonnets and churning cream into butter. Or maybe you like to tour restored homes, so you can see how people lived in the 18th and 19th century. Whatever your historical interest, there’s a camping destination that’s perfect for you.
If you’re curious about Revolutionary War history, you can head to Boston for a tour of Bunker Hill and the famous Old North Church, where Paul Revere saw that crucial message in 1775 – “one if by land, two if by sea” – that signaled the arrival of the British. You could camp near New York’s Fort Ticonderoga or head to New Jersey to visit Washington Crossing State Park, where General Washington and the Continental Army landed after their crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Day, 1776. From Valley Forge to the Brandywine Battlefield Park, there’s no shortage of Revolutionary War-era destinations in the northeastern corner of the country.
Civil War buffs can explore the sites along the Civil War Discovery Trail, stopping off at battlefields, army camps, and the places where key decisions were made. You could follow Sherman’s historic march to the sea or visit Atlanta and replay Scarlett O’Hara’s flight from the burning city in Gone with the Wind. More than thirty states, as apart as Minnesota and Louisiana, Maine and California, have Civil War sites to visit.
You may want to visit the home of your favorite American author on your next camping trip. In the east, you can see Edgar Allen Poe’s home in Richmond, Virginia or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts. The Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead in South Dakota is a popular destination. And of course, you can visit the areas featured in these writers’ books as well. Take a riverboat cruise along the Mississippi, remembering Huck Finn, or head to Mesa Verde, the setting for Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House. Every state has its great writer who evoked a true sense of the place in their work.
Perhaps you’d like to follow one of the historic pioneering trails, such as the Lewis and Clark Trail or the Oregon Trail. When Lewis and Clark set out to find a water route to the west coast in 1804-1806, their path took them through some of the most scenic territory in the west. Following their trail will lead you from their starting place in Missouri through Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana, northern Idaho, and along the Columbia River that separates Oregon and Washington State. Much of this route is dotted with signposts and historic markers that explain important points in their journey. You can learn about their wise guide Sacajawea, President Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, or Lewis’s trusty dog Seaman.
No matter what part of American history you want to explore, you’ll find a destination to visit. Goal setting is a great way to plan a camping trip that pleases everyone in the family. You can get all the fun of camping in new and unusual places, with fascinating daytime stops at historical sites along the way.