8 Best Campgrounds for Kids in the West

Play hard and sleep soundly at these inviting spots.

A father and son put together their camping tent.
Find the best campground for the whole family.
eclipse_images / iStock

You’ll know you’re at a kid-friendly campground by the sounds: Happy calls of “Race ya to the playground!” Splashes and squeals from the pool. The “brrring!” of a kids’ bicycle bell. By sunset, you might hear the pop of a campfire, ready to make s’mores before an early bedtime (fingers crossed). Campgrounds come wonderfully alive when they’re designed with kids in mind, harnessing their natural drive to explore and have fun. Here are eight great campgrounds across the West that will bring grins to all ages.

Jackpot Ranch in Camp Verde, Arizona

Little animal lovers can get cozy with miniature horses and donkeys, plus goats, pigs, deer, and chickens at the 85-acre Jackpot Ranch, located an hour north of Phoenix. The ranch has an arena to host rodeos and horse shows, but families also come to camp in tents and RVs by the ranch’s slice of the Verde River. Kids can cruise the pond on a paddleboat, scramble up a tree house, play foosball and ping pong in the game room, and use the ranch’s supply of baseball gloves and bats out on the lighted field. At night, big fire pits are ready to toast marshmallows.

A family sits at an outdoor table outside one of the camping cabins at Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday in Watsonville, California.
Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday.
Courtesy Kampgrounds of America, Inc.

Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday in Watsonville, California

About 14 miles from the cotton-candy glee and roller-coaster thrills of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the family-friendly Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Holiday is also just a few minutes from Manresa Main State Beach. It features 151 total sites for RVs and tents, along with a variety of cabins, some with full baths. Younger campers will delight in the large heated pool and hot tub, the large jumping “pillow,” the multi-slide playground, and the 21-foot assisted climb up a pretend palm tree. Parents wishing to relax will like the Sand Shack that serves pancake breakfasts and pizza dinners. At night, the campground screens movies under the stars. Sites for summer weekend book up quickly; weekdays have more availability. Check for last-minute cancellations too.  

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Austin, Nevada

The combo of an old-West ghost town and dinosaurs sounds like the makings of a campy Hollywood movie. Instead, it’s the real-life mashup found at central Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and its 14-site campground. While some sites can fit RVs up to 25 feet, the campground is basic, with drinking water spigots, restrooms, covered tables, and barbecue grills. What keeps kids coming is the park’s well-preserved former mining town of Berlin, which was bustling in the late 1800s and abandoned by 1911. A self-guided tour leads you to a saloon and miner’s cabin, the rusty bones of broken-down cars, and a spooky cemetery. The park’s high-desert soil has also preserved fossils of 220-million-year-old carnivorous marine reptiles called the ichthyosaurs. Gawk at their enormous remains on a ranger-led tour of the Fossil House. Visit to reserve a campsite before your trip, then download the park’s kid-friendly activity guide to build excitement on the drive.

Cabins stand under tall trees at Camp Richardson Resort near California's Lake Tahoe.
Camp Richardson Resort in California.
Ally & Bobby Talley / Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Camp Richardson Resort in South Lake Tahoe, California

The sundae scents of butterscotch and vanilla sometimes waft around the 200-plus tent and RV sites at Camp Richardson Resort, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Could it be coming from the resort’s own ice-cream parlor? Or the campground’s fragrant ponderosa pines? Either way families have happily taken in the delights that come from camping in the forest, surrounded by resort-level amenities, since 1924. Tots can explore the adjacent expansive beach, while older kids might spend the day on the lake’s crystal waters with a rented stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Mountain bikes are also available for bouncing along Sierra Nevada trails. The Grove, the resort’s lakeside restaurant, serves kid-friendly pub fare, such as burgers and tomato-basil pasta. Starting in late May, campers can snag a site online up to a year in advance on 


Jellystone Park Camp-Resort Zion in Hurricane, Utah

Yogi Bear is your happy-go-lucky host at the brand new Jellystone Park Camp-Resort Zion, located about four miles from the red sand dunes of Sand Hollow State Park and around 48 miles from the entrance to Zion National Park. Heads up: It could be tricky to get your kids to leave the campground, which is decked out with multiple pools and hot tubs, a lazy river overlooked by animatronic characters, a splash pad, and four waterslides, including a “plunge bowl” flume slide. To dry off, there’s also a large playground, a bouncy pad, a basketball court, pickleball courts, gemstone mining, and more. Though the campground currently has no tent sites (they are planned for the future), it’s opening with some 100 spots for RVs and 11 freshly furnished cabins, with more to come.

Grandparents push their grandchild in a stroller along the paths of Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA Holiday in West Yellowstone, Montana
Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA Holiday in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Courtesy Kampgrounds of America, Inc.

Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA Holiday in West Yellowstone, Montana

“I’ve never seen so many kids having so much fun,” states a recent review of the Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA Holiday, found seven miles from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Young campers can get hyped up on homemade huckleberry fudge from the camp store, then burn off energy zooming around the campground on multi-person bikes. A heated indoor pool, bouncy pad, gaga pit (a friendlier version of dodgeball that’s played in an octagon of sorts), and playground with a steep slide also keep kids buzzing. Don’t worry, parents—there’s a Koffee Kabin serving lattes for your own buzz and across the street West Gate Grill serves up made-to-order eggs and bacon for breakfast and buffalo brats and burgers for dinner. Reserve one of the popular tent or RV sites or a cabin up to year in advance.

The Longwood Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming 

Located in a small town that’s proud of its Old West heritage, The Longwood Ranch lets kids have rugged Western adventures of their own. The ranch’s 12-15 tent and 47 spacious full hook-up RV sites rest beneath towering cottonwood trees along the Wind River, where anglers can fish for rainbow and cutthroat trout. The ranch also arranges guided horseback rides through the red-and-white striped hills of the Dubois Badlands. For pint-sized speed demons, bring a mountain bike to zip along trails right from the campground or rent an off-highway vehicle (OHV) in town to head from the ranch into the Shoshone National Forest. Watch out for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and grizzly and black bears. Back at the campground, chill out with soft-serve ice cream from the general store as you gaze at Whiskey Mountain. 

Tolsona Wilderness Campground in Glennallen, Alaska

Kick back with the kids while tubing down Tolsona Creek, which flows right by the more than 80 tent and RV sites at Tolsona Wilderness Campground. From around late June to August, when the creek’s conditions are best, the family-run campground rents tubes for $5 for two hours, with free lifejackets. All summer long, young campers will be thrilled by themed weekend activities, including “Kids’ Carnival,” “Wizards and Wands,” and “Christmas in July.” Bring along a fishing pole to catch jumbo rainbow trout in the creek and hiking boots to trek the two miles round trip to the Tolsona Mud Volcano and back. (Bring bug spray, too, to ward off the state’s 35 species of mosquito.) On Friday and Saturday nights, Toby the Moose mascot joins kids for s’mores.