Music Festival Guide: Top 10 Camping Fests (United States)

The best festivals also boast the best camping. Curfews are non-existent, parties last all night, and nobody is responsible for being the designated driver. If you’re looking for the full festival experience, it can’t be done without grabbing a sleeping bag and spending the night under the stars — — or in a hammock — or in a tent — or in an RV. We don’t care. Just get outdoors this summer.

1. Telluride Bluegrass Festival
When: June 20-23, 2013
Where: Telluride, Colorado

The Fred Shellman Memorial Stage in Town Park. Credit: Benko Photographics

Camping in the Rocky Mountains during the summer is an enlightening experience. Unfortunately, you missed your shot because Telluride Bluegrass sold out by Christmas. If you did manage to snag tickets, Town Park Campground is the Valhalla of camping with permanent bathrooms, waterfalls, and a location so close that you can listen to music from your tent.

2. Rocklahoma
When: May 24-26, 2013
Where: Pryor, Oklahoma

Looking for a contemplative weekend of jam bands and campfire singalongs  Then Rocklahoma is your nightmare. The only thing more legendary than the lineup at Rocklahoma are the campground ragers. Contests throughout the weekend inspire party animals to fully trick out their campsite in creative and often, puzzling ways.

3. Electric Forest
When: June 27-June 30, 2013
Where: Rothbury, Michigan

Photo Credit: Electric Forest

The legendary Sherwood Forest, beloved by music festival junkies around the world, sets the backdrop to Electric Forest. Located on the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, the third year EF is quickly becoming a destination festival. At night, Sherwood Forest becomes alive with wacky activities. There’s also swimming in Big Wildcat Lake, and our personal favorite — Glow in the Dark Disc Golf.

4. Gathering of the Vibes
When: July 25-28, 2013
Where: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Photo Credit: GOTV

One of the largest festivals in the Northeast also boasts some of the best camping smack dab on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The annual Gathering of the Vibes, a jam-centric fest, puts in stakes at the aptly named Seaside Park. Campers have a choice of gladed woods or sandy beaches. Still not sold? Two word: Flushable toilets.

5. WE Fest
When: August 1-3,2013
Where: Detroit Lakes,Minnesota

There’s plenty of room for you RV at We Fest — Canadian girls not included.

80,000 rowdy country fans descend on the tiny town of Detroit Lakes for a weekend of good tunes and good times. There’s ten campgrounds to stake out your territory with different areas for different lifestyles. For instance, younger folks are steered to the Eagle/Hilltop section. And better leave the kids at home for this one — as the website states: “…we do not recommend that you bring your children.”

6. Summer Camp
When: May 24-26, 2013
Where: Chillicothe, Illinois

From chilled out late night campfire jams to beat busting dance shows, the party at Summer Camp goes long past the end of “scheduled” performances. “Scampers” can apply to become camp counselors which means free tickets, free camping, and free beer in exchanged for being an official party ambassador to the other attendees. Our resident festival expert calls Summer Camp — “The best festival of the Memorial Day Weekend.”

7. Camp Bisco
When: July 11-13, 2013
Where: Mariaville, New York

Best seats in the house at Camp Bisco.c

The Indian Lookout Country Club may sound all fancypants, but the venue for Camp Bisco isn’t white linen suits and croquet. Campers have an option of gladed sites set among the 200 acres of the venue. And while the organizers have expanded everything else, they actually decreased capacity in 2012 to keep everyone cozy and content.

8. Pickathon
When: August 2-4, 2013
Where: Happy Valley, Oregon

The 80 acre Pendarvis Farm located just twenty minutes outside of Portland is the home of this intimate indie-roots festival. Take a break from the music by hiking in the Oregon woods or enjoy the epic views of Mt. Hood. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take advantage of the affordable local organic food offered. It’s no wonder the area is aptly named “Happy Valley”.

9. FloydFest
When: July 25-28, 2013
Where: Floyd, VA

The homegrown Floydfest has only one modest aim: “Our mission is to the be the best music experience of our time.” The lofty promise is generating results as each year the lineup gets deeper and the names get bigger. The famous Blue Ridge Parkway serves as your living room for the weekend.

10. Suwannee River Jam/Wanee Festival/Bear Creek
When: Year Round
Where: Live Oak, Florida

Photo Credit: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park/Wanee Festival

The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park takes camping to the next level by hosting a series of huge festivals throughout the year. With 500 acres of camping, hiking, and canoeing, there’s plenty of activities in between the music. And our favorite part (yes, we’re repeating ourselves) — a world class disc golf.

Born during a sweaty, backstage, Bonnaroo downpour, the editor-in-chief's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to every great festival that this wide world has to offer. While his identity remains a mystery, you may have already met him, probably when he helped himself to your party favors.