Cheap flights from area airports can offer gateways to all new types of camping this summer. Here are a few of our favorites:
Tips for traveling with your gear:
Check tsa.gov for guidelines on your gear (the TSA allows empty camp stoves and knives in checked bags).
Plan to get combustibles like fuel, flares, bear repellant and bug spray once you get to your destination.
Instead of taking tents, sleeping bags and larger items in your luggage, consider shipping your gear ahead or renting items from an outfitter at your destination.
Ask the airline for packing instructions ahead of time if you plan to bring fishing rods.
Pay attention to luggage size and weight restrictions as well as baggage fees as you gather your gear.
Check your equipment before heading into the woods to be sure there was no damage in transit.
If you are shipping items, contact outfitters, campgrounds and outdoor organizations to see if you can ship to their address.
KNOXVILLE - DENVER
Rocky Mountain National Park is 90 minutes away from Denver International and a non-stop flight from Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport on Frontier Air Lines will get you there for less than $150. The Roosevelt National Forest, Golden Gate Canyon State Park and gobs of other Rocky Mountain wilderness are also within a short drive. Pick your dates carefully or catch a sale and get a ticket for as low as $122.
ATLANTA - SEATTLE
Take your rain gear on this trip, but for less than $150, a deal from Southwest will save you enough money to buy coffee when you get to Seattle. After checking out the city, head 90 minutes southeast for Mount Ranier National Park or two hours west for Olympic National Park.
NASHVILLE - LAS VEGAS
There is no easy way to get to the Grand Canyon. But the closest major airport (and what many say is the prettiest drive) is six and a half hours away in Las Vegas. A cheap flight on Southwest from Nashville can get you there with enough money left over to hit the casinos on the way out.
CHATTANOOGA - TAMPA
Unless you like camping when it's hot, you might ought to wait on this until a little later in the season. Allegiant Air flies regularly to Tampa from Chattanooga over the summer, but has a few flights for $51 to $68 in October.
Whenever you go, check out primitive beach camping on Anclote Key State Park or head inland for full facility camping at Hillsborough River or Little Manatee River State Parks. If you feel adventurous, the Everglades are only four hours to the south.