What To Pack For Dispersed Camping Or Boondocking
When choosing a free camping site on public lands like BLM or National Forests, you have to remember that since these areas do not provide any services like bathrooms, potable water, or picnic tables, youll need to be completely self-sufficient.
Here is our list of camping essentials while camping outside of established campsites on public land :
Great Smoky Mountains Roaring Fork Trail
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a 6.7 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for bird watching and scenic driving and is best used from May until November.
This trail is a narrow and winding trail that invites visitors to enjoy the historic buildings and forest that make the area quite the scenic drive it is revered for. This one-way road is is popular with many people visiting the park. It is awash with mountain streams and scenes of old forests. It is closed during winter due to extreme weather conditions. The Noah bud ogle self-guiding nature trail is a walking tour of the authentic mountain farmstead and surrounding forest located just before entering the roaring fork trail. To hike this steep and strenuous trail one needs hiking gear with plenty of water to keep hydrated.
Length: 6.7 mi Route Type: Point to Point
Great Smoky Mountains Park Free Campsites
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are located between the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park in the United States. The park receives more than 10 million visitors every year. Known as the smokies for always being foggy.
The national park boasts a wide array of boondocking sites. Generally, everyone loves a break from their normal life, may it be school or work. The The Great Smoky Mountains is the place you need to visit during your holiday.
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Great Smoky Mountains Trillium Gap Trail To Mount Leconte
Mount LeConte via Trillium Gap Loop Trail is a 14.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, nature trips, and horses and is best used from March until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.
This is the third highest peak in the The Great Smoky Mountains boondocking spots and all the best in the Trillium Gap. It can be accessed by several different paths. Going around it gives you a couple of beautiful vantage points on Mount LeConte.
Length: 14.9 mi
Free Camping In Georgia
4. Rood Creek Campground This makes the list for one of the top spots in Georgia. This spot is right on the river and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
5. Hickey Gap Located in the Cohutta Wildlife Management area and right on Mill Creek they have picnic tables, fire rings, and lamp poles among other things.
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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Boondocking 22 Miles: Panther Creek
Address Elevation: 1896
Management Public Forest Service
The road in is Gravel and .5 miles from a paved road. Panther Creek is open All. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 at Panther Creek.
Loved this spot by the river/creek! However, there are only two spots which were full when I got there so I ended up staying right before the bridge as well. There was a fire ring, but it was definitely not one of the actual camp sites. A sign says to only stay in designated spots , but I was not hassled at all. I think the space I stayed in was actually better than the two designated spots . I wish instead of having a large open spot which just encouraged people to party there, that they would have split that into two and added a space for another person. Anyway, all were by the creek and pretty private. Spotty Verizon cell coverage the further you go back.
Why Visit The The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are many reasons why you should visit this place. The The Great Smoky Mountains boasts cascading waterfalls, wildlife, and views stretching out hundreds of acres. Established in 1934, The The Great Smoky Mountains boondocking sites are the ideal getaway for hiking camping and experiencing exquisite mountain ranges. This is one of the best places to visit with your family or friends, there are ample things to see and do.
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Why Go Wild Camping
While boondocking isnt for everyone, its an experience just about everybody can get something out of. At the very least its an outing folk should scratch off their list of Been there, done that. Even a bad experience can make a great story.
For the campers and hikers who are more inclined to jump into the roughing-it nature of primitive camping, its an experience that many find addicting and compelling. Venturing into the outdoors and making camp far from established campgrounds is a relieving experience that satisfies our inner nomad.
South Mountains State Park
Located in one of the most ruggedregions of North Carolina, South Mountains State Park is a mecca for winter camperslooking for the most remote camping experience possible.
It boasts a single drive-incampground with a mix of tent and RV sites. No hookups are available except fortwo sites with electric hookups. Although the camping area is primitive, amodern bathroom with hot showers is located nearby. 24 additional backcountrycampsites and an equestrian camping area are alsoavailable.
During the summer, mountain bikingand hiking are by far the most popular activities with horseback riding a closethird. Other visitors simply like to take in the gorgeous mountain scenery,including a cascading 80-foot waterfall. Winter is the perfect time to visit ifyou prefer to explore in solitude as the number of daytime and overnightvisitors goes way down when cold weather hits.
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Great Smoky Mountains Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail
The Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail is a 5.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking.
The mist from the high waterfall produces a rainbow that is visible on sunny afternoons. It does not end there as during winter months ice formations build around the falls making it a spectacular sight for the visitors. The rainbow falls trail is located in the roaring fork area. The trip around the waterfall is 5.4 miles long and considered less difficult compared to the roaring fork trail. Hiking gear is still essential as some parts of the trail are very rocky. Drinking water is also important for hydration.
Length: 5.1 mi Route Type: Out and Back
Of The Best Places For Free Camping In The Southeast Usa
Please note that at the time of posting all these sites were free, please verify before staying. Some require permits
Also, make sure to check out our travel deals page for any deals or sales on your next trip no matter where it is!
Ok, lets face it even out in nature you want a bit of elbow room to sleep right? This Montana 8 person tent from Coleman is perfect for that! Of course, our family of 6 loves this 10 Person tent from CORE it has a divider so you can have 2 rooms or keep it wide open. Then there is my dream tent I am trying to talk hubby into! It has 3 rooms and sleeps 10 *drool*!
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Free Camping On South Carolina’s Coast
We should clarify that much of this is camping near the coast instead of directly on the beach. It is rare to find parking permitted directly on the sand anywhere in the Southeast United States, and South Carolina is no exception.
What you will find, however, are free places to camp that put you within miles of the Atlantic. Basecamp experiences, if you will.
Several of these sites can be found in the Francis Marion National Forest and adjacent, state-run Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area, located about 60 miles south of Myrtle Beach. The wildlife management area offers a handful of campsites situated in a live oak grove. Meanwhile, the national forest’s offerings include largely dispersed camping in the form of hunting camps like Elmwood Recreation Area. Nearby Halfway Creek Trail Campground, a more formal but still free campground includes actual sites that include picnic tables and fire rings.
Great Smoky Mountains Chimney Top Trail
Chimney Tops Trail is a 3.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from March until November.
The Chimney top trail is located at the Newfound gap road. The trail begins from the chimney top trailhead which is approximately 7 miles from the Sugarland visitors center that is located near Gatlinburg. The trail offers beautiful panoramic views and cascading streams.
Length: 3.6 mi Route Type: Out and Back
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What Is Free Camping
Free camping is exactly what it sounds like: a place you can legally camp without having to pay a fee. Of course, nothing is free and most locations are taxpayer-supported , but there is no cost to the individual user on a per-night basis.
There are a bunch of names used to describe different types of free camping. Here are some of the more common ones weve seen:
Dispersed Camping: This is the official term used by the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to describe free camping. If youre reading a US government website that refers to dispersed camping in an area, theyre talking about camping in non-developed areas usually without a daily fee. If youre going to call up a ranger station to ask , use the term dispersed camping and theyll know exactly what youre talking about.
Boondocking: We hear this informal term used most commonly among RVers, road trippers, and other long-term travelers to refer to all manner of free camping. Everything from camping in a national forest to spending a night at a Walmart can be considered a form of boondocking. This term is used a lot on personal websites and forums.
Dry Camping: The term dry camping is similar to boondocking, but we hear it less often. However, it does accurately describe the fact there will be no available water, which is the case at just about every free camping location weve visited.
Can I Camp Anywhere In South Carolina
The State of South Carolina offers paid tent camping through state parks and commercial campgrounds, but it also has free camping on public lands. National forests and a national park here all offer free tent camping opportunities, both dispersed without a set campground and in primitive campgrounds.
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Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Theres no denying that CapeHatteras National Seashore is home to some of the best camping in NorthCarolina.
Located on a nearly 70-milestretch of the Outer Banks, the barrier islands off the coast of the state,this national seashore is one of North Carolinas top tourist attractions. Theexpansive sandy beaches beckon ocean lovers to their shores. The beachfront isriddled with history relating to the many historic lighthouses and shipwrecksthat dot the coast.
Those planning to go camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore have four campgrounds to choose from. These include Cape Point with 202 sites, Frisco with 127 sites, Ocracoke with 136 sites, and Oregon Inlet with 120 sites. Oregon Inlet is the only campground with RV hookups available .
Raleigh Oaks Rv Resort
Kick back, relax, and camp incomfort and style at Raleigh Oaks RV Resort.
This popular North Carolina RVpark has just over 100 sites with full hookups. Both back-in and pull-thruspots are available. Wi-Fi and a slew of additional amenities, like a swimmingpool and mini golf, are available to guests. Take your stay to the next levelby renting a hand-crafted cottage instead.
But perhaps the best reason tostay here is the proximity to Raleigh.Its the excellent home base for campers interested in exploring NorthCarolinas state capital.
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Camp Near Popular Attractions In South Carolina
History lovers, nature lovers and beach lovers all find something to treasure in South Carolina. There’s so much to do that you may have difficulty choosing just one place. If taking a plunge in the Atlantic is your thing, then a visit to Myrtle Beach is a must.
Of course, history lovers and those who enjoy southern culture won’t want to miss a trip to Charleston, the queen of the Lowcountry. With its antebellum architecture and lovely seaport, you can do anything from dining out to embarking on a Civil War tour. There’s also nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the war between the states were fired.
When camping, it’s essential to take in all the natural beauty a state has to offer. In South Carolina, there are a vast variety of landscapes from the sea islands covered in salt grass marshes to the western edge of the state that boasts refreshing pine forests and fishing lakes. With KOA, you’ll have a convenient home base from which you can enjoy it all.
Best Free Camping Spots
We love sharing the best free camping spots in the USA! However, many campers have complained that we dont feature the East Coast enough.
Theyre exactly right weve neglected the free camping spots on the East Coast.
Today were sharing twenty of the best . Our definition of the East Coast means they all must be located within the Eastern Time Zone.
Keep in mind: when you go free camping you most likely wont have access to amenities. This means youre on your own. Verify and research the accessibility of all free campsites before you attempt to set up camp.
Lets dive in!
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National Forest Dispersed Camping Regulations And Recommendations
Forest fires are a growing concern so diligent fire safety rules are a no-brainer. Ideally, the camper will use a camp stove, but if an open fire is your only option, always build a campfire ring around it to contain the flames.
Maintain a distance of at least 100 feet from any source of water. This is to protect the water from contamination but also keeps sensitive water plants and wildlife from harms way. Use only fallen wood for your fire.
Bury all human waste to a depth of six inches a minimum of 200 feet from a water source.
The easiest way to ensure youre following these regulations? Find an established campsite. Backcountry camping isnt about leaving your own mark in the wilderness, its about enjoying the outdoors responsibly and leaving as little evidence of your presence as possible.
Free Tent Camping In South Carolina
Tent camping is an enjoyable activity for families.
The State of South Carolina offers paid tent camping through state parks and commercial campgrounds, but it also has free camping on public lands. National forests and a national park here all offer free tent camping opportunities, both dispersed — without a set campground — and in primitive campgrounds. Tent camping offers a chance to unwind away from cities and noise, and the price of a free campground is hard to beat.
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Sugar Hill Fire Tower
Wheres It Located: Watkins Glen, NY
Why Youll Love It: Not only is this an absolutely free camping spot on the east coast, it also has a bathroom and water spigot on site. The area is a large, open field that can fit large RVs.
Its a popular equestrian camp, as well. Horse stalls and trails are located onsite.
In 2018 Sugar Hill received the Campers Choice award from Campendium.
Keep In Mind: Even though its an open field with lots of room, sites may be un-level.
Cape Hatteras Koa Resort
The Cape Hatteras KOA Resort isremarkable in every sense of the word, not least of all its incredibly sceniclocation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Literally located on the beach,this KOA campground fills up fast, but making an advance reservation is wellworth it. Pull-thru RV sites with full hookups and patios make this one of thebest places for camping near Cape Hatteras. Tent camping as well as cabinrentals are also available.
But the immense amount of summeractivities is where the Cape Hatteras KOA Resort truly shines. In addition to beach activities like standuppaddle boarding and kite boarding , campers get to enjoythe zero-entry pool, double water slide, poolside café and lounge, movienights, kids train rides, dog park, and so much more. The Pea Island National WildlifeRefuge is nearby for those that want a dose of nature on their NorthCarolina beach camping trip.
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How Much Time Do You Need For Your Visit
Previous visitors to the suggest that 3-4 days are enough if one has studied the map and decided on the sites to visit and ones to skip. It is also important to know exactly where to start and finish to save time when going through the various sites of the vast national park. For first-time visitors who are not very well acquainted with the enormous national park, an extra day is recommended so as not to miss out on any attractions.
Accommodations and Dining Near the The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Accommodation and dining is a very important aspect of trip planning and should be afforded utmost importance, especially when visiting. Where you decide to sleep during a stay in this national park can influence the whole of your trip because it will affect your plan when choosing where to explore and if you will be getting enough sleep to enjoy the whole of your trip. Where you stay depends on price, reputation, and most importantly the size of your family. Every visitor to the national park has a unique situation that helps in deciding the best location through their visit. There is a wide variety of accommodation options available to various customers be it, log cabins, hotels, tents, and even RVs. There are also various stores in the The Great Smoky Mountains boondocking sites that help camping visitors shop for foodstuffs.