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Best Places to Camp for Free in California

Stay the night outdoors without spending a dime. These no-fee campgrounds and hidden spots are free and completely legal

Its easier than ever to find a free place to camp thanks to sites like Campendium and Freecampsites.net. In addition to the unforgettable campgrounds below, you can go dispersed camping for free on public lands throughout the United States and Canada. Just remember to check that you are not on private land, inside a fee campground, and/or within 200 feet of any water source like a lake or stream before staking down your tent.

You can camp on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land for up to 14 days in most places. Whether you go off the beaten track or stick with the free campgrounds below, its crucial you follow the seven Leave No Trace principles to reduce your impact, protect the environment, and keep the animals and humans in the area safe.

Now Get Out There And Find Some Free Camping Sites

We hope the free camping strategies and resources weve shared in this post will help you to not only save money, but travel farther and camp more often!

And PLEASE let us know in the comments section below if you have any other free camping tips or resources youd like to share – were always looking for ways to make our travel budget go further.

Wed also love for you to, and as always, thanks for reading!

French River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 23,000 hectares of protected land including high plateaus and vast lake systems.

Amenities: None

Site address: The site is accessible from the community of Wreck Cove via Highland Road, an old access road into the highlands.

Additional information: Remote and wild, this vast wilderness area is home to plateau lakes, coastal dunes, hidden rivers and stunning views of the coast. Come for difficult hiking, sport fishing and, of course, backcountry camping.

Where is your favourite place to camp in Nova Scotia?

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American Girl Mine: Winterhaven California

American Girl Mine is another free camping site we visit regularly. If you like wide open spaces, desert landscapes and the RV community, this site is for you!

The site is easy to access for almost all types of RVs, making it a great intro to boondocking if youre a newbie. The campsite offers no amenities. Its true dry-camping, so make sure you bring water, food, and power!

Yuma, Arizona is about 15 miles away and has all the shopping youll need. There are many grocery stores . But, driving back to the campsite, you have to cross Californias agriculture check point.

Dont Just Take Our Word: Hollora on Campendium says, We picked a spot not too far in as we were unsure of how the road or area would be. It was awesome. The spot had a rock fire ring too. Short ride to refill water and dispose of trash. Lots to see and do in the desert! The are train tracks near by but they run mostly during the day.

GPS & more details or watch the video below!

Overnight Rv Parking Etiquette

Top 10 Best Places for Camping in Vietnam
  • Stay one night only!
  • Obtain permission from a qualified individual.
  • Obey posted regulations.
  • No awnings, chairs or barbecue grills.
  • Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces .
  • Always leave the area cleaner than you found it.
  • Purchase gas, food, or other supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.
  • Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.
  • Id like to add another

  • Respect the property owners and be grateful for the privilege you have been granted. Remember, it is their property and they are allowing you to stay there.
  • Youre encouraged to print this flier and share it with others to promote these ideals.

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    Shimo Lake Shojiko Japan

    The campsite is free for camping and there are toilets and basic facilities there that you can use. Waking up with a view of Mount Fuji over stunning lake Shimono is a once in a lifetime experience, it is hard to believe it is free!

    Camping spots

    Everywhere offers epic views of the mountain and the site is strict on being respectful and keeping the noise down so, any spot is good!

    Opening times

    The site currently opens in March and closes in Autumn but the dates change annually so check in with the site before visiting.

    Best time of the year to camp?

    Spring, when the already stunning natural scenery is enhanced with the famous bright spring blossoms Japan is famous for.

    What is the campground known for?

    Its breathtaking view of iconic Mount Fuji.

    Free Camping And Overnight Rv Parking Apps And Websites

    After running through all of these campgrounds and free sites to RV overnight, if youre like us you may start to think: Wow, thats a lot of work to find cheap RV sites!

    Thankfully, there is a way of making it easier!

    This is where we pull back the curtain and show you that although you can use all of the above state and federal websites to find RV sites , there are several extremely useful tools out there which will show you several different types of campgrounds in a specific area at the same time.

    That means locations of campgrounds in State Forests, National Forests, BLM land, Army Corps of Engineers land, National Parks, State Parks, casinos, Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, etc. all on one map!

    Here are some of the best apps and websites we use to find free and cheap campgrounds:

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    Tidney River Wilderness Area

    Site overview: The site contains over 22,000 hectares of protected land. Wild sites are available for adventurous campers.

    Amenities: None

    Site address: Located near the community of Sable River and accessed by logging roads or by canoe.

    Additional information: The area is known for great river paddling and wildlife viewing.

    Site overview: The site contains over 4,000 hectares of protected land. Many wild sites available.

    Amenities: None

    Site address: Accessible from near the community of Clyde River.

    Additional information: Canoeing, fishing and bog hiking are common here.

    How To Camp For Free In British Columbia Canada

    20 Best Free Camping Spots in USA

    One of the main reasons we love British Columbia so much is because it is possible to explore this huge province and camp in some of the most beautiful spots in the world for free.

    This is easily achievable using the amazing BC Recreational Sites and Provincial Parks system. I also have some of my own tips and tricks, learned after 150+ nights of free camping across this spectacular province.

    Heres all the info you need for learning how to camp for free in British Columbia, Canada.

    What to expect – contents

    • Need a packing list? for a free one!

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    Rules For Backcountry Safety:

    • Bring reliable communications: The campsites listed below will lead you through areas of spotty-to-no cell coverage. SPOT Satellite GPS Messengers can send emergency responders your GPS coordinates so that you can easily be located in an emergency, even when you are well beyond cellular service. It can also let family and friends know youre OK when you just want to check in. Better safe than sorry.
    • Pack proper gear, wear layers and reflective clothing. Carry survival equipment and know how to use it.
    • Know when sunset is, especially when camping in the backcountry.
    • Check the weather forecast in advance of departing.
    • The backcoutry demands self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Do you have the necessary skills to go it alone? If not, you might consider partnering with someone who has backcountry experience.
    • Are you hiking into a campsite? Overconfidence rarely serves hikers well. Be realistic about route planning and your fitness.
    • Be wildlife aware. Know what to do in an encounter and how to properly store camp provisions that are animal attractants.
    • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Parking? Leave a note with your contact information, emergency contact and expected return.
    • New to multi-night hiking? Read our backpacker 101 article.

    Earl Rowe Provincial Park

    Earl Rowe is a good midsize campground with a pleasant lake and pool. The campground has nearly 400 sites, with a mix of tent only with no electricity right through to fully serviced electrical pull-through sites.

    The campground is divided into two areas: Westside and Riverside. Each area has a further four subsections within each. If you are looking for a shady site right near the water, consider a spot in Riverside. For peace and quiet, try out the Blue Heron loop.

    The lake water at the two beaches gets nice and warm. Should you wish to get out on the lake, boat and canoe rentals are available at the camp store. If you’d rather swim in a pool, Earl Rowe Provincial Park has you covered. On-site is a one-acre pool complete with lifeguards there is an additional fee to use the pool.

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    How To Find Free Or Cheap Rv Campsites In State Parks And State Forests

    State Parks and State Forests offer yet another opportunity to camp on public lands.

    The main difference is that these public lands are run by the individual state, rather than the federal government.

    Now, where this gets tricky is that each state will have its own website that houses information about their parks and possibly another one for their state forests . And on top of that, there may be different rules and regulations in each state.

    The second complicated part here is if youre unfamiliar with the area youre trying to travel to.

    Lets imagine that if youre planning a trip to Michigan and youre from Tennessee, you need to know that the state park or forest is even there to help you find the right website and place to book a campground.

    But, the process here is worth the reward! State Parks and State Forests are typically far less trafficked than National Parks and National Forests while still being much cheaper than a traditional campground. You can expect to pay anywhere from $18-28/night in most State Parks and $5-20/night in most State Forests.

    A good tip if youre spending a lot of time in one state is that many states have a State Park Pass. This is usually an annual pass that allows free access to all of their State Parks! If you dont have one of these youll typically end up paying a small fee to enter the park as well as nightly camping fees.

    The best way to start is by using Google to search for a specific states park system.

    Out Of Season Camping

    Camping Place · Free Stock Photo

    Aside from prioritising the free backcountry sites, people trying to camp for free in British Columbia should also consider visiting the paid sites out of season .

    We decided to hike into Cape Scott Provincial Park in late April to avoid paying the $10/per person/per day fee that is required during the main season. This did mean, however, that we had to travel an unmaintained trail but we were prepared to do so.

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    Northeast Region/kirkland Lake District

    Site overview: Access into the reserve is by a canoe route from Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park. Otherwise, arrangements can be made in Elk Lake to have a floatplane fly you in. There is a network of forestry roads adjacent to the site boundaries, which may also provide access.

    Site location: The Makoke-Grays Ice Margin Conservation Reserve is located about 28 kilometres south of the town of Elk Lake.

    Additional information: At 903 hectares, this reserve is divided into two sections and linked by the Makobe-Grays Provincial Park.

    How To Find Free Or Cheap Rv Campsites In National Parks

    The U.S. has 61 protected areas known as National Parks that are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Dept. of the Interior.

    National parks must be established by an act of the United States Congress. A bill creating the first National Park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 , and then Rock Creek Park , Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890.

    The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in

    The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

    National Parks are Great for RV Camping

    In fact, if its your first time boondocking, heading to a National Park campground is a great way to dip your toes in the water rather than setting up camp in a less-frequented area if you run your batteries down too much and need a jump.

    Because they are more frequented and typically have more resources than National Forests or BLM land, RV camping in National Parks comes with a few more rules and regulations to watch out for and they can vary from park to park.

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    Jackson Mountain Road: Pagosa Springs Colorado

    When we cant camp on the water, we love camping in the mountains. And, Jackson Mountain Road is ideal Rocky Mountain camping!

    The town as multiple hot springs and a river running through it perfect for tubing.

    This site offers no services and practices a Pack In, Pack Out policy. There are a few water spigots near the waterfront trail downtown . We found large trash cans downtown as well, but dumpsters were hard to find.

    Dont Just Take Our Word: Wander Green on Campendium says, We loved our stay at Jackson Mountain Road. The San Juan National Forest is beautiful and quiet and the sites are located only a few miles from Pagosa Springs. We loved bathing in the San Juan River, and in the downtown area there are hot springs flowing into the river and you can soak in the natural hot mineral pools for free!

    Night Sky At Mesa Verde

    Best Places to Camp for Free in Arizona

    Spend a night under the stars in Mesa Verde National Park.

    A few weeks in, Id learned some tips for finding spectacular campsites for free:

    1. Take the scenic route. Youre unlikely to find campsites along major interstate highways. Instead, plan to take the scenic route along Americas original highway system. U.S. highways often followed old road bedssome dating to before the signing of the Constitutionand they will often take you through the heart of national forests and BLM lands.

    2. Google, Google, Google. The internet is full of information about free campsites, but once you think youve found one, keep searching. Many campsite reviews are dated, and the rules or the land may have changed since the first search listing was created.

    3. Use an app. Adventure travel apps abound in the age of Instagram, and if you plan to search for campgrounds using social media, Id recommend utilizing an app such as The Outbound or AllTrails instead of Instagram, where tent photos can be completely misleading.

    4. Ask a ranger. Park rangers are typically some of the friendliest folk youll find in the wild. In addition to being a potential resource for designated campgrounds, they can sometimes tell you where to find dispersed camping. If youre alone, its also smart to let someone know where youll be, and nobody knows wild terrain better than the people who work there.

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    Sibbald Point Provincial Park

    Sibbald Point Provincial Park is located on Lake Simcoe near the small town of Jackson’s Point. The park is about a one-hour drive from Toronto, and access is easy.

    One of the best features of this park is the wide, long, sandy beach. It’s ideal for families with small children, as the water is shallow and warm.

    The campground at Sibbald Point is large, with over 600 sites in 10 loops. Sites are almost an even split of electrical and non-electrical. The camping areas are generally level and have good shade from the surrounding trees. The sites in the Lakeside and Butternut loops are the closest to the beach.

    More than half the campsites are in radio-free zones, so bear that in mind when booking if you are planning on bringing your tunes.

    Stewart Island New Zealand

    The Department of Conservation in New Zealand runs various campsites across the country in National Parks, some of which are free, some which are charged. There are three on stunning Stewart Island in New Zealand and all three are free.

    Choose from pristine beach spots Maori Beach or Port William, or if you fancy something a bit more sheltered North Arm offers protection under the trees. All of them have a small shelter for setting up your own cooking equipment if the weather is bad, a toilet, and a rainwater tank.

    Camping spots

    Maori Beach Campsite is pretty incredible for sunsets and sunrises, with quick and easy access to a vast beach.

    Opening times

    Best time of the year to camp?

    Visit during the New Zealand Autumn and Winter for good weather and fewer tourists.

    What is the campground known for?

    It is a wildlife lovers haven. You can see penguins, kiwi, seals, weka, various seabirds, and all kinds of interesting flora and fauna.

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    Lake Superior Provincial Park

    The world-class hiking and paddling along the Lake Superior shoreline coupled with the diverse scenery make Lake Superior a picturesque experience. The backcountry of Lake Superior Provincial Park provides access to numerous hiking and paddling opportunities which vary from easy day trips to multi-day adventures along the dramatic coast of Lake Superior. Lake Superior Provincial Park has approximately 200 backcountry campsites. Each backcountry campsite is equipped with a fire ring and box privy. Campsites on some of the more popular backcountry areas, such as Mijinemungshing Lake, come with a picnic table. Several backcountry campsites along the Coastal Hiking Trail are equipped with a food locker.

    Dates: June 1, 2020 to October 25, 2020

    A post shared by Alex Osborne-Saponja on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:57am PDT

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