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How To Find A Camping Spot

Think About Access To Your Water Supply

How to find a perfect dispersed camping spot – California overlanding Jeep Rubicon

You should always practise low-impact camping and avoid contaminating any water supplies, so if youre wild camping, always pitch at least 200 feet away from your water supply.

That said, easy access to water is essential so dont pitch too far away either. On a campsite, dont be tempted to pitch too close to the water supply as this is a high-traffic area. Just try to fill everything up all at once to minimise the number of journeys.

Top Resources For Searching For Spots To Park Your Rv

To start off, youll want to get a little inspiration, especially if youre completely new to camping. One of the best places to do this is on YouTube and blogs like this! Listen to other YouTubers to hear what they love and places they recommend. You can learn tons from YouTubers like Grateful Glamper and the video below.

Once you see what you like, you can narrow down your search or plan a trip to the campgrounds you find.

How To Find A Dispersed Camping Spot Using Google Maps And Caltopo:

If you want to find your own spot , I recommend you do the following:

  • Once you have decided on an area, use Google Maps satellite view to scout a potential camping spot. Look for clearings off forest roads or sand banks on rivers and lakes. Place a pin in all the spots you see. Half of them might not be accessible.

  • Ask Google for the directions to the pins from your home, just to get a feel for the road access. You may have to zoom in and out a few times near your pin to make sure there is a forest road connecting the main roads to your pin.

  • Copy the coordinates of your favorite spot and open in a new window in your browser. CalTopo is a backcountry map which offers an overlay feature including a topographic map of the country and many useful details about the conditions of the area you wish to explore. FreeRoam app and PublicLand app are great on-the-go alternatives for a quick overview of public land). Paste the coordinates into the search field and enter. Please note that CalTopo doesnt place a pin in your coordinates like Google Map does, but you will get to the exact coordinates when zooming in.

  • Start applying relevant filters in the Map Builder to the right ONE, MAX. TWO OVERLAYS AT A TIME. The overlays we always apply are:

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    Things To Remember When Camping For Free

    Because free camping spots have no developed amenities like fire rings and picnic tables, youll need to be extra vigilant of your actions.

    • When building a campfire at a free camping spot, make sure you build a fire ring with rocks to keep your fire contained and never leave your fire unattended. When you are finished with your fire, put it out completely by burning it to ash and covering the hot ashes with cold ashes.
    • Leave nothing at your campsite. Anything that you unpack at your campsite must be taken back with you. You also shouldnt take anything from the campsite that you didnt bring.
    • Dispose of all human waste in a hole at least 6 or 8 inches deep. Make sure the hole is at least 200 feet away from any natural water sources.

    Phone Apps To Find Free Camping

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    Phone apps are a great way to find free camping while on the road, and there are numerous apps to choose from! Here are a few of the best apps that I highly recommend for finding free camping:

    • The Dyrt free 90 day trial with this link or using my code Renee90. The Pro Membership Perks include a camping road trip planner, free dispersed camping with map layers, offline access anywhere, and camping and gear discounts. You can also find free campsites on their website here.
    • Free Roam free: You can also use their interactive map on their website.
    • iOverlander free: You can also use their interactive map on their website.
    • Campendium free : Campendium can be used both on their iPhone app and on their website here.

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    Ontario Parks With Backcountry Registration

    Next, you could consider visiting one of the Ontario Parks that doesnt require specific campsite / lake reservations but instead requires you to register for a backcountry permit. These parks include:

    • Missinaibi River PP
    • Wabakimi PP
    • Woodland Caribou PP

    The upside is that, unlike with Killarney or Algonquin, you wont have to worry about waking up at 6:00 am to reserve your permit. Im sure there is a limit to the number of permits they can issue, but Ive never heard of anyone being unable to book their desired trip due to capacity.

    The downside is that youll have to abide by park rules and pay for each night youre in the park. And it adds up quickly my short trip on the Missinaibi River last summer costs $100 in permits! .

    Why Go Wild Camping

    Wild camping allows you to do and experience so much more. You can venture further into rugged landscapes and then hunker down as the night draws in. Youre not tied to finding or returning to a campsite either.

    Instead, you can follow your feet or blaze your own trail and end the day with a cracking view, away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation. For many types of outdoor trips wild camping is the most practical option. Just you, your shelter and the frenzy of nature around you.

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    Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite

    Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.

    Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.

    This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.

    Please come back and let us know what you find!

    We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.

    Please come back and let us know what you find!

    Camping Has Fundamentally Changed Get Used To It

    FINDING A CAMPING SPOT | Using OS Maps | Beginners Wild Camping Tips

    Theyve evolved over the last 10, 15 years. As sites have gotten bigger as the demand for patio sites has increased, all that has affected the way a campground looks and the way a campground operates. It took some time, but the campground industry flexed to meet what the RV market was doing and what campers were demanding.

    I think were into a period of that now where theres an awful lot of new RVs out there.

    Theres just a lot of new equipment on the road and campgrounds are going to flex again to meet that. And sometimes its physically flexing with more sites.

    Again, it takes a lot of time to adjust to that. And I think that as we go forward here, the manufacturing side will start listing a little bit closer to the campground supplier side as to how fast things are going, what the options are.

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    Potty Kit Or Wag Bags

    Since most free camping areas dont have bathroom facilities, youll need to be prepared to properly dispose of your waste. Youll need a small trowel to dig a cathole, TP, and a trash bag to pack your TP out. In some sensitive and higher use areas, youll need to pack your waste out as well, usually by using a WAG bag. Check with the ranger or BLM office to find out about their specific policies.

    Our friend Kristen of Bearfoot Theory wrote a great post about doing your business outdoors, which you can check out here.

    Its All About The Data And The Algorithm

    Well, now companies and campgrounds that are buying into these reservation systems have all this data at their disposal.

    They know how much youve camped with them. They know what size rig you have. They know how many people you camp with. They know where youre from.

    So they know all this information so that they can help determine the ability to know what your tolerance for payment is. Again, they match that against their inventory.

    It gets very complex in the camping business because there are so many factors involved here. Weve got, again, the services part of it. Theyve got what size rig do you have? Is it a fifth wheel? Is it a pull trailer? Is it pop-up? All these different factors have to get put into these algorithms that drive this type of pricing model.

    Mike Wendland: These are the computer reservation systems that are being sold to campgrounds and theres five or six big ones out there and they all use all that data from all that camping probably every time youve booked its in there.

    But heres where I guess I would wonder about it: So my camping is just, say, we come into a site and we tend to stay a night or two at the most, and we cook our own meals and thats about it.

    Whereas someone else who would like that same spot, they stay for a week and they eat food and they use all of the facilities and buy all the upsells that many of the campgrounds have.

    That reservation system algorithm is then going to give the edge to that person, is it not?

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    Plan Your Visit During The Off

    We live for the summertime and our holiday weekends. If you love vying for limited spots with hundreds of others doing the same, peak season is where its at.

    But if youd rather spend your precious time exploring the trails or boating or watching wildlife, then visit during the off-season.

    Youll have less competition, more quiet, and increased joy from the beauty of the fall colors and snow-capped mountains.

    Free Camping Spots In National Parks And National Forests

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    To find free camping spots in national parks and national forests, you will need to search the National Parks System to ensure the park youre interested in offers free camping spots. While not all national parks and national forests offer free camping spots, many do. They all offer backcountry or dispersed camping they just may not be completely free.

    National parks that dont have completely free camping spots are generally protected by national forests or land management areas that you can take advantage of for free camping.

    Recommended Reading: Uwharrie National Forest Dispersed Camping

    Recreational Sites In British Columbia

    Simply put, the best place for free camping in Canada is British Columbia. This province is home to a network of mostly free Recreational Sites with rustic camping facilities.

    These Rec Sites are located by water features and are usually accessed via unpaved logging roads.

    • Recreational Sites range in size from tiny one party campsites to large, organised campgrounds with dozens of allocated sites
    • A minority of BCs Rec Sites have a nightly fee, around $10-15
    • Most are completely free to use, for stays of up to 14 days

    The easiest way to find free camping in BC is to use the Trails and Sites website or a regional Backroad Mapbook. The latter is helpful for logging road navigation as well as detailed descriptions of every Rec Site.

    Why Should I Camp For Free

    Free camping gives you an experience that you cant always get when camping at campgrounds. Aside from saving money , it offers you a secluded experience completely in nature and away from the busy activity that can be found at most campgrounds.

    You can also choose to camp for free at the last minute without needing a reservation. Unlike campgrounds that require a reservation to access a site, free camping can be done at any time, and you dont have to leave by the required check-out time thats required at developed campgrounds.

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    How To Spot The Perfect Campsite

    Head into the mountains or forests and pitch your tent in an ideal location. These tips will help you find that perfect camp spot.

    Sometimes its the destination, not the journey. Camping is one of those idiom rule-breakers. This viewless plot at the bottom of a hole will suffice, said no camper ever.

    No, we are a tribe in constant pursuit of the next OS screensaver that lakeside shimmer, a skyline pierced with granite peaks, ready to sponge up the last of the evening light.

    In the market for some backcountry real estate? Weve outlined some basic camping principles to help make your next camp the best yet.

    What Does It Mean To Camp On Crown Land

    How We Find FREE Overnight Camping Spots

    Crown Land Camping means different things to different people. Some people are interested in campsites with road access, so they can car camp or bring their trailer.

    Others are interested in campsites they can hike or paddle to. Either way, camping on Crown land does not require a reservation and there are no camping fees.

    Sounds amazing, but its not all rainbows and sunshine, unfortunately.

    In most cases, people want a free campsite away from other people that isnt too far from where they live. These constraints are what make Ontario Crown land camping difficult to find .

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    Provincial/territorial Parks And Other Protected Areas

    Canadas backcountry is expansive. The provincial and national park system protects great swathes of it, in conjunction with other governmental agencies and non-profits. These wilderness areas offer fantastic camping opportunities.

    Vehicle accessible camping is only allowed in designated areas in National Parks and Provincial Parks. The designated campgrounds are, as a general rule, not free.

    There is usually a nightly fee that is typically in the $10-40 range per camping group, dependent on the province or territory. Some provincial parks, such as those in Ontario, also charge a daily admission fee.

    The biggest free camping potential lies in the backcountry areas, meaning those only accessible via foot or boat. Of course, this means youll need a tent and hiking/padding equipment.

    The most popular hiking trails and paddling areas have a nightly fee and reservation system for camping , but there are some that do not.

    Visiting out of the main season is another way for well prepared campers to save money on fees.

    Some examples include:

    How To Find Places To Camp With A Roof Top Tent

    There are four main types of places where you sleep in your Roofnest overnight:

    • Public, designated camp spots
    • Public, dispersed camping
    • Alternative options such as Walmarts, rest areas, and more

    Lets take a look at how to find each type of camp spot so youll know all your options before you hit the open road.

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    Dynamic Pricing Maximizes The Revenue

    Thats whats coming into the camping industry. Its a way of maximizing the potential revenue on a campground absolutely for the benefit of the owner.

    But again, its not always a bad thing.

    The camping industry used to have fixed prices on sites. The site would be $30 a night way back for the full-service RV site. That was it. Didnt matter whether it was a pull-through, didnt matter whether it was water. It might be a difference between water, electric and full service.

    But if it was a full service, full hookup site, it had a single price. We used to print that in the KOA directory as a single price. Didnt matter what day of the week it was. Didnt matter what time of day it was. Didnt matter who you were, what they knew about you.

    Be Aware Of Environmental Hazards

    Best Camping Spots Near Sydney

    Is your campsite safe from hazards such as rock falls, flash floods, high tide or avalanches? As mentioned, natural windbreaks can be really useful but also come with their own set of hazards.

    You need to be aware of the local environment and not camp somewhere you can get hurt or worse, especially in the wild where there may not be help for miles around.

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    National Forests And Grasslands

    Typically you are allowed to camp for free in US National Forests & Grasslands unless otherwise marked. Each national forest has slightly different rules, so check ahead of time, but generally speaking, you are allowed to camp anywhere outside established recreation areas and developed campgrounds.

    Who Its Good For: Tent & car camping, Vans, Trailers, and RVs.

    What Its Like: You have a lot of options when camping in a National Forest. You can find a nice pullover, backpack into the woods to set up camp, or find an attractive spot along a forest service road.

    However, youll need to be self-sufficient, as there will likely be zero amenities. No picnic table, trash, or restrooms. In some places, you are allowed to have a fire if you obtain a fire permit and there are no fire restrictions in place .

    How to Find It: National Forests are well marked on Google maps, but you can use the National Forest Map Locator or search state by state to find information about the specific jurisdiction you are looking to camp in. Again, the rules are different depending on the area, so check ahead.


    • Camping must be done outside of developed campgrounds.
    • Usually a 14 day limit, sometimes more.
    • No amenities picnic table, trash, or restrooms. Practice Leave No Trace.
    • Set up camp 200 feet away from any stream or water source.

    ** This information does not apply in National Parksbut many National Parks are bordered by National Forests!

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