How To: Find Good Car Camping Spots
How To Find Good Car Camping Spots
Are you anxious to camp in the great outdoors, but arent quite ready to strap on a backpack to carry all your gear into the backcountry? Or maybe you still want some amenities like a barbeque pit and an outhouse? Well luckily, there are many opportunities to camp outdoors while still being able to drive your car to a campsite. Here are some tips to help you find great car camping spots!
Talk to Rangers!
National Park and Forest Rangers are incredibly knowledgeable about local recreation areas, campsites, and any regulations and restrictions that may be in place. Calling or visiting a ranger station in the area you plan to camp in is a great way to gain information about the area, and Park Rangers may have some insider knowledge you cannot find anywhere else. The U.S. Forest Service website also has some great resources, like information on how to be prepared for a camping trip.
Check out State Parks and National Forests
For Free Sites
Tips For Getting Reservations
Getting campsite reservations has become increasingly challenging over the past few years. Covid-19 and growing interest in the outdoors, have led campgrounds and national parks to become flooded with people. Here are some tips that will improve your odds of getting a reservation.
Additionally, with a little bit of research, you can plan to sleep in a dispersed camping area.
Joshua Tree National Park California
There are a number of campsites located in this park, including Jumbo Rocks Campground, known for its big boulder rocks that shelter sites from the wind. But you can also choose between the park’s 100+ sites among its 800,000 acres, which are all first-come, first-serve right now. Campsites are currently open at the park, but all programs are canceled.
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Gunnison National Forest Colorado
With 3,000 miles of trails and 1.6 million acres of public land, you’re guaranteed a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains here. Gunnison also offers a variety of landscapes among its 30 campsites, including ones on open meadows, evergreen forests, mountains, and right by the lakes. Some campgrounds and facilities are currently closed, while others are open with reduced capacity you can find the full list of open campgrounds on the Gunnison National Forest website.
Other Public Lands In The United States And Canada
While national forests and BLM land are the most common places to find free camping, other types of public lands in the United States and Canada offer up pockets of campsites in different states and regions. State parks, city parks, and county parks sometimes maintain free camping areas. So do entities like water management districts, trust lands, conservation areas. Smaller US federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation have a few campsites, too.
Stay limits, access, amenities, permitting requirements, and the types of camping that are allowed at these sites vary greatly. Reading reviews on Campendium, and contacting the agency that manages these free campsites, will help to determine whether they are right for you.
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Yellowstone National Park Usa
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique and fascinating landscapes on earth. With its near-constant temperature of around 40 degrees and its huge diversity of wildlife, Yellowstone is a true ecological wonder.
Within the parks vast expanse of rolling prairies, dense forests, and bubbling geysers can be found hundreds of diverse species of birds and mammals, including such iconic creatures as gray wolves and grizzly bears.
In addition to its natural wonders, this iconic American park is also renowned for its excellent camping spots, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a one-of-a-kind camping experience.
Whether youre looking to enjoy tundra camping in the summer or marvel at snow camping during the winter months, youll find a place to suit your needs amidst the winding trails and scenic vistas of Yellowstone National Park.
So if youre looking for some of the best camping in the world, look no further than this iconic US national park.
Shenandoah National Park Virginia
If youre looking for a relaxing getaway in an untouched natural setting, then Shenandoah National Park is a great choice. Situated just 75 miles away from Washington D.C., this park is one of the worlds most beautiful camping destinations.
With its peaceful forests, rolling mountain vistas, and sparkling waterways, Shenandoah offers everything you need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
If youre interested in hiking and exploring the wilderness, be sure to check out The Appalachian Trail one of the most famous trails in North America. Along this trail, youll encounter stunning waterfalls, breathtaking panoramas, and lots of opportunities to get in touch with nature.
Alternatively, if you want to spend some time close to the water, Shenandoah has plenty of beautiful waterways that are perfect for kayaking or simply admiring from afar.
Whatever your interests may be, Shenandoah is clearly one of the best places to camp in the world so be sure to add it to your travel bucket list today.
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Use Freeroam To Find Blm And Usfs Lands
FreeRoam is an app for Android and iPhone that contains mapping tools to find places to camp for free. It includes overlays that show you BLM and national forest boundaries. Use these overlays to determine where BLM and USFS lands are. You can also use FreeRoam on your laptop or desktop by browsing . Read more on our other article, Using FreeRoam to Find New Boondocking Sites.
Step Four In Finding The Best Camp Spot:
Use the Internet and Apps, but use them wisely.
There are many apps and websites available to help you choose the best spot, but be careful, it can get overwhelming very quickly. Do your research or take advice and recommendations from friends, like us.
We use Campendium, Free Campsites, Allstays, and Harvest Hosts.
Honestly, thats probably one too many , but we have found that these usually hit most of the available spots from boondocking to glamping.
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Grandfather Mountain State Park
Location: 9872 Highway 105 South, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Grandfather Peak State Park is home to a beautiful mountain that stands at 5,945 feet and offers hikers challenging terrain along the cliffs along with excellent views of the surrounding area. Remember that the area is known for its harsh weather, so proceed with caution.
Because of its exceptional ecological diversity, the park has been designated as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve. And if you enjoy bird watching, this state park is home to 200 kinds of birds and will quickly become one of your favorites. It also takes you to wildlife habitats where you can observe cougars, bears, and other animals.
The park has 13 miles of hiking trails ranging from mild climbs to strenuous treks. The Grandfather Trail, for example, is a difficult trail where you have to use ropes and ladders that will offer your body a solid workout.
The park also has the countrys highest suspension footbridge, positioned above sea level, that offers 360-degree panoramic views of the mountains below. Theres a fee to use the bridge.
The state park features ADA-accessible park offices, parking, and restrooms, as well as tent sites, group tent sites, and firewood for camping. It also has more than 100 picnic tables with grills distributed throughout the area for convenient picnicking for families.
Holly Shelter Game Land
Last on our list of free camping in eastern North Carolina, Holly Shelter Game Land is a public hunting location that offers camping during specific times of the year. This terrific camping spot is located near US 17, not far from Surf City, and boasts opportunities for hiking, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
Campers can enjoy the comforts of RV camping or pitch a tent for a more rustic experience in the scenic game land as it opens for the camping season this is a great location for campers who want to enjoy the outdoors but still be close to the fringes of bustling, everyday North Carolina life!
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Final Thoughts On Finding Free Campsites
I hope that this free camping guide was helpful and aids you in future trip planning. Remember to always be prepared, do your research, play it safe, and most importantly, have fun on your trip! Let me know your favorite ways to find free campsites on road trips. Cant wait to hear about your adventures!
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Rocky Knob Recreation Area
Just over the border in Virginia, youll find the Rocky Knob campground off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Its in a rural, densely forested area just down the road from the Rocky Knob visitors center and just over an hour from Roanoke, Virginia. The Rocky Knob Recreation Area has over 4,000 acres of forest, with ample opportunities for hiking and enjoying the outdoors at this campground. There is ample picnic space and the campsites are peaceful. Nearby hikes include Black Ridge, Rockcastle Gorge, and Round Meadow Creek. There are up to 28 RV sites with rates of $20/day. There are also bathrooms and facilities for hiking and boating, as well as plenty of picnic tables where you can have a meal.
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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.
Look For Campsites With Flat Ground And Ample Shade
Flat ground is the most important thing to look for when choosing a camp spot. This can mean the difference between a restful nights sleep and waking up multiple times throughout the night crammed against a tent wall or rolling off your sleeping pad. Look for areas covered with sand, pine needles, or grass for the most comfort.
The best camping spots will have plenty of shade, yet catch plenty of early morning sun. This will provide shade from the midday sun, but help warm you up on chilly mornings. If youre an early riser, point your tent towards the east so you can catch some early morning sun. Theres not much better than catching the sunrise from your pillow.
If youre expecting wind, angle your tent or car so that the narrowest part is facing the wind. Also, set up camp near something that can help break the wind like a large tree or cliff face.
If youre camping in the desert, be mindful of low spots such as dry washes or narrow canyons. Although these sandy areas look like a cozy place to set up camp, flash flood risks are real even if the sky is clear above you and there is little risk of rain. Floodwaters can travel from miles away and wash away anything in their path.
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How To Find Free Camping Near Me
Below is a collection of up-to-date resources we use to find free campsites when were traveling.
*iOverlander : This app is full of user-submitted campsites as well as other traveler-friendly information like dump stations and water fills. However, since the app relies on users to add and update content, its not 100% accurate, so its worth doing some additional research once youve found a spot you are interested in. But, generally speaking, its a great place to start!
The Dyrt PRO: The Dyrt PRO offers some great resources to help you find free camping, including filters to find free campsites, offline National Forest and BLM map overlays, and a trip planner. You can try it for 30 days free by using our code FRESH90 here!
*Free Roam : This desktop and mobile app has some really helpful features. First, you can toggle on National Forest and BLM overlays, making it super easy to find public land. You can also toggle on a satellite map and zoom in to see what the roads/turnouts look like, making it easier to identify if an area might be suitable for boondocking. Second, you can also overlay Motor Vehicle Use Maps, so you dont have to go searching for the PDFs on the national forest website. Third, you can use the map layers to show cell coverage and national forest/BLM land. If you create a free account, you can also save sites or your own waypoints, making it great for multi-day planning.
Rv Park And Campground In Asheville North Carolina
We also provide transport, delivery, setup, take down, and storage for all your RV solutions. We offer large, level paved lots with full 30 and 50 amp hookups.
Pull Behind & Through
We have 25 pull-through sites , big rig sites, and 65 back-in sites . Large, level paved lots with full 30 and 50 amp hookups.
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How To Find A Campground Near You
Our countrys campgrounds and public lands have had more foot traffic in recent years, with visitor rates greatly increasing during the COVID pandemic. People have been eager to break away from the stress, get out into nature, and recharge. While the publics expanding interest in the outdoors brings a lot of positives, particularly by way of support for conservation efforts, it can be harder to snag a camping spot.
Are you eager to go on a camping trip but concerned about booking? No worries – weve got you covered. Below we go over how to find and score a great camping spot near you using our user-friendly software. Our website makes finding a campsite easy, with an interactive map and filters for geographic location, camping type, and more. So have no fear and pack that camping gear!
Yosemite National Park California
Theres something about Yosemite National Park that just makes it the perfect camping spot in the world. The lush green scenery and towering mountains are a breathtaking sight, and theres plenty of wildlife to see too.
Glacier Point is an excellent place for hikes and offers amazing views of Yosemite Valley below. The Yosemite Falls are also worth a visit, and youll also find plenty of rivers and streams for swimming, kayaking, and more.
With no electricity or mobile signal in the park, you can totally disconnect from your busy city life and enjoy nature at its finest. So if youre looking for an adventure, make sure to check out the best camping spots in Yosemite National Park, California.
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The scattered peaks, valleys and villages of the Trossachs often called the Highlands in miniature make an incredibly scenic backdrop for a camping trip. Amid these romantic lochs and glens you’ll find everything from sprawling caravan parks to remote wild camping spots be sure to read the Outdoor Access Code before you go.
Crater Lake National Park Oregon
This park is home to the United State’s deepest lake and a sleeping volcano, so there are plenty of photo opportunities for nature lovers. Campers can choose between Mazama and Lost Creek campgrounds. And yes, there’s also backcountry camping with a permit. Park information centers are currently closed, and some activities are canceled although the park has reopened, but the park has not announced an opening date for the campgrounds, which usually open for the season in June or July.
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What Should You Look For In An Ideal Camping Spot
When youre looking for a good camping spot, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, youll want to make sure that the spot is large enough to accommodate all of your camping gear.
Second, youll want to make sure that the spot is level and free of debris. Third, youll want to make sure that the spot has easy access to water.
Fourth, youll want to make sure that the spot has good drainage. Fifth, youll want to make sure that the spot is sheltered from the wind. And finally, youll want to make sure that the spot has a clear view of the night sky.
In case you want to camp overnight, weve got you covered for that as well.
What To Pack For Free Camping
When dispersed camping, youll need to take into account the lack of amenities such as potable water, a picnic table, and showers. We recommend checking out our complete car camping checklist for the basics, and weve highlighted some of our essentials for free camping below:
- Portable water jug: depending on the length of your trip, youll want to pack a few of these so you can wash dishes, rinse off, and have drinking water.
- Folding table: youll want something to set your camp stove on to cook & a spot where you can play games, journal, etc. I love the GCI Slim-Fold Cook Station because it folds down flat and has tons of hooks for organizing your camp kitchen.
- Portable shower: if you plan to boondock for an extended period of time or want a way to rinse off, we recommend the NEMO Helio Pressure Shower or the Geyser Portable Shower w/ Heater.
- Safety items: including a portable car jumper, first aid kit, and tire patch kit
- Poop kit: a small shovel, toilet paper , hand sanitizer, and a small Ziploc for your used toilet paper
- Garbage bags: so you can easily pack out everything you bring in there are no dumpsters on public lands!
Using the GCI Slim-Fold Cook Station while boondocking
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