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Where To Go Camping For Free

Sleeping On A Regular Mattress

Free Camping On Public Land With Tent And Wood Stove

Anyone with the slightest hint of a back problem knows that a good, supportive mattress is essential every night. Its frustrating to wake up with a sore back and neck when you are supposed to be enjoying your getaway.

The best you will usually get with a tent is a blow-up air mattress or a foam sleeping pad. With an RV, it is just like buying a mattress for home. You can invest in something that will keep you comfortable this trip and many more in the future.

Hard To Stop Along The Way

One of the major downsides to having an RV, or any camper that you trailer, is making stops along the way. Most places aside from big box store parking lots and truck stops have space for a large trailer to pull into. Maneuvering around areas of interest like cities can be almost impossible.

If you are trailering your camper or bringing a smaller vehicle along on your trip, you at least have the option of venturing out after you have parked at the camping area. But you may end up missing interesting places and local treasures that your tent camping friends will get to see.

Visiting National Parks And Monuments While Camping For Free

Millions of people visit national parks and monuments every year. And it is no wonder. They hold some of the most spectacular scenery in the nation. Families and groups flock to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, The Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Glacier National Park, and many others to see the incredible sites and landscapes.

But if you are thinking of packing up your family and heading out for a getaway next week or even next month, think again. The campgrounds at these parks are heavily trafficked during the peak season when the weather is good and the scenery is at its most brilliant. Campgrounds often book up even a year or more in advance. And the cost to stay at these popular destinations can wreak havoc on your travel budget.

An alternative is to stay in a nearby national forest. Did you know that most national parks are bordered by national forests? They are often only 10-15 minutes away from the most popular parks in the country. This gives these pristine areas a buffer zone from the rest of society and gives campers on a budget the opportunity to stay nearby.

Which national park are you visiting? Here are some great national forests to try some primitive camping while you are there.

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Have A Blast Camping In Utah

Theres something truly special about Utah whether youre visiting Salt Lake City, its five national parks, or any of its other natural areas.

And, in my opinion, the absolute best way to enjoy all of its beauty is by dispersed camping off the beaten path in a quiet, remote, and uniquely beautiful free campsite.

If youre on a larger camping road trip, or just want to check out free campsites in other states, our other free camping state guides are well worth a look.

Heres to hoping your next Utah dispersed camping trip is one for the record books!

Let me know if you have any more questions:

Now Get Out There And Find Some Free Camping Sites

Mini review  Free Campsite Uwharrie National Forest Yates Place ...

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!

Read Also: Camping Near West Glacier National Park

Work Exchange Opportunities For Free Rv Camping

There are many work exchange opportunities that offer long term free RV camping sites. Some of these sites will be for dry camping, but many offer full hook-ups. Sometimes you will be required to do a certain number of work hours per week for the property owner. Other opportunities simply need you to be present as a caretaker.

If you would like a long term campsite on government land, you can be a park host. Go to and search for park host opportunities. Leave everything on their search form blank. Select RV/Trailer Pads for your Housing & Amenities options. My most recent result returned 487 volunteer positions that have a free RV space.

Workamping provides free RV camping spots on private property. You agree to do part-time work for the property owner. Snowbird RV Trails has published a comprehensive list of free online resources. Use this list to help you find the perfect Workamping opportunity.

There are several other work exchange websites you can search for opportunities. They do not cater to RVers. Use their search filters can help you find opportunities that offer free RV camping.

North Fork Big Wood River

Location: Near Sun Valley

North Fork Big Wood River is the perfect free camping homebase for exploring the Sawtooth Mountains.

These campsites are located along North Fork Canyon Road just 15 minutes north of Ketchum and about an hour south of Stanley.

While there used to be a nearly unlimited number of dispersed campsites here, I believe there are now a little over a dozen designated dispersed campsites you must camp within one of these and are no longer allowed to just set up camp anywhere.

Luckily, these designated dispersed campsites are spaced quite far apart, so you still have all the privacy youd expect from normal dispersed camping. The only problem is that these campsites fill up extremely quickly during the summer months.

North Fork Big Wood River is a decent place for boondocking in RVs and trailers. There is some minor washboarding on the gravel access road, but all but the biggest rigs should do just fine here. Most campsites can accommodate trailers and RVs.

What I Like:

I love how convenient these campsites are for exploring Sun Valley and Ketchum as well as Stanley and the Sawtooth Mountains. The location really just cant be beat.

What I Dont Like:

Unfortunately, due to overuse and abuse, youre now required to camp in a designated dispersed campsite along North Fork Big Wood River. But, if you prefer true dispersed camping, there are still plenty of options throughout the surrounding national forest.

For More Info:

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Slither Away: Boise Idaho

This one is more funny than anything, but while traveling in Boise, Idaho, we parked near the city zoo one night. At around 5 a.m. we woke suddenly to someone rapping on our window.

I dove deeper under the covers and made Ben go and check what was going on . At our window, was a park ranger clad in a wide-brimmed hat and a tan vest.

Howdy, he greeted us with more energy than was necessary at that hour of morning. Just wanted to let you know you may want to move your vehicle as were about to release snakes in the vicinity in a snake and raptor avoidance training. Upon hearing this, I shot out of bed, we wished him a good day, and we got the eff outta there!

Utah Dispersed Camping Rules And Regulations

20 Best Free Camping Spots in USA

Utah is an incredibly special place and you must treat it as such.

Please, please, please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles and leave your dispersed campsite even cleaner than it was when you arrived.

Always pack out all your trash and always properly dispose of human waste .

Follow all other area rules, regulations, and restrictions, such as campfire restrictions, camping stay limits , and closed areas.

The goal is to limit human impact on Utahs natural areas as much as possible. Failure to respect our public lands can lead to shutdowns. No one wants that!

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Benefits Of Free Camping

There are a lot of pros when it comes to free camping. Some are obvious , but there are a few unexpected benefits as well.

Its free! Obviously, the big draw is the cost. If youre planning on camping or traveling for an extended period of time, getting good at finding free camping is one of the best ways to bring down your trips overall expenses.

Flexibility. It is nice to not be tied down to a specific campground. If youre exploring or passing through an area with a lot of free dispersed camping it is nice to decide where you want to camp at the end of the day.

Last Minute Trips. Decide you want to go camping on Friday morning before a long weekend? Most established campgrounds will be booked solid months ahead of time. But when you go looking for free dispersed camping, you can almost always find a spot.

Seclusion and solitude. In most established pay campgrounds, youre packed in like sardines in a tin. You can hear the guy snoring two sites down from you. Free dispersed camping is often in more remote areas, which offers a true sense of peace and calm.

Casinos Truck Stops & Rest Stops

Casinos, truck stops, and rest stops also offer overnight parking. Usually, their parking lots are well lit , and some will have a dedicated area for big rigs and even shower facilities. These can be noisy depending on their proximity to the road and the coming and going of big rigs, but if youre in a pinch or just need a convenient place to overnight, these are good options. For casinos with overnight parking, use the map locator on to see which casinos allow overnight parking.

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Below The Dam/caribou Targhee Natl Forest


Elevation: 5623

Management: Public Forest Service

The road in is Gravel. Tissue Point is open n/a. There are 6-15 Idaho boondocking locations in this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay n/a at Tissue Point. A dirt road drive from Palisades reservoir up a side canyon, fed by the Bear Creek tributary.

  • Cell Service: No

  • Elevation: 3481 ft

This free campground is tucked between canyon walls and alongside Salmon Falls Creek. And its super nice, especially when considering that its free!

Each site has a covered picnic table, garbage can, fire pit, and grill. There are pit toilets and a small swing set towards the entrance to the campground. Automatic sprinklers come on each night so check the signs for timing and dont set your tent up in their path!

The creek wasnt one we were going to swim in, but several kayaks and paddle boards went by during our stay. Locals were also heading out on a trail alongside the creek, about 30 minutes of walking from the back of the campground, to get to a larger swimming and fishing hole.

We stayed at the site furthest back and therefore had no close neighbors, and our daughter loved exploring the giant boulders at this site. Some of the other sites are closer together and may prove to be more challenging for larger RVs to set up in.

If you need to be connected for work, you should start getting service if you turn left out of the campground entrance and head up the road less than a mile to Balanced Rock.

How Do I Pick A Good Campsite

Clipart Camping

Many people drive out on Forest Service roads into the woods and find a clearing or a spot near a stream or with a view of the mountains. Do not drive on meadows to access your camping site. Drive on existing roads to prevent resource damage. You can also follow these tips:

  • Ask a ranger. For an inside track into the best places to stay, keep an eye out for any BLM Ranger Station or visitor center and ask the true locals for their suggestions. Weve never been led astray and youll be amazed at how much theyll go out of their way to help you out.
  • Scour Google Maps. Again, look for the green areas that signify public lands. Use Google Earth to get an idea of roads and landscapes.
  • Attempt to camp on a paved road. If not possible, camp on bare, well-packed gravel. Note that this is done at your own risk: if renting an Escape Campervan, you are NOT covered by insurance and are NOT covered in the Escape Roadside Assistance plan if you are OFF a paved road. Camping on a level area also makes sleeping more comfortable.
  • If youre going to an area where others have camped before, pick a site that has been used before. Plants, soil, and wildlife are impacted by new campsites so using existing ones will minimize your impact on the forest. Always follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Check out these online resources and apps that make it easy to find places to camp:

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Best Places To Go Rv Camping For Free

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Are you looking for the Best Places to go RV Camping for Free?

Well read on to learn about the many options available to RVers looking to camp for free!

With the right planning and preparation, you can cut campground fees from your life. Its easy to find free RV camping for your road trips. You can also find free long term campsites throughout the United States. All it takes is a little bit of research and networking.

Best Free Camping Incolorado

By Nathan Swartz

While the Western United States are filled with seemingly endless opportunities to find beautiful, free camping, few states do it quite as well as Colorado.

From desert cliff-dwelling to the Rocky Mountains’ abundance of forests, and beyond to the Front Range including Denver and Fort Collins, finding free a free place to camp is not just about saving a buck it’s about living within the most splendid scenery the state has to offer.

Dispersed camping in the Centennial State is downright prolific throughout the dozen or so national forests and grasslands within the state’s borders. Are you looking for camping spots near Steamboat Springs? Forest roads and mountain passes galore await. Need beautiful free camping near Denver? Idaho Springs is only about a half-hour from town, yet filled with places to go mountain biking, tent camping, or enjoy your national forest.

See a map of all free camping in Colorado.

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Stonecoal Dispersed Camping Area

HOW TO FIND AMAZING CAMPSITES: Campgrounds vs Dispersed Camping (free camping!)

Farther west, this lovely small site sits at the end of Forest Road 209 off U.S. Route 250. It overlooks a fork of the Cheat River and has a grassy pad and two fire rings. You may even snag a site right on the river.

It also has two vault toilets along the road. The site has plenty of room, but larger rigs may have trouble negotiating the turnaround at the end of the road.

Pro Tip:Never boondock without these 25 items youll thank us later!

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National & State Parks

I camped for free in Death Valley, as well as right outside Joshua Tree National Park!

Many National Parks have free camping and/or and abundance of BLM land right outside the park. So, instead of sharing small campsites packed with other loud campers, you can enjoy peace and quiet just outside the entrance. Much better.

Where To Find Free Camping In California

As a general rule of thumb, finding free camping on the coastor any coast, reallyis difficult. There are exceptions to this rule, but if youre watching your budget, the coast is a tricky place to do it.

Luckily, the interior of California is full of public lands, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, and National Park Service lands, where you can settle in for a week of adventure and relaxation in a beautiful place.

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More Rustic And Less Like Home

Some folks would put this on the cons list, but not outdoor enthusiasts. We love when things get rustic and back to nature. The more wilderness, the better.

And while you can still experience plenty of the natural environment when camping with an RV, you get a more earthy experience when you are in a simple tent.

Tips When Rv Camping For Free

Camp for FREE in National Forests : 7 Steps (with Pictures)

It is essential to keep the size of your vehicle in mind as you venture out into more remote sites. When it comes to dispersed RV camping locations, often, the smaller the RV, the better. You dont want to get stuck and then have a long walk through rough country to get help.

Free RV camping is widely available on public lands throughout the western USA. And to some lesser extent in the eastern US, where there is much more privately owned property. Some states allow free or low-cost RV camping on public lands. As an example, Arizona offers a public lands recreation permit that allows free RV camping on state lands. While it is not entirely free, it is pretty darn close.

In cities and large towns, you will be able to find places to park for a night or two before moving on. Long term free RV camping sites are usually located off the beaten path. You will find them in rural and wilderness locations. Smaller RVs with good ground clearance are best for these types of campsites. Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you leave the last town on your route. You will also need groceries and other essentials before you leave civilization.

Learning how to find free RV camping sites is worth the effort. A slow paced low-cost lifestyle outside of the rat race is what most of us are looking for. Let me show you how its done!

Read Also: San Isabel National Forest Dispersed Camping

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