Boondocking in Alabama

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 10:00 am. Originally published on March 5th, 2021

Between its mountains in the north, Gulf Coast in the south, and largest city Birmingham in the center, Alabama offers a lot to RVers. If you’re searching for free camping in Alabama, you’ll find some great boondocking options in every region of the Yellowhammer State. When you’re boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, you won’t have all the amenities of an RV resort. However, this opportunity to be self-reliant and off the grid attracts many RVers. Boondocking offers a wonderful chance to connect with nature in Alabama’s most amazing forests and parks. Keep in mind that boondocking is popular in Alabama, and sites usually have a first-come, first-served status; so be prepared to arrive early and search for alternatives if spots are occupied.

The Bartram walking trail of the Tuskegee Nation Forest.

Boondocking Sites in Alabama

Pine Glen

Talladega National Forest is a massive national forest that covers 392,567 acres in eastern Alabama. Pine Glen, which is a section set aside in the forest for dispersed camping, provides visitors with boondocking opportunities in a densely wooded environment. Pine Glen is practically designed to feel undermaintained. If you enjoy “roughing it,” this is the place for you. You’ll see hardwood trees, and the campground is near Shoal Creek, so there are fishing opportunities as well. The nearest community to Pine Glen is Heflin, AL.

Blue Creek Park

Blue Creek Park is a boondocking haven in Northport, which is just outside the college town of Tuscaloosa. There are 18 sites available for RVers to use, and there are restrooms available at the location as well. Anglers will love that Blue Creek Park provides access to the creek for fishing. Since there’s a boat ramp on-site, you’ll have no trouble getting out on the water. Pets are also permitted in this park, so your furry friends are welcome to stay here while you’re camping.

Silver Creek Park

Silver Creek Park, which lies along the Alabama River Lakes, is nestled in the small town of Whatley. Since there are only eight free-to-use campsites at this location, guests are only permitted to stay here for up to 14 days. There are two boat ramps that you can use to access the water, and there is a lovely bank that is ideal for fishing. The campsites all have a picnic table and a fire pit that can be used as well. Located in the southwestern part of Alabama, Silver Creek Park is less than two hours from the Gulf Coast.

Tuskegee National Forest

Tuskegee National Forest has 13 dispersed camping locations that are accessible by RV. This national forest can be found in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the majority of sites are slide-in and rest at an elevation of over 300 feet. The highest of the 14 boondocking sites rests at 500 feet, and keep in mind that some of these sites recommend a high-clearance vehicle. Usage of any of these sites requires a no-charge permit.

Claiborne Lake

Located in the rural southeastern town of Franklin, Claiborne Lake offers a primitive campsite that is good for those looking to go fishing as they boondock. Claiborne Lake, which is part of the Alabama River, has a beautiful dam that was completed in 1971. If you have a toy hauler and a boat, this is a great spot for enjoying water activities.

Where to Boondock in Alabama

It’s not very hard to find where to boondock in Alabama since dispersed camping is permitted in most of the areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service – Alabama. This means that national forests like Talladega have many campsites. The cities of Talladega and Montgomery are also great for those looking for boondocking in Alabama. As a general rule, lakeside locations also tend to have boondocking opportunities. For example, Sweetwater Lake and Silver Creek Park both have dispersed campsites nearby. If you want to check out the Gulf Coast, areas near Mobile also have a few boondocking opportunities.

Free Camping in Alabama

When preparing for your boondocking trip, it’s important to understand that this is a far cry from camping at an RV campground. For this reason, you’ll need to plan and make sure you have access to everything you’ll need. Remember, you won’t have the traditional 30- or 50-amp hookups at the campsites, and running water and sewer connections will also be scant. What you will get is free camping and a deeper bond with nature.

As a general rule in Alabama, always arrive at the boondocking site ahead of time and preferably during the day. These sites aren’t always meticulously maintained, so arriving early and when it’s bright out will let you determine whether the area has changed since it was last reviewed. Also, there are “No Trace Principles,” which require you to leave the site in the same state as when you arrived. Also, make sure to follow any rules regarding stay limits.

Without typical campground amenities, you’ll also need to pack more thoroughly. Bring extra batteries for your RV’s internal electronics, solar panels for extra power, low-energy fans and air conditioners for the hotter months, propane heaters during winter, water-saving showerheads, and potable water jugs if you’re camping in drier regions of the state.

Free camping in Alabama provides some definitive advantages; you will feel more self-sufficient and closer to nature. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service – Alabama allows for dispersed camping on all of its managed lands, so it’s relatively easy to find a place to boondock. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking.

Boondocking Alabama will expose you to a simpler way of life where you provide your own water and mostly live off-grid. From Tuscaloosa to Talladega, there’s plenty of free camping in Alabama to enjoy, and an RV makes the whole process simpler. To boondock, you don’t need to own a travel trailer or motorhome; renting an RV is easy with RVshare. You can even rent a vehicle from someone in the area where you want to boondock.

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