This just in: camping ain’t free! Or at least, it isn’t always. (There are certainly some amazing boondocking opportunities to take advantage of out there.)
But if you’re looking for an opportunity that’s somewhere in between getting totally off-grid out in the boonies and the full-on, resort-style, developed campground scene, there are some stunningly cheap campgrounds out there that honestly feel like anything but.
That’s thanks largely to the Bureau of Land Management, otherwise known as the BLM. (Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal, so you might have heard of them.) This federal agency manages thousands of acres of some of America’s most beautiful landscapes, including more than 400 low-cost campgrounds, many of which can accommodate motorhomes and travel trailers.
So if you’re looking to take a luxurious RV trip without the luxury price tag, look no further. In this post, we’ll introduce you to some of the most beautiful cheap campgrounds in the country… and give you more helpful hints, tips, and tricks for cheap vacation ideas no matter what destination you have in mind.
Affordable Campgrounds You Have to See to Believe
Each of these campgrounds costs less than $25 per night, but you certainly won’t feel like you’re making a sacrifice!
1. Edson Creek Campground, Oregon
Portland may get all the glory (and the funny TV show), but the Oregon coast is a hard destination to beat. Stunning coastlines, ample hiking opportunities, and agate-hunting await, not to mention world-class wines grown right in the area.
Edson Creek Campground is just 15 minutes from the shoreline, and though it may not have hookups, it does offer a number of amenities like campfire rings, picnic tables, and restrooms, as well as access to potable water. And for $8 per night, we definitely consider that a bargain — even if only for the location!
2. Devil’s Elbow Campground, Montana
Ready to have a #MontanaMoment?
With some of the most stunning vistas in the entire country, this northern mountain state is a popular RV destination for good reason. But popularity comes along with pricing, and camping here can be downright expensive, especially if you’re not sure where to look.
Well, we suggest you look just east of Helena, where Devil’s Elbow Campground waits to greet you. Situated on a scenic bend in the Missouri River, its gravel sites can accommodate even larger motorhomes and travel trailers, and sites are just $15 per night. (No electricity is available.)
3. Goodale Creek Campground, California
Nestled smack-dab in the middle of Sequoia, Death Valley, and Yosemite national parks, Goodale Creek Campground is the best way to experience the stunning beauty of Inyo County at stunningly low prices — $5 per night, to be exact. You’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Sierra Nevada mountains as well as ample hiking, biking, climbing, and fishing opportunities, without shelling out the high prices you’ll find at developed RV campgrounds in the area.
4. Ken’s Lake Campground, Utah
It’s no secret that Moab and its two nearby national parks, Arches and Canyonlands, are some of the most sought-after camping destinations in the country. And although they’re popular for a reason, that popularity brings priciness along with it; many of the local resorts charge $75 or more for a single night of camping.
But Ken’s Lake Campground lies just 10 miles south of town, and offers a perfect home base for exploring any of the area’s multitude of outdoor opportunities. In fact, if you want to skip the crowded park experience altogether, you can simply take advantage of the hiking trails that originate right on the property, or enjoy fishing and boating in and on the local reservoir.
Even large motorhomes are welcome, though sites are available only on a first-come, first-served basis, and as we said, this is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. — so be sure to arrive early!
5. Wild Rivers Campground, New Mexico
It may not be on your radar, but it should be — because they don’t call New Mexico the “land of enchantment” for nothing. With dramatic views of the Rio Grande gorge, dazzlingly tall mountain peaks to scale, and all the delicious, hot-chile-based cuisine you can get your hands on, chances are you’ll find this big-sky state even more charming than advertised.
Wild Rivers Campground is located in a central area, allowing you to explore the quaint ski town of Taos as well as the beauty of the surrounding wildernesses. It’s off the beaten path, which translates to silence and incredible starscapes… and best of all, it’s only $7 per evening.
How to Camp Cheap (Without Making Sacrifices)
Even if none of the campgrounds listed above are on your to-travel list this year, there are still plenty of ways to find cheap getaways in your area. In fact, even if you do prefer the full-hookup, developed-campground experience, there are plenty of ways to get what you want while still saving money… or, as they say, to have your cake and eat it, too!
One step we recommend all RVers take, whether you’re a full-timer or just somebody who takes an annual long weekend, is to purchase a Passport America membership. It’s true that there are lots of different discount camping clubs out there, but this one is unique and straightforward: you just pay your membership fee of less than $50, and you get 50% off your campsite accommodation fees at almost 1900 campgrounds across the country. And these are the types of campgrounds where a night’s stay could easily cost you $75… which means that membership quickly pays for itself, even on a short trip!
You can also save money on your camping trip simply by adopting frugal behaviors and lifestyle choices, which you can easily apply to your daily life at home as well as on the road. For instance, you can find ways to reuse food containers rather than splurging on expensive Tupperware or Pyrex, which will both help your bottom line and your carbon footprint. Win-win!
Looking for even more ways to save money and reduce waste, both on the road and at home? Check out the following RVshare blog posts:
- 5 Crazy Easy Ways to Save Money on your RV Rental
- 3 Easy Ways to Save Money on your Next RV Road Trip
- 5 Effortless Ways to Reduce Daily Waste in your RV and Life
- 8 Food Packages that Can be Reused Instead of Tossed
- 10 Simple Ways to Spend Less Money in the New Year (So you can save up for your next travel adventure!)
Double Down on Your Affordable Vacation with a Cheap RV Rental
No matter how cheap your campsite is or how much money you save on food, gas, and activities, the RV itself makes up a major portion of your overall travel budget — whether you own your own or you rent. RV owners often have to finance these large purchases, leading to expensive monthly payments, and rental vehicles can easily fetch as much as $300 per night or even more, depending on the vendor.
That’s why we’re so proud of what we’ve created here at RVshare, where our unique peer-to-peer rental marketplace both helps renters save money while putting extra cash into the hands of RV owners, helping them to afford their own adventures. You can find rigs of every shape, size, and style available all across the country, and you’ll save a huge percentage off what you’d pay if you went with one of the big, nationwide franchises. Click here to see what’s available in your area today!
Where’s the Cheap Camping Near Me?
“This is all well and good,” you may be thinking. “But I need a vacation STAT, and I don’t have time to get to any of these far-off places. where are the cheap campgrounds near me?”
Not a problem. Chances are, there are plenty of implementable last-minute weekend getaway ideas near you, no matter what part of the country you call home.
From quick trips out to your local coastline to exploring the state parks you may not have even realized were in your own backyard, there’s something fun to see and do in every American city and state. And when you’ve got your very own private bungalow on wheels, every destination is worthwhile — so what are you waiting for? Get out there!
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