The 28 Best Free Camping Sites In the US!

Travel Inspiration

There are plenty of reasons for RVers to look for free camping sites when they’re planning a trip. The most obvious, of course, is that these sites can save you money. These sites are generally boondocking sites with no hookups, so they can also give you more of a feeling of roughing it and getting off the grid. Also, a lot of these sites are off the beaten path, so you may encounter fewer people and enjoy more solitude.

Whatever your reason for checking out free camping sites, here are some of the top sites to try.

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Free Camping in the West

Craggy Wash – Lake Havasu, Arizona

Many full-time RVers retreat to Lake Havasu during the harsh winter months. But even if you’re just a weekender, a quick trip will show you why this spot is so popular. Nestled along the California border with access to hiking, biking, and water activities, Lake Havasu is an amazing desert destination.

There are a variety of free campgrounds for boondockers in the area — which is one reason it’s such a popular winter spot. Perhaps the best is the stretch of BLM-owned land known as Craggy Wash, which is an easy drive from the city and offers clean, gravel-lined spaces and decent data coverage for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint users.

Although the access road is a bit rough, RVers traveling with rigs up to 42 feet in length have successfully accessed the campground.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Lake Havasu, Arizona.

American Girl Mine Road – Winterhaven, California

Formerly known as Karmack, Winterhaven is a small town in California situated just across the state line from Arizona and only a few minutes from the Mexican border. It’s an expansive desert vista and a great place to camp if you’re looking for a free boondocking site that makes international travel easy.

As if its great location weren’t already enough of a draw, the free campground along American Girl Mine Road has the additional benefit of being a great beginner boondocking site. It’s easy to access even for larger RVs, and it’s just 15 miles away from the city of Yuma, where you can stock up on supplies if you forgot anything.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Winterhaven, California.

Telephone Cove Road – Searchlight, Nevada

Lake Mead is considered an outdoor playground, and one visit will show you why it’s so popular. Nevada is home to lots of wide open spaces, making it a great place to find BLM-owned land that’s friendly to dispersed campers. And Telephone Cove takes the cake when it comes to location and cleanliness.

The access road is more than four miles of dirt, and it can be a bit of a bumpy ride, but Campendium reviewers say that even larger motorhomes and fifth wheels can make it. Just take it slow and don’t rush… which shouldn’t be a difficult task, given the beautiful surroundings.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Searchlight, Nevada.

Rufus Landing Recreation Area – Rufus, Oregon

Portland may be the best-known Oregon city but there’s stunning countryside to see outside of the city. That includes the alien-looking landscape outside of the Rufus Landing Recreation Area in the town of Rufus.

A couple hours east of Portland, this small town offers an array of outdoor recreational opportunities, much-needed solitude, and epic scenery. Campendium reviewers say the area is easy to access, is clean, and offers good coverage for Verizon and AT&T users. It’s nestled right along the mighty Columbia River, making it a perfect spot to swim, fish, or catch some kitesurfing in action!

Reviewers mention that there’s some train and highway noise, but most say it did not disturb their sleep. RVers are welcome to stay here for free for up to 14 nights.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Rufus, Oregon.

Forest Road 29 – Sappho, Washington

On the Olympic Peninsula, you can travel from snow-capped alpine mountains to the dense rainforests to coastal beaches lined with haystack rocks, all within the same day.

You’ll find plenty of camping options along the way, but most charge a good deal. The campground off Forest Road 29 in Olympic National Forest’s Pacific Ranger District is free for up to 14 days for the lucky few who get there in time. 

The good news is, this location still remains unknown to most. Some campers say they had the space to themselves for nights on end.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Sappho, Washington.

Wedge Overlook – Little Grand Canyon, Utah

With five national parks and far more state parks, national monuments, and other sites of interest, Utah is a veritable dreamscape for outdoor lovers. Which means it can be very expensive to camp there. That’s especially true during the most popular travel seasons in spring and fall when the weather is just gorgeous and the crowds are flocking in.

Fortunately, all that empty space Utah boasts means some great free campground options, including Wedge Overlook just outside of Emery. In fact, the campground is directly adjacent to a beautiful stretch of land that’s sometimes called the Little Grand Canyon of Utah — you might be able to camp right on the rim!

Separated from the highway entrance by 20 miles of dirt road, this free campground offers scenery and solitude in spades. Stay for up to two weeks in this dreamlike vista completely free of charge. Note, there is no water access here, so be sure to bring in what you need (and if you’re here in the summer, definitely bring extra!)

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Emery, Utah.

Lone Mesa — Moab, Utah

This just in: Moab is awesome. Awesome enough that staying there can be pretty dang pricey, especially during the high season.

This quirky Utah mountain town is the gateway to not one but two stunning national parks: Canyonlands and Arches. And if you’re looking for free camping in Moab, the Lone Mesa campground is a great option! You’ll get quiet, star-filled nights and gorgeous red-rock views. While staying here is free of charge, that kind of deal doesn’t stay a secret, which means that this campground gets pretty crowded. You’ll want to roll up early to have the best shot of getting a site, and be sure you have a backup plan just in case.

Reviewers warn drivers to take it slow on the dirt road coming in, as it’s a bit rocky. 

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Moab, Utah.

North Creek BLM – Virgin, Utah

Looking for a home base from which to explore Zion National Park or the southwestern Utah towns of Hurricane or St. George? The BLM’s North Creek dispersed campground is a great retreat, with beautiful views and the wide-open southwestern skies that make this area so special.

RVs of up to 38 feet in length have successfully navigated this free campground, which also boasts workable cell service for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile customers.

The site is also popular with tent campers, so if you plan to run your generator, be mindful of your neighbors!

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Virgin, Utah.

Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area – Hurricane, Utah

The BLM’s Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area is another amazing choice for free camping near Zion. It has other-worldly views and the wide-open southwestern skies that make this area so special. Hurricane Cliffs is only about a 20-minute drive to Zion and about a mile from the town of Hurricane. According to Campendium reviewers, sunsets here are phenomenal. Service is top-notch so if you’re working from the road this is a great place to post up. As the name suggests, it can get windy and dusty here, but the views and location still make this another one of the best options for free RV camping near Zion.

Keep in mind, Zion has become increasingly busy over the years, so if you want to find a free place to camp nearby it’s best to show up early in the day and in the middle of the week for your best shot.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Hurricane, Utah.

Sacred White Shell Mountain – Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

You might first think of Florida or Hawaii when you think of sand dunes. But the southwest has some amazing dunes of its own, including the tallest sand dune in North America at Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. Located in a surreal landscape in the south-central section of the state, this national park is a hidden gem.

If you’re looking for free camping in this part of Colorado, one great option is the BLM campground at Sacred White Shell Mountain. Campers rate it five stars, citing its stunning views, solitude, and great location. It also has decent data coverage from all major service providers and can accommodate large rigs like a 39-foot fifth-wheel trailer.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Cherry Creek Road – San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Durango, Colorado, in the southwest part of the state, is a destination worth adding to your list. The town itself has an array of shopping and dining options to offer. Nearby San Juan National Forest showcases snow-capped mountains in the distance year-round over a foot of dense, green trees and alpine lakes.

As far as free campgrounds in the area, the location on Cherry Creek Road is hard to beat. Although it’s not right in town, you get all the silence and solitude of one of the most beautiful landscapes in America with access to adventures in Durango. Some connectivity is available, depending on your carrier, though if you’re serious about staying connected, a cell booster may be helpful.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near the San Juan National Forest in Colorado.

Madden Peak Road — Hesperus, Colorado

Also located in the San Juan National Forest, Madden Peak Road is another great choice for RVers seeking a peaceful, free camping spot in the state. Its prime location north of Highway 160 and proximity to Mancos makes it a convenient base for exploration, particularly for those planning to visit Mesa Verde National Park

According to Campendium reviewers, this area gets good cell service for all major carriers and large RVs shouldn’t have an issue navigating the road. Sites are surrounded by towering mountains, oak trees, and starry skies. You won’t have any amenities here, but sites offer solitude while being within an easy drive from the small towns of Mancos, Cortez, and Durango.

To access Madden Peak Road, head west along Highway 160, pass the Target Tree Campground, and take a right turn onto FR316/Madden Peak Road.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

Jackson Mountain Road – Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Looking to enjoy all that colorful Colorado has to offer? Pagosa Springs is a Rocky Mountain paradise, complete with hot springs and a river perfect for tubing. And although the free campground at Jackson Mountain Road doesn’t have many amenities, it does offer free camping close to this well-loved destination.

Given the elevation, this campground is only open seasonally, and some larger RVs may have difficulty navigating the access road. Those who make it will find a beautiful and clean campground with lovely surrounding views, forest cover, low noise levels, and even passable data connectivity for those who need to get work done even when they’re off-grid.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Cebolla Mesa Campground – Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico

Northern New Mexico is simply stunning — and the word is out. Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque are experiencing an influx of visitors.

Prices can get pretty steep for campsites, particularly around Santa Fe and the resort destination of Taos. This is why we recommend the Cebolla Mesa Campground, where you’ll get stunning New Mexico skies and easy access to nearby attractions like the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and the ski slopes (and in summer, hiking trails!) of Taos.

Cebolla Mesa is located in the small town of Questa on the Enchanted Circle, an 80-mile scenic drive you must take while in New Mexico.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

Glacier National Park

Middle Fork Flathead River – Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is one of those places that’s so astonishingly pretty, it doesn’t look real. It honestly feels like walking into a desktop background.

Thanks to that scenery, and given its very short window of opportunity because of them extreme northern location, the nearby campgrounds can get very crowded — and very expensive — during the short Montana summers.

It’s best if you make reservations well ahead of time and don’t make last-minute plans to visit Glacier. But if you find yourself in the area, and you’re driving a very small RV or sleeper van, try Middle Fork Campground. It’s right outside of the gateway town of West Glacier on the Middle Fork Flathead River, off of Blankenship Road.

Although it’s free to camp here and the views are breathtaking, access to this campground is quite limited. Campers have reported success with trailers of up to 20 feet in length, but generally, the smaller and spryer your RV or trailer, the better your chances are of getting to this location. There is also a 3-day stay limit at Middle Fork. 

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Glacier National Park in Montana.

Lake Hattie Public Access Area – Laramie, Wyoming

An easy drive to the Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge, Curt Gowdy State Park, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and so many other destinations, Laramie, Wyoming is a great spot to set up camp while you’re wandering around the mountain west. If you’d like to do so for free, don’t miss the Lake Hattie Public Access Area. Clean, level campsites are available right along the Lake Hattie waterfront, giving you great access to boating, fishing, or enjoying the view.

While nights are quiet and starry-skied, the campground can fill up during the daytime when visitors use the boat launch. Keep in mind also that this boondocking site is quite remote. You’ll want to pack everything you need for your adventure… and pack it all back out afterward, of course!

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Laramie, Wyoming.

Shadow Mountain Road — Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are at the top of many RVers’ destination lists. In fact, Yellowstone is so stunning and special that it inspired legislators at the time to name it the first national park not only in the U.S. but in the world. Shadow Mountain Road in Bridger-Teton National Forest has some of the best free camping opportunities in the state. It can get crowded here, but you’ll have the most incredible views of the Tetons.

Herds of bison, blossoming wildflowers, and snowy peaks off in the distance… talk about epic morning coffee views!

Several Campendium reviewers note the road up the mountain is pretty bumpy, so if you’re in a big rig it’s probably best to look for a site at the base of the camp. 

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Grand Teton National Park

Free Camping in the Midwest

Blackwell Horsecamp – Hoosier National Forest, Indiana

It’s a lot harder to come by free campsites in the Midwest than in the West. But if you do a little digging, you can occasionally find a hidden gem — which is exactly how we’d characterize Blackwell Horsecamp. This green spot in the Hoosier National Forest looks like something out of a magazine ad, with rolling green hills and picturesque fences. And yet it’s totally free to camp in and even offers restrooms with vault toilets. 

The location is convenient to the city of Bloomington, so you can easily get to town if you need to — but given the solitude, silence, and scenery in the forest, chances are you’ll want to stay put.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Bloomington, Indiana.

Green Road — Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, Lake Michigan

Campendium reviewers note this place as a “hidden gem” and a “great spot for first-time boondockers”. Green Road is located in Michigan’s Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, part of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. It’s highly regarded for its proximity to Lake Michigan, private campsites, and accessible location. While there are no restrooms or water sources on-site, some nearby trailheads offer vault toilets. 

Green Road’s appeal lies in its seclusion, ease of access for most vehicles (though turning around can be challenging for larger rigs), and its short drive from the captivating dunes and shores of Lake Michigan.
Click here to see RVshare rentals near Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness.

Nomad View – Buffalo Gap National Grassland, South Dakota

South Dakota is home to a variety of sights, including Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The Nomad View dispersed camping area offers some of the most stunning and surreal views in the country completely free of charge. The area is located right outside of Badlands National Park, overlooking cliffs and valleys which offer amazing opportunities for sunrise and sunset chasers. RVers with rigs of up to 44 feet in length say they can access the campground, where you can set up for up to 14 days without paying a dime. Reviewers also mention seeing mountain goats here!

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Buffalo Gap National Grassland in South Dakota.

Free Camping in the South

Deep Creek Preserve – Arcadia, Florida

Miami Beach may get all the glory, but the southwestern portion of Florida is, by our account, a whole lot nicer. You’ll notice a more laid-back pace and quieter waterfronts with less tourism, nestled into woodland communities where southern hospitality is still a thing. Deep Creek Preserve is a campground offered by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and it’s free to camp here for up to seven days.

Because the campground is immediately adjacent to the highway, there is some noise, according to Campendium reviewers. Also, reservations are required, even though the accommodations are free.)

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Arcadia, Florida.

Hickory Hammock Campground – Lorida, Florida

Hickory Hammock is another campground offered by Florida’s Wastewater Management District, just outside of Sebring. It’s a dry campground, so you may want to plan your travels for fall or winter to avoid the hottest portion of Florida’s calendar year. No matter when you come, this is a convenient location with spacious campsites for rigs of up to 36 feet in length or so, with vault toilets, shaded and sunny spots, wooded walking trails, and fire rings available.

Reservations are still required, even though the accommodations are free. Check in with the camp host upon arrival, and then you can select your site.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Lorida, Florida.

Jeff Busby Campground — Natchez Trace Parkway MP 193.1 (Ackerman), Mississippi

Out west, big stretches of public land are easier to come by. But when you’re headed toward the East Coast, it can be a lot more difficult to secure free camping at all — let alone free camping in a picturesque area. Luckily, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers a few great options including Jeff Busby Campground. 

The Natchez Trace Parkway is renowned for its rich history as it follows the ancient Natchez Trace route, a path used by Native Americans, traders, and settlers for centuries. This picturesque road spans 444 miles from Mississippi to Tennessee and the breathtaking views will not leave you disappointed. Jeff Busby Campground is located right along the Natchez Trace and offers paved sites, restrooms with flush toilets (and hot water!), and decent cell service for Verizon and AT&T. It’s worth a stay whether you’re looking for a quick overnight stop, or a nice place to post up for a few days. And if you’re up for a hike while you’re there, Little Mountain Overlook is a nice treat! 

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Ackerman, Mississippi.

Magnolia Beach County Park – Port Lavaca, Texas

Beachfront camping… for free??

Yes, it does exist! The stunning waterfront at Magnolia Beach in Port Lavaca will make you feel like you’ve taken an epic, tropical vacation without ever leaving the States. And yet, you’re just a short drive from southern Texas comforts like barbecue, and all the things to do and see in Houston and San Antonio.

This campground’s high ratings are thanks to its location, ease of access, and beauty. Plus, it has data coverage with all major carriers, bathrooms with flush toilets and cold showers, and plenty of opportunities for seashell hunting!

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Magnolia Beach, Texas.

North Beach – Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island is a popular vacation spot for Texans as well as farther-flung folks. It has a diversity of sea and avian life that’s hard to come across anywhere else in the country. It’s a barrier island about as close to a Mexican beach town as you can get without crossing the border. If you stay at North Beach, you’ll get access to all of it without paying a dime in campground fees.

There’s very little cell phone service, but North Beach does have a dump station and water access. The camping area is literally right on the beach, close enough for the sounds of the surf to sing you to sleep. Plus it’s easy to access and even big rigs can camp on the island.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Padre Island National Seashore, Texas.

Free Camping in the Northeast

Jewett Cove — Moosehead Lake, Maine

This spot is located in Greenville, Maine on the beautiful shores of Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine (and one of the most remote!). Situated in the northwestern part of the state, this area is renowned for its pristine wilderness and tranquil surroundings. If you like to fish or boat, Moosehead Lake is definitely worth the trip! 

Jewett Cove is conveniently located at a boat launch area, so if you’re driving or towing a larger RV you’ll have no problem staying here. You can stay for up to 14 nights on Moosehead Lake Shoreline Public Lands. Aside from Jewett Cove, there are countless primitive sites on the land that are all free for use. Sites have fire rings, picnic tables, and access to a vault toilet. And if you’re lucky you might even see a moose, as the vast wilderness surrounding Moosehead Lake offers some of the best moose-watching in the country!

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Greenville, Maine.

Sugar Hill Fire Tower – Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen is a stunning segment of the Finger Lake area of upstate New York, home to what is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. And while the campgrounds in the state park fill up fast (and cost a nightly fee), there is a free camping option in the area that’s so nice, Campendium reviewers agree it’s hard to believe it’s actually free.

The free campsites under the Sugar Hill Fire Tower offer bathrooms and water spigots throughout the property. While there are no showers, there is a designated area for dishwashing. Reviewers say the campground is sparkling clean and on-site staff are courteous and helpful, making this free campsite a no-brainer if you get there in time to find a spot.

Click here to see RVshare rentals near Watkins Glen, New York.

Free Campgrounds: FAQs

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about free campgrounds — how to find them, how they differ from resort-style campgrounds, and other pressing questions.

What is boondocking?

At almost all of the campgrounds listed above, the type of camping you’d be doing is dispersed camping, otherwise known as boondocking. Boondocking refers to camping without hookups to electricity, water, or sewer lines.

Finding free boondocking sites is a great way to save money on your campground accommodation fees — and in most cases, your RV is designed for it. If you have onboard plumbing facilities, with black and gray water holding tanks, your RV can be used for boondocking. Better still, if you have a generator or solar setup you have even more power options.

That said, there are some things to know about boondocking before you set out on your first venture. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about boondocking — Boondocking 101: The Secrets to Success

What’s the difference between public and private campgrounds?

There are several differences between public and private campgrounds. One of the first noticeable differences is the price – private campgrounds are often much more expensive than public ones. Private campgrounds are just that: privately owned, for-profit businesses that often include lots of luxury amenities in order to make their sites more attractive. Public campgrounds, on the other hand, are spots in government-run places like state or national parks. Many of these sites charge a nightly fee, though it’s often significantly less than you’d spend at a private campground.

BLM campsites — like many on this list — are located on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management manages thousands of acres of some of America’s most beautiful landscapes, including more than 400 campgrounds. Many of those campgrounds have free camping.

Click here for more on the differences between public and private campgrounds.

Do I need any special equipment for boondocking?

Boondocking is all about simplicity. That said, some extra gear can certainly make it more comfortable. If you want to stay connected no matter what, a cell signal booster can help you get those bars even when you’re far afield. Extra collapsable water jugs make it possible to stay out in the boonies for longer since they extend your water supply.

Upgrading your rig’s power system is also a good idea. That can mean upgrading your house batteries for extra storage, replacing your generator, or purchasing a solar set-up.

How do I find more free campsites near me?

Although the campsites on this list are great, we don’t have room to talk about every amazing free campsite in the country — let alone the ones near your favorite destinations.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find free campsites almost everywhere in America. You can check websites like Campendium or freecampsites.net, and adjust the filters to look for free sites that suit your other parameters. Boom! Your camping experience just got more affordable… and a whole lot better.

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