Your Complete Guide to Free Camping Across the Country
BannerOak, a firm with extensive experience in the field of headgear, has provided this article to you. Their trucker hats are the ideal accessory for discovering free camping opportunities in your area. It may feel as though free camping is as scarce as Big Foot these days. With a growing number of people venturing outside in search of fresh air and dark sky, both the number of people and the cost of parking are rising. The majority of national park campsites charge $30 or more for a single night’s stay in their facilities.
However, free camping is available, and the benefits of free camping extend far beyond the financial aspect.
Many dirt roads around the country lead to dead ends on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, where camping is permitted.
It means going the additional mile to discover a wonderful place to call home for a night or longer.
Let’s have a look at how you might be able to find a free campground this weekend:
What is Free Camping?
Camping for free, boondocking, or scattered camping are all terms that effectively indicate the same thing: days spent in an area with minimal or no facilities and with no camping costs attached. You may have to move outside of your comfort zone if you’re used to picnic tables, fire rings, and toilets. Dispersed campsites with prepared tent pads and fire rings are available in some locations, but not all of them. Please accept my heartfelt congrats if you have found one of these sites. Your quest for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has just been completed.
There are a couple of ground rules to follow.
Free camping laws might differ from one location to the next, so check with ranger stations for information on stay limits, fire restrictions, and where the greatest locations could be hiding before setting up camp.
Where Can You Camp for Free?
The United States Forest Service is in charge of managing 20 National Grasslands and 154 National Forests in the United States. There are a total of 193 million acres of public land in the United States. National Forests are simple to see on Google Maps; they’re often the green, shaded regions that span enormous swathes of land in the middle of nowhere.
On the United States Forest Service website, an interactive map displays hiking routes, camp locations, ADA accessible areas, and more, making it simple for users to choose a general area to park their campervan or pitch their tent for the night while on vacation.
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the management of one in every ten acres of land in the United States. This includes land in the Dakotas, Utah, Alaska, and California, among other locations. BLM land comprises some of the most underappreciated expanses of landscape in the United States. BLM land receives 75 percent fewer tourists than the National Forest System and 80 percent fewer visitors than the National Park Service, according to statistical estimates. The 245 million acres scream out for to be discovered and explored.
What to Consider When Looking for Free Camping
If you’re prepared to put in the time and effort, you can locate some very unique locations. Free camping, on the other hand, comes with some duties. Fees are what pay for the upkeep of campgrounds, therefore if they are not collected, the area will most likely not be maintained as frequently as it should be. As a camper in this area, it is your responsibility to reduce your environmental effect. Always leave your site in the same condition that you found it. This is the fundamental tenet of the Leave No Trace(LNT) philosophy, and it is very crucial for preserving wild places in their natural state.
Some broad rules for Leave No Trace practices are as follows:
- If you’ve packed it in, it’s time to pack it out. It is preferable to travel on durable surfaces (rock, gravel, or dry grass). Fill the holes with human feces 6-8 inches deep and place them at least 200 feet from water sources. You should leave plants and other natural items in the same condition as you found them. Keep flames small, burn them down to ash, extinguish them completely, and then spread the cold ashes.
As soon as you’ve packed everything in, make sure you’ve packed it out as well. Traveling over sturdy surfaces (rock, gravel, or dry grass) is recommended. Approximately 200 feet away from water sources, dig pits 6′′-8′′ deep for human waste. It’s best to leave plants and other natural items in their original state. Reduce the size of flames, let them burn down to ash, then extinguish them entirely before scattering the cold ashes
In rural areas, dispersed camping is sometimes found near the end of, or beside, uneven, pothole-ridden roads that don’t see much traffic. Visiting a lonely piece of property in the woods? Before you go, check the local government website for regulations. The National Parks Service (NPS), the United States Forest Service (USFS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) all keep up-to-date information on road closures in their respective jurisdictions. You should feel secure in your vehicle’s ability to handle whatever terrain you may encounter.
Other Uses in the Area
Another thing to consider is who else is using this space. Mineral extraction, logging, oil extraction, hunting, grazing, and other operations are carried out on BLM and USFS lands. Because BLM and USFS territory frequently borders private or National Park Service area, understanding where your boundaries are might help you avoid getting a ticket or being cited for trespassing.
Maps and GPS
If you’re traveling through a dense forest or desert, there’s a good possibility you’ll lose cell service. Especially in an age when we are too connected to everything and everyone, this may sometimes be the driving reason behind the decision to check out to the middle of nowhere in the first place.
Make sure you are prepared with an Atlas or a map of the region, just in case something happens. It is possible to go lost on a backroad with no cell phone coverage, which might spoil your free camping trip forever!
Other “Camping” Options
The phrase “boondocking” is frequently used to refer to parking and sleeping in areas that would not normally be considered “campgrounds,” while “boondocking” may also apply to any location where you camp without access to an RV connection system. Most RV campers and “vanlifers” who routinely travel long distances and need a place to park and sleep rely on these boondocking possibilities for their accommodations. Prepare ahead of time by checking in with companies, or go in and speak with the management to ensure that you are respecting the guidelines.
However, if you are knowledgeable enough about where you are permitted to park for the night, you will not be need to breach the law.
The majority of casinos provide overnight RV parking with no facilities. Casinos are ideal because of their buffet offerings and complimentary beverages (coffee and soda, of course). Most casinos also provide new customers with credit to use on the machines, which is ideal for those of us who need a little assistance from our companions.
Check with each rest place to be sure. However, while not all rest places allow overnight camping in their parking lots, a large number do. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation ahead of time to avoid any problems later on in the process. In most cases, signs are posted at each parking lot stating that overnight parking is prohibited and that hourly parking limits apply.
In addition to providing showers and facilities, truck stops are a popular stop for travelers on long road trips. Showers will cost you a few dollars, but they’ll be well worth it after a few days in the bush, I promise. Many truck stops also include dump stations for RV waste tanks, which is convenient for RVers.
Walmart offers free camping, so this wouldn’t be a comprehensive list without include it. For years, Walmart was the go-to place for RVers and vanlifers who were in a pinch. Walmarts, on the other hand, are not all created equal. The corporation has changed its policy to let each individual store to pick whether or not to provide free camping space. Calling ahead to find out will spare you a hassle, as well as the inconvenience of a 3 a.m. tap on the door. Check out our guide to free camping at Walmart for advice from Shari and Hutch, who live in their camper for the most of the year.
Walmart offers free camping, so this wouldn’t be a comprehensive list without include it. When vanlifers and RVers were in a jam for years, Walmart was the go-to place. Walmarts, on the other hand, are not all the same. A new policy has been implemented by the corporation that allows individual stores to select whether or not to provide free camping.
Calling ahead to find out will spare you a hassle, as well as the inconvenience of a 3 a.m. knock on your door. Shari and Hutch, two full-time campers, provide advice in our guide to free camping at Walmart.
Resources for Free Camping
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in National Forests
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in Oregon
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in Nevada
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in the Pacific Northwest
- Free Camping in California: A Dyrt’s Guide
- Wyoming Free Camping: The Dyrt’s Guide to Finding It
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in Florida
- The Dyrt’s Guide to Free Camping in Florida
- Map of the United States Forest Service
- Boondockers Welcome
- The Mandagies’ guide to free camping
- Freedom in a Can: The Best Way to Find Free Camping
This post is provided to you byBannerOak, whose snapback trucker hats are the ideal complement to any free camping vacation.
- Dispersed camping
- Boondocking: A Guide to Free RV Camping
- Lander, Wyoming
- Camping in Utah
- Camping in Arizona
- Camping in Northern California
- Grand Canyon Camping
- In our Year in Review, you may learn about the latest camping travel trends for 2020. Finding Free Camping in National Forests
- A Checklist for First-Time RVers
- How to Find Free Camping in National Forests
- With the Dyrt Map Layers, you can find free camping spots. The Ultimate Guide to Free Camping
- The Ultimate Guide to Free Camping
- Wifi for your RV: Everything You Need to Know About It
- Best Overland Routes in North America
- 7 of the best routes in North America
- 14 Wilderness Survival Tools You Should Have in Your Backpack If You’re Going Camping
- Here are some items to include on your primitive camping checklist:
Free Camping Near You
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Whether you’re looking for a free camping spot locally or want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered! To discover campsites near you, you may just use your smart phone’s GPS feature, or you can use our trip planner to plan your journey from point A to point B. Our camping community delivers the most up-to-date and accurate free camping information accessible. It might be difficult to locate free campgrounds. Freecampsites.net makes it simple to find a campground. We provide you with a straightforward, map-based search engine for finding free and inexpensive camping spots.
- This is a platform for you to share campsites and camp spots that you have found on your own.
- By sharing camping knowledge openly, we can all save time and money by researching campgrounds in less time and spending more time camping as a result.
- Thank you for returning and informing us of your findings!
- The greater the amount of knowledge you have, the better informed your selections are.
- Often, we feel, the most beautiful and quiet camping spots are those that are provided free of charge.
- You are the legal owner of these lands, and you have the right to utilize them.
- We hope you will enjoy camping in the same manner as we do.
- There are currently a sufficient number of Wal-Mart and truck stop directories available.
- Intergalactic Data has graciously supplied next level hosting for this website.
How to camp for free on your road trip…any time, any place
Traveling isn’t inexpensive, what with the cost of petrol, meals, and entry to sites along the route. If you can figure out how to make your money go further, it will allow you to travel a bit farther.
Free camping may not be the most luxurious choice, but it does have a certain allure that evokes the “romanticism of the open road,” as the saying goes. How to camp for free. at any time and from anywhere is detailed below.
How to find free campsites
Knowing which public areas allow for free camping makes the process of locating a free campground a whole lot less difficult. The website freecampsites.net has some excellent recommendations on which public lands permit scattered camping, and it is well worth your time to check it out (camping anywhere on public lands, outside of a campsite). For the most part, dispersed camping is permitted on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service areas for a maximum of 14 days per visit. Wildlife Management Areas, on the other hand, are frequently permissive; nonetheless, double-check to ensure that you do not require a permit and that there are no limitations.
Some national parks, such as Congaree National Park, allow backcountry or dispersed camping, but you should check with the park to see whether you need to get a free permit first.
You may find them on the websites of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.
Download the mobile app to plan on the go.
Discover millions of destinations along the way as you share and plan journeys with your friends. Download the App now. You might also be able to locate a city or county park that offers free camping; these locations will frequently publicize their availability. Do as much internet research as you can in advance of your trip, no matter where you want to stay. You may acquire information on what facilities a site may or may not have, how crowded it may or may not be, and so on and so forth. As for tent camping, be sure you have everything you’ll need by double- and triple-checking your list of supplies.
How to camp for free… in a parking lot
The possibility of camping in a Walmart parking lot has undoubtedly been brought to your attention. Alternatively, Cracker Barrel. Alternatively, another sort of business or location. However, while it is true that you are permitted to stay the night in a parking lot for the majority of these businesses, several states have regulations and limits in place regarding this practice. Again, go online for whatever information you can uncover, and if all else fails, speak with management before establishing your base of operations.
It’s not the most comfortable alternative, but it’s a decent backup plan to have in case something goes wrong.
Some free campsites may not include facilities such as restrooms. Moreover, if it does, it is possible that the bathrooms are not ones you wish to use. It’s not difficult to locate a McDonald’s or a gas station that is a little more sanitary, but finding a place to shower is another matter entirely. Truck stops are one option, but if you’re starting to feel a little queasy, you might want to consider spending a little more money on a nicer campground. Alternatively, you might go for the old-fashioned method of going for a swim.
A large number of these campgrounds are devoid of any facilities.
Bring your own water, a trash bag for your rubbish, and perhaps some picnic chairs if you want to go on a picnic.
Because you may not have cell coverage, you should not expect to be able to rely on the GPS on your phone. Paper maps are always a good idea to have on hand in case something happens. Are you ready to start making plans? We need to get a Roadtrippers Plus account started.
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How to Find Free Campsites for Car Camping & Van Life
In case you’re considering a road trip or are a first-time van dweller, you might be shocked at how much camping fees can mount up over time, especially if you end up staying in national parks or privately owned campsites. I understood this when I initially purchased mySprinter Van, and I quickly realized that spending $15-20 each night for camping was not an option if I wanted to stay on the road for an extended period of time. Since then, I’ve been utilizing a number of programs to locate free campsites, also known as scattered camping, which is becoming increasingly popular.
Get outside and enjoy a quiet night of camping under the stars on a budget with this guide to finding free campsites across the U.S.
Free or scattered camping implies that you will most likely not have access to services and facilities such as water, picnic tables, garbage cans, showers, or toilets, among other things. That means you’ll need to arrive completely prepared with everything you’ll need, and you’ll also need to pack everything away and adhere to the ideals of Leave No Trace. These scattered campsites are often free, provide far more isolation than regular campgrounds, and in some cases, have even greater vistas than traditional campers.
Learn all about Leave No Trace
- It is vital to conduct your homework to find out if there are any fire restrictions in place and to come equipped with basic backcountry fire safety abilities. Dispersed free campsites may or may not have a fire pit, therefore it is necessary to arrive prepared with basic backcountry fire safety skills. To learn more about how to have a safe campfire, visit ourcampfire safety guide
- You’ll want to know what the road conditions are like before you set out, if you’ll require 4-wheel drive, and whether there are any road closures before you start your journey. It is possible that an app or map on your phone will fail to discern between a paved road and a dirt road, and between a graded maintained dirt road and a route that requires greater clearance and 4-wheel drive at times. Water Availability: Will there be any potable water sources nearby, and if so, will they be safe to drink? You’ll want to know this so that you can pack extra water if there isn’t any accessible, or a water filter if one is required, and so that you can camp at least 200 feet away from any stream or water source. Amenities in free scattered campsites are often limited to the provision of picnic tables, trash receptacles, sinks, and toilets. Make sure to have a trash bag and be prepared to pack away your rubbish, and if there aren’t any toilets, be prepared to go to the bathroom outside while adhering to Leave No Trace guidelines. Mobile Coverage: Because many dispersed free campsites are in isolated places, you may not be able to use maps on your phone if you do not have cell service. We strongly advise you to have paper maps in your car at all times, as they may be useful for discovering local hiking trails and other recreational activities.
Type of Land where Free Camping is Usually Found
Understanding the various public lands classifications will aid you in your search for free camping spots. Dispersed camping is not managed in the same way by all public lands agency. The majority of campgrounds, such as the National Park Units, are fee-based, but some allow free camping for a maximum of 14 days. The Bureau of Property Management, sometimes known as the BLM, and the United States Forest Service land are the two types of public land where free camping is most readily available.
Off-limits places are often denoted by signage indicating that they are so.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owns much of the land in the western United States, and dispersed camping is permitted on most BLM lands for up to 14 days. The only exceptions are regions adjacent to population centers and grazing zones, both of which are prohibited. When it comes to BLM camping in Moab, Utah, for example, there is a plethora of options, but since it is so popular, many of the sites are more developed and charge a nominal fee for overnight stays, for example. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not provide a full map of all of the free BLM campsites on their website; however, you may get a sense of what’s available in your region by exploring their regional maps, which can be found here.
The techniques we discuss in the next section will also assist you in determining where free BLM camping is available.
Forest Service Land (USFS)
Dispersed camping is permitted in over 175 national forests and grasslands in the United States, similar to what is permitted on BLM properties. In order to obtain information on camping on USFS lands around the country, you must contact each ranger district directly on their policies. On the United States Forest Service website, you may search for forests and grasslands by state and then choose a specific forest or grassland to learn more about.
Best Apps for Finding Free Campsites
The number of tools available is greater than what we have included in this article; nonetheless, after four years of road touring in a van, these are my favorite web resources and mobile applications for discovering free campsites.
The DyrtThe Dyrt PRO
Our favorite new campsite-finding tool, Dyrt, is presently the most popular camping software for Apple and Android devices, and it is currently the top-rated camping app overall. It has entries for a wide variety of campsites, including public and private campgrounds, as well as some free scattered camping choices, among others. Reviews, images, information about facilities, and other features are included in their listings. You may also narrow your search by the facilities you desire. If you want Wifi in order to complete some work, a site with showers, or even a pet-friendly location, you may narrow down your search using a variety of criteria.
- The ability to look for campsites and read reviews when not connected to the internet — There is no need for mobile service or WiFi (which is important because not having service might be stressful if you don’t have a plan for the night)
- There is no requirement for a reservation. A interesting layer feature that informs you where Bureau of Property Management, Forest Service, and National Park land are situated
- Trip planning software that allows you to create your itinerary before leaving home and then export it all to Google Maps (very nice! )
- You may add campgrounds that you’re interested in to lists so that you’ll have them readily available while you’re on the road. A PRO member also receives discounts on specific campgrounds as well as savings on outdoor items from PRO’s brand partners.
For the time being, readers of The Dyrt PROto Bearfoot Theory may take advantage of a FREE 90-day subscription to The Dyrt. See how you like it after giving it a shot.
If you have a smartphone, you may download the IOverlander app for free. A large number of users provide data on the locations where they’ve tented, and it’s one of the most complete crowdsourced databases of free camping that I’ve come across, covering the entirety of North America (including Canada and Mexico). Photo uploads, descriptions, and other information, such as internet availability, may be uploaded by users, along with GPS coordinates. There are also several paid campsites on iOverlander, which are shown below.
For example, a scattered area may have recently been locked down, or someone might have encountered anything shady while camping.
More lately, they’ve added amenities such as water refill and propane stations, as well as dump stations and other facilities.
It’s simply that when you zoom in, you won’t be able to see the map backdrop or receive instructions — something that, perhaps, will improve in the future.
Ultimate US Public Campgrounds App
On the move, you can locate low-cost or free campsites with theUltimate Campgrounds App, a comprehensive and user-friendly phone application. It is quite easy to discern between Forest Service, National Park, and other sorts of campsites using the Ultimate Campgrounds app, which offers over 41,000 public campsites (updated monthly). The app provides detailed information about each campground, including facilities, road conditions, pricing, and more. I was pleasantly delighted to discover that this app includes information about pull-offs on the side of the road as well as remote campsites on dirt roads where it is permitted to set up tent.
This software is available for purchase for $3.99.
You won’t truly know what you’re getting until you get there because this app does not include photographs or reviews of the establishment.
All Stays CampRV
On the move, you can locate low-cost or free campsites with theUltimate Campgrounds App, a comprehensive and user-friendly phone app. It is quite easy to discern between Forest Service, National Park, and other sorts of campsites using the Ultimate Campgrounds app, which contains over 41,000 public campsites (which are updated weekly). The app provides detailed information about each campground, including facilities, road conditions, pricing, and other information, among other things. That this app includes pull-offs on the side of the road as well as remote campsites on dirt roads where it is permitted to camp has taken me completely by surprise.
This program is available for purchase for $3.99 USD.
You won’t truly know what you’re getting until you arrive because this app does not include photographs or reviews.
For those looking for low-cost or free campgrounds on the go, The Ultimate Campgrounds Appis a comprehensive and user-friendly phone app to help them locate them. It is quite easy to discern between Forest Service, National Park, and other sorts of campsites using the app, which offers over 41,000 public campsites (which are updated weekly). The app provides detailed information about each campground, including facilities, road conditions, pricing, and other information. That this software even shows pull-offs on the side of the road, as well as remote campsites on dirt roads, where it is permitted to camp, has taken me completely by surprise.
This app has a price of $3.99.
Because there are no photographs or ratings on this app, you won’t know exactly what you’re receiving until you arrive.
Other Tools for Finding Free Campsites
The use of a paper road map may be quite beneficial while traveling by car or van and seeking for free camping spots. In remote regions, Google Maps may be unreliable, and if your service goes down, you’ll be glad you have a good old-fashioned paper map to guide you through your journey. Benchmark Road Atlases are the paper maps that I use the most. If I’m going to be spending any significant amount of time in a single state, I’ll get a Benchmark Road Atlas to help me navigate. Each state has its own atlas, which are normally priced around $20 each.
Besides that, these maps include all of the small backroads that you’ll need to know about in order to discover the best dispersed campgrounds, and what’s even better is that they distinguish between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive roads.
Having a general understanding of the landscape and accessibility is an excellent beginning to start exploring.
This is my strategy for discovering free, dispersed campsites in a new region.
National Geographic Maps
These waterproof and tear-resistant topographic maps are ideal for trekking because they are lightweight and easy to carry. They are peculiar to a certain place; for example, Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness. Each of the maps has precise information on individual areas and ranger districts, and all National Forest boundaries are included on each map. Furthermore, they frequently point out routes for scattered camping, hiking trails, possible water sources, dump stations, and campsites that provide showers.
Not interested in spending money on paper maps? Use a digital map instead. Stop by the rangers’ station when you reach your location to say hello. There are several of them that give complimentary public maps for visitors to use. If not, virtually all of them have a large map of their jurisdiction displayed prominently on the wall. Using your phone, take a photo of the place that you are interested in learning more about.
Other Options for Free Overnight Parking
Before we go on, I’d want to briefly discuss some of the different sorts of free overnight parking options available.
If you find yourself stuck in town “refueling” on supplies and in need of a place to sleep for the night, it’s crucial to know that Walmart, Camping World, Cracker Barrel, casinos, and truck stops are all places where you can usually find free overnight parking. It’s important to remember that when you crash in these sorts of parking lots, you have to stay (which means sleeping, cooking, and hanging out) inside your vehicle for the whole evening, but it may be a viable alternative when you’re desperate.
- In case you are in any doubt or have any issues, you should always verify with management.
- Occasionally, Walmartsoften may provide free overnight parking, but this is not usually the case.
- As is always the case, obey any signage you may come across.
- Overnight parking is available at casinos, truck stops, and rest stations, among other places.
- The noise level may be high due to the location’s proximity to the highway and the passing of large trucks, but if you’re in a hurry or just need a quick spot to stay overnight, these are decent possibilities.
To find out which casinos provide overnight parking, visit casinocamper.com and utilize the map locator to discover which ones are available.
Although it’s not what you had in mind for your next great adventure, if you find yourself stuck in town “refueling” on supplies and in need of a place to sleep for the night, it’s important to know that Walmart, Camping World, Cracker Barrel, casinos, and truck stops all frequently provide areas for free overnight parking on their premises. It’s important to remember that when you crash in these sorts of parking spaces, you have to stay (which means sleeping, cooking, and hanging out) inside your car for the whole evening, but it might be a viable alternative when you’re desperate for space.
- In case you are in any doubt or have any issues, you should always verify with management.
- In certain cases, Walmartsoften provides free overnight parking, although this is not always the case.
- Continue to abide by any warnings or notices that you may come across.
- Overnight parking is available at casinos, truck stops, and rest areas.
- The noise level may be high due to the location’s proximity to the highway and the passing of large trucks, but if you’re in a hurry or just need a quick spot to stay overnight, these are decent possibilities.
Tips for Finding Free Campsites
For starters, obtaining a campground while still in the military is lot simpler than when you are not. For this reason, if you know the broad area in which you intend to remain, conduct preliminary research prior to departing mobile phone coverage. Again, my best applications have some functioning while not connected to the internet, but you can plan with greater confidence when you have a signal. Second, searching for campgrounds is less difficult and stressful when done during daytime hours.
- In addition, adopting the mentality that you don’t need to have a flawless camping setup every night can make locating campgrounds while on the road a whole lot less difficult.
- Although a view and isolation may be essential to you if you are camping for one weekend a year, if you are road touring or living in a van for a lengthy period of time, you will likely be camping all of the time.
- Other nights, your campsites may be lousy, which is perfectly OK.
- All you really need is a level location with plenty of room, and the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and that you aren’t breaking the law in any way.
- To find out where you are authorized to camp, stop by the nearest ranger station and ask for maps and information.
Winter may be difficult. Many dirt roads are inaccessible, and many tiny mountain communities have enacted ordinances prohibiting vans from parking on the street. Being able to operate in the shadows is really useful in this situation.
One Final Word on Dispersed Free Camping
You’ll appreciate scattered camping for a variety of reasons, one of which being the lack of human interaction you’ll experience. When it comes down to it, scattered camping is camping at its finest – breathtaking scenery and a starry night sky without the usual distractions of our hectic world. Please follow the Leave No Trace principles to guarantee that your favorite natural places remain wild for many years to come. In addition, make sure you tell someone about your plans. Inform a friend or family member of where you want to camp and when you expect to return from your trip.
The links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the links and purchase something, we get a tiny profit at no additional cost to you.
We sincerely appreciate your assistance!
6 Free Campsites in Arkansas
Horseshoe Lake, located along the Big River Trail, is a popular camping destination. The act of pitching a tent and living off the land for a few days is one of the most enjoyable summer pastimes. In the mood to slow down and take in everything that the Natural State has to offer (particularly before school starts? We’ve got you covered.) Check out our list below. Six free campgrounds that make roughing it well worth your while are listed below:
Buffalo River National Park
Approximately 2 hours of driving time If you’re not frightened of a little basic camping, theBuffalo River National Parkis the perfect destination for your vacation. People are welcome to backcountry camp for free anywhere in the park as long as it is not on a historic site or in close proximity to private property. The area offers multiple campgrounds with access to bathrooms and running water for a fee, but people are also welcome to camp in the park’s backcountry for free anywhere they want.
Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA
Approximately 22 minutes for the drive All year, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA is available to the public. There is no running water, bathrooms, or electricity, but you are less than ten minutes into Bald Knob, where you may find a variety of restaurants and tiny food stores to satisfy your hunger needs. Bring your fishing pole with you, just in case!
Rock Creek Lake Greeson
Approximately 2 hours of driving time Rock Creek is another excellent fishing spot near the town of Rock Creek. It’s hidden away beside a lake and offers plenty of opportunities to see animals. This campsite has crude pit toilets that are available for use.
Falling Water Creek Campsite
Approximately 2 hours of driving time Falling Water Creek Campground is located in the center of the Ozark National Forest, on the banks of Falling Water Creek. The campground is about 50 feet away from the creek’s outlet. Pets are welcome at the hotel.
Sam’s Throne Recreation Area
Time spent driving: 2 hours and 10 minutes Sam’s Throne is a haven for rock climbers, but the free high-elevation camping is a major lure as well, especially for families.
There are vault toilets on site, but there is no running water. Campers may enjoy panoramic views of the Ozark Mountains after only a short stroll down the hiking route from their campsite.
Time spent driving: 2 hours and 42 minutes Located seven miles down a gravel road off of Highway 7 just north of Jasper, this freecampground offers a variety of amenities. There are 14 drive-in campsites and two walk-in campsites at the campground, each of which features a picnic table, a fire ring, and a lantern hook. Tyler Bend Visitor Center, (870) 439-2502. Group sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while sites 2, 3, and 4 can be scheduled by phoning the Tyler Bend Visitor Center.
Where to Camp for Free in Central Pennsylvania
So, what is the ideal activity for having a good time while still following the social distancing rules established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? Of course, we’ll be camping! Camping, as an outdoor activity, is a wonderful opportunity to get away from busy areas and spend quality time with your family while enjoying nature. Camping, regardless of social distance, is usually a wonderful weekend pastime that involves getting some fresh air, interacting with nature, and sitting back with a group of friends and some s’mores.
Free camping in Central Pennsylvania is highlighted in this guide, which includes the top ten places to camp without having to pay an exorbitant campsite registration fee.
10 Places to Camp for Free in Central Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has hundreds of free campsites scattered around the state, making it an excellent choice for anyone seeking a secluded, low-cost alternative to the noise and throng of established campgrounds. In part because the Appalachian Mountains cut through the heart of the state, Central Pennsylvania is a popular destination for hikers looking for challenging terrain, breathtaking beauty, and absolutely free camping. Some sites may have a fire ring or a picnic table for guests, but most are located on state forest grounds and do not offer any facilities.
- Primitive campsites of this sort are primarily used for tent camping, as the name implies.
- Despite the fact that some campgrounds are free to visit, they do require registration, so be sure to contact ahead and book a place in advance.
- These permits are completely free and may be obtained in a matter of minutes by contacting the district office.
- Knowing how to camp in the proper manner can assist you in preserving the magnificent woods of Central Pennsylvania, remaining respectful to other campers, and remaining safe in the outdoors.
You’re now prepared to visit each of the ten free campsites listed below in order to determine which is the greatest spot to camp in Central Pennsylvania.
1. Tioga State Forest
Pennsylvania has hundreds of free campsites scattered around the state for individuals seeking a remote and affordable alternative to the noise and throng of established campgrounds. In part because the Appalachian Mountains cut through the heart of the state, Central Pennsylvania is a popular destination for hikers looking for challenging terrain, breathtaking beauty, and no-fee camping. A fire ring or a picnic table may be available for guests at some of the free camping locations in Central Pennsylvania, which are mostly located on state forest grounds and do not offer any amenities.
- Whether you want to bring a small trailer or camper van, make sure to check with the campground’s district office to see if it is permitted or if it can be accommodated.
- For stays of more than one night, the majority of the campgrounds require a camping permit.
- Finally, be sure to go over both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rules for visiting parks and recreational facilities and this pamphlet of camping guidelines and ethics to ensure that you are following proper camping etiquette while on your camping trip.
- You’re now prepared to visit each of the ten free campsites listed below in order to determine which is the greatest spot to camp in Central PA.
2. Susquehannock State Forest
Susquehannock State Forest, a large natural area covering 265,000 acres, is one of eight state forests that make up the Pennsylvania Wilds region, and it is one of the most visited. The Susquehannock State Forest, in particular, is renowned for growing some of the world’s greatest black cherry trees, as well as for offering hikers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding countryside. Additionally, the Susquehannock State Forest is well-known for being a fantastic horseback-riding destination. In fact, the only two motorized camping sites within the forest grounds are really meant for equestrian riders, however anybody is welcome to take advantage of these facilities.
If you intend to camp at either of the Susquehannock State Forest locations, you must first get a camping permission from the forest.
Although a camping permit is required for motorized camping, primitive backpack campers do not require a permit as long as they do not stay at any one campground for more than one night in any one season.
Primitive backpacking is permitted across the whole Susquehannock State Forest, with no permits required. Anyone planning on camping with a party of ten or more people, on the other hand, must first get a Letter of Authorization from the District Forester.
3. Elk State Forest
Because of the large number of elk that frequent the grounds, Elk State Forest is well-known as the “Elk Capital of the World.” There are large meadows and clearings where wild elk may be found in this northern hardwood and mixed oak forest, which spans over 217,000 acres and features a diverse range of trees. Elk State Forest, in addition to various campgrounds, provides tourists with a variety of picturesque routes to explore. The majority of the campsites at Elk State Forest are conveniently located near hiking trails and elk viewing spots.
The Ridge Road scenic drive, which passes past various magnificent landscapes, is a popular choice for individuals who enjoy driving.
The following are the three primary camping areas in Elk State Forest:
- Dark Hollow Equestrian Camping Area:Dark Hollow is an equestrian camping area located along Bell Draft Road, a little more than five miles from Benezette. It is a popular destination for horseback riders. A first-come, first-served permit system is in place at the site, which offers ten non-electric motorized sites. Gaswell Equestrian Camping Area: Gaswell Equestrian Camping Area is another equestrian camping area that can be found along Bell Draft Road. Gaswell is a slightly smaller campground than Dark Hollow, but it offers five non-electric motorized sites and operates on a first-come, first-served basis. CAMPING AT HICKS RUN: Hicks Run is a non-electric RV and tent camping area with 11 non-electric motorized spots and four non-electric tent spaces that operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The site, which is located along West Branch Hicks Run, is only a few miles from Route 555.
More information about campground availability in Elk State Forest, as well as on how to apply for a permit, may be obtained by calling the district office at 814-486-3353.
4. Tiadaghton State Forest
In addition to having 146,539 acres of terrain that is beautiful for hiking and sleeping beneath the stars, Tiadaghton State Forest is a free camping paradise. Tiadaghton State Forest’s wide hiking route system takes tourists on a journey through a paradise of natural beauty, including some of the greatest vistas in the state. All of the trails that run through Tiadaghton State Forest’s camping sites, including the Pine Creek Trail, Golden Eagle Trail, Black Forest Trails, and Mid State Trail, are in close proximity to one another.
Make sure you are aware of all of the exciting activities you can do at Tiadaghton State Forest in a single day.
Primitive backpack campers do not need to get a permit if they are not planning on staying at a campground for more than one night.
Camping groups of ten or more persons are required to get a Letter of Authorization from the District Forester before setting up their tents.
5. Sproul State Forest
Located in Sproul State Forest, which is the biggest in the state forest system and contains 305,450 acres of woods, Sproul State Forest was named in remembrance of William C. Sproul, who served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1919 to 1923. Governor Sproul was well-known for his commitment to expanding the state’s public education system throughout the whole state. Located in western Pennsylvania, Sproul State Forest is characterized by rocky and steep slopes that are traversed by the western branch of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.
Hikers particularly like the Chuck Keiper and Donut Hole paths, which are both located near the park’s entrance.
Reservations are not accepted for any of the approved primitive campsites in Sproul State Forest, and all sites are offered on a “first come, first served” basis.
But primitive backpack camping is permitted throughout Sproul State Forest, and primitive backpack campers are not required to get a permit as long as they do not remain for more than one night at any one campground on the forest’s property.
6. Moshannon State Forest
Sproul State Forest, the biggest in Pennsylvania’s state forest system, has 305,450 acres of woodland and was named in honor of William C. Sproul, who served as governor from 1919 to 1923. Sproul was well-known in the state for his commitment to expanding the public school system throughout the state. It is traversed by the Susquehanna River’s western branch, as well as its tributaries, which creates a harsh and steep terrain in Sproul State Forest. Hiking the various paths that run through Sproul State Forest allows visitors to take in the natural beauty of the forest.
Paddy Falls, Clendenin Branch, and Hyner View, a stunning panorama overlooking the river, are just a few of the must-see attractions in Sproul State Forest.
A no-cost campground permit can be obtained by calling 570-923-6011 if you want to use one of the available sites.
7. Bald Eagle State Forest
With 193,424 acres of high, steep peaks and stretches of old-growth timber, Bald Eagle State Forest offers miles of cool mountain streams. Bald Eagle State Forest is named after the great Native American leader, Bald Eagle. Due to its location inside Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley area, Bald Eagle State Forest offers breathtaking views that are not available anyplace else in the state. The Bald Eagle forest region stretches from the Allegheny Mountains in the northwest to the limestone-rich Susquehanna Valley in the southeast, and it is distinguished by a series of stunning sandstone ridges that run across it.
- Bald Eagle State Forest attracts a large number of people each year who come to enjoy the varied trails and natural areas.
- This location is very popular with travelers because of its gorgeous canyons and steep mountains, which make it a particularly picturesque destination.
- Each of these motorized campsites is equipped with off-road parking, a fire ring, and a picnic table for your enjoyment.
- Reservations for motorized campsites can be made up to 90 days in advance.
Please call the district office at 570-922-3344 for further information about campground availability in Bald Eagle State Forest, as well as to get a camping permit.
8. Rothrock State Forest
Rothrock State Forest, which stretches over 96,975 acres of rocky hills, is a natural marvel named in honor of Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, the Commonwealth’s first-ever forestry commissioner, and is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Born in Mifflin County, Dr. Rothrock is widely regarded as the “Father of Forestry” in the state of Pennsylvania. Rothrock State Forest offers a variety of hiking and mountain biking paths that are ideal for families. The Mid State Trail and the Standing Stone Trail are both excellent options for those looking for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
For anyone searching for a particularly tranquil setting, Penn Roosevelt State Park is something of a hidden treasure in the heart of the city.
- Within 25 feet of a hiking route, or within 100 feet of a stream, lake, or other body of open water
- Within 200 feet of a forest road
- Within 200 feet of a forest road • in any legally designated Natural Area
Rothrock State Forest has eight approved camping sites, each with a fire ring, off-road parking, and a picnic table. Motorized vehicles are welcome at these sites. If you want to camp at one of these locations, you must first get a camping permit, which may be obtained for free by contacting 814-643-2340.
9. Tuscarora State Forest
Tuscarora State Forest, which shares its name with Tuscarora Mountain, was named in honor of the Iroquois Nation Native American tribe that originally inhabited in the region and was named after them. The narrow valleys and high ridges of the state’s ridge and valley region are covered by the Tuscarora State Forest, which has a total area of 96,025 acres. Considering how rich and well-watered this region is, it is the ideal site for hemlock and oak woods to flourish. Tuscarora State Forest is an excellent place to visit for nature enthusiasts since it contains a wide collection of tree species.
- Sugar maple, beech, black birch, tuliptree, basswood, white pine, and hickories are among the trees that grow in the area.
In addition, the region is home to a diverse range of animal communities. Researchers from West Virginia University are keeping an eye on the migration of golden eagles as they pass over the ridges of Tuscarora State Forest. There are a variety of additional spectacular vistas available in Tuscarora State Forest, including an old-growth forest and the remnants of a railroad tunnel, which may be of interest to visitors to the region. Primitive backpack campers are welcome to camp throughout the entire Tuscarora State Forest, with the exception of areas classified as Natural Areas.
However, if a primitive backpack camper intends to stay at any primitive campground for more than one night, they will be required to get a free camping permit from the Forest Service.
Contact the district office at 717-536-3191 for additional information about the availability of Tuscarora State Forest campsites and how to apply for a camping permit in the forest.
10. Loyalsock State Forest
Despite the fact that it is located significantly to the east of Central Pennsylvania, Loyalsock State Forest deserves to be included on this list. Loyalsock State Forest contains some of the greatest free campgrounds in the state, including some of the most beautiful. The Loyalsock State Forest, which takes its name from Loyalsock Creek and encompasses 114,552 acres of the northern tier’s “Endless Mountains,” offers breathtaking vistas of peaks, ponds, gorges, waterfalls, and rock formations.
- Hikers will find Loyalsock State Forest to be an attractive location because of the large network of trails that it has to offer.
- Worlds End State Park, which is really stunning, is also within walking distance.
- Loyalsock State Forest is well-known for its four camping spots, which include Sand Spring, Onion Hole, Bridle Trail, and Masten.
- Obtaining a free camping permit from the Hillsgrove Maintenance Station or the Resource Management Center is required prior to setting up camp for any backpack campers, roadside campers, and horse campers who want to remain at a campground for more than one night.
Find a Rental Property in Central Pennsylvania From Triple Crown Corporation
Due to the large number of excellent free camping areas in Central Pennsylvania, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time in the area just to see them all. If you’re looking for a place to call home in the Central Pennsylvania region, Triple Crown Corporation will assist you in finding the ideal rental property. Placed in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Middletown, and New Cumberland, Triple Crown Corporation facilities are conveniently located near various free Central Pennsylvania campgrounds as well as a variety of other entertaining activities.
In order to ensure that you are moving into a cutting-edge, contemporary home, the Triple Crown Corporation staff works relentlessly to keep all of the houses within our communities up to date through frequent updates.
Rental Communities may be found by searching.