The internet is a great thing - and it's full info on where you can camp for free - all across the 50 states. If you love unplugging, sleeping under the stars, and saving a buck, read on!
National Forests, National Grasslands, and BLM Lands
If you are feeling adventurous, just head out to BLM land or National Forests & Grasslands.
Typically you are allowed to camp for free in US National Forests & Grasslands, unless otherwise marked.
Experience: peaceful, remote, solo.
Amenities: rugged to none, so you'll need to be self sufficient. Adhere to "leave no trace", as in, pack it in and pack it out, everything from your water to your waste (yep, poop too). Learn more about the Leave No Trace here.
How to: You must camp outside developed campgrounds (to get the free camping); more than 200' from any stream or waterbody.
Watch for: Cattle are allowed to graze in many of these lands, so please, be very careful. sometimes you need a permit to build a fire, and restrictions can change frequently, so check with the ranger office. Seasonal closures - check ahead.
How to find: Google Maps is a great start. You can also use National Forest Map Locator, this Forest Camping site, or search state by state
Other resources on FREE campsites:
Here are some more great resources to find free campsites across the USA:
- Enter your location or use the map feature; this resource is amazing. It has short notes on what to expect and some of the more popular places have reviews.
- this site is very comprehensive, including everything from maps to apps, and even includes Canada as a bonus.
If you are into RV'ing, this site called Boondockers Welcome
is great for finding a place to park your RV outside of a mainstream, busy campgrounds.
15 Great Campgrounds in the West
Gear Patrol has published this lovely guide to western campgrounds
, including maps and quick descriptions on why you'd like to go there.
Walmart Parking Lots
It feels a bit different, but Walmart parking lots are a great place to rest your head for the night. While not really considered camping, this sure can come in handy when on long road trips.
Being allowed to stay overnight at Walmart is a offered as a privilege, but is no means a right. So, be courteous. The general rule is to keep as low profile as possible. No tents, no chairs, no hibachi grills. Everything must be done within your vehicle. You will most likely be sharing the parking lot with long-haul truck drivers, who may need a good night's rest. Be respectful.
Get out there and camp!