Blog Feature Article

Guide to Free Camping in the USA

Free camping – aka dispersed camping – around the United States sounds too good to be true, but it is entirely possible. The US has several free campsite options to help you save your travel budget for fuel, food, and recreation. However, dispersed camping is not for the glampers of the world. Dispersed campsites, although free, often don’t come with the luxuries that campgrounds offer, such as restrooms, running water, picnic tables, firepits, hookups, or garbage cans. Read on to learn where you can find free camping in the US, the rules of boondocking, and camping apps and sites that help you find these locations for your camping trip.

What Should I Know About Dispersed Camping?

Dispersed camping, also known as boondocking, can be summed up by “roughing it.” If you are choosing dispersed camping, you are most likely going to need to prepare for dirt roads, no amenities such as picnic tables, garbage cans, running water, dump stations, fire pits, restrooms, or cell service. If you are dispersed camping in a popular spot or a parking lot, then you may have access to a toilet. What you will have while dispersed camping is little to no neighbors, hiking trails into the backcountry, and solitude under the stars – the real camping in nature experience.

Before you head out on your dispersed camping adventure, make sure you research the areas you are heading too. Check into road conditions, weather, fire regulations & restriction (you may need a permit), and download the Red Cross First Aid app ahead of time. You will be without cell service, so preparing for all potential situations is essential.

Pro Tip: Look for signs that say “no camping overnight,” “no camping,” or “day use only.” When in doubt, check with a park ranger, or a manager of the business whose lot you plan to park in. Make sure you don’t just park on the side of a road as it is illegal in most places, and you can not boondock or free camp anywhere inside of a developed campground or recreation area.

Where Can I Find Free Campgrounds in the USA?

Sequoia National Forest Sign