No reservation? No money? No problem! Dispersed camping is more accessible and fun than you might expect.
So what do you do when you are unable to secure that coveted reservation at a popular campground? Or what about when you’re on that 5 week road trip and don’t want to shell out cash every night for a space to park your van?
Find a Free Campsite
The best way to clarify local regulations and find out where it is the legal to disperse camp is to check online with US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, or call/visit your nearest forest service or BLM office/visitor center/ranger station. Rangers are always happy to help.
Check a Map
Generally, public lands are marked in green on maps. Do some research before you go and figure out what public lands are close to your destination.
Keep in mind there are going to be areas that are closed to camping for a variety of reasons. It could be a sensitive ecological habitat, a research area, or simply an area that has been overused. Watch out for posted signs prohibiting camping in these areas. Please respect our public lands to ensure they are available for everyone’s adventures long into the future!
Leave No Trace
Something to keep in mind when disperse camping is to always abide by the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles. Please visit the Leave No Trace website if you are unfamiliar with LNT ethics. Because these areas lack facilities, it is vital that you leave it exactly, if not better, than you found it. Learn how to find an appropriate location to camp, and always appropriately deal with waste. Yes, even the waste created by your own body! Because there aren’t established fire rings, it is important to check with your local forest service office and obtain the appropriate permits if you wish to have a campfire.
Keep an Open Mind
When you wake up to the tranquil sounds of nature, alone and unbothered by crowds that typically come with campgrounds, you will realize that these sites are worth the bit of extra work it takes to find them.
So on your next adventure, travel off the beaten path, sleep under the stars, and this time, do it for free!
Free Campsites – Use this site to plan an entire road trip route… it will show you free or low cost campsites all along the way!
Free RV Campground and Overnight Parking Lite – O Mecha Online, LLC
ReserveAmerica Camping – Active Network, LLC
RV Parks & Campgrounds – ParkAdvisor, LLC