While paying for camping isn’t ever overly expensive, did you know that there are plenty of options for free camping right in your vicinity? Most people don’t realize that there are options to camp for free but it does take a bit of research and planning to make it happen.
And sometimes, free camping might require you to think outside the box just a little bit more than normal. The good news? If you’re wanting to save some serious money camping, there are ways to make it happen!
Honestly, this depends. If you’re talking about a campground that you can pull your camper up to or set up your tent that is clearly marked and surrounded with other campers, then the answer is more than likely no. However, if you’re talking about more primitive camping that might be a bit more secluded then this is 100% possible!
Depending on where you leave, you might even have various areas that are advertised as first come/first serve type camping where there are no charges.
Just keep in mind that when that happens, the camping is going to be bare-bones minimum. No electric hookups, no bathrooms, no dump site, nothing.
Typically, your answer is going to be “no”. This is because most state parks have their own campgrounds that they charge for to recoup fees and costs.
However, in saying that, ask the park ranger or campground host if they’re aware of any free camping or free campsites that will allow overnight guests. You may be surprised at what is available just by asking that simple question.
No, you can’t. And be careful with this! Many people tend to think that just because they’re out enjoying nature that they can just pitch a tent and stay overnight. Some places allow this while many others do not. And never, ever do this on anyone else’s private property.
Many people tend to think that “beach camping” is a thing and a way to camp for free, but usually camping on the beach actually isn’t allowed. There are signs all over that state that and if you get caught, you’ll have to pay a hefty fine. (And that, my friends, would make your attempt at free camping to be a very expensive one instead!)
One of the biggest and easiest ways to find free camping where you are at is to ask the people in charge. Talk to your local state parks and park rangers and see what the rules are within the wooded areas.
Depending on where you live and what the rules are, you might also be able to camp at designated Conservation areas as well. Now again, remember that this doesn’t mean “real” camping with campsites but it would be a free place to set up your camper or tent and have a night out in the beauty of nature.
Other ways to camp for free include:
Boondocking is actually becoming really popular and it’s a way for RV’ers and campers to camp overnight in certain places without having to pay a fee. Think parking lots or other areas like that. Make certain that you check with the store that you’re planning on parking at to check that they’re fine with you doing that.
Some stores don’t’ mind it but others actually have rules against it.
If you have family and friends that own land, why not see about camping there to save some money? Can you imagine introducing your family to the beauty of camping on a farm? Or waking up in the morning with a view of the pond or the vineyard?
While it might not be exactly the camping trip that you had in mind, you can still have fun camping out in the comfort of your own backyard. In fact, until you get used to the more primitive form of camping, this might be a great choice for you and the family to start out doing. That way, you’ll get the feel or really roughing it without having any other campers or anyone else nearby. (and if you don’t like it, you can always go back inside when camping at home!)
In all reality, there are a lot of varied ways that you can find free camping. But before doing anything, you have to understand that it won’t be “typical” camping as you might have when you pay for a campsite. Once you have a handle on that, you’ll be more open to finding free campsites near and around wherever you may be!
Sarah lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. She enjoys going on outdoor family adventures including camping, dirt biking, boating and whatever crazy, new adventures her husband, David, has thought up! She believes life should be filled with fun opportunities to make memories as a family and aims to inspire you to do just that!