Skip to Content

Where to Find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping

| Updated Feb 15, 2024

There are TONS of places across the United States where you can find free RV sites and cheap camping. But it’s easy to get stuck going to traditional campgrounds because it can be difficult and time-consuming to find these locations when you’re researching and planning out an RV trip!

Traditional campgrounds can be crowded, noisy, smokey, and, above all, expensive. Most of the time, there are much cheaper and more scenic locations where you can camp as long as you plan ahead and know what you’re looking for.

If you can spend a night or two without the traditional comforts of hookups, then a whole other world of RVing will open up to you.

In this post, we’ll cover a lot, so this is your warning in advance to strap in because it’s a long one.

We’re going to start with a general explanation of boondocking and the various forms that it can take as well as the cost advantages of boondocking.

Then we’ll go through in detail (and with screenshots to the exact websites) on how to find cheap campground locations on federal and state public lands including BLM land, National Forests, and Grasslands campgrounds, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, National Park campgrounds, State Park campgrounds, and State Forest campgrounds.

We’ll also cover how to find free overnight parking at restaurants and other businesses when you’re en route to a final destination and just need a spot to spend the night, as well as our favorite apps and websites that aggregate campgrounds in a specific area to help you find all of these locations.

Intro to Boondocking

(Hint, It's Off The Grid)

By definition, boondocking is camping totally self-contained without connecting to commercial power, water, or sewer.

boondocking with a dog in a motorhome
Boondocking Arizona – We found this free boondocking spot less than a half-mile from the North Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park

We like calling it boondocking, but you’ll see several other names for it, including:

  • Dry camping
  • Independent camping
  • Cheap camping
  • Free Rving
  • Wild camping
  • Primitive camping
  • Dispersed camping

Personally, I think that boondocking just rolls off the tongue better but make no mistake, if you hear someone else using those terms we’re all talking about the same thing. You can learn more by reading Is RV Boondocking Right For You? (Complete Guide).

Boondocking For Quick Overnight Stays

Let’s run through a common scenario. It’s getting later on in the day, maybe even night time already and you’re almost through a long trip to get to a great location you want to explore (Yellowstone, Moab, Great Smoky Mountains, etc.)

You want to get there as quickly as possible so you aren’t stopping to smell the roses along the way. And you haven’t planned too far ahead, so you don’t have a campground site waiting for you. Whoops! But it happens.

Here, boondocking can be extremely helpful.

Instead of trying to find an open campground and paying to sleep for the night only to get right on the road in the morning, you can find a parking lot for free to stop for the night.

We’ve done this at Cracker Barrels, friendly Walmarts (some people call this Walldocking), restaurants we’ve eaten dinner at, hotel parking lots, and even truck stops.

boondocking at a Cracker Barrel parking lot in a motorhome
Boondocking at a Cracker Barrel parking lot.

As long as you go in and ask if it’s okay, most of those places will let you stay in the far end of the parking lot. You shouldn’t get the grill going or pull out your camping chairs, but if you’re respectful of using the space most store managers don’t mind.

And I’ll admit, being in a more “stealthy” Class B rig helps with this. We’ll go into all of these places in more detail in Section 3 of this guide.

This form of boondocking can also be helpful when the weather changes quickly and you need a place to ride out the storm. Snow, wind, or excessive rain conditions can change your RV trips plans extremely fast and sometimes you need a place to stop and wait out the bad weather.


Another form of this quick overnight stay can be if you’re visiting an old friend or relative on your trip and decide to spend the night in their driveway. 

It can be a hassle to try and get out extension cords to plug in your electric or try to hook up to their water supply (if you can at all) so you can just boondock without hookups in the driveway. Many people call this “moochdocking” because you’re mooching off of their hospitality.

If they’re a close friend or relative, this is a great time to catch up on a long hot shower or do some laundry inside their house!

Boondocking at a Campground – Without Hookups

I can hear it now, “I thought this was only FREE places to camp!?!” Well, sometimes boondocking isn’t free, but it can still save you some cash.

Many campgrounds have sites that don’t have hookups, but they still want to make money off of them. So what do they do? They’ll offer the non-hookup sites for a reduced nightly fee!

You’re still paying for a site, and you can use the campground’s amenities. But you just won’t have the typical electric, water, and sewer hookups.

cheap rv sites

If you’re staying longer than a day or two at the campground, you’ll want to plan ahead a bit and dump your grey/black water tanks (even better if they have a dump station on-site) and show up with a full fresh water tank. But you should be able to run your generator outside of quiet hours time to charge up your batteries.

Many state and national parks have developed campgrounds with and without hookups. So by boondocking, you’re opening up a number of different sites you might not have otherwise been able to stay at. Or you can grab a great spot if all the sites with hookups are booked!

It’s also a great way to get a little closer to nature without completely giving up the creature comforts of developed campgrounds.

Boondocking in Undeveloped Campgrounds

Now, this is our type of boondocking! It’s also what first pops into mind when most people think about boondocking.

Getting out into the wild, gathering your own firewood, and using battery-powered lights. Maybe firing up the generator a few times to make coffee (if you don’t have solar panels charging your battery bank) and generally unplug from daily life – literally and figuratively.

cheap rv sites boondocking in Montana
Our boondocking site in eastern Montana.

If you’re relatively new to boondocking or RVing in general, this can be nerve-wracking the first few times you do it. You’re off the grid and need to be self-reliant. It takes some planning, but it is absolutely within the reach of any RVer.

When we first started, those same intimidating questions were running through our heads. Is boondocking safe? What happens if we run down our batteries and get stranded? What if we encounter some less-than-savory characters in the backwoods of who-knows-where?

If you have these questions, you may enjoy the ebook we put together called “The Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking”. In this post we cover the “where to go” of boondocking but the ebook covers the “how to do it” piece.

We’ll go into how to find these types of sites in the next section, you can usually find them in National or State Forests or public land managed by the BLM and boy are they worth it.

These are the sites that Jennifer and I enjoy and the upsides of boondocking in the wilderness are many. Privacy, serenity, uncluttered scenery, wildlife, and truly getting away from it all are at the top of my list.

Now that we’ve talked a bit about some of the forms that boondocking can take, I want to get into another added benefit: the cost savings.

How Boondocking Can Save You Money

Another huge benefit of boondocking is the cost.

Have you ever taken a second and looked at what staying in an RV Park or campground costs you in the long run?

Jennifer and I did this mental accounting around the time that we started boondocking. It’s one of those things that sneaks up on you and really starts to add up over time.

Let’s take two examples to show what I mean, Boondockin’ Bob and RV Park Joe.

mike wendland cooking bacon while camping
Boondocking Bacon – The best-tasting bacon is always cooked outdoors in the wilderness!

Boondockin’ Bob and RV Park Joe are both part-timers, and they’re on the road about 3 months a year from June to August.

RV Park Joe is locked into a set schedule of the commercial campgrounds that he booked months in advance because, during the most popular travel times, most campgrounds, RV Parks, and even state parks are booked almost solid.

RV Park Joe spends about $45 per night in a traditional RV Park or campground. Some places are much higher than that, and some are lower, but for the sake of this example, this is the number I’m going to use.

After 3 months on the road, that’s about 90 days so with an RV Park of $45 a night RV Park Joe is looking at a total bill of 90 * $45 = $4050.

Now let’s look at Boondockin’ Bob.

Boondockin’ Bob hit the road in June and is boondocking about 70% of the time. We’ll say that’s 63 of 90 days.

He isn’t locked into a specific schedule and is meandering around the country.

He can boondock pretty much anywhere, so if he decides that Sedona, Arizona is where he was meant to spend a week then he can make his way over there.

The first stretch, he only spends $1,215 (27 days X $45 per night) at RV parks and campgrounds that he finds every few days to empty his tanks and charge his house batteries versus the $4,050 that RV Park Joe spent.

For Boondockin’ Bob this is a savings of $2,835 in his first summer.

Come next summer and if he does the same thing, Boondockin’ Bob will save $5,670 in the second season. And a total of $8,505 in the third season.

And, of course, this savings is compounded if you’re RVing more than 3 months out of the year.

A full-timer will save almost $11,500 per year boondocking 70 percent of the time! That’s a massive amount of money to put back into your pocket each year.

Where To Find Free & Cheap RV Sites & Camping On State & Federal Land

As we’ve said many times, our absolute favorite kind of camping is boondocking, and our favorite places to do so are in National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, State Forests, BLM land (public land run by the U.S. Dept. of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management), and the like.

These sites vary widely depending on where you are. Many National Parks have campgrounds with and without hookups. Most don’t have anything but a picnic table and firepit.

They may cost a few dollars or they may be free. The only thing that doesn’t change is you’ll definitely need to conserve your electricity and water to be self-contained.

But man are they worth it, these sites are beautiful.

The problem with these sites is that if you’re not exactly sure where you want to go, it can be hard to find these campgrounds on federal and state land.

This happens because they’re run by different governmental bodies, and their respective websites can be frustrating to use to find useful information.

We’ve run into this problem for years and we imagine that many of you have as well.

That’s why we’ve decided to compile a list of these different governmental bodies and a general explanation of the best ways we’ve found to use their websites and find great free and cheap boondocking spots!

Free RV Sites on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages many different programs on U.S. Public Lands, including recreation.

How much land are we talking about?

Well the BLM comprises 10 percent of the total acreage in the U.S. And combined, BLM land and National Forest land make up 25 percent of the acreage in the country.

In other words, one-quarter of the U.S. is available for you to explore and camp, usually free-of-charge.

However, finding RV campsites on BLM land is not as easy as you might think. There’s a bit of a process and it takes some know-how especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

In this section, we’re going to walk you through how to find a site.

One somewhat confusing thing is that BLM has its own website at, which is good for information about BLM land, but not extremely helpful in finding good information about boondocking sites.

Most of the links for campsites on the BLM website will take you to

This is a great website for finding reservable public land and seeing what sites are in the general area you’re looking to travel but as you’ll see in the example below it doesn’t show first-come, first-served sites which are the majority of BLM boondocking sites.

cheap camping

Let’s start by trying to find a BLM site in Moab, Utah. On the home page, type in your destination.

After you type in your destination and hit “Search” you will be presented with a screen with several options matching your request. In our example, it looks like this:

cheap camping

There are a lot of little dots to comb through there so to narrow it down click on the “More Filters” tab and select “Camping” under “Booking Types” and “RV/Motorhome” under “Allowable Equipment”.

cheap camping

Now, when we go back to view the results, we’ve narrowed our search down to camping areas that allow RVs.

Except, as you might be able to discern, there’s a little problem.

You can easily book a site at the Devils Garden Campground in Arches National Park but for everything listed on BLM lands the only sites you can book here are the “Group Sites” – see the image below there’s the Gold Bar Group Sites, Hittle Bottom Group Sites, and several others.

cheap camping

This is because, on BLM land, you can only reserve “Group Sites”. All other sites are first-come, first-served.

The research here does help us a little bit though. Now we know where a few of the BLM sites are and if there are group sites at a location, we can assume that there are individual first-come, first-served sites as well.

Cross Reference Your BLM Land Website Research

Now the question is – how do we find better information on those sites? The answer is that we cross-reference with another site or service.

My favorite site to cross-reference these is campendium.

On Campendium, we’ll run through the same process searching for Moab, Utah.

cheap camping

Here I’ve narrowed down the sites to “Public” under “Category” and “$0-$30” under “Price” and we can see that there are about 30 different sites/campgrounds on public lands!

One of the top options here is Gold Bar Campground, which presumably is the same place as the group sites above and we can look at it in more detail to find the price, images, reviews, the total number of sites, cell service, GPS coordinates, and lots of useful information on the campsite.

A campground right outside of Moab on the Colorado River for $19/night – not too shabby!

cheap camping

On Campendium, you can also look for free sites by setting the “Price” tool all the way to zero. When we do that in Moab – there are still 17 campsites that are completely, totally 100% FREE!

Make sure to read the reviews on any sites that you are looking at to make sure that the roads will be accessible for your rig. It’s never a bad idea to scout ahead or if you have a toad (ie. a towed vehicle) using that to check the road ahead!

cheap camping boondocking map for BLM land

There you have it! Finding sites on BLM land gets much easier when you know where to look!

How to find free or cheap RV campsites in National Forests and Grasslands

Want to get away from the commercial campground scene, and tired of the mad rush in the National Parks?

You might want to consider joining the ranks of individuals who visit our National Forests each year, taking advantage of the more than 4,000 campgrounds.

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the administration of 154 National Forests and 20 National Grasslands, most of which allow free camping.

What is dispersed camping?

Camping on National Forest land is called “dispersed camping.

Confused? Don’t be.

Dispersed camping is basically the same thing as “boondocking” or “dry camping.” All three terms mean that you are camping without the benefit of electric, water, and sewer hook-ups.

So now that you know what National Forests are, the big question is: How do you find RV campsites in National Forests and grasslands?

The good news?

With highways carved through almost all National Forests, you’re normally only a turn onto a dirt road away from finding a personal, secluded area for dispersed camping.

The bad news?

You probably don’t want to aimlessly head into a National Forest without some sort of guidance.

Fortunately, guides can be found aplenty.

If you’re spending a lot of time in one state, I recommend one of the guides produced by Benchmark Maps, makers of atlases for just about anywhere you want to go in the U.S. (Amazon is the place to go for Benchmark Maps.

These show detailed descriptions of public lands, point-to-point mileages, recreation attractions, campgrounds, and wildlife areas. Since cell service can be spotty out in the wilderness, it’s never a bad idea to have a paper map to fall back on.

As well as getting a paper map, you can use the National Forest Service website to explore different sites.

Start by going here:

cheap rv sites

Click on “Camping & Cabins” and a map of the U.S. will pop up. The numbers will show you the number of available campgrounds in a specific area. Click on one of the numbers in the region you plan to travel.

cheap rv sites

For this example, we’ll click on the “81” in Utah. You can see that it drills down further into the state by providing more information about available camping.

cheap rv sites

Now, we’ll drill down further by clicking on the “12” in Fishlake National Forest.

cheap rv sites

Next, click on one of the camp symbols to get information about the specific campground and more information will pop out including a general description of the area, potential amenities, GPS coordinates, if the site requires reservations, and a link to more information on the USFS website.

boondocking map USFS website

For additional details, you can click on the “Trail” or “Road” options.

boondocking map

There are an amazing number of campgrounds that you can explore using their map tool.

Once you have an area and a few sites that you’re interested in checking out, it’s always good to cross-reference with other websites just like we did when looking for BLM campsites.

When you use and search for Fishlake National Forest, you’ll see that there are 6 reservable campgrounds within the National Forest.

recreation map

And when you use Campendium and search for Fishlake National Forest, you’ll see that there are 13 campgrounds (6 reservable as we saw above and the rest first-come, first-served) within the National Forest.

recreation map

Using all of these tools, you should be able to find a campsite that will work for your rig and have a few for backups if the free first-come, first-served sites are taken.

Visit The Ranger Station

Another very good strategy for finding dispersed campsites is to visit the ranger station in a particular National Forest district and talk to the staff.

Each national forest has several ranger stations, and their addresses and phone numbers are on the web pages for that particular forest.

Drop by or call them and ask about dispersed camping. They will give you a map with all the forest roads marked on it, and indications of where dispersed camping is allowed. These areas are usually marked by dots on each side of a road in the maps I have been given.

These maps are called Motor Vehicle Usage Maps and you can also find them online for each National Forest here. As a heads up, the maps can be tricky to read so I’d recommend stopping by the ranger station.

The staff at the ranger station will also be able to tell you about current road conditions, whether the road you're looking at is suitable for your vehicle (the road doesn't care much whether you think it's suitable or not – it's more a matter of whether your vehicle is suitable for the road), hotbeds of activity from off-road vehicles to avoid, recent bear or mountain lion activity in the area, any burn restrictions in effect, fire permit procedures, and other extremely useful information.

A final great resource for RV information and campsites in National Forests is the website of our friends at They have a plethora of information about National Forests on the site, as well as in the many guides they produce that can be found in their bookstore.

For example, you can use this link to search for National Forests by State on their site. Using our example above, I was able to see all of the campgrounds in Fishlake National Forest and detailed information on them here.

How to find free or cheap RV campsites run by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE)

The mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is to deliver vital public and military engineering services during peace and war to strengthen our nation’s security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) is composed of nearly 40,000 civilians and soldiers working to improve the nation’s infrastructure through projects such as constructing dams or building lake reservoirs.

The reason this is relevant to RVers is simple: the COE is present in 43 states and manages more than 450 campgrounds, which the public can access for fishing, boating, and camping.

The campgrounds are clean and well-maintained. Most of the campgrounds do not offer full hookups but all have basic amenities like showers, restrooms, potable water, picnic tables, and fire rings.

Some of these areas charge day-use fees. You can purchase an annual access pass for $40 to enter the day-use areas but camping fees are not included with pass entry.

RVers who know about COE campgrounds consider them “hidden gems” because, quite frankly, it can be hard to locate the campgrounds and to find information about them.

In this section, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you locate and make reservations at COE Campgrounds.


We recommend “Camping with the Corps of Engineers: The Complete Guide to Campgrounds Built and Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” written by Don Wright. 

You can get this as a hardbound or Kindle book. It outlines basic details about COE RV camping throughout the United States. 

It includes directions to each campground, as well as descriptions of the facilities and amenities of each.

NOTE:  This guidebook was last published pre-pandemic, in 2018. So, some of the information may have changed. However, the locations are the same, which is the most helpful part of this guidebook. You can find the updated information online once you select a campground…

You can see ALL the books we recommend on this Amazon List – Books: Our Favorite RV Lifestyle Travel, Camping, and Survival Books


The guidebook is well organized. You can search by state and then narrow it down to campgrounds in the area you wish to visit.

Once you find appealing campgrounds, you can go back online…


Now that you know what COE campground you want to stay in, go to Search for the COE campground you pulled from the guidebook by name, and make your reservation.

Just be sure to check all the information on the campground description page to confirm it is the right campground for you. Compare the information from the guidebook to see if it is up-to-date, and make sure your rig isn’t too big, has the amenities you want, etc.

PRO TIP: Some COE areas may charge a day-use fee, and an annual pass for $40 can be purchased to use day-use areas. However, this pass does not cover camping fees. 

How to find free or cheap RV campsites in National Parks

The U.S. has 61 protected areas known as National Parks that are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Dept. of the Interior.

National parks must be established by an act of the United States Congress. A bill creating the first National Park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Rock Creek Park (later merged into National Capital Parks), Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890.

The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in

The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

National Parks are Great for RV Camping

In fact, if it’s your first time boondocking, heading to a National Park campground is a great way to dip your toes in the water rather than setting up camp in a less-frequented area if you run your batteries down too much and need a jump.

Because they are more frequented and typically have more resources than National Forests or BLM land, RV camping in National Parks comes with a few more rules and regulations to watch out for and they can vary from park to park.

There are typically size restrictions on RV campsites and you’ll find sites that range anywhere from 20 to 40 feet. There are very few large sites in general and even fewer pull-thru suites.

So, if you have a larger rig you’ll want to make sure to get reservations as early as possible. If you’re not sure that your RV will fit into a standard campsite (or if you’ll be able to back it in) it’s always good to give them a call and ask.

Most National Parks have multiple campgrounds, but of those campgrounds, only one (or maybe two) of them will have hookups. The rest will say something like “standard nonelectric” which means that they are designated for either tents or RVs and do not have any hookups.

Some National Park campgrounds operate on a reservation system for at least a portion of their operating season, while the rest operate strictly on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you want to get a first-come, first-served site, you should try to get to the campground and check-in as early as possible. During peak travel times, even 11 am or noon can be too late to snag a site.

For reservable campgrounds, the best way to see if sites are available is to check

Army Corps of Engineers

For this example, we typed in “Glacier National Park” and you can see several of the campgrounds within the park.

Army Corps of Engineers

If you want to reserve a site, click on “View Details”. As you can see below, a new window opened showing us lots of information on the campground including the dates it’s open, what you need to know, nightly rates, and how to get there.

Army Corps of Engineers for Glacier

You can then check the availability for reservations and book. That’s all there is to it but with the number of RVers and campers visiting National Parks, competition for the few campsites inside the parks can be fierce.

If you’re booking you’ll need to plan out your reservations almost 6-months ahead of time or find a campground outside the park and try to snag a first-come, first-served site when someone is leaving in the morning.

Now, the one caveat here (of course it isn’t that easy!), is that doesn’t have any of the first-come, first-served campgrounds listed for Glacier NP.

If you’re familiar with the park you might notice that all the campgrounds aren’t shown but if you aren’t you might just think that there are only 4 campgrounds when there are actually 13!

To see all of the campgrounds, you can go to the NPS website for Glacier National Park. To find campgrounds go to “Plan Your Visit” then “Things To Do” then select “Camping” which will lead you to a page with campground information.

Army Corps of Engineers

Here you can see the reservable campgrounds and also first-come, first-served campgrounds.

It’s also noted that there are several campgrounds NOT recommended for RVs (most likely due to road access conditions).

However, here we can see that Avalanche, Sprague Creek, Rising Sun, and Two Medicine Campgrounds are all first-come, first-served and available to RVers!

How to find free or cheap RV campsites in State Parks and State Forests

State Parks and State Forests offer yet another opportunity to camp on public lands.

The main difference (if it isn’t obvious) is that these public lands are run by the individual state, rather than the federal government.

Now, where this gets tricky is that each state will have its own website that houses information about their parks and possibly another one for their state forests (if it falls under a different state agency). And on top of that, there may be different rules and regulations in each state.

The second complicated part here is if you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re trying to travel to.

Let’s imagine that if you’re planning a trip to Michigan and you’re from Tennessee, you need to know that the state park or forest is even there to help you find the right website and place to book a campground.

But, the process here is worth the reward! State Parks and State Forests are typically far less trafficked than National Parks and National Forests while still being much cheaper than a traditional campground. You can expect to pay anywhere from $18-28/night in most State Parks and $5-20/night in most State Forests.

A good tip if you’re spending a lot of time in one state is that many states have a State Park Pass. This is usually an annual pass that allows free access to all of their State Parks! If you don’t have one of these you’ll typically end up paying a small fee ($2-8) to enter the park as well as nightly camping fees.

The best way to start is by using Google to search for a specific state’s park system.

In our example, we started by looking for State Parks in Michigan and the first option was Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources website.

After clicking on the link, we were taken to the homepage below.

department of natural resources

Here, you can click on “Camping” which is what we’re interested in to get to the page below.

cheap camping

If you know where you want to camp, it’s as simple as clicking on “Make Reservations” which takes to you their reservation site, Here you can search for Michigan state park camping based on RV length, hookup availability, and dates of availability.

department of natural resources

Of course, if you’re not from Michigan, but know you will be in a certain area, you will want to look at a map of state parks.

In our Michigan example, you would click on “Find a Campground” in the example above.

On the next screen, click on “Campgrounds.”

department of natural resources

The next option provides a list of available campgrounds and you can click on the “Map” view to see the location of all of the state park campgrounds.

department of natural resources

If the area you want to visit is around Tahquamenon Falls (a great spot that we highly recommend!) then zoom into that area and you’ll see all of the available state campgrounds around it.

department of natural resources

Here you can see that there are 9 state campgrounds in the surrounding area and look at details for all of them. We can also see that this map includes Michigan State Forest Campgrounds as well!

The final step is to click on “Details” and which will take you to all of the information regarding the campground and allow you to book the reservable ones.

As a final resource, in researching this I found a great article from Wand’rly Magazine here: This article lists all of the state park campgrounds by state and tells average cost, how many sites each has as well as if they have hookups or not. It is a great resource and I suggest you use it in your travel planning!

With that, you should be armed with a veritable toolkit of knowledge around finding free and cheap campsites on government land!

Additional resources for trip planning and finding cheap RV sites:

There are several other resources we use for finding sites including:

For trip planning, we like to use hard copy maps and guidebooks as resources as well as these websites. Watch How We Plan For an RV Trip video here!



Whew, that is it! This is a long post to read, but we hope it is a useful one for you.

If you learned something new after reading this, use it to plan out your next RV trip, or find a great, free boondocking site we’d love to hear from you. Please tell us in the comments below!

If you aren’t sure how to boondock in your rig but want to try it out, check out our digital guide, The Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking.

RV Lifestyle officially recommends The Dyrt

Where to Find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping 1

You can book campgrounds for tents, RVs, cabins, and glamping, or find free camping. The Dyrt has it all. And in case you didn't know, The Dyrt is the #1 camping app and website in the US, with over 8 million campsites, reviews, and tips submitted by campers, for campers. And The Dyrt PRO version makes every camping trip easier. With offline map backups, offline search, exclusive discounts, and trip planning tools, PRO can improve any stage of camping.

The Dyrt app lets users with basic accounts search for camping and save favorites, completely for free. The Dyrt PRO is an upgrade that makes it easier to go camping. Try PRO for free today.

Use the code RVlifestyle for your 30-day free trial!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-14

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

42 Responses to “Where to Find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping”

January 19, 2023at4:55 pm, Kim Peters said:

Great info! I want to provide dry space for RV (maybe 2) at my home in Rio Rancho, NM. Do you know if you have to purchase a business lic?


January 20, 2023at2:52 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Best to check with your local government to see if there are zoning/ other restrictions. Varies greatly across the country – Team RV Lifestyle


July 27, 2022at3:36 am, Richard Hicks said:

Thanks for lots of ideas!


July 25, 2022at6:48 pm, Tony Legg said:

Really great article. Gonna have to try some recommendations.


July 27, 2022at11:26 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Excellent! Thanks for the feedback, Tony – Team RV Lifestyle


July 15, 2022at10:16 pm, Affording Fulltime RV Life On Social Security In 2022 | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] out our article on Free and Cheap RV Sites. You’ll find lots of options for places to stay in the […]


July 15, 2022at6:25 am, Alice Carroll said:

Wow, I never knew that there are a lot of online resources that could be used in order to find the right RV campground. I’m interested in looking for one soon because I want to go camping with my friends. As such, it would be best to find a safe place where we could stay.

[Link deleted]


July 03, 2022at9:39 pm, Andrea U said:

Great info! We have been members of Harvest Hosts for 2 years now and started enjoying the boondocking life. Looking forward to doing more of it.


July 01, 2022at5:40 pm, Lynda Hier said:

So much great info! Thank you for taking the time to compile such a useful guide 🙂


July 02, 2022at9:39 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks, Lynda, for encouraging us! Team RV Lifestyle


July 01, 2022at5:16 pm, Jeff Hier said:

Wow! You weren’t kidding, the list is huge!! Lots of good information.


July 02, 2022at9:39 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for taking the time to write this note, Jeff- we hope it helps many — Team RV Lifestyle


June 27, 2022at8:30 pm, Christy Baker said:

I can’t wait to try some of these ideas!


June 27, 2022at2:37 pm, Dana Matthews said:

Great list! To be able to travel this summer, this is exactly what we need. Thank you.


June 29, 2022at6:48 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for the feedback, Dana! Team RV Lifestyle


June 27, 2022at7:46 am, M Stout said:

Is there any where we can get a paper map by state of BLM, COE sites?


October 16, 2021at7:54 pm, Christy Anderson said:

Thank you for taking the time to post this very informative article on boon docking! I’m excited to head out west this summer with my family and give these tips a try!
Love your you tube videos too!
Great professional work!


October 16, 2021at5:08 pm, Marty said:

WHY are there SO MANY advertisements in your posts. Is disgusting.


June 27, 2022at7:12 am, Claudia DiNardo said:

Thank you for this comprehensive guide! It’s very helpful.


August 02, 2021at3:57 pm, New Designated Dispersed Camping Policies Limit Boondocking - 2boomersandababy said:

[…] the natural setting and more relaxed atmosphere. If you want to learn how to find these places – we did a comprehensive post about it (bookmark this […]


June 05, 2021at9:43 am, 9 Super Important Boondocking Etiquette Tips For Better Camping - 2boomersandababy said:

[…] BONUS Resource: How to find Free and CHEAP camping sites! […]


June 05, 2021at1:00 am, How Safe Is Boondocking? 10 Expert Tips And Techniques - 2boomersandababy said:

[…] BONUS: Click Here to read about Free and CHEAP places where you can boondock […]


June 03, 2021at1:37 pm, 10 Tips on Safe Boondocking – Travel The Country By RV said:

[…] BONUS: Click Here to read about Free and CHEAP places where you can boondock […]


May 03, 2021at6:43 am, 9 Super Important Boondocking Etiquette Tips for Better Camping | Book-JC - Book-JC Blog said:

[…] BONUS Resource: How to find Free and CHEAP camping sites! […]


October 05, 2020at2:38 pm, Essential Tips for RV Dry Camping, Boondocking and Dispersed Camping [WITH VIDEO} - RVing Outdoors said:

[…] CLICK HERE for a list of websites and apps to help you find places to overnight […]


October 04, 2020at8:03 am, Essential Tips for RV Dry Camping, Boondocking and Dispersed Camping | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] CLICK HERE for a list of websites and apps to help you find places to overnight […]


October 02, 2020at2:36 pm, Yves Vermette said:

What a great article! So much good information. A must for anyone who wants to start boondocking. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a complete guide. Very helpful. A new Canadian follower…


August 12, 2020at10:30 am, Harry said:

Why are Cracker Barrell & Wal Mart boondocking? They are not in the boonies as the name implies.
I call it mooching or sponging, you are too cheap to pay a fair price to a campground owner who is trying to make a living.


July 20, 2020at12:19 pm, Finding free places to overnight in your RV | Roadtrek Blog said:

[…] Where to find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping (2020) […]


July 20, 2020at11:57 am, How to Stay Safe from Lightning at Camp | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Where to find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping (2020) […]


June 16, 2020at8:52 am, Tudy said:

My head is spinning, but thanks so much for all the great Information. I love following you and Jennifer. I can identify with both of you because you are in my “age bracket.”


June 15, 2020at6:12 pm, Gary L Hammond said:

Wow! Mike you did an immense amount of work in putting this all together! Thanks so much from a fellow Michigander at heart displaced in the hi desert of Calif.
Gary Hammond


June 14, 2020at10:19 am, Mary Jane Stout said:

Mike, this is the most useful post ever!!! And you have many useful posts. Thank you. We are in our RT Agile because we followed you for about a year first …your info on Rving with pets led us into this and info from you, Campskunk and Janet Arnold helped us try motorhome travel. PS I am glad to have an article to read, not so great on the podcast thing.


June 13, 2020at6:57 pm, Unwritten Rules of Camping: 10 Ways to Camp Better | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Where to find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping (2020) […]


May 30, 2020at7:22 pm, RV Living 101: Our Complete Guide to the Most Helpful RV Resources | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Click Here for Free and Cheap RV sites & Camping on State and federal land […]


May 12, 2020at7:22 pm, Peaceful Boondocking in the Ocala National Forest | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Where to find FREE or Cheap RV Sites Camping (2020) […]


March 01, 2020at8:42 am, Eric said:

Thanks for taking the time to put this together! I hope to go full time this summer.


January 24, 2020at1:55 pm, Tom Pozza said:

This is a fantastic read. My wife and I are going to retire and travel and I can see myself coming to this page a lot to follow some of your suggestions. All of the information is very useful and I look forward to actually using the trip planner at Looks great!
Thank you, Thank you!!!!


January 12, 2020at5:43 pm, Nancy holland said:

This is a great comprehensive article on camping in public lands. We’ll sure keep it and also get some of the books you mentioned, as, indeed, we do find ourselves in cell deserts. Thank you


January 11, 2020at10:49 am, Bryan Curley said:

Great guide, especially the walkthrough on finding places to park in National Forests. I’d also recommend services like Harvest Hosts. There’s an $80 annual fee but you get to park at 1,000+ breweries, wineries, museums, farms, and golf courses for no additional fees. We’ve used it a half-dozen times so we’re only “paying” like $15 per night at this point, and obviously it’s a better value the more you use it. Thanks again for the great write-up!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top