Boondocking for free is the most cost-effective way to travel the world. You can find free and paid Boondocking and camping in every state in the United States, believe it or not.
Your options will differ depending on your level of comfort and camping style. Depending on which websites you visit and who you talk to, the term “free camping” can mean a variety of things.
What Types of Free Camping are There?
- Dispersed camping
- Dry camping
- Primitive camping
- Stealth camping
In This articles I am going to give you some tips on free and Paid RV Boondocking and camping with in the USA.
Free And Paid Boondocking Sites In The USA
RV Boondocking Places in Texas
Texas has a lot of open space and plenty of land to explore, so going off the grid is simple. When it comes to getting away, dedicated RVers are now starting to make their own rules.
1. Big Bend National Park (Paid $10 Per Night)
This national park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and provides breathtaking views of the Rio Grande. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited and most remote national parks in the United States.
Hiking, backpacking, and bird watching are popular activities on popular trails in Big Bend, which include magnificent rock formations, Rio Grande canyons, Chisos mountains, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
RVers can finally enjoy a night of stargazing with one of the darkest skies in the United States because there is no electricity.
Coordinates : 29.257303300123688, -103.28194097685646
2. Schreiner City Park (Free)
This city park in Junction, Texas, offers a tranquil view of the Llano River. This peaceful opportunity to camp next to the river allows Rvers to swim, kayak, and soak up some summer sun alongside the Llano River.
Junction offers breathtaking views and numerous scenic routes along the Llano River. Junction may be a smaller town, but the boot scooting boogey is available at the London Hall if you want to experience small town America.
Coordinates : 30.490833801139967, -99.760828552737
3. Magnolia Beach (Free)
This beach is located in Port Lavaca, Texas, and allows you to park your trailer on the bay’s shores. There is no need to be concerned about parking your fifth wheel on the sand because the ground is compact and sturdy due to the abundance of oyster shells.
Long beach runs, sandcastles, and fishing are just a few of the many activities available during your stay at Magnolia Beach. This location would be ideal for bringing your family—and your dogs!
Coordinates : 28.56170810014095, -96.54468523915168
4. Sam Rose Collins Recreational Park (Free)
This park in Burkeville, Texas, provides a scenic view of the Toledo Bend. Because Burkeville borders Louisiana, this RV trip has a diverse list of activities to offer interested campers.
There is plenty of fun for all ages in Texas and Louisiana, from Cajun food to canoeing expeditions to the Sabine National Forest. To be honest, the giant pine trees and abundance of wildlife in this part of Texas are breathtaking.
Coordinates : 31.16547706816654, -93.57862685271883
5. North Beach Padre Island National Seashore (Free)
This park is practically in our backyard, Corpus Christi, and it offers a variety of activities along the coast. From mid-June to August, North Beach offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: hatchling releases!
Along with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, visitors can relax on the beach or fill their days with picnics, seashell hunting, boogie boarding, and parasailing.
Coordinates : 27.473392586320447, -97.28585697186101
RV Boondocking Places in California
California is known as the Golden State for a reason other than the fact that it was a major gold rush destination. California has it all: the ocean, the desert, and the trees. There is also a lot of free camping and boondocking in California.
With steep RV park prices across the state, camping can quickly become prohibitively expensive. That is why we have compiled a list of the top5 free camping and boondocking spots in California.
1. American Girl Mine (Free)
The American Girl Mine, located 22 miles outside of Yuma, Arizona, is first on our list.
This location is close to the borders of California, Mexico, and Arizona. This desert environment is ideal for relaxing in the warm weather, playing with your off-roading toys, and admiring the night sky.
The permitted camping area is located down a well-kept dirt road with plenty of room for any size rig. Don’t be surprised if you have some neighbors, but there’s plenty of room to spread out.
There is also plenty of cell service from all major carriers.
Coordinates : 32.85503288886885, -114.78720435423435
2. Willow Creek Road Dispersed (Free)
Willow Creek Road Dispersed Camping is located in California’s well-known Big Sur region. This is a must-see location in the spring, with views of the ocean and a plethora of wildflowers.
Five camp sites are open all year and can accommodate RVs up to 30 feet long (based on reviews). There are no amenities and no cell service, but it is one of the best free escapes with an ocean view that money can buy.
3. Furnace Creek Road (Free)
Furnace Creek is 7 miles outside of Shoshone, CA, near the Nevada border.
This campground serves as a gateway to Death Valley National Park, off-roading trails, natural hot springs, and abandoned mines. It’s also one of the best places in the world to stargaze at night.
There is plenty of room for any size vehicle on a drivable dirt road. It can get quite hot in the summer, so dress accordingly.
Verizon is the only reported carrier that provides service, and it isn’t the best, so don’t rely on it. Free camping in California is frequently associated with shaky cell service.
Coordinates : 36.46754641498316, -116.88077033304053
4. Needles Point Dispersed Camping (Free)
Needles Point is a short distance from Sequoia National Park. During the warmer months, this dispersed camping area is only accessible by high clearance vehicles.
It provides plenty of shade under the trees and is a peaceful place to camp.
Needles Point Dispersed Camping is 14 miles from the Needles Lookout trail, which offers spectacular views of the area.
There is no cell service, making it an ideal getaway. Also, keep in mind that this is bear country, so food should be stored properly.
Coordinates : 36.119711313645176, -118.50870285072118
5. Whisky Falls Campground (Free)
Whiskey Falls Campground is an excellent choice for a Sierra Nevada mountain getaway.
This free camping in California location features lovely pine trees and a waterfall. A rough dirt road leads to nine sites.
Due to snow, this site is only open during the warmer seasons. There is no cell service, and it can become congested on weekends. It does, however, have a vault toilet, tables, and fire pits.
Coordinates : 37.28544966294303, -119.44033515121168
RV Boondocking Places in Florida
1. Picayune Strand State Forest (Free)
This state forest is only a short distance from Naples and the Big Cypress National Preserve. Much of it may be underwater during the wet season.
There are no hookups and no drinking water available at the campsites, so you must come prepared. However, there are picnic tables and fire rings.
Nearby Attractions: Bring your hiking boots! Within the forest, there is a 22-mile hike. After that, you’re only a short drive away from some fantastic coastal kayaking.
Coordinates : 26.06888215289778, -81.5563754978473
2. Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area (Free)
This campground, located about an hour from Fort Myers between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, is a great place to stay from November to April. The area can flood and become inaccessible during the wet season.
Nearby Activities: Deer, turkey, hog, and bird hunting are popular. Hiking along the region’s unimproved roads is also an option.
Coordinates : 26.46926633750444, -81.1861147272473
3. Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area (Free)
This beautiful wetlands habitat is an hour and a half west of Miami and has room for a few daring campers. The majority of the WMA is swamp and is best traversed in a kayak, but there are a few levees of areas large enough to accommodate a smaller RV.
While the Florida Keys are still two hours away, this is one of the closest boondocking spots to them.
Nearby Activities: The Big Cypress National Preserve, located just south of the WMA, offers more accessible hiking than the Everglades. In addition, Miami’s clubs, beaches, and restaurants are only a short drive away.
Coordinates : 26.34782540949582, -80.79158527742266
4. Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (Free)
Three Lakes WMA, located less than an hour south of Orlando, is a small, rustic campground with only a few sites for hunters and birdwatchers. There are several lakes nearby that are ideal for fishing, including Lake Kissimmee, Jackson, and Marian.
Nearby Activities: The WMA is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and is regarded as one of the best places in the state for birdwatching.
Coordinates : 27.92681832091762, -81.13550186391414
5. Mack Landing (Free)
Sites have no hookups but there is a vault toilet and the campground does not get as many visitors as some of the other boondocking spots in the area. It’s very peaceful and has great river access.
Nearby Activities: During the hunting season and for those who want to kayak on the Ochlockonee River, this is a popular place to camp.
Coordinates : 30.093183320237536, -84.64479931465148
RV Boondocking Places in Wisconsin
1. Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area (Free)
The Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area, located in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest northeast of Eagle River, is an excellent place for fishing, hiking, and hunting. Deer, bear, fisher, ruffed grouse, and various songbird species are common.
Coordinates : 45.96406031742472, -89.0881184085702
2. Headwaters Wilderness (Free)
Boondock in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s Headwaters Wilderness, southeast of Eagle River. This wilderness contains some of the state’s oldest and largest trees.
This area is close to the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain of Lakes, which form the world’s largest freshwater lake chain. You should be able to catch your limit of walleye and muskies.
Coordinates : 45.814331377475504, -88.94799656201606
3. Porcupine Lake Wilderness (Free)
You’ll enjoy boondocking in Wisconsin’s Porcupine Lake Wilderness among the oak, maple, hemlock, and white pine trees. This area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Drummond is ideal for trout, bass, panfish, and northern pike fishing.
Coordinates : 46.28873106774354, -91.15070933861364
4. Rainbow Lake Wilderness (Free)
The Rainbow Lake Wilderness in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a great place to see narrow gauge railroad lines that were once used by the logging industry.
This wilderness near Drummond is traversed by the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Anderson Grade Trail. There are also a number of lakes where you can go fishing.
Coordinates : 46.41546559555313, -91.29987936622423
5. Potato River Falls Campground (Free)
Potato Falls in the Iron County Forest has five campsites, and a short nearby trail leads to two waterfalls. This campground near Gurney is easily accessible because it is located about two miles down a well-maintained gravel road off US Highway 169.
Coordinates : 46.46257411467514, -90.52957707548236
RV Boondocking Places in Ontario
If you’re not familiar with the term, “crown land” in Canada is equivalent to Bureau of Land Management or National Forest acreage in the United States. This primarily means free camping for campers.
1. Wanapitei River (Free)
While you shouldn’t expect laundry facilities, hookups, or even a designated site, places like Wanapitei River offer free, dispersed camping in a natural setting, ideal for both car camping and RVing.
2. Brougham Lake (Free)
Brougham Lake, located closer to Ottawa, is a small bend in the road suitable for a camper van or those looking for a tent camping spot.
3. Marathon (Free)
Cities along Lake Superior’s shores, such as Marathon, have city parks with camping facilities. While that location provides simple camping and beautiful photo opportunities due to its proximity to Lake Superior, Scenic High Falls City Park in Wawa, Ontario, provides an even more majestic experience.
4. Harbour Centre (Free)
The Harbour Centre in Gore Bay is a great place to start exploring the town because it provides free overnight parking and is within walking distance of all of the eateries, a brewery, and other amenities that this small town has to offer.
RV Boondocking Places in Oregon Coast
1. Mineral Camp Campground (Free)
This small campground along Sharps Creek in the Umpqua National Forest is open all year and has three individual campsites surrounded by towering Douglas Firs. There are fire pits, picnic tables, and vault toilets, but there is no running water or garbage disposal.
Coordinates : 43.5830358008153, -122.71369691792212
2. Rufus Landing Recreation Area (Free)
The Rufus Landing Recreation Area is a convenient boondocking and dispersed camping site if you’re traveling along the Columbia River and need a place to stop east of The Dalles.
It is managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and has no designated campsites. Instead, it is a large gravel parking area, so tent campers may have to plan ahead of time to secure a spot.
Coordinates : 45.69274877631415, -120.73719443255214
3. Pine Mountain Campground (Free)
This campground is near the Pine Mountain Observatory, one of Oregon’s best places for stargazing, and is located at the summit of Pine Mountain in the Deschutes National Forest.
Set up your tent or RV in one of the six first-come, first-served campsites (maximum site spur length is 30 feet).
Coordinates : 43.6876658342393, -121.19695817164525
4. Mount Ashland Campground (Free)
Mount Ashland campground in Southern Oregon’s Klamath National Forest offers remote mountain camping along the Siskiyou Crest. It provides access to the PCT, stunning views, and excellent wildflower, bird, and butterfly viewing.
Coordinates : 42.07508427896643, -122.71480689099421
5. Bonney Meadow Campground (Free)
In addition to well-known Mount Hood National Forest campgrounds such as Trillium Lake and Lost Lake, there is also fantastic free Oregon camping in the same area.
Six individual campsites and horse corrals at Bonney Meadow cater to self-sufficient hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Vehicles up to 16 feet in length are permitted on the sites.
Coordinates : 45.26540446705782, -121.58287083134964
RV Boondocking Places in Colorado
1. Hansons Mill (Free)
Hansons Mill campground is ideal for boondocking if you plan on visiting Colorado’s southwest corner, including Great Sand Dunes National Park. Horseback riding is popular in the area, and several trails branch off from it.
There are only three designated camping areas with fire rings and picnic tables, but dispersed camping is permitted throughout the area.
Coordinates : 37.81268909201038, -106.73724943955443
2. Sawmill Creek Campground (Free)
The campground itself is currently closed and does not provide any amenities. Experienced boondockers, on the other hand, can easily do some dispersed camping just outside the designated campground.
Sawmill Creek, which is a few miles from the dispersed camping area, is the nearest water source. Rather than relying on the mountain stream, bring all of the water you’ll need for the trip.
Coordinates : 40.757633764506, -107.33221689659756
3. Trout Creek Recreation Area (Free)
Trout Creek Recreation Area, located half an hour south of Steamboat Springs, is a secluded forest campground ideal for boondocking.
Despite the fact that it has almost no amenities, it does have a single vault toilet, so you won’t have to fill up your wastewater tank while camping here.
Coordinates : 39.14888896641132, -105.65016741214984
4. Sarvis Creek Wilderness (Free)
The Sarvis Creek Wilderness, located near Yampa and the Trout Creek Recreation Area, has over 44,000 acres of heavily forested terrain.
There is dispersed camping anywhere there are roads in the wilderness area, but there are no toilets, drinking water, or other amenities. You must be entirely self-sufficient.
Coordinates : 40.25291585585458, -106.69936908550338
5. Vedauwoo Designated Dispersed Campsites (Free)
Check out the dispersed camping area at Vedauwoo for something completely different. It is located in Wyoming, between Cheyenne and Laramie, but it is easily accessible from northern Colorado towns such as Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley.
Coordinates : 41.16270722095578, -105.46704344352928
How to find Free RV Boondocking sites in USA
Learning how to find RV boondocking sites is an important skill for the modern day nomad.
You can drive around all day and hit every campground in your state until you come across a spot that doesn’t have one of those monstrous rigs blocking your front door.
Or if you’re like us, sometimes its sooner than later! But either way it’s always more economical and environmentally friendly to get off the beaten path of America.
Your first stop should be Google maps or whatever GPS nav system you happen to love (We personally like DeLorme). The thing about this is that you need to find out EXACTLY where you are.
That way when someone asks, “What exit did you come off of?” You can say with confidence, “The one marked ‘Nowhere’!” On our travels we have found regional mapping sites which tend to be more detailed and less cluttered than Google’s generic nationwide map.
We’ve also created a few of these ourselves over the years so I do speak from experience!
Is Boondocking In The USA Dangerous
There are many online boondocking blogs that say boondocking is a safe way to live. That’s just not true. Living completely off the grid, away from other people always comes with risks. Some folks get by without ever encountering problems and others don’t.
But it’s not as simple as saying ‘boondockers’ encounter problems more often than campgrounders’.
The difference between success and failure is planning for things going wrong and ready made solutions in hand when they do go wrong.
Not every day will be perfect, you can’t count on having all your needs met at all times without incident or effort. Everyday normal activities like getting water or gassing up the vehicle can be dangerous and require caution.
In the early days, when Boondockers were a rare sight, many of us would get water from anywhere we could find it; streams, ditches, etc.
While that works fine in some areas where water quality is not an issue, you need to know what kind of contaminants are nearby before collecting your own for drinking or cooking needs.
The internet is full of horror stories about people getting sick after accidentally drinking bad tap water or spring fed water from sources contaminated with human waste or chemicals used on fields (Pesticides).
There are also plenty of tales about those who ignored warnings about hazards and suffered painful injuries as a result from stepping on nails they failed to see while bare-footed.
Some people passed out after drinking foul smelling swamp water that almost killed them because they were so delirious from the bad odor.