3 Tips for Finding Amazing (and free) Campsites Anywhere

Have you noticed that we camp in a lot of AMAZING places?

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Free camping in Vedauwoo, WY

It’s true, we do.

What if I told you that most of the places that we camp are not only amazing, but that they are also usually free.  Yes, over the years, we’ve become masters at finding fantastic and free places to camp all over the world (and by we, I mean my amazing husband Andrew).  The trick is to go Wild Camping (aka boondocking, dispersed, or primitive camping).

This means that you find a beautiful place and just camp there (follow our tips below to keep it legal).  Although you’ll have to do without amenities like bathrooms and water faucets, the beauty and solitude will far make up for that sacrifice.

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Free camping in the Middle East

 

Here’s how we do it:

1.  Figure out where the public land is.

Check with local authorities and ask where public land is located.  In the US, you can often check with your local forest service, BLM, or even county offices to determine where public land ends and begins.  Once you know where it is, check into what their regulations are for overnight camping.  Many areas will allow you to camp practically anywhere if you follow certain rules about things like waste disposal, fires, and proximity to water, usually without a fee.  Yes, this means that you will have to pack in your own water and will need a shovel and TP to take care of business, but it also means that you can have some peace and quiet without the distractions of “camp neighbors” at all hours of the night.  Trust me, that alone is worth it!

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View from our free campsite in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, CO

 

2.  Scour Google Earth.

Yes, Google Earth is hands down one of the best tools for finding an amazing spot to camp (except for that one friend who always picks the best spot…ask him first).  Pull up Google Earth and locate the areas where there is public land.  Now with a birds-eye-view you can easily find a place that has what you’re looking for.  With Earth, you can practically walk around the site all from home so that you don’t have to waste any of your valuable adventure time finding a suitable spot to pitch your tent.

If you want to be near a stream, find it here.  Looking for a some rock for the kids to climb around nearby?  Check.

Also, make sure that you take a look at some of the pictures that others have shared to see if there are other great options nearby.

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View from our free campsite in Coyote Gulch, UT

 

3.  Be flexible.

We always have a handful of potential sites picked when we head out for the night.  You never know when one will be taken, trashed, or otherwise not to your liking.  If you keep an open mind and don’t get your hopes too set on one specific site, your chances of success are much higher.

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Free Camping on the Green River, UT

 

Although this type of camping certainly isn’t for everyone, since you won’t have any amenities provided for you, if you’re willing to plan ahead, these places will usually be the most amazing.  Happy campsite hunting!

9 Comments

  • Corey Christensen says:

    Its the only way to camp in my opinion. Otherwise you have to deal with some dude 10 ft away to either side. I go camping to get away from people. Any tips for the Moab area. It seems like all the public land is restricted. After driving around for hours we finally had to camp at an RV park at 3 in the morning.

    • Corey- it really is the best way to camp! Moab is a tricky one as a lot of the public land has been regulated due to overuse. We have also experienced one of those nights where we finally gave up in the wee hours of the morning and settled on an in town over-priced RV campground, so i feel your pain. I think the best ways to get a place there are to avoid high times (when races and jeep safaris are) and try and head in on a Thursday night instead of a Friday. Sandflats is usually the first place we look if we’re trying for a place near town, though we also have done some along the river to the east (we’d usually drive in this way from CO, so that was easy to check). If you want to get off the beaten path, we’ve found some cool (and free) spots to camp on the way out to the Needles entrance to Canyonlands as well (and you can do some good Jeeping and hiking in the park there as well). Good luck – that’s an awesome place but yes, super hard to find good (and free) camping.

  • Sara says:

    I’m totally new to camping but we have two little boys and I love the idea of making camping one of the ways to spend time together and experience new things. I would love a “camping for dummies” post on food prep, bathroom necessitities, etc. Being the mom and the planner I kind of need to head up the planning and packing but I’m a visual learner and appreciate being taught how to do things. I want our camping experiences to be fun, positive, and as stress-free as possible. I feel like if I just learn from experience all the gaps in my prep and planning then it’s not going to be fun and stress free…for who knows how many trips! Could you do a basic post for those who want to enjoy the outdoors but don’t know the first thing about living in the wild temporarily?!

  • Kate C says:

    Nice! I love camping in Vedauwoo too, it’s always one of my favorite places. But free camping has one major issue in my mind, and that is that it’s hard to get the site correct at night. We tend to leave after work on Friday nights, so we’re typically pulling into camp at 9-10p. In the dark, it’s so hard to tell if you’ve just parked in somebody’s back yard or if there’s a sign 10 feet away saying “No camping!” So, those are the weekends when I prefer to have reservations someplace so we can just pull up and fall asleep.

    • Good point Kate. When we’re rolling in especially late, it’s always helpful to have been to a location before or to know that it will likely be empty enough that you’ll have a few open options available late!

  • Tristen says:

    Love this so much! My family is so overdue for a camping trip! We have some great free spots nearby, too, in the Sierra Mountains, we need to do more camping!!

  • Dave says:

    We have been lurking and reading numerous articles on your site, just wanted to post some positive feedback! We really love your content, keep it up!

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