Top 5 Ways To Find Free Dispersed RV Camping - Corona Virus Shutdowns
1:45 The Dirt
2:27 All Stays Camp and RV
3:00 National Forest and BLM
4:42 Google Maps Satellite View
Top 5 Ways to Find Free Dispersed Camping during Coronavirus Closures
Hi everybody. My name is Jim with FullMoonAdventureClub and today I'm going to be sharing with you five different ways that I find free RV campsites, which is especially important with all the coronavirus stuff. I know the government closed down a lot of campgrounds and that might displace some of you. If you need to find places to boondock or camp for free, maybe some of these will help you out. I really hope they do.
Free Campsites (.Net)
So first on this list is going to be www.freecampsites.net. Many of you will probably know a lot of these, but for those of you that don't know, freecampsites.net is a great one. We use that all the time and you can leave reviews and it has a lot of free spots. But, I did find that when we were in different areas with camping, the website had missed mahy of those free sites, especially in national forest areas, but it's a great place to start.
Number two is Campendium. It is very similar to free campsites.net. You can go there, check it out, people leave reviews... and between these two sometimes they'll have campsites that the other one didn't mention in any given area. So Campendium is also a really good resource. You can link pictures, reviews, videos and it'll give you directions.
Now, The Dirt is also a free camping app that you can use and again, it's going to have stuff that the other two missed. One great thing about The Dirt is you can get the pro version so you can download it and don't necessarily need to be connected to the internet or have cell phone service in order to use it. That is always really beneficial because usually by the time you get out to these places you've lost service. And then you're kind of lost. It's going to have basically the same functionality as the other sites. They have reviews, photos, videos, and directions.
All Stays Camp and RV
Now there's also one that I've never used before, but I hear really good things and that's called All Stays Camp and RV. I believe it costs around $9.99, so about 10 bucks to download, but it is downloaded onto your phone, so even without cell phone service you'll be able to use it. It has dump stations, truckstops, paid spots, free spots, along with reviews.
National Forest and BLM
Now, National Forests are my main channel for finding free campsites, as well as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). But BLM is a little more sparse; depending on where you are, it can be a little more rare. But, there are National Forests everywhere, so that's almost always where I go. You can call the National Forest Ranger Station near the area you’re visiting. Sometimes they’re also helpful in pointing you in the right direction for dispersed camping areas.
There's also the BLM and you can go to a BLM ranger station, sometimes they'll help you out. But I've also found that a lot of times they're reluctant to help out our RVers because, as I’m sure you know, some campers are disrespectful and trash the spots — ruining it for everyone.
They see how people abuse it and so they're not as inclined to help you out with free campsites. I've had to drag the information out of them, assuring them that I wasn't going to dump my black tank in the middle of nowhere and things of that nature. Then they would give up some locations that they knew about. So it's usually best just do the research on your own, I would say. Get some BLM maps or look around and just do your research online.
Now with the national forest, there's also a really cool interactive map that they just came up with. Just zoom in and it's got all these camp sites all over the place. A lot of them are campgrounds, but if you find a campground that you like, I almost guarantee you there's going to be a forest road in that area that will have free camping.
Google Maps Satellite View
Now this is the number one method that I use to find free camping and it's just Google maps with a satellite view. Use any resource that you want to find a National Forest area near you and then start zooming in and look for national forest roads. They're usually going to be labeled “NF dash and a number,” so that will look like: “NF-235” or whatever. Start checking out those roads and switch to your satellite view and follow that road up while zoomed in and look for clearings.
Look for openings on that road that look like people have been camping there. For example, right here on the phone, you know my phone rings, you can see that I'm going up the road, I'm looking around on the satellite view. I used a couple of little campgrounds that they had listed to find that area and then you look around a little closer and you go down this road and then all of a sudden you look off to the left and you see a little clearing with a road, look for fire rings.
Maybe the Google satellite image even captured an RV sitting there or some tent set up. But usually you can see the rock ring if there's a clearing big enough and if you can find one, I almost guarantee there are going to be others. And so that's really what I do most of the time. So you can look around, you see all these different camp sites, you see little fire rings, then you know that area is going to be accessible with free camping because you're allowed to camp for free in national forest if it's open. Period. So once you find that area, you can drop a pin on Google, it'll give you directions and a right next to “directions,” you can see a little option called “steps” and that will give you turn by turn directions on how to get there. And you can screenshot that on your phone or write it down.
That way, if you do lose service on the way, you're still going to have a general idea of where you’re going. I also recommend that you have an alternative area, so maybe that road was closed or maybe it's inaccessible because of a tree, or they closed it, or any number of things, or all the campsites are full. Have a backup before you get out of service. Be careful because if you're in a really mountainous area, some of these forest roads don't show terrain or altitude climb. So the road might be a little crazy for an RV to travel safely if it's really steep or winding. You want to do a little bit of research, I would also type that forest road into a Google search, just type: “dispersed camping forest road NF-235” or whatever they're calling it.
Often somebody will have mentioned that or written a review on it or a little blog, or it's even on the National Forest website and it'll tell you accessibility and what kind of vehicles can get in there. Other times, you just have to check it out. We've just gone for it a lot of times and we have gone through some pretty wild roads and then other times it was totally fine and completely RV accessible. You just have to be a little careful about that. Use your head before going in. If it's a little, tiny one lane road and it looks like it's going straight up a mountain, you might want to think twice or take off your tow vehicle. Or use a scouting vehicle if you can and check it out a little bit more so you don't get your RV all wedged in there and stuck.
That is the number one resource for me, just doing some research and using Google and Google earth or satellite to really check out the road, look for fire rings, look for clearings, and then go check it out. If you want, you can use all of those in combination to get an idea of where you want to go and maybe that'll help you out. I hope that helps considering that a lot of RV campgrounds are closed because of the coronavirus.
I hope you're all staying safe out there and maybe you were unaware of some of these resources and they will help you to find free camping until the crisis is over and we return to some sense of normalcy. Stay safe out there. I hope this helped you out. If it did, please like, share, and subscribe. And until next time, thanks for reading and happy camping!