Best 9 States for Free Camping in the US
Sometimes the best things in life are free, and that includes thousands of campsites across the country. Overnight parking at a Walmart is easy, but we’ve found there is little pleasure in that kind of free camping. When you’re looking for a less crowded space and don’t want to stretch your budget, a free campsite can be your golden ticket.
What makes these states the best?
Many states, especially in the American West, have a lot of options for free camping, but not all of those have made the list. The states with the best free campsites, as rated by our community, is a competitive field. We’ve noticed when you’re reviewing, you often take into account the area’s natural beauty, the availability, size, privacy, and cleanliness of campsites, the facilities provided (or lack thereof), and ease of access. Only the best of the best have made this list.
Without further ado, here are the Campendium community’s top-ranked states for free camping.
Not only do you get a one-of-a-kind landscape in Arizona, but you can also easily escape those chilly winter months if you head this way. So much of Arizona is public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and National Park Service that there is free camping almost everywhere you look.
For just a taste of what Arizona has to offer, check out these two sites that work as beautiful base camps to explore the desert and National Parks alike. They’re off the beaten path and are guaranteed to have you waking up to stunning sunrises each day.
Indian Bread Rocks, Bowie
- “Beautiful place to spend the night! Woke up in the morning to coyotes talking. ❤️ Not too crowded and off the beaten path!” – julzz1313
- “Cost zero dollars and zero cents to camp. Can’t get much better. Beautiful scenery and solid AT&T service. We worked and streamed video. Three to four LTE bars with the WeBoost network booster.” – Blckhwk79
Coconino Rim Road Dispersed Camping, Grand Canyon
- “Lots of big spaces for big rigs like ours (40 ft plus toad). We found a spot right across from the lookout tower which is amazing for sunsets and the start of multiple trails in the Kaibab National Forest.” – Pintsize
- “Would HIGHLY recommend staying here, we had such a good experience. Easy access from the main road – go past the cattle guard and up the hill a bit for the best sites.” – Vanessa
Utah is known for its vast landscape of stunning red rocks. But did you know that Utah is also filled with forested mountains, beautiful lakes, and miles of rivers? All of this prime outdoor recreation comes alongside a considerable amount of free camping throughout the entire state. There’s a ton of land for you to explore and a high concentration of public lands around every corner. The north part of the state claims to have the best snow on Earth, while the rest of the state boasts warmer climates and red rock arches.
There are plenty of spaces in Utah that you can easily get to and spend the night for free, but these two sites are some of the best. There’s no amount of boredom to be found in Utah.
Old Highway 89 Dispersed Camping, Mt Carmel
- “My wife and I stayed here for 2 weeks while visiting Zion and Kanab and all the hikes nearby. I loved the view of the sunset on the mountains every night and walking the dog in the forest in the mornings.” – RockinandRoamin
- “We spent two weeks at this location and enjoyed our time there very much. Great location to many hikes and parks and easy access in and out.” – Kobras Journey
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs Dispersed Camping, Cedar City
- “The views around here are stunning, there is a historic petroglyph site with a short hike. You can even climb up the mountain by the hike on the unlisted trail. Camping is great, the amount of campsites are abundant, pretty much camp anywhere and everywhere. Loved it.” – Pash-Spice
New Mexico flies under the radar for some, but it’s well worth a visit for the free camping alone. The state’s high elevation makes it a tricky spot to camp during the winter, but those border seasons of spring and fall can be heavenly, just as you’d expect from the Land of Enchantment.
These two sites put you right on the edge of pure wilderness. The views are spectacular and nearby adventures will excite and challenge you. Next time you drive through, make sure to stop in New Mexico and appreciate all the land available for boondockers to get a wild west experience.
Angel Peak Campground, Bloomfield
- “The views of angel peak and the badlands below are amazing. The grounds are well cared for and the road in was better than most for BLM land with this level of seclusion and grandeur. The location is a good base for exploring the Chaco Culture National Park and the Bisti Badlands. We plan to revisit the Farmington area and Angels Peak Campground again!” – Jason
Chosa Campground, Carlsbad
- “The views are amazing and the location is convenient as it sits between Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains.” – Theresa
- “We stayed there for a while as we adjusted to our new full time camper life. It was great. The sunrises and sunsets are incredible, the Carlsbad caverns are really close, you can dump/fill up/do laundry/shower and the RV park in Whites City 5 minutes away.” – Julie-Roxane
Home to the United States’ first national park and some of the most stunning mountains in the country, Wyoming is next up on our list. There is free camping almost everywhere you go in this state, and it’s easy to find a beautiful area with few people around. While the most popular part of the state is around Yellowstone, you can continue to explore south into the Wind River Range and see snow-capped peaks for much of the year.
Each of the four national forests in Wyoming allows dispersed camping, and there’s free camping to be found around Yellowstone and the Tetons as well. This is the kind of state that was made for boondockers and dry camping.
Grouse Mountain Dispersed Camping, Buffalo
- “Absolutely love this place. We are always looking for good boondock spots for our 40ft renegade and this one is awesome.” – Tony
- “Great spot! We stopped here for two nights to break up the drive from Denver to Helena, MT. When we pulled in, we were greeted by several beautiful horses! There is about a mile of road that you can camp on either side.” – NewstateNomads
Lewis Park Campground, Wheatland
- “Located in the city park, there are a few tent camping spots and about RV 15 camping spots, some with electric hookups. Water and dump stations are nearby.” – Jimmy
- “This site was such a gift to our family! Everything is pretty spaced out, but it is hard to beat FREE electric! They also had a mini golf, basketball courts, tennis courts, small skate park, baseball fields, and a playground. We could have spent more time here.” – Bri
Even with the rise in popularity that Colorado is experiencing, it’s still easy to find free, beautiful camping across the state that you can use as a basecamp for climbing, mountain biking, skiing, or exploring the hundreds of hiking trails all across the state. Don’t miss a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of the greatest adventure destinations in the country.
- “This is the best boondocking spot we’ve ever seen. Thank you BLM for making this accessible for everybody to use. They have a pretty large area to accommodate many campers and rigs of all sizes.” – Maritza
Madden Peak Road Dispersed Camping, Hesperus
- “This set of dispersed sites are amazing!! Each one is separated by woods and boulders to keep privacy. I work remotely and love taking weeks to go camp and work in the woods. GOOD cell service is very important to get my work done using my mobile hotspot and this campsite has GREAT reception. And it’s BEAUTIFUL.” – Logan
- “We camped here for a week and loved staying here in our 30′ fifth wheel. Colorado dirt roads are great and this place is no exception.” – NomadsinNature
The expanse that is Texas opens up a tremendous amount of space for free camping. Truck stops and RV sites are convenient, but you never need to settle for a parking lot in Texas (unless you want to!). It has hundreds of miles of beaches and thousands of acres of publicly managed land accessible for camping. Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe National Park offer many campgrounds, but you can still find dry camping for free all around.
Junction City Park, Junction
- “Easy access got a spot beside the river a couple other rigs here tonight. Feels safe and had the local police do a cruise by.” – Harley Hill
- “This campsite is excellent! It is right on a beautiful river that you can swim in, has a playground, disk golf course, basketball court, shaded picnic tables and public rest rooms.” – reneemitchell1
Magnolia Beach Parking, Port Lavaca
- “We stayed there right before the July 4th weekend and it was great family fun. Clean, plenty of space, and restrooms were somewhat clean. They have open camping and RV spaces so you’ll see a combination of both.” – rodolfogtz30
- “We’ve been here a week already and we aren’t leaving just yet! First, it’s free. How can you go wrong with free?! Second, you’re camping 20 feet from the water! That’s about as good as free!” – Jlpoober
Fifteen million acres of BLM land are scattered across California, making it an obvious choice for our “best of” list. From the southern deserts near Death Valley and Joshua Tree to the northern rainforests of the Redwoods, you can move between worlds within the same state. You can also find some of the most spectacular views around by moving north and south along the coast, boondocking the whole way.
- “A very popular area, but the towering and jagged rocks throughout the area provide shade, privacy and amazing scenery. You will feel like you are all alone in this amazing landscape!” – wealwaysWAnder
The Pads, Death Valley
- “Easy to find, super close to the national park. Nice cement pads for flat parking. INSANE VIEW OF THE STARS! Even saw shooting stars and planets.” – Mom I drove to Malibu
- “Just 25 minutes from the park visitor center and because it’s about 3000 ft higher, it’s about 15 to 20 degrees cooler. Great sunsets, but it can get windy. We were told that the pads are the patios from an abandoned housing project that was supposed to be built there. We loved it.” – Doug
South Dakota is possibly the most overlooked state on our list. Some may have heard of the Black Hills and Badlands National Park, but you can find free camping in the grasslands all across the state. Adventure waits down every dirt road you can find in South Dakota.
Top of the Mountain Dispersed Camping, Deadwood
- “This is one of my favorite camping sites. It’s very quiet and you have a beautiful view of the town of Deadwood and the mountains.” – Megannew
- “This site has the most beautiful view!” – Bigtravelstinyhome
- “Oh my gosh, we did not know what to expect at the end of a bumpy road. Any spot you choose has amazing views! Woke up to a sheep grazing nearby and cows mooing.” – Jbean
- “This is a stunning boondocking area that is sheer majesty! When perched above the Canyon, you have perfect views of the sunset, sunrise, and animals that call the area home.” – KRoberts4520
Montana’s long list of national forests and well-kept BLM-managed lands make it another perfect place for boondocking for free. You can head north towards Glacier National Park or come out of Yellowstone into Big Sky and Bozeman. A tour via the hiking trails of Montana will bring you past brilliant mountains and rich rivers filled with life.
Otter Creek Fishing Access Site, Big Timber
- “Excellent place to stay! Beautiful scenery. Clean vault toilet. Peaceful and quiet.” – Schneivly
- “I can’t believe how great this place is. Right on the Yellowstone River with easy access for any sized rig. There are tent sites as well as an enormous area for RVs. Short gravel road down to the river, super easy drive with well packed gravel and no big ruts or potholes.” – Ronda Lynn
Middle Fork Flathead River, Columbia Falls
- “Stayed here for a few nights while I visited Glacier. Every night had a really good crowd but everyone was respectful. Nice little setup along the river with fire pits.” – OG