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  • Writer's pictureLee Eel Eisler

Top 4 Free Campsites

These photos are photos of some of the places I have stayed for absolutely free. They are also some of the best campsites I have had. I found them using apps. Here’s my reviews on the top 4 free camping apps.

Campsites are not always cheap. Paying for campsites every night is not very cost effective while you are travelling and lets face it. Finding a campsite you pay for is easy. Finding a free campsite takes a little more work. Especially as places become more populated with people more and more regulaions get put into place.

Don’t worry thiough! It’s possible. Actually, in 4 years of living in a van, I have only paid for one campsite ever, and I have received one parking ticket in the 4 years of living in a van. That ticket was in San Francisco. It was my fault for not knowing the rules on this particular street had changed since the last time I parked there. I didn’t look at the signs. Always look at the signs.

Now there’s not always a science and these apps don’t have a solution for every single place you are going to go. I have had a great deal of “winging it.”

A lot of van life and finding free parking spots is about finding loopholes. I have parked lots of places that said no overnight parking. Not sure what the future of the night held for me. I have made it through so many nights in these kind of spots I couldn’t even put a number on it.

Now every once in awhile you might get asked to move by a forest ranger, police officer, or whatever jurisdiction controls the area. As long as your respectful to the officer and respectful to the area (your trash isn’t everywhere), then you will most likely only be asked to move. I have even had some cool conversations with cops or forest rangers asking me to move. I never got a ticket or had a bad experience.

Some of the best campsites I have been to were totally free. Here’s how to find them.

#1. iOverlander

I love! If I were to choose a favorite, this would be it. It is easy to use, and it has the biggest database of campsites that I have found. As far as campsites it lists them by free, paid, permit or research.

That’s not all it shows. It also includes hotels, restaurants, mechanics, water refill stations, propane fill up stations and even mechanics...not to mention all the scenic stops it mentions.

#2. Free Campsites

I was using free campsites before I was using iOverlander. Honestly now I use a combination of all the apps mentioned. Free campsites is my second go to. They have a useful database of free camp spots. The only thing I dont like is that it doesn’t populate as you move the map around. You have to change your location in the search area to see the camp spots in a different area. The trip planner feature is really really cool. It helps you figure out where you can stay along your trip.

All in all free campsites is a great app to use to find free camp spots and its a free app!

#3. RV Parky

RV Parky is geared more towards RVers which is obvious by the name. It has information like height clearances through areas and some other useful info.

I usually us RV Parky to find out which Walmarts allow overnight parking. Overall it is a good place to check if you haven’t found anything on the first two apps.

#4. Rest Stops

When all else fails you are always allowed to stay at rest stops up to 8 hours. I have stayed in lots of rest stops. They get a little noisy sometimes, but it’s a safe spot to get in some zzzzz’s.






This was an article from the first issue of the Vanning Ain't No Joke Magazine. Check out the entire magazine by clicking the cover on the left.


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