Camping options in the United States are as varied as the paint jobs on our campervans. Our van camping tips can help you choose from several camping options when you decide to park it for the night. Most RV Parks, National & State Parks, and privately-owned campgrounds are well-documented and available for you to reserve online. Reserveamerica.com is one of the best sources to book these sites in advance. A couple things to remember for all sites:
One thing you’ll find is that the National Parks system in the United States is exceptionally well-run. Both National and State Park campsites provide you with the best real estate in America in your backyard. And they’re pretty cheap considering, typically running you $20-40 a night for a photo-worthy spot. They’re also crowded during the summer months—June through August—so try to book in advance.
As a throwback to the glory days of post-WWII America, RV Parks are located in and around just about every tourist attraction you’d want to visit. They’re also expensive, seemingly, for what’s available to you upon arrival. With over 500 locations, KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) is by far the largest chain of privately-held parks in the US and Canada. You’ll also most likely be paying that extra coin for electrical and sewage hook-ups that aren’t needed for our campervans. They do have showers, though, which is a bonus.
Surrounding heavily-traveled areas, such as National Parks, you’ll find some really well-run private campgrounds. Websites like Hipcamp and Campground Views have made serious inroads into booking and describing these off-the-grid gems. Prices vary.
Dispersed camping, pirate camping, boondocking, roughing it… whatever you call it, there are many great options for free camping in the US for any budget-minded traveler.
Look in the Road Atlas supplied with each Escape Campervan and you’ll see a light green shaded area within each state designating National Forests. It is legal to car-camp for FREE in these areas! With over 191,000,000 acres of National Forest land available, you’re bound to pass through several of them as you head into the many scenic regions on your adventure. Look for the brown and yellow (usually) signs announcing your entrance to a public land and consider yourself good to go.
Unlike the paid campsites at National, State, and RV Parks, free dispersed campsites offer none of the amenities you’d typically expect like toilets, showers, supply shops, etc. What you do get in lieu of amenities are very few neighbors, a canopy of stars, the wind in the trees, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve finally made it off the beaten track.
Unless stated otherwise, it’s LEGAL to sleep in your vehicle within any federally designated lands. These include:
For an inside track into the best places to stay, keep an eye out for any BLM Ranger Station and ask the true locals (rangers) for their suggestions. They’ll never lead you astray and you’ll be amazed at how they always go out of their way to help you out.
Free camping isn’t solely limited to Federal Lands. Walmart parking lots, truck stops, and rest areas also make for serviceable places to park it for the night.
Wal-Mart Note: Recently, Wal-Mart changed its universal Free Car Camping policy and has left it up to individual stores to make the decision as to whether to continue this service. If you plan on sleeping in a Wal-Mart parking lot, please notify the manager upon arrival.
|Camp Base Camping Ground Directory||http://www.campbase.com/|
|Renting an RV in the USA||http://www.rvrentalsguide.com/how-to-rent-an-rv/|
|Public and Private Campgrounds throughout California and the USA||http://www.campsitephotos.com/|
|California State Parks listing||http://www.parks.ca.gov|
|Discover the Best Camping Near You||http://www.hipcamp.com/|
|KOA Camping ground close to LAX and specials for Escape Clients||http://koa.com/campgrounds/acton/|
|Budget Travel Advice||https://www.vouchercloud.com/budget-travel-guide|
|Travel Planning Apps||http://lifehacker.com/five-best-travel-planning-apps-1470002139|
|Gas use calculator||https://www.gasbuddy.com/TripCostCalculator|
|USA National Parks listing||http://www.usatourist.com/english/destinations/destinations-parks.html|
|Reservations for Camping in State and National Parks in California||http://www.nps.gov|
|California State Park reservation guide||https://www.tripsavvy.com/make-reservations-at-california-state-parks-1479670|
|USA driving distances and times||http://www.convertunits.com/directions/|
|The best USA Mountain guides||http://www.sierramtnguides.com/|
|Yosemite Audio Adventures for the Independent Traveler||http://www.yosemite-tours.org|
|Camping and Renting a tent in the USA||http://www.rentyourtentusa.com/|