How Do I Find Where to Camp? Tips From Past Renters
How-To's & Resources, National Parks
One of our most frequently asked questions is “How do I find where to camp?” We have plenty of tips on our blog for pre-trip planning, and our Adventure Specialists will be happy to help you out with some local tips when you pick up your campervan. But we also wanted to ask past renters on Instagram what their own top recommendations are for finding great campsites while on the road.
The Advantages of Camping in a Campervan
Camping by campervan is one of the easiest ways to go! Our campervan models are small enough to fit into most tent sites and don’t require hookups, so you don’t need to fork out a bunch of money for expensive (and often less scenic) RV sites. Plus, dispersed camping is always a great option. It allows you to save money (it’s often free!) and you can leave loud, crowded campsites behind in favor of wide open spaces with no one else around. Compared to tent camping, #vanlife is amazing because you don’t have to unpack and repack your gear every night. Just roll out of bed and drive off!
Campervan Renter Responses
Allstays is my go-to app. National forests are great but can be tricky depending on closures or weather (flooding!). Hipcamp is an awesome alternative to state park campgrounds. I've also spent many quiet nights in Walmarts, Cabela's, and gas stations (make sure to ask first!). Hospitals are last resorts but will let you usually sleep in their lots. - @hibrie
Our goal was to wake up to a view every morning and never sleep on the side of the road or in a carpark. So we would drive until we were ready to stop and take whatever side roads we could and see where we ended up! If it was dark we would just check we were off the road and find somewhere with a giant silhouette of a mountain or something cool beside us. (Always was amazing to wake up to that.) There are a few good places online to see free camping spots too. We’d often look at that if we were stuck. - @parislawrence_
Campendium is a great site to find free camping. It gives you the exact coordinates to put in your GPS as well as pictures of the sites and reviews from previous campers. - @tringuyen22
We are “tertiary road” campers. How to: find a forest service road (or similar), off that pick a road, and off that pick another road. By the 3rd road, chances are you won’t see other people. Find camping spot. Enjoy the peace and quiet! - @lonebearinoregon
Scenic backroads! Especially in Utah! There are lots of scenic backways that are shown on most road atlas that offer backcountry camping!! Never been down one where I couldn’t find somewhere to park for the night. - @erynn_the_wilder
We used freecampsites.net for almost 2 months and we paid only 1 night for a campsite :) - @sebastiaanj94
Walmart car parks are great if you’re getting somewhere late and leaving fairly early (but check reviews first that they’ve let people stay there recently)! Campsites in state parks can be fairly cheap and we found them pretty quiet in general (in June), and even some quieter national parks had spaces on the day 🏕 And remember escape vans can fit in tent spaces! - @chrisssy_tee
I use #hipcamp - @trustworthypetsitter
We decided to wing it when we did a 5-week road trip with our two kids down the west coast last autumn, we learned that if you want to stay in an RV park get there before 4 pm or book ahead, the offices close early. Little hidden spots in the back of hotel car parks are great if you get caught out without a spot for the night. Find somewhere in daylight!! It’s so much harder once it gets dark. There are so many camping gems that pop up along the highways, you can just stop at a spot that looks good. We also had a navigation system and we could search on it for campsites and national parks xxx - @the_vegan_mother
iOverlander is a great app and community. 📷 👣 - @maxwelldanger
Look for the nearest Walmart in Google Maps when you’re ready to call it a day! 😂 - @graceorr14
Thanks to all of our previous renters for offering advice on where to camp. Hopefully, this helps you prepare for when you’re booking your next campervan trip.