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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Where to Go for Free Camp Site Info in the United States

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Free US camping information | Photo credit:


Free camping information | Photo credit:

Even during these rough economic times, there are many places in the United States that offer free (or nearly free) camping amenities or provisions for those who are looking for free places to camp in their recreational vehicles (RVs). The memories of family camping will last a lifetime.

Getting away from the grind of the city need not be expensive in order to be therapeutic. It is good for the soul, and a recommended tonic for stress. John Muir once noted, "How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track."

Humorist Dave Barry once wrote, "Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry."

In the summer of 2010, conservative journalist and political commentator Michelle Malkin went with her family on their first RV trek of America. She wrote the following advice and practical tips she picked up on the trip in her June 2010 post The Great American Road Trip: Reflections, RV tips & Rushmore-to-Yellowstone pics:

Over the past seven days, we’ve hit Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse memorial, Cody WY, and Yellowstone. The scenery is cinematic; the frontier history is larger-than-life. And the RV community is full of friendly, independent, and amazingly resourceful people.

If you ever need your faith in our country’s resilience and beauty renewed, a Great American Road Trip does a body and soul good.

RV’ing is also a budget-friendly way to travel. Yes, fuel costs are hefty. But you can save a lot on meals by planning ahead and cooking on the road. We rented a 31-foot RV with a stove top, oven, microwave, and ample freezer/fridge with a small crisper for veggies and enough room for a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and several days’ worth of drinks and other perishables. Added bonus: No airline headaches, no TSA intrusions, no cramped seating, no crappy plane food!

KOA fees (even for deluxe hook-ups) are extremely reasonable — especially given the full range of amenities (showers, pancake tents, bike rentals, tourist shuttles, horseback riding, pools, showers, jumping pillows, chuckwagon dinners, firepits/firewood, ATV rentals) that the campgrounds provide.

RV’ing is not everyone’s cup of tea, of course. If you’re high maintenance and need a hot bath every day, forget about it. If you can’t bear to be unplugged from the world, don’t bother. And if you are unwilling to jump feet first into the great unknown, go ahead and make boring, conventional flight and hotel reservations instead. Yes, the prospect of barreling across the highway in gusty winds and on wet treacherous mountain roads in a 10,000-pound home on wheels left me a little queasy. But if you make sure to pack some RV must-haves — sense of humor, spirit of adventure, industrial-strength rubber gloves, duct tape, extension cords, wrench, multi-tool, Petzl headlamps, tarp, S’mores ingredients, marshmallow roasting sticks, walkie-talkies, and Dramamine — you can live the RV dream. Experienced friends recommended we watch the movie “RV” before we started our trip. Aside from a few p.c. tirades against big corporations, it’s definitely good prep viewing.

Here are links to several sites that are devoted to letting people know about these locations. Information and rules about the sites are provided on the web pages.

As I gather more information, I'll update this section.



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