Thursday, September 16, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Can you RV camp at a military campground?

By Paul Stimers

Are you or a member of your family on active military duty? Are you retired, disabled, or have an honorable discharge? If you are, did you know you’re eligible to camp on military campgrounds?

If you’ve never heard of the program, it’s called the MWR branch. And all branches of service have one. It stands for the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) branch.

If you aren’t a vet, are you eligible to camp at military campgrounds?

RV Camping With The Family
Image by Koun G from Pixabay

As a general rule, if you’ve never been in the military, you can’t camp at military campgrounds. However, some military campgrounds will allow civilians with no military connections to camp. So if you are a civilian, call the campground. Ask them if they’ll allow you to stay with them.

Here are the basic MWR access requirements:

  • Honorably discharged veterans
  • Active duty military
  • Military retirees and their families
  • Former prisoners of war
  • Authorized caregivers of veterans enrolled in the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program
  • Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients
  • Veterans with service-related disabilities
  • Members of reserve components (National Guard, etc.)

For details about the MWR program, read the references below.

Do MWR campgrounds offer reservations?

Military campgrounds are popular with people who RV and camp. But in most campgrounds, active military members take priority.

Because of demand, you can’t drive up and expect to get a camping spot. For that reason, many campgrounds allow reservations, and the more popular campgrounds take reservations 6 months or a year in advance.

In the chart below, there are links to each state’s MWR campgrounds. If you click on the link, you’ll find the latest information about the campground. And you’ll also find the address, phone number, and information on reservations.

Do military campgrounds have 24-hour access?

No entry painted on the street
Image by Reiner Knudsen from Pixabay

Whether you can enter a military installation 24/7 depends upon the installation. I’ve lived on bases where the gates are open 24 hours a day, while other installations close their gates after hours and on weekends.

After the gates close, security personnel will let people in. So when camping at a military campground, find out when the gates close and open. And get the number to call if you need to get through the gate after hours.

Do MWR campgrounds rent RVs or have short-term housing?

Some military campgrounds have RVs, stationary trailers, and temporary housing for rent.

Recently, I talked to a retired Navy Chief. She had vacationed in Hawaii and needed a place to stay while there. So she rented a small apartment on one of the naval bases for a few days. She said it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was neat and clean. And it saved her some money.

Military campgrounds by state

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nevada Nebraska New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont
Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

 

Stay up-to-date on military campgrounds

Information on military campgrounds changes from time to time. If you want to stay up-to-date, here are some referral websites.

Military Benefits. This site is an excellent resource for everything military. On it, you can find the latest information on everything from getting a loan, to jobs, to education. If you’re a veteran, bookmark this site.

U.S. Military Campgrounds and RV Parks. We pulled the information for our chart from this website. Their articles focus on camping, and they have a members’ forum with excellent information, as well.

Military.com. I like this site because it’s got a lot of information and news for active military and veterans. They break the news into sections, with a section for each branch of service and current events. If you want to stay current on what’s important to vets, bookmark this site.

Allstays.com. This site has an app for finding military and public campgrounds, and it also shows public camping places like Walmart. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t work on Android phones. Hopefully, they’ll come out with an Android application. When they do, I’m uploading it to my phone. [Editor: Allstays Pro works on Android.]

Conclusion:

Military campgrounds offer a lot of benefits to vets who qualify. But the popular sites have long waiting times, so plan for your trip ahead of time. By planning your stay, not only will you camp in a secure area, but you’ll also be camping with fellow vets.

References:

DoD Civilian Employee Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Activities and Supporting Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities (NAFI) – DoDI 1015.08

Lodging Policy – DoDI 1015.11

Military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Programs – DoDI 1015.10

Washington Headquarters Services:Commissary, Exchange, MWR expand patron base starting Jan. 1, 2020

##RVT997

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joe Testa
4 months ago

Authorized Users of Military Campgrounds Published: 14 December 2006comment image
I’ve received many inquires asking “… am I allowed to use US Military Campgrounds?” These are usually from veterans who served a few years and have an honorable discharge. Sometimes it’s from a retired civil service employee who worked for the Army, Navy, or USAF for 30+ years. Many inquiries are from veterans. There’s also been a lot of discussion on the various news groups about the 100% DAV authorized use issue. I attempted to do a little research and clear all of these issues up. The following are my findings.
Being an honorably discharged vet is not authorized, unless there is another circumstance that does authorize the veteran.

David Legge
4 months ago

I’ve stayed at several military campgrounds and have enjoyed most. One important tip is to read their website for details on which gate to access. Often, RVs are only allowed through certain gates due to size limitations or proximity to the campground. These gates are sometimes designed for commercial truck traffic and only have limited hours. Know before you go.

David Ozanne
4 months ago

I stayed at one in Washington State. One of the reasons I no longer stay at them is that they ban all weapons.

Ron H.
4 months ago

I have doubts about the ability of honorably-discharged vets to use these facilities. I don’t have a problem with that because the huge numbers of vets would overwhelm the facilities. So, I’m happy with leaving them for the active, retired and/or disabled vets. They deserve that benefit and many need it more than the rest of us.

Kostyal Don
4 months ago

The part about “honorable discharge” is a qualification for being eligible under the other parameters—anything less than honorable makes you ineligible to be considered under the rules/policies etc.—just like Space A travel their are various levels of priority. Active Duty tops list. Then comes retirees, then reservists and so on. Used to be just any Medal of Honor but John McCain put language in a Defense bill that added veterans with service related disabilities. Only active duty, retires and reservists and DOD civilians have ID’s that get them on military installations. Vets with disabilities that Qualify have to get a special ID to gain access.
There are some nice campgrounds and there are some terrible campgrounds (sites not level, electrical problems, tight road access, etc—not high on the budget priorities as the money for these areas MWR comes from money they generate and BX/PX sales etc. things the active duty troops use most, like gyms etc get the highest priority.

Kenny Walker
4 months ago

You can be a RETIRED Department of Defense employee and stay at military campgrounds because I’ve done it as I have a Department of Defense retiree badge. I spent 3 years in the Army and was honorably discharged BUT this did not allow me to camp at military campgrounds. I then spent 32 years working for and retired from the Department of Defense THAT allowed me to camp on Military Campgrounds.

Jim
4 months ago
Reply to  Kenny Walker

You can also be a current DoD employee and have access to all Military Campgrounds (and golf courses).

Dana D
4 months ago

I did a quick search in Utah and Colorado. No facilities allow honorably discharged veterans. I’m betting that’s the norm at all facilities.

Don
4 months ago

This leaves out one key point: you have to be able to get on the base. This will require some form of US Military ID, which very few vets who served their time then were discharged will have. It MAY be possible to get one, but don’t bet on it…

Ken
4 months ago

Missing information. Before you go saying “open to all veterans”, check your facts or should I say, check your bases. This is a Commander’s decision for each facility, and I’d be willing to bet 99% of MWR facilities are closed to those who have served their 2 year hitch with a honorable discharge. MWR covers so much, not just campgrounds, such as golf course, skeet ranges, lodging, and bowling alley. A handful of the golf course need to be open to the public, veterans, etc as a source of income to operate the greens. The trick is getting base access, a Commander’s decision. Each base will vet you, under a different policy. Yes, I had to escort a friend off base before a golf outing. Additionally, military bases have “a bit of a different” s vehicle search policy you may not be comfortable with, not to mention weapons possession policy. Check thoroughly if you are headed to a military MWR activity. We enjoy our benefits.

Fred
4 months ago

Your map doesn’t show the large rv park at the Army’s Yuma Proving grounds north of Yuma, AZ. It’s always full in the winter with retired military snowbirds.

John
4 months ago

From a Military Campground blog I follow:

Being an honorably discharged vet is not authorized, unless there is another circumstance that does authorize the veteran.

https://www.militarycampgrounds.us/authorized-users

If you ARE an authorized user, it’s very much worth your time to join the organization referenced in the above link. Quite a valuable resource.

The links listed in the article provide the info you need but generally, just because you did a two year hitch won’t be enough to qualify.

Last edited 4 months ago by John
Steve
4 months ago
Reply to  John

I just read this limitation on the “authorized-users” site now and disappointed to learn this! Also disappointed in fact that when I enlisted, I was told I would receive VA medical care after retirement age and this also has change as congress passed legislation some time ago eliminating anyone without a disability rating over a certain minimum income level and this varies dependent upon where you live; large difference across the country with CA and HI having the highest allowable income levels.

Bob P
4 months ago
Reply to  John

This I found is true, being a veteran is not a prerequisite to use the facilities, the last time I checked a couple of years ago, these are reserved for active duty, retirees, and special classification personnel. As was explained to me if it was open to Vets how many veterans are still with us just from Vietnam alone, hundreds of thousands.

Frank D
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

I am a 100% service connected disabled Vet and on my DoD ID it states I can use Military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Program, Base Exchange and allowed to get on all military bases. To get that DoD ID, you must go through the DEERS office to get everything verified. My wife had to go through the same process for her ID. Our ID’s have no expiration dates. You will not go through the gate with out proper ID, and the Guards on those gates have LIVE AMMO WITH A ROUND IN THE CHAMBER, and are authorized to use it. Hint: Don’t mess with the guards.

Follow us!

31,714FansLike
26,400FollowersFollow
66,000SubscribersSubscribe