Friday, August 12, 2022


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. 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. 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.]


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.


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



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Lisa Adcox
6 days ago

No you can not use if Honarable Discharged.

Michael David Galvin
7 days ago

This article was earlier published with the false claim that honorably discharged vets are eligible. At that time the error was pointed out. Now the article is republished….

7 days ago

We use military campgrounds regularly. I’m retired military. The best resource I’ve found for these is The operator is excellent at keeping it up to date. It provides details as how to make reservations, if they even take reservations and all the necessary contact information. It also includes reviews. We’re headed for Solomon’s Island NRC, MD and Fort Fisher, NC later this month.

7 days ago

Another contender for the RV spots are contractors that are working on military projects on that installation. We have seen over 50% spots taken by long term contractors. They seem to be much higher on the priority list.

Rock & Tina
7 days ago

Sorry but your information is not correct. Please refer to Table 1 of DoDI 1015.10. It does NOT include all honorably discharged veterans. I served for 6 years, was honorably discharged, and do not qualify under DoDI 1015.10.

Bob p
7 days ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

Amen, honorable discharge does not allow you to camp. I served 7 years and 7 months during Vietnam and can’t use them. Another fine example of journalism today, grab a subject off the internet and start typing without researching.

7 days ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

SOME honorably discharged Vets are eligible, as of 1 Jan 2020 because of the The Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018. This bill allowed the following veterans use of commissary and exchange stores, and MWR facilities (includes campgrounds):

Veterans Awarded the Purple Heart
Veterans Who Are Medal of Honor Recipients (already authorized)
Veterans Who Are Former Prisoners of War
Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities
Caregivers of Veterans

7 days ago

Here’s a link to the latest (June 2022) DOD Policy FAQ re: expanding base access for disabled veterans, purple heart recipients, and caregivers.

Military retirees, 100% disabled veterans, and Medal of Honor recipients already had access to MWR, Commissaries, and Exchanges.

In January 2020, a change in the law expanded access to veterans with any service-connected disability of 0%-90%, their authorized caregivers, and Purple Heart Medal recipients.

Most campgrounds are not open to all honorably-discharged veterans. You have to be in one of the above groups.

29 days ago

I have found many don’t take reservations. Not worth it to drive there to be turned away and have to find another location.

6 months ago

My son-in-law is active duty, currently at Wright-Patt AFB in Dayton, OH. Because of him, I am allowed to use the fam camp. He calls to make the reservations, accompanies us to get IDs when we arrive, and we’re good to go. It has been very convenient for us when we visit them.

Ken Lauer
6 months ago

Does anyone know or have a contact to find out availability of camping in a MWR campground if you were in the National Guards in the seventies? Wasn’t really on active duty, but was in the National Guard for seven years and do have a honorable discharge upon leaving. If so what do you need to show proof of being in the National Guard? Thanks in advance.

Joe Testa
1 year 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.

Bob M
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe Testa

I believe your correct. Honorable discharged veterans are not eligible.

David Legge
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

7 days ago
Reply to  David Ozanne

Good thing I’ve never asked…

7 days ago
Reply to  David Ozanne

The ban on private weapons on all military installations was instructed by Bill Clinton in 1982.

Ron H.
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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.

1 year 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
1 year 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.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Dana D

I agree, this article is contradictory to an article that ran here a few months back that said there are too many veterans to allow “just a veteran” to use these facilities. That article stated the active duty, retirees, MOH, POWs, etc. we’re allowed, and gold star families.

1 year 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…

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Don

The last time I tried to get on a base to show my family where I served many moons ago I was denied due to security regulations. Back when I was active duty it wasn’t a problem getting a civilian on base but now it’s a different world. My wife’s grandson couldn’t get a pass for us to get on the Air Force base he was stationed at in KS 3 yrs ago, 17 yrs ago she got on a different base and he got to take his family out to the plane he was assigned to and meet the rest of his crew, times have changed!

1 year 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.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Amen, I’d much rather they be secure than take a chance a terrorist would be able to infiltrate.

1 year 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.

1 year 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.

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 1 year ago by John
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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.

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