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7 tips for finding FREE National Forest camping spots

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By Cheri Sicard
Robin from Creativity RV is one of my very favorite RV vloggers and in the video below she shares everything she knows about finding great FREE national forest camping spots.

Anyone who follows Robin knows that free dispersed camping is her preferred way to RV, so she has learned a lot about finding great spots over the years. In fact, Robin specializes in sleuthing out great camping spots that others regularly miss because it takes a little bit of searching beyond the basics to find them. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult and Robin shows you how to do it in the video.

You’ll also get to see a few of the places Robin camps for free. The video begins with a beautiful free spot in Estes Park, Colorado. Robins shows, in detail, just how she found this scenic and private free dispersed camping spot.

Robin says there are lots of methods:

  • The easiest way, if you have a signal, involves starting with a Google Maps search of “National Forests near me.”
  • Another tip is “Forest Service Road near me.”
  • How to use user-generated camping apps like Free Campsites as a jumping-off point to find your own (uncrowded) free national forest camping spots.
  • Using Benchmark maps for detailed information, even when you are offline.
  • Google’s satellite view will actually let you see the turnout roads that run off of forest service roads. This is good, but not quite enough. Robin always cross-references with some camping apps to make sure things are not too steep or otherwise inaccessible.
  • Getting information from local ranger stations.

Robin also goes into the rules of dispersed camping and covers other helpful apps you might want to use.

More from Cheri:

##RVDT1977

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Steve H
1 month ago

Yea, but those east of and along the Mississippi have most of the terrific and inexpensive Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Especially for seniors, they are the best bargains around for campgrounds with full to partial hookups. In the West, CO, WY, AZ, UT, and NV have no COE cg and NM, ID, and MT have two each.

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve H

I agree that Army Corps of Engineer Campgrounds are the best ANYWHERE. We have them out west too, although they don’t all have full hookups or electric as much as most of the ones on the Mississippi and the midwest. But national forests can be good too.

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheri Sicard

I was pointing out the discrepancy between states with and without COE campgrounds. CO, where we live, has none, while GA has 30 and AR has 92! The only state in the West that had COE cgs we used was NM. However, when we travel east, we have stayed in COE cgs in most of the states we have been through. So far, that includes COE cgs in SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, MN, IA, MO, AR, KY, TN, MS, AL, and GA.

Bob p
1 month ago

The article is beneficial to those west of the Mississippi River, those on the east side are SOL.

Cat
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

Actually, Bob, according to the 2015 version of “RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks”, there are COE campgrounds in at least 15 states east of the Mississippi River and that includes the state of Florida, which has four locations. There is a new 2022 version for sale on Amazon.

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