Freestyle Camping Across America with a Campervan Rental

campervan-rental-free-camping

Whether you call it boondocking, coyote camping or free overnight parking, freestyle camping with your campervan rental is an excellent way to see America without spending a ton of cash. In addition to free parking lots at places like many Walmart store locations, you’ll find over 450 million acres of public land all across the country where you can camp overnight - for free!

Unlike paid campgrounds you might encounter, free campsites provide no amenities such as picnic tables, grills or bathrooms (though you will find bathrooms at many parking lot sites). But you will find a free place to sleep, and often much more: natural scenery, serenity and wildlife.

Where to Camp for Free

Sometimes, you want to stay way out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by peace, quiet and natural beauty. At other times, you may just need a convenient stop for the night that has a bathroom and snacks. Choose the right freestyle camping site that suits your needs.

The Great Outdoors: Public Lands, National Forests & Wilderness Areas

No crowds, no amenities: just you and the starry sky. Federal lands are owned by every American, and camping is always free unless stated otherwise. In forestland, look for brown wooden signs in a trapezoid shape, which indicate you are in public lands. They’ll say something like “Entering National Forest.” Watch for dirt roads that lead off the main road, then find a convenient pullout or drive until the dead end.

Many places will have established campsites with durable packed dirt surfaces; find one with enough room to park your vehicle. These free wilderness areas are most prevalent in the western United States, especially Utah and Wyoming. East of the Mississippi River, they can be hard to come across. Don’t know where to go? Find a Ranger Station and talk to the staff, who will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Remember, no ground tents or fires are allowed on federal lands; and open stoves are usually not allowed either. And be sure to check for any signs that may prohibit overnight parking!

  • National Forest Land
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Areas
  • Wildlife Management (WMA) Areas
  • National Grasslands
  • Some County Parks & City Parks – Check Signs
  • Some Trailheads – Check Signs
  • Closer to Civilization: Parking Lots and Truck Stops

When you just need to stop for the night and recharge your batteries, you’ll find an excellent array of parking lots where you can sleep in your vehicle overnight for free. These more civilized stops usually feature bathrooms, drinks and snacks to buy. Wherever you are, always check signs to make sure that overnight parking is allowed.

 

  • Walmart Parking Lots (check before you park overnight as not all Walmart locations allow overnight parking)
  • Some Roadside Parks – Check Signs
  • Some State Welcome Centers – Check Signs
  • Some Truck Stops – Check Signs
  • Some Rest Stops – One Night of Parking Allowed in the Following States:
    Arizona
    Arkansas
    Connecticut
    Illinois (only on Illinois Toll Road)
    Indiana (only on Indiana Toll Road)
    Kansas
    Nevada
    New Mexico
    Ohio (only on Ohio Turnpike)
    Oklahoma
    Oregon
    Texas
    Virginia

And again, be sure to check for any signs that may prohibit overnight parking!

Do’s & Don’t of Freestyle Camping

DO

  • RESPECT the environment and your neighbors
  • Always check signs to make sure it’s okay to park or camp
  • Find a Ranger station and ask where the good campsites are
  • Say hello to the neighbors if you’re bunking by a house – Americans are nice!
  • Pack out everything you brought in
  • Bring a good atlas and/or GPS to help you on your adventure
  • Use your judgment – if the campsite feels unsafe, move on
  • Find out if open stoves are permitted – in much of the West, drought conditions are severe and no flames of any sort are allowed
  • Check the weather for rain, which can create mud holes that you can’t drive out of

DON’T

  • Feed wild animals
  • Light a fire on federal lands
  • Pitch a tent on federal lands or in rest stops
  • Leave food and smelly items (like many toiletries) outside of your vehicle overnight
  • Take anything with you – leave the rocks, shells and sticks in nature where they belong
  • Leave trash or anything else behind
  • Sleep on the side of the road – it’s usually illegal

Plan Your Camping Adventure

Whether you want to rent a campervan or Motorhome/RV, Bakpak Dave can help you find the right vehicle for your adventure. You’ll also receive expert advice on your road trip.. Contact Bakpak Dave and start planning your next road trip today!

Latest Articles


Why Book with Bakpak

Bakpak Dave is an authorized agent for top quality rental operators that cater to budget-minded international and US travelers. Benefits include:

  • "No Hidden Costs Quotes" provided with no booking fees
  • Advice on best rental options for your road trip
  • Bakpak Dave is based in Los Angeles with extensive travel knowledge
  • Booking discounts and freebies when available
  • Free Trip Idea E-books for California, Southwest and Cross Country