Updated: Sep 28
We all dream of flying first class to exotic locations around the globe, but there is a way to travel and stay in unique and organic locations across the United States and Canada absolutely free.
Well, you might need one. If you own an RV or camper trailer and want to explore your own backyard and experience bedding down for the night in the most beautiful locations absolutely free – read on.
The nostalgic factor of the Great American Roadtrip beckons us to the two-lane blacktop heading in any direction but home. More travellers are hitting the road and looking for off-the-beaten path adventures and this includes where they stay.
Roadside motels and hotels are a great choice if you are looking for a quick, comfortable sleep but if you have an RV, your options are limited to campgrounds and campsites, often with no attractions.
The other option is a flat, paved and noisy parking lot – Walmart.
What if I told you that you could pull your RV among the lush vineyards of Rio Seco Vineyard & Winery on an old Hollywood movie set? How about staying at Vista Ranch & Cellars, a farm winery, veggies, pizza, a 1910 farmhouse and 400-year-old oaks; or Arcane Cellars, offering a full range of Pacific Northwest wine varietals on the Willamette Riverfront with gourmet foods & crafts, bocce, canoeing and fishing? And if you are adventurous, how about camping at a gator farm?
And it was all free to stay?
If you are looking for a campsite where you can park your RV for free AND enjoy great surroundings and experiences check out Harvest Host – a company that can hook you up to all the locations plus give you valuable insight and information about Rving. And a company that is expanding options every month – Baja, Mexico is now offering locations and it looks like the company will be expanding south.
Similar to AirBnB, Harvest Hosts has a free app that allows users to customize host lists, as well as upload and read comments, reviews and photos on host pages. Prospective visitors can also search for available campsites through an interactive online map.
Founded in 2009 by husband and wife duo Don and Kim Greene, Harvest Hosts was acquired by Joel Holland. Feeling the pressure of working life, Joel began taking road trips in his RV, and found that campsites could be overcrowded, noisy, and lacking privacy. Researching alternative options, he learned about the company and wanted to get involved and to help others find hidden gems.
Interesting in learning more? Visit Harvest Hosts for more information.
Another great option for FREE camping in your RV may be parking on private land or even in someone's driveway or yard. Boondockers Welcome is a site that matches up RV campers to private individuals who will allow campers to stay on their property.
Did you know that there are many casinos across the US that allow RVs to park for free? In fact, casinos are a top choice when looking for a free place to stay, especially if you want to be near a city. These tend to be found closer to metros and/or desirable vacation towns and cities and are located all over the US, but mainly in the Western half of the country.
Most of the casinos out West are Native-American-owned and run, and they are typically in pristine, immaculate condition. Even if you are not big on gambling, it is easy to appreciate a well-run and classy establishment. This is all said to stress that there is no shame in casino camping and nothing to worry about in regards to the cleanliness of the facilities, as they are typically organized and up-scale.
Cracker Barrel, Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops allow RVers to stay free in their lots and overall, these tend to be great experiences. Cracker Barrel tends to be a bit louder and busier than the two outdoor gear stores, but they are all pretty good places to stay for a night's stopover. Be sure to grab breakfast in the morning to thank them for the site.
Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops will typically allow you to stay 2-3 nights. Also, they are typically located in or near cities, for convenient access. Some even have water and a dump for RVs, as well as a dog run. Don't be afraid to stay at one of these for a night or two somewhere along your travels.
Although it is not commonly-known, many Home Depots will allow RVers to stay a night or two in their lot if they call and get the go-ahead from a manager. One perk of staying in Home Depot lots is that you can rent tools to work on DIY projects and easily return them when you are done. These lots tend to be quiet and private and are a great option when you are traveling within cities.
Free Camp Site Resources:
Campendium Campendium should be your number one go-to resource for finding free campsites. This is a website and app that allows users to search for all the sites in an area that they are looking to visit. If you are seeking free sites, select ?free?under the price drop-down menu, and the free sites will show up in green. Check out Campenium
This site has many of the same sites as Campendium, albeit typically with fewer reviews and data coverage information than the former. However, many find that, for whatever reason, there are more sites listed on freecampsites.net than on Campendium. The quality of the additional sites found here is typically not as great as the sites found on Campendium, which could be the reason for their choice to not include the sites on their website. Check out freecampsites.net
AllStays is a huge series of apps which detail various places to park, similar to Campendium. Here, you can find a variety of campgrounds and RV parks, as well as some boondocking on national forest and BLM land. The main app is $9.99 and the other apps are $1.99 to $2.99. It does get ridiculous when you have several different apps for all kinds of camping and the information on this site can be dated. Check out Allstays
Happy Travels and Happy Camping!