How To Find Free Tent Camping Sites

Camping is a favorite pastime of people that don't like to spend a lot of money, and because of that, it's important for thrifty campers to know how to find free tent camping sites. There's a certain thrill that goes along with a very low-cost vacation; not only are you saving money, you're looking for a real deal. With the right resources and a little advance planning, you can camp for free for an entire vacation.

Things You'll Need:

  • Internet Access
  • Telephone
  • Calendar
  • A Few Bucks for Permits, if necessary
  • Gear for Primitive Camping
  1. Research the country's National Parks and the state park lists. Check out the National Park Service's website, as it offers 392 federally-owned parks, beaches, monuments and forests. Plan to visit the national parks that offer free tent camping sites, such as El Dorado National Forest, Osceola National Forest and the Deer River Area at Chippewa National forest. Search your state's parks and recreation websites for information on how to find free tent camping sites.
  2. Be flexible with travel dates. Look for opportunities for free camping trips, such as free weekends at state parks, free tent camping at family festivals and events, or national park free-camping dates. Plan ahead for the free camping, and  to arrange to arrive early to get the best spots.
  3. Call ahead to check on additional fees and permits that may be required. Get specific when you call, and verify that the free tent camping sites are not relegated to a particular area in the park or for campers that arrive during a certain time period. Be sure to make sure you have a few bucks in your wallet when you arrive if there are fees for fishing, activities or campfires and you wish to use these services. 
  4. Call a friend in the area of the place you wish to camp. Ask for information about the area, ideas on where to camp for free, or ask if they have any land where you can pitch a tent for the duration of the stay.


  • Don't try to get around fees by not paying for permits. The fines you may incur for the "free tent camping site" may be more expensive than simply purchasing a campfire or fishing permit. 
  • Be resourceful, and prepare for the worst. It's always good to find a good deal, but not having any money on you when you go camping can be cause for disaster. Try to have some cash in case you run out of food, ice or gas. 
  • Spread the word, but don't blab to everyone. It's good to tell your friends how to find free tent camping sites, but if you blog about it or tell everyone you know, you may have more competition for the best spots the next time you go camping.


U.S. National Park Service

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