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Camping For Free – Off The Grid Camping Day 48

We have talked about spending the night at various locations on our trip across the country, but some of our most memorable moments have been at locations that we were camping for free!

And last night, we did just that in Riggins, Idaho. And to be quite honest, it was because we were faced with no other options.

We wanted to drive no more than 3 hours outside of Boise. Therefore, we figured we would be staying somewhere between the cities of McCall and Riggins.

As we began to plan our trip up north through the state, our options for spending the night at a Harvest Host location was quite limited in the area.

So instead, we looked at staying at local campgrounds. But unfortunately we ran into a road block here as well.

First of all, several of the small towns that we drove through are summer time tourist towns. And for us, that meant that most of the campgrounds have closed for the season.

camping for free
This isn’t a bad view to wake up to, especially when you are camping for free.

And the few campgrounds that did have an available spot, wanted to charge over 50 dollars for one night.

Although we enjoy staying at campgrounds once in awhile, we were not willing to spend that much for basically a stop over to sleep.


So that forced us to look for a boondocking site. For those that aren’t familiar with camping terms, boondocking is where you spend the night not hooked up to any services.

No electric, no water, and no sewer hook ups. Instead, you utilize your battery power, water tank and your black and gray water holding tanks in your camper.

All you have to do is to find a place to stay. Some campgrounds allow you to stay in one of their spots without utilizing any services. However they still charge you a fee.

dining room
Since today was Saturday, we were able to watch a little college football on our tablet while we were at the free camping area.

However, there are so many other options for camping for free!

Camping For Free

Parking Lot Camping

If you have ever pulled into a Walmart or Cracker Barrel in the evening or early morning, you probably have seen an RV or two in the parking lot.

Most likely they are spending the night. Most locations will allow you to park and spend a night or two without charging you a dime.

However there are a some stores that don’t allow overnight camping. Most likely this is due to the size of the parking lot or zoning regulations in certain towns.

walmart camping for free
Most Walmart locations allow you to spend the night, but they ask that you park in the furthest parking away from the building.

Although most of the time signs will be posted if you are not permitted to overnight park, it is always best to check with each location.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is camping outside of a campground area on public lands. Typically there is a small pull off away from the road where you ca spend the night.

And sometimes there will be existing fire rings, picnic tables and/or even restrooms on the site.

However, depending on your location, it may simply be a dirt, gravel, or paved area off the side of the road.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a government agency that manages land primarily in the western United States, and generally in open, desert like landscapes.

blm camping
Camping on BLM land is most popular out west but it is a fantastic and beautiful way to camp for free.

The BLM manages land for a number of uses, including recreation, grazing, logging, and resource extraction. Free camping on BLM is usually capped at 30 days, but can be shorter or longer depending on the location.

National Forests

Camping in a national forest is suited not only for RVs but for tent camping as well.

Most national forests that allow dispersed camping allow you to stay for up to 14 days. However, depending on the exact location the stay limit may vary.

national forests
National forests are a great way to camp for free. Plus, who could pass up this view.

Other Dispersed Camping Sites

While BLM land and national forests are the most common places to find free camping, other types of public lands may offer free campsites as well.

Although more difficult to find, state parks, city parks, and county parks sometimes maintain free camping areas. So do entities like recreation areas, water management districts, trust lands, conservation areas.

Smaller US federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation have a few campsites too.


Moochdocking is generally known as camping on a driveway of a friend or family member. In many cases, an extension cord and/or hose are run from the home to connect make-shift hookups to the rig.

It is a great way to visit without overstaying your welcome!

moochdocking in driveway
Staying in the driveway of our family and friends houses makes for a no-fuss way to visit.

We have utilized several of the above options to camp for free. We have stayed in Little Moreau Recreation Area, the Wal-Mart parking lot in Casper, WY, and last night we spent the night in Riggins, Idaho where we were surrounded by national forests.

Although we enjoy staying at Harvest Hosts locations and campgrounds, sometimes camping for free in a solitude location is refreshing too.

Happy Traveling – Jim and Mary


  • Day 48 of 365
  • States Visited 8 / 50
  • National Parks / Monuments Visited : 10
  • Stayed In : Riggins, Idaho
  • Miles Driven : 174.6
  • Total Trip Miles To Date : 6342.3
  • Total Gallons Used : 469.8
  • Biking Miles : 0
  • Biking Miles To Date : 109.6
  • Hiking Miles : 1.2
  • Hiking Miles To Date : 126.9

About Our Living Simple Tour

On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States

Follow along by signing up for our twice weekly email updates at the bottom of the page. You can also follow us on Facebook : Live Simple Tour Facebook and Instagram : Live Simple Now Instagram Page.

Crazy Facts, Figures & Stats From Our First 90 Days Traveling America

Sunday 8th of December 2019

[…] You can also add a few Wal-Mart and Home Depot parking lots to the roster of overnight stays as well. When you travel the country – you have to certainly get creative! See : How To Camp For Free Off The Grid […]


Sunday 8th of December 2019

Absolutely! We have done that as well.

Donald MacLeod

Monday 28th of October 2019

There is an app called ioverlander for may want to try it.. We have used here in Canada.


Monday 28th of October 2019

Thank you so much for the info. I will have to check it out!

Din Milem

Sunday 27th of October 2019

There is also a group called boondockers welcome. You can park in a driveway or any spot that the host has open for you at no cost. I extend Electric to my guests and water.


Sunday 27th of October 2019

Thanks for mentioning boondockers welcome. It is a fantastic program and it sounds like you are a wonderful host!