5 Great Free Campgrounds

It’s time for anyone who’s not the 1% to disabuse themselves of the notion that they will get more money or more free time soon. Jeff Bezos just added $13 billion to his net worth in 24-hours–a record for rich people. So we’re on our own out here, and we’d better live like it. To that end, have you gotten into camping yet?


Ostensibly camping’s an affordable way to travel. No costly hotels, just you bonding with nature for dollars-a-day. Truth is, a reservation in a national park is nearly impossible to come by in the short term. State parks fill up six months in advance. And a campsite can set you back $30 to $100 per night depending on amenities—no more, 99 percenters. Take back the dirt and check out these free campgrounds across America. 

Five Great Free Campgrounds Across America

Freidlein Prarie Road, Coconino National Forest

Flagstaff, Arizona

Dispersed camping in the national forest fills fast during the summer months––thanks to their “the forest belongs to everyone” campaign. Stick to the 14 designated campgrounds along Freidlein Prarie Road. Each has a fire ring, space for up to two vehicles, and a tent. You can stay for up to 14 days, which you’ll need to explore all Coconino offers, from forests to the desert and alpine tundra. 


Blankenship Bridge, Glacier National Park

Flathead County, Montana

Campsites are challenging to come by in the summer at the national parks. Instead, opt for free camping outside the national park at Blankenship Bridge. There are restrooms nearby that are open year-round, and you’re close enough to town to fill up water cans. Be aware of bears and keep all food and scented items locked up in bear-resistant containers. It can get crowded, and keep valuables locked in your car or RV, but the views are worth staying for a few nights.


Cebolla Mesa, Carson National Forest

Northern New Mexico

There are no amenities or support at this campground, so you have to pack out all your waste and pack in all your food and water. But you get to wake up on a mesa above the Rio Grande. There’s challenging hiking nearby, including a path down to the river from the campground. It’s far off the beaten path, so you’re likely to score a campsite during the busy times of the year.


Padre Island, Padre Island National Seashore

Corpus Christie, Texas

The campground is open year-round, but be cautious during hurricane season. There are also no amenities, but there’s a water filling station available and a dumping station for RVs. Some campgrounds require 4WD to access, but you get to pitch a tent and fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves. There’s a certain feeling of lawlessness in the area. Be warned that added features for your stay may include noisy teenagers and joyriders. 


Jackson Mountain Road, San Juan National Forest

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

While you have to pack in and pack out at this site, the views and the quiet are well worth it. Especially for the proximity for the activities in San Juan National Forest and Pagosa Springs. Check out the hot springs, or go tubing in the river that runs right through town. 

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