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How To: Find Good Car Camping Spots 

How To Find Good Car Camping Spots 

By Rachel Hallmark / April 29, 2020

Are you anxious to camp in the great outdoors, but aren’t quite ready to strap on a backpack to carry all your gear into the backcountry? Or maybe you still want some amenities like a barbeque pit and an outhouse? Well luckily, there are many opportunities to camp outdoors while still being able to drive your car to a campsite. Here are some tips to help you find great car camping spots! 

Talk to Rangers!

National Park and Forest Rangers are incredibly knowledgeable about local recreation areas, campsites, and any regulations and restrictions that may be in place. Calling or visiting a ranger station in the area you plan to camp in is a great way to gain information about the area, and Park Rangers may have some insider knowledge you cannot find anywhere else. The U.S. Forest Service website also has some great resources, like information on how to be prepared for a camping trip

Book Ahead 

One of the best ways to ensure that you can get a car camping spot in your desired location is to make a reservation in advance. National Parks are very common camping destinations and campsites can fill up quickly, luckily most parks have programs that allow you to reserve a campsite in advance of your visit. National Forests can also get very busy during prime camping seasons and around holidays, so if you plan on visiting during these times it is a good idea to consider reserving a campsite in advance. There may be fees associated with reservations, but it is a sure way to guarantee yourself a campsite.

Check out State Parks and National Forests 

State parks and national forests often have campsites that are frequently not as busy as National Parks but offer similar amenities. Here is a list of National Forests that are proximal to National Parks. Many National Forest areas offer campsites on a first-come, first-served basis which can allow for more flexible trip planning. There is more than double the amount of National Forest land as there is National Park land and there are over 10,000 state parks across the country; this can make finding a campsite easier just because there is more land, which allows for greater opportunities.

For Free Sites…

National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas frequently allow camping outside of a designated campground, also called dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is often just driving along an access road until you find a pullout to park your car and pitch your tent. This type of camping usually allows for more privacy because you are not at an established campground, but for this same reason, dispersed campsites may lack some amenities you would find at more established campgrounds. Check out the National Forest website for more information about dispersed camping. 

Adventure Responsibly! 

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