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Recently we traveled from California to Michigan on a road trip and passed through some of Americas finest and top national parks. A question we kept asking ourselves along the way was, can you camp for free in national parks? If so, what is the process? How do we find these sought after spots that you only read about online? We are going to break down our process and how we found not only dispersed camping but free camping and permitted camping spots in national parks.

Cost of Camping in National Parks

If you have ever tried to camp in a national park, you know that its not only a first come first served bases or a reservation system but also on average about twenty dollars a night to camp. Camping for a month at twenty dollars a night would become expensive, so we took every opportunity we could to get free camping in and near any national forest or national park.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is a term used for camping in any National Forest outside of a designated campground. We found this to be one of the best options for fellow travelers looking to save money while on the road. Typically dispersed camping means no services such as tables, fire pits, facilities, or trash removal. For us this was perfect because we not only packed in, packed out our trash but were equipped with a shovel to properly dispose of all human waste in ordinance with the national forest. If you are lucky to find yourself in a National Park or Forest with dispersed camping, consider yourself lucky and take full advantage.

Bureau of Land Management

Also know as BLM land, the Bureau of Land Management offers some great solutions when it comes to free dispersed camping. The Bureau of Land Management purpose is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” So next time you search for cheap campgrounds near me, remember that these lands are your lands.

Get lost and get yourself a few miles out of the National Parks when looking to camp and you will find a wanderlust lifestyle for years to come. So, can you camp for free in national parks? Yes, its possible but getting yourself a few miles outside the park should typically provide the best locations without getting hassled by park rangers.

Let us know your experience. We would love to know what worked for you or did not work for you. Comment Below!