Free or Cheap Camping in Florida – Fort Pickens Campground – Gulf Islands National Seashore

Ft Pickens Campground Featured Image

Welcome to camping at Fort Pickens Campground within the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida!

Gulf Islands National Seashore Beach
Gulf Islands National Seashore Beach near Fort Pickens Campground

The National Parks Service (NPS) needs no introduction! With over 130 camping areas to choose from nationwide, families can spend a lifetime exploring the great American outdoors in the NPS.

Florida Camping Map - National Parks
Florida Camping Map – National Parks – click to enlarge

Please note – NPS camping is NOT FREE. In fact, it is NOT CHEAP either with rates up to $42 (electricity) per site! But National Park campgrounds are very popular and for this reason, I decided to include them in this camping series.

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Organization of Camping in Florida
Organization of Public Camping in Florida – source: Eben Schoeman (click to enlarge image)

As described in the first article of this series and in the org chart above, there are three National Parks in Florida with drive-up camping facilities.

Dispersed drive-up camping is NOT ALLOWED. You must camp in developed campgrounds as listed below:

National Parks Service (NPS) Campgrounds in Florida (click to enlarge)

Gulf Islands National Seashore – Fort Pickens Campground Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of the campground. Here the two official sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Gulf Islands National Seashore including maps and photos. Official booking site for NPS campgrounds.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore – official website with detailed background information about the Park.

Recreation.gov

If you are unfamiliar with Recreation.gov, do spend some time exploring the site. It is the official portal for reservations, venue details, and descriptions of 12 Federal Participating Partners: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Highway Administration, National Archives & Records Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service.

Fort Pickens Campground Overview

It’s all about location, location! If you are looking for the perfect campground then Ft. Pickens may disappoint you but the location is simply wonderful, so please keep this in mind when you read a few of the negative reviews.

I will start with some of those negatives:

  • Toll bridges – you have to pay at least one bridge toll to get to Pensacola Beach towards Fort Pickens – even when out shopping for groceries! Unfortunately, you have to pay TWO bridge tolls if arriving from Interstate 10. In early 2021 some tolls may be suspended due to construction!
  • Speed limits – the low 25 mph speed limit for 7 miles between Pensacola Beach and the campground is ridiculous. And trust me – you WILL get pulled over and ticketed when caught speeding. It takes a long time to go anywhere.
  • Weather – the campground is very vulnerable to tropical storms and suffers from flooding and a lack of vegetation resulting in sites with little or no privacy. The month of January can be cold in the Panhandle – beware if you are a snowbird looking for beach time!
  • Design – too many sites and most are close to each other with very short driveways with Loop A the exception if you can get in. Tent sites fit only one vehicle and RV sites are hardly any better. The second vehicle must park sideways to fit! At times the campground looks like an RV dealer parking lot.
  • Popularity – as with all National Parks, locals and frequent visitors book the few good sites many months in advance. The rest of us must take what we can get and this can lead to unhappiness when a site is too small or too close to neighbors on all sides.
  • Many Rules – please read the rules before booking. They are strict about many things. The number of vehicles, how and where to park, your camp setup. In summer, forget about using an A/C in your tent, for example.

If you can live with the drawbacks then Fort Pickens campground is a delight. The beach area is not nearly as crazy as Destin or Panama Beach. Here are a few highlights:

  • Pensacola Beach – one of my favorite beach towns in the Panhandle! It is not a shopping destination but instead, you will find a fun selection of tiki bars, beach bars, and darn good restaurants.
  • Endless powder sand beaches – despite the crowded campground you can find seclusion on the white beaches with warm blue water to calm your soul.
  • Florida National Scenic Trail – it runs through Fort Pickens campground and the northern terminus is just a mile away!
  • Fort Pickens and Battery Units – who can resist exploring a historic Fort? This one is well-preserved and one can spend hours wandering about.
  • Blue Angels – from March to early January, the famous Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola and they practice every Tuesday and Wednesday morning (schedule and weather permitting). They often fly low over the campground!
  • Facilities – I love the design of the bathrooms! The shower stalls are more private and the water is piping hot!
Gulf Islands National Seashore Ft Pickens
Gulf Islands National Seashore Ft Pickens
Ft Pickens Campground Showers
Ft Pickens Campground Showers
Florida Trail at Fort Pickens
Florida Trail at Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens Campground Notes

The campground is divided into 5 loops (A, B, C, D, E). Due to the lack of privacy and close proximity of your neighbors, you will do better if you pick the best loop for your rig.

My general recommendations:

  • Loop A – Power and water. Best for larger rigs. Longer driveways and more trees for added privacy
  • Loop B – No power or water. Recommended for car campers and/or tents. No generators, trailers, pop-ups, or vans. The outside sites are more private.
  • Loop C – Power and water. All types
  • Loop D – No power or water. Recommended for car campers and/or tents. Generators, vans, and Class B allowed. No trailers or pop-ups. The outside sites are more private.
  • Loop E – Power and water. All types

TIP – I offer specific camping site recommendations for my Patreons – https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica. Please consider joining my growing number of supporters! Your contributions help pay for gas and camping fees, which in return, allow me to offer more accurate reviews and advice.

Ft Pickens Campground Loop A
Ft Pickens Campground Loop A
Ft Pickens Campground Loop B
Ft Pickens Campground Loop B
Ft Pickens Campground Loop C
Ft Pickens Campground Loop C
Ft Pickens Campground Loop D
Ft Pickens Campground Loop D
Ft Pickens Campground Loop E
Ft Pickens Campground Loop E

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, National Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown in Red.

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – State Forests – Part 6

Florida State Forest Camping

With 38 State Forests, Florida offers a wide selection of camping opportunities away from the crowds. While most of the State Forests are in the northern half of the State, there are luckily a few forests with camping in the warm south (much appreciated in winter)!

Florida State Forests Map
Florida State Forests Map – Clik to enlarge

In this article, I cover State Forest camping in Florida. Please note – State Forest camping is NOT FREE but affordable starting at $10 per site per night.

Point Washington SF Entrance
Point Washington SF Entrance – click to enlarge

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Florida Camping Org Chart
Florida Camping Org Chart (Click to enlarge)

As described in the first article of this series and in the org chart above, Florida State Forests are a Division of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Several Florida State Forests are managed in cooperation with other agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and different sets of camping rules may apply. Safety regulations during hunting season are of specific importance to State Forest visitors.

At last check, I counted 77 vehicle accessible campgrounds available to book via the online booking service Reserve America. In 2020 as a result of COVID-19, booking options changed and online booking is the only method to reserve sites. Drive-up and pay is no longer an option.

If you do not have an account, I suggest you register with Reserve America at your earliest convenience.

Florida Camping Org Chart - State Forests
Florida Camping Org Chart – State Forests (Click to enlarge)

Camping Guide for each National Forest

With so many camping options available in each State Forest, I will write a separate guide for each Forest or region. In the meantime, you can locate all the campgrounds and sites on my interactive map below!

Please check in often!

Krul Campground 1
Krul Campground in Blackwater River State Forest (click to enlarge)

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, State Forest Campgrounds (fee required) are shown in Blue.

In Part 7, I write about Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Florida and camping opportunities.

Florida State Forests have this signage:

Florida Forestry-Logo
Florida Forestry Logo

Return to Part 5 of this series

YES, Take me to Part 7!

Florida State Forest Camping

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – State Forests – Part 6

With 38 State Forests, Florida offers a wide selection of camping opportunities away from the crowds. While most of the ...
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National Forests in Florida

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – National Forests – Part 5

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Everglades NP Camping at Flamingo

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -National Parks Service – Part 4

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Ortana South Campground - Source Recreation.gov

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -US Army Corps of Engineers – Part 3

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a large federal provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and ...
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BLM Website Search

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – Bureau of Land Management (BLM Land) – Part 2

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Florida River Island Campground

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Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – National Forests – Part 5

National Forests in Florida

National Forests and BLM lands offer the ultimate free camping experiences in the USA. Unfortunately, BLM camping is not an option in Florida but the State has three wonderful National Forests to explore.

Let me introduce them:

National Forest Map - Florida
National Forest Map – Florida – Click to enlarge

In this article, I cover National Forest camping in Florida. Please note – National Forest camping is NOT always FREE.

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Organization of Camping in Florida
Organization of Public Camping in Florida – source: Eben Schoeman (click to enlarge image)

As described in the first article of this series and in the org chart above (green block), there are three National Forests in Florida with drive-up camping facilities.

Dispersed drive-up camping is allowed (with restrictions) but developed campgrounds are very popular for many reasons as I will describe:

Florida Camping Org Chart - National Forests
Florida Camping Org Chart – National Forests (click to enlarge)

Camping Guide for each National Forest

With so many camping options available in each National Forest, I will write a separate guide for each Forest. Please check in often!

Below is a summary.

Apalachicola National Forest – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Apalachicola National Forest including maps and photos. Official booking site for National Forest campgrounds.
  • Apalachicola National Forest – official website with detailed background information about the Forest and camping opportunities.
White Oak Landing Campground

Ocala National Forest – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Ocala National Forest including maps and photos. Official booking site for National Forest campgrounds.
  • Ocala National Forest – official website with detailed background information about the Forest and camping opportunities.
Clearwater Lake Campground

Osceola National Forest – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Osceola National Forest including maps and photos. Official booking site for National Forest campgrounds.
  • Osceola National Forest – official website with detailed background information about the Forest and camping opportunities.
West Tower Campground

Recreation.gov

If you are unfamiliar with Recreation.gov, do spend some time exploring the site. It is the official portal for reservations, venue details, and descriptions of 12 Federal Participating Partners: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Highway Administration, National Archives & Records Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service.

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, National Forest Campgrounds (fee required in most cases) are shown in Grey.

In Part 6, I write about State Forests in Florida and camping opportunities.

Return to Part 4 of this series

YES, Take me to Part 6!

Florida State Forest Camping

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – State Forests – Part 6

With 38 State Forests, Florida offers a wide selection of camping opportunities away from the crowds. While most of the ...
Read More
National Forests in Florida

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – National Forests – Part 5

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Everglades NP Camping at Flamingo

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -National Parks Service – Part 4

The National Parks Service (NPS) needs no introduction! With over 130 camping areas to choose from nationwide, families can spend ...
Read More
Ortana South Campground - Source Recreation.gov

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -US Army Corps of Engineers – Part 3

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a large federal provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and ...
Read More
BLM Website Search

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – Bureau of Land Management (BLM Land) – Part 2

When you arrive in Florida after camping on BLM Land in the Western part of the USA, you may find ...
Read More
Florida River Island Campground

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Free Camping East of Zion National Park in Utah

Zion East Dispersed FREE Camping

This is a complete blog and video guide to FREE camping on BLM land East of Zion National Park in Utah. There are free camping opportunities to the east and to the west of the Park – this guide focuses on the east side of the Park.

For free camping to the West of Zion towards Virgin, please read my Article about Free Camping to the West of Zion.

In this guide, you will find maps with directions, updates on road conditions, locations of most campsites, and availability of amenities such as cell coverage, water, and toilets.

About Zion National Park and BLM land

Zion National Park is almost surrounded by BLM land and National Forests. The Kanab Field Office manages the BLM land east of Zion.

Zion Surrounds Map
Zion Area Map
BLM UTAH Districts
BLM UTAH Districts (source https://www.blm.gov/)

The Paria River BLM District office and Field Office is in Kanab – Phone: (435) 644-1200

Zion East BLM Kanab Office
Zion East – BLM Kanab Field Office

Maps and Directions

I highly recommend the Avenza Maps App!

Please download the following map: BLM Utah Kanab Transportation and Recreation – South.

You can also use phone apps as described in another article

Camping inside or near Zion National Park

Zion National Park has three campgrounds. South and Watchman Campgrounds are in Zion Canyon. The Lava Point Campground is about 80 minutes from the South Entrance along the Kolob Terrace Road.

There are many private campgrounds in nearby towns.

Video footage of the FREE camping areas

I am working on a series of driving and drone videos to show what it’s like to camp for free near Zion NP!

Links will be posted as soon as these are available.

Recommended FREE Camping Areas on BLM land nearest to Zion NP East Entrance

Dispersed camping is allowed on public land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. The 28 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28 day period.

After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25 mile radius of the previous location until the 29th day since the initial occupation.

As shown on the map below, there are great FREE BLM camping just 7.5 miles from the East Entrance of Zion NP.

Zion East Free BLM Camping
Zion East Free BLM Camping – Click to enlarge

From SR 9, turn west onto Forest Road 71C (potholed old tarmac road) then drive for 0.57 miles before turning left.

BLM East entrance
BLM East entrance

Drive up the hill to find an almost unlimited number of camping opportunities.

Zion East Free Blm Camping Map
Zion East Free Blm Camping Map – Click to enlarge

There is a large exposed campsite after 0.9 miles if you continue along FR 71C.

The area is in a shallow basin so heavy rain will make things interesting! You may want to camp on higher ground if rain is in the forecast.

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Zion East Dispersed Campsite A
Zion East Dispersed Campsite at 0.57 miles. Turn left for more sites
Zion East Dispersed Campsites
Zion East Dispersed Campsites
Zion East Dispersed Campsites
Zion East Dispersed Campsites

Precise Campsite Locations and Recommendations

If you want GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for free campsites, please consider becoming a Patron (Supporter) of my work for a small monthly contribution!

https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica

The reasons are:

Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain “secret”. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.

I disagree! Let me explain.

I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious – there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.

Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights – leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.

The truth is – information about dispersed campsites are freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!

So the issue is not about sharing dispersed campsite locations with the public. It’s happening already.

In my opinion the REAL challenges are:

1. Education – how do we educate the general camping public about the importance of camping etiquette on Public Lands?

2. Spacing – how do we get folks to spread out and explore locations further away from the major access roads and crowds?

3. Amenities – how do we convince the Public Land authorities to provide more toilets, potable water, and trash bins?

My Contribution

I share general information about dispersed camping to the public because I believe it is educational (at the very least it helps to prevent illegal camping and it helps with spacing when folks know where more campsites are located).

To further assist with spacing, I do not share the locations of my favorite campsites or recommendations with the general public. I am trying to prevent people from rushing to the same few free campsites (the very best ones) around the country. This information is only available to my patrons.

Free Camping near Grand Canyon National Park

Free Camping Grand Canyon NP - A Guide

This is a complete blog and video guide to FREE camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. There are free camping opportunities near the North and East rims – this guide focuses on the South Rim of the Park.

Kaibab NF Sign - Grand Canyon
Kaibab NF Sign – Grand Canyon South Rim

In this guide, you will find maps with directions, updates on road conditions, locations of most campsites, and availability of amenities such as cell coverage, water, and toilets.

About Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest

Kaibab National Forest surrounding the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is managed by the North Kaibab Ranger District, while the South Rim Forest Land is managed by the Tusayan Ranger District.

Grand Canyon Kaibab National Forest Camping
Grand Canyon Kaibab National Forest Camping – Click to enlarge

The Tusayan Ranger Station is just north of Tusayanto the east of Highway 64 before the South Rim Entrance – Phone: (928) 638-2443

Dispersed Info Kaibab NF
Dispersed Info Kaibab NF

Maps and Directions

I highly recommend the Avenza Maps App!

Download the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for Tusayan Ranger District.

For directions, use the Interactive map from the National Forest Service.

Camping inside or near Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park has three campgrounds at the South Rim. Mather Campground, Trailer Village Campground, and Desert View Campground (near the East entrance). Visit the official site for more info.

The U.S. Forest Service operates the fee-based Ten-X Campground 2 miles south of Tusayan. No hookups or showers but with pit toilets and water. Go here for information.

There are several private campgrounds along Highway 64.

Video footage of the FREE camping areas

I am working on a series of driving and drone videos to show what it’s like to camp for free near Grand Canyon NP!

Links will be posted as soon as these are available.

Recommended FREE Camping Areas in Kaibab National Forest nearest to Grand Canyon NP

Dispersed camping is allowed on Kaibab Forest land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 30 consecutive day period. The 30 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location in the forest. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 30 day period.

After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must leave Kaibab National Forest until the new cycle begins on day 31.

Do stop at the information board at the Ranger Station just north of Tusayan to read the rules and look at the camping maps.

Grand Canyon Recommended Dispersed Camping
Grand Canyon Kaibab NF Recommended Dispersed Camping – Click to enlarge

As shown on the map below, there are five well-known FREE camping areas within an easy drive from Grand Canyon NP South Entrance:

  • Along Forest Road (FR) 328 – many sites close to the NP border better suited for smaller RVs
  • N Long Jim Loop Road – many sites close to Tusayan but with a lack of privacy
  • Along FR302 – many sites close to the east side of town suitable for larger RVs
  • Along FR688 – further south but with large sites far apart. Great for large motorhomes.
  • Along FR306 – several sites to the west of Highway 64
Grand Canyon Dispersed Campinge
Grand Canyon Dispersed Campinge – Click to enlarge

Free Camping along FR328

If you plan to spend a lot of time in Grand Canyon National Park and want to camp as close as you can, then you should consider this area.

Grand Canyon Free Camping in Kaibab NF - Map
Grand Canyon Free Camping in Kaibab NF – Click to enlarge

In the map above, you see the entrance of FR328 to the west of Highway 64 just before the South Entrance. As with all of the camping along Highway 64, you cannot camp within 0.25 miles from the Highway. In this case, the no-camping zone is marked in red on the map. To make it easy, do not camp until you reach Apache Stables on the left!

FR328 Campsites
FR328 Campsites

If you have a large camper it is best to find a site along the main FR328. The road is washboard but fine for all vehicles. Continue all the way to the left-turn on top of the hill (1.7 miles) and beyond.

High-clearance vehicles and vans will find secluded sites in the loop to the left (of FR328 as shown) off FR3280.

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has good LTE service at these campsites.

Kaibab NF Toilets
Kaibab NF Toilets

Free Camping along N Long Jim Loop Drive near Tusayan

The most popular dispersed camping area with easy access to town and Highway 64.

Grand Canyon Free camping - N Long Jim Loop
Grand Canyon Free camping – N Long Jim Loop – Click to enlarge

Try to avoid camping with 0.25 miles then search for a spot on both sides of the road for the next 0.5 miles. You can also see some side roads on the map – try those too.

N Long Jim Loop Campsites
N Long Jim Loop Campsites

As stated, this is a popular area and if you pick a large site someone will probably pull in close to you. For complete privacy, you may want to camp elsewhere or drive up the hill (4WD recommended) shown to the north on the map as a loop..

About potable water and toilets – there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping along FR302 outside Tusayan

FR302 is one of three Forest Roads recommended by local rangers. There are many sites (mostly to the left) as you drive in. Just look for road tracks.

Grand Canyon Free Camping – FR302 – Click to enlarge

The information board is at 0.3 miles on the left and camping basically starts there! I do not show all the sites on the map but you do not have to travel more than 2 miles to find something.

One can fit most size RVs in there and there is plenty of shade.

Free Camping along FR302 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR302 near Grand Canyon

About potable water and toilets – unless you want to try the town, there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping along FR688 and FR306 south of Tusayan

FR688 is perfect if you want absolute privacy and/or want a large site for your rig and toys. Yes, it is a longer drive to the South Rim but you have easy access to Highway 64.

It is recommended by local rangers.

Grand Canyon Free Camping - FR688
Grand Canyon Free Camping – FR688 and FR306 – Click to enlarge

Not all campsites are shown! There are many and you can drive for at least 2 miles (and longer) to find sites.

Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon

I did not feel a need to explore FR306 but it is recommended by local rangers.

About potable water and toilets – unless you want to try the town, there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Precise Campsite Locations and Recommendations

If you want GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for free campsites, please consider becoming a Patron (Supporter) of my work for a small monthly contribution!

https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica

The reasons are:

Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain “secret”. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.

I disagree! Let me explain.

I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious – there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.

Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights – leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.

The truth is – information about dispersed campsites are freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!

So the issue is not about sharing dispersed campsite locations with the public. It’s happening already.

In my opinion the REAL challenges are:

1. Education – how do we educate the general camping public about the importance of camping etiquette on Public Lands?

2. Spacing – how do we get folks to spread out and explore locations further away from the major access roads and crowds?

3. Amenities – how do we convince the Public Land authorities to provide more toilets, potable water, and trash bins?

My Contribution

I share general information about dispersed camping to the public because I believe it is educational (at the very least it helps to prevent illegal camping and it helps with spacing when folks know where more campsites are located).

To further assist with spacing, I do not share the locations of my favorite campsites or recommendations with the general public. I am trying to prevent people from rushing to the same few free campsites (the very best ones) around the country. This information is only available to my patrons.

Free Camping near Zion National Park in Utah

Free Camping Zion National Park

This is a complete blog and video guide to FREE camping on BLM land near Zion National Park in Utah. There are free camping opportunities to the east and to the west of the Park – this guide focus on the west side of the Park.

To camp to the East, please read my Guide – Camping FREE on BLM land East of Zion.

Hurricane Cliffs Free Camping
Hurricane Cliffs Free Camping on BLM land

In this guide, you will find maps with directions, updates on road conditions, locations of most campsites, and availability of amenities such as cell coverage, water, and toilets,

About Zion National Park and BLM land

Zion National Park is almost surrounded by BLM land and National Forests. The St George Field Office manages the BLM land west of Zion.

Zion Surrounds Map
Zion Area Map
BLM UTAH Districts
BLM UTAH Districts (source https://www.blm.gov/)

The BLM District office is in Cedar City – it manages four field stations including St George Field Office. St George Phone: (435) 688-3200

St. George BLM Field Office
St. George BLM Field Office (source https://www.blm.gov/)

Maps and Directions

I highly recommend the Avenza Maps App!

Unfortunately, at this time there are no Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the area west of Zion National Park. Google Maps and Google Earth are your best friends for this area!

For directions I suggest you download the Zion National Park map for Avenza.

There is very little information about the Zion area BLM camping online except for one document regarding Smithsonian Butte camping – https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/upload/blm_camping_south.pdf

To see the boundaries of the BLM land where you are camping, refer to the Interactive BLM Utah map

You can also use phone apps as described in another article

Camping inside or near Zion National Park

Zion National Park has three campgrounds. South and Watchman Campgrounds are in Zion Canyon. The Lava Point Campground is about 80 minutes from the South Entrance along the Kolob Terrace Road.

There are many private campgrounds in nearby towns.

Video footage of the FREE camping areas

I am working on a series of driving and drone videos to show what it’s like to camp for free near Zion NP!

Links will be posted as soon as these are available.

Recommended FREE Camping Areas on BLM land nearest to Zion NP

Dispersed camping is allowed on public land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. The 28 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28 day period.

After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25 mile radius of the previous location until the 29th day since the initial occupation.

As shown on the map below, there are five well-known FREE camping areas within an easy drive from Zion NP. Of these, Smithsonian Butte is now off-limits for the casual camper (reasons described below). The others are:

  • N Kolob Terrace Rd – many sites on both sides of the road near North Creek
  • Hurricane Cliffs (Sheep Bridge Rd) – East – thirteen designated campsites on the west side of Sheep Rd
  • Hurricane Cliffs (Sheep Bridge Rd) – South – twelve designated campsites on the west side of Sheep Rd but further away from Zion NP
  • Hurricane Cliffs (La Verkin Overlook Rd) – West – eight designated campsites close to Virgin Dam and nearby trails
Zion National Par - Free Camping Map
Zion National Park – Free Camping Map (west) – Click to enlarge

NOTE – What about the very popular Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway? It is close to Zion NP but you cannot camp within 1/2 mile on either side of the road! Read the Rules. This makes practical camping not feasible for Zion visits, especially with terrible road conditions and steepness.

Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway
Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway – note the steep climb in the distance

There are a few free camp spots to the east of Zion. Those will be covered in a future guide.

Free Camping in the N Kolob Terrace Rd area

If you plan to spend a lot of time in Zion and are looking for minimum dirt road driving, then you should consider this area. N Kolob Terrace Rd is tarmac.

N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping Zion
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping Zion – Click to enlarge

In the map above, you see three sets of campsites – the first batch is to the right after about a mile, then a few sites towards the mesa on the left after about 1.6 miles followed by the North Creek area camping just before 2 miles.

The dirt roads towards the mesa are very bad but short! You can find secluded spots there.

The creek area has many sites but the vegetation keeps them relatively private. On busy nights there are lots of RVs in there and you may have to deal with close neighbors and noise.

Having some shade in summer (with a cool stream) is certainly a plus for the creek area!

N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping 2
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping – at North Creek
North Creek Camping near Zion
North Creek Camping near Zion
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping 3
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping – Mesa (west) side
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping 4
N Kolob Terrace Rd Camping – East side after 1 mile

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map you can either drive to La Verkin (Maverik fuel with a free dump station) or the first bus stop in Springdale (water).

Verizon has very spotty (if any) LTE service at these campsites.

Free water at Springdale Bus Stop
Free water at Springdale Bus Stop

Free Camping in the Hurricane Cliffs (Sheep Bridge Rd) East Area

To escape the crowds you can head south on Sheep Bridge Rd out of Virgin for 1.75 miles. The dirt road is washboard at times but very doable in all vehicles.

But be warned – on mountain bike event weekends the place gets crazy busy and dusty!

Hurricane Cliffs East Campsites Map
Hurricane Cliffs East Campsites Map – Click to enlarge

Do stop at the information board after a mile to read the rules and look at the camping maps.

Hurricane Cliffs Camping Info
Hurricane Cliffs Camping Info

The first camping area is to the right (after 1.75 miles) and you MUST camp in one of the 9 designated sites.

Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 39-48
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 39-48 – Click to enlarge

There are 4 more sites a short drive further south. These sites are larger and I often see more than one RV in each site – just be considerate and give your neighbors plenty of space or move along.

Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 36-38
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 36-38 – Click to enlarge

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map you can either drive to La Verkin (Maverik fuel with free dump station) or the first bus stop in Springdale (water).

There are toilets at the Sheepbridge Trailhead halfway between Rte 9 and Rte 59 as shown on this map:

Toilets at Hurricane Cliffs
Toilets at Hurricane Cliffs
Toilets at Trailhead
Toilets at Trailhead

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping in the Hurricane Cliffs (Sheep Bridge Rd) South Area

Many will say this area is too far from Zion (4.25 miles to SR 9) and I agree but the sites are far apart and with easy access to SR 59 (0.65 miles) and the city of Hurricane.

Hurricane Cliffs South Campsites Map
Hurricane Cliffs South Campsites Map – Click to enlarge

The information board is at the entrance to Sheep Bridge Rd after the turn from SR 59. Please stop to read the rules and look at the camping maps.

Camping Hurricane Cliffs South Info
Camping Hurricane Cliffs South Info – Click to enlarge

After only 0.65 miles of washboard dirt road, turn left into the designated camping area.

Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 9 -12
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 9 -12 – Click to enlarge
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 6 - 8
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 6 – 8 – Click to enlarge
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 1 - 5
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 1 – 5 – Click to enlarge

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map you can either drive to La Verkin (Maverik fuel with a free dump station) or the first bus stop in Springdale (water). Toilets (see above section).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping in the Hurricane Cliffs (La Verkin Overlook Rd) Area

This area is perfect if you plan to explore Zion National Park and want to be closer to towns with affordable gas and supplies. The dirt roads are bad but short!

Please camp in designated campsites only – there’s a lot of illegal camping here which ruins the areas closed for regeneration.

Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 49-56
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 49-56 – Click to enlarge

Note the red ? in the upper left corner. I see RVs camped there all the time but the location is marginal and not a designated site! Basically on the BLM line so be careful.

Sites 50, 51 and 52 are large and shared by many RVs! Spacing and privacy can be an issue.

Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 49-54
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 49-54 – Click to enlarge
Hurricane Cliffs Campsite 53
Hurricane Cliffs Campsite 53 – Click to enlarge
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 55-56
Hurricane Cliffs Campsites 55-56 – Click to enlarge

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map you can either drive to La Verkin (Maverik fuel with a free dump station) or the first bus stop in Springdale (water).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Precise Campsite Locations and Recommendations

If you want GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for free campsites, please consider becoming a Patron (Supporter) of my work for a small monthly contribution!

https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica

The reasons are:

Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain “secret”. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.

I disagree! Let me explain.

I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious – there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.

Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights – leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.

The truth is – information about dispersed campsites are freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!

So the issue is not about sharing dispersed campsite locations with the public. It’s happening already.

In my opinion the REAL challenges are:

1. Education – how do we educate the general camping public about the importance of camping etiquette on Public Lands?

2. Spacing – how do we get folks to spread out and explore locations further away from the major access roads and crowds?

3. Amenities – how do we convince the Public Land authorities to provide more toilets, potable water, and trash bins?

My Contribution

I share general information about dispersed camping to the public because I believe it is educational (at the very least it helps to prevent illegal camping and it helps with spacing when folks know where more campsites are located).

To further assist with spacing, I do not share the locations of my favorite campsites or recommendations with the general public. I am trying to prevent people from rushing to the same few free campsites (the very best ones) around the country. This information is only available to my patrons.

Free Camping near Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

Dixie NF Free Camping Guide

This is a complete blog and video guide to FREE camping in Dixie National Forest near Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Dixie NF Sign
Dixie NF Sign

In this guide, you will find maps with directions, updates on road conditions, locations of most campsites, and availability of amenities such as cell coverage, water, and toilets,

About Bryce Canyon National Park and Dixie National Forest

Bryce Canyon National Park is almost surrounded by the Powell Ranger District of Dixie National Forest.

Dixie National Forest Districts – Click to enlarge

Dixie National Forest is divided into four Ranger Districts as shown on the map above. Our focus is the Powell Ranger District with an office in Panguitch, Utah. Phone: (435) 676-9300

Powell Ranger District Office in Panguitch, UT – Click to enlarge

Maps and Directions

I highly recommend the Avenza Maps App!

Then download the free Dixie National Forest Powell Ranger District Motor Vehicle Use Map.

You now have live access to the Forest Roads (FR) and other roads in the areas near Bryce Canyon National Park. In this guide, I reference the FR numbers often.

Another important resource is the National Forest website – Dixie National Forest

The MAP section of the Dixie National Forest is crucial to visit and read – Dixie National Forest Maps.

Camping inside or near Bryce Canyon National Park

There are two campgrounds inside Bryce Canyon NP and several commercial campgrounds near the Park.

Dixie National Forest offers three FEE-BASED campgrounds near Bryce Canyon NP. I will not discuss them in this guide:

  • Red Canyon Campground
  • Coyote Hollow Equestrian Campground
  • King Creek Campground (a bit too far down a washboard road for easy access to Bryce Canyon NP)

Video footage of the FREE camping areas

I am working on a series of driving and drone videos to show what it’s like to camp for free near Bryce Canyon NP!

Links will be posted as soon as these are available.

Recommended FREE Camping Areas in Dixie NF nearest to Bryce Canyon NP

You may camp in a dispersed area for up to 16 days. After 16 days, you must move at least 10 miles for camping in another dispersed area.

As shown on the map below, there are four popular FREE camping areas within an easy drive from Bryce Canyon NP. These are:

  • East Fork Road – many sites off forest roads from East Fork Road all the way down to the King Creek camping area
  • Dave’s Hollow – a few campsites very close to the Park but beware of camping restrictions
  • Tom’s Best Spring Road – many campsites in a large area with easy access
  • Corral Hollow – several campsites close to Red Canyon
Dixie NF Camping Travel Guide
Dixie NF Camping Areas closest to Bryce Canyon NP – Click to enlarge

NOTE – What about Johns Valley Rd to the north of Bryce Canyon? You can see the green NF land to the very top left of the map above.

I know some folks camped successfully on the west side of Johns Valley Rd near a cow pasture but that is private land on all the maps I studied. I do not recommend it at this time.

Across the road on the east side, a few opportunities exist along with FR 419 and FR 418 towards Henderson Pt. I plan to check it out in the future.

Free Camping in the Dave’s Hollow area

If you plan to spend a lot of time in Bryce Canyon then you can save travel time by camping in Dave’s Hollow. It is the closest free camping area.

Free Camping in the Dave’s Hollow area -RED is NO CAMPING) – click to enlarge

In the map above, you can see the campsites along with FR 103 and FR 088. There are probably a dozen or so sites depending on what you are looking for. Obviously, a travel van looking for a quick overnight has more options than a 40ft Toy Hauler hoping to stay two weeks.

There’s nothing special about these sites in terms of views, etc but they are secluded and private (close to the road though), somewhat level and close to the Park.

Dixie NF Campsite Daves Hollow
Dixie NF Campsite – Daves Hollow

Access is from either East Fork Road or the Bryce Canyon main road. Both roads are doable in 2WD vehicles with travel trailers (in most weather conditions).

IMPORTANT – if you enter from Bryce Canyon on FR 1173 you must drive west for 1.7 miles to the NO CAMPING sign before looking for campsites!

No Camping zone! – click to enlarge

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map I recommend the Bryce Canyon Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City. There is a water filling station in addition to toilets and with gas/groceries nearby.

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Bryce Canyon City Shuttle Station – water and toilets – Click to enlarge

Free Camping along East Fork Road

If you follow East Fork Road south past Dave’s Hollow there are several Forest Roads branching to the east.

On the map below (down East Fork Road south) you can see 3 sites along with FR 1164. These will do in a pinch but try elsewhere first. During my last stay, East Fork Road was very bumpy and unpleasant to drive.

Dixie-NF-Camping-Map-Daves-Hollow
Dixie-NF-Camping– look down south along East Fork road – Click to enlarge,

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping in the Tom’s Best Spring Road Area

Many will say this is the best area to camp and I agree. There are countless campsites for every need and with easy access to Bryce Canyon NP and Red Canyon.

Dixie NF Camping Map Toms Best Spring Rd
Dixie NF Camping Map Toms Best Spring Rd

Note the Pit Toilets across the road when you turn onto Toms Best Spring Road! This makes camping here very convenient! There’s no water, however. The closest free water is at the Red Canyon Visitor Center.

Dixie NF Camping Map Toms Best Spring Aerial
Dixie NF Camping Map Toms Best Spring Aerial

There are many campsites and several access roads not shown on my maps. Basically, there are 5 loops to consider. Most folks prefer the first 3 loops closest to Byway 12.

  • Loop 1 (FR646-FR3625) branches to the left (west) of Toms Best Rd.
  • Loop 2 (FR3626) goes to the right
  • Loop 3 (FR3627) is also on the right a bit further down Toms Best Rd.

There are two more loops further away (you can see the campsites on the map) but let’s focus on the closest 3 in this guide.

Larger RVs tend to prefer Loops 2 and 3. The roads are dusty but easy to navigate. Loop 1 offers excellent views and is perfect for Vans and 4WD vehicles. The roads are rougher but 2WD vehicles should be OK in most weather conditions.

Dixie NF Campsite Toms Best
Dixie NF Campsite – Toms Best Spring Rd

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping along Corral Hollow Rd

This area is perfect if you plan to explore both Bryce Canyon NP and Red Canyon.

Dixie NF Camping Map Corral Hollow Rd
Dixie NF Camping Map Corral Hollow Rd – Click to enlarge

There are at least 10 or so campsites along Corral Hollow Rd (doable in most vehicle types).

The campsites begin after 0.5 miles. There is a campsite to the right, 3 campsites straight ahead (on a slope, however) and the rest is to the west as you continue the drive.

Dixie NF Campsite Corral Hollow Rd
Dixie NF Campsite – Corral Hollow Rd

Closest free water and toilets are at the Red Canyon Visitor Center.

Verizon has reasonable LTE service at these campsites.

Precise Campsite Locations and Recommendations

If you want GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for free campsites, please consider becoming a Patron (Supporter) of my work for a small monthly contribution!

https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica

The reasons are:

Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain “secret”. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.

I disagree! Let me explain.

I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious – there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.

Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights – leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.

The truth is – information about dispersed campsites are freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!

So the issue is not about sharing dispersed campsite locations with the public. It’s happening already.

In my opinion the REAL challenges are:

1. Education – how do we educate the general camping public about the importance of camping etiquette on Public Lands?

2. Spacing – how do we get folks to spread out and explore locations further away from the major access roads and crowds?

3. Amenities – how do we convince the Public Land authorities to provide more toilets, potable water, and trash bins?

My Contribution

I share general information about dispersed camping to the public because I believe it is educational (at the very least it helps to prevent illegal camping and it helps with spacing when folks know where more campsites are located).

To further assist with spacing, I do not share the locations of my favorite campsites or recommendations with the general public. I am trying to prevent people from rushing to the same few free campsites (the very best ones) around the country. This information is only available to my patrons.

Free Camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land

BLM Land Camping

Understanding your options for free camping on BLM land is a key requirement for budget-minded and secluded travel across the Western States of America.

Unlike National Forests (another popular free camping option), BLM boundaries can be much more challenging to figure out! It is not uncommon to find “private – no entry” signs on land that appears to be public (depending on the map you’re looking at). There are even internet reports of harassment from local landowners when campers are clearly on BLM land!

It is really up to each camper to thoroughly research each BLM District in question. When in doubt, please visit or call the nearest BLM District office for clarification.

COVID-19 Challenges – Policies are different in every state. Please the BLM website for updated information. https://www.blm.gov/locations

In this article, I offer tips and ideas to help you navigate the basics of free camping on BLM lands!

What is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)?

Simply put, it is an Agency within the Department of the Interior responsible for administering public lands as shown in the diagram below.

The diagram also shows the States where BLM operates (including all the Eastern States) as well as two websites – one for information and one for booking.

BLM Organization
BLM Organization

Where does BLM operate?

Nationwide as shown above but in terms of camping, most of the opportunities are west of the Mississippi River.

The image below illustrates the distribution of BLM land quite clearly.

Bureau of Land Management Map
Bureau of Land Management Map (Source – Department of the Interior)

How to find BLM Campgrounds and sites?

There are mainly three styles of camping on BLM land –

  1. Campgrounds – developed camping areas with amenities of some kind! Most are fee-based. Many (most?) are first-come-first-serve, meaning you choose an available campsite and pay a nightly fee. Some sites can be pre-booked online (link below).
  2. Dispersed – Mostly free and without amenities. You scout the BLM land and set up camp away from developed campgrounds. BUT, dispersed camping does not mean you can set up camp anywhere you want. There are basic rules for each particular land (you can generally stay free for 14 days per month).
  3. Managed Dispersed – In popular locations, the rangers may mark or number the dispersed sites in order to manage crowds and land erosion. You can only camp in those marked sites.

To find developed campgrounds, you have two options:

  1. Use the search box on the BLM website. Go Here to Search for BLM Camping.
  2. Use a third-party website (See my list of recommended sites for FREE camping.
BLM Camping Search
BLM Website Camping Search

To book a reservable site in a developed campground, Go Here to Book Using Recreation.gov

Recreationgov Booking
Recreation.gov Booking website

Experienced campers often go straight to Recreation.gov because they know what they are looking for and how to navigate this useful site! I will write a future article to share tips and tricks!

To find dispersed campsites you have several options:

1. Third-party websites (mentioned above) are your best friends. The dispersed campsites listed on their maps often have fire rings and you can expect those sites to comply with local rules (such as distance from water sources, etc). Unfortunately, when sites are easy to find and listed everywhere they tend to get busy!

Two notes of caution:

a) third-party websites are often inaccurate because they depend on input from the public. This works great in most cases but sometimes folks camp illegally (knowingly or not) and then share the locations! Or they mess up the GPS waypoints!

b) directions and road conditions may change! Study your GPS, know the off-road capabilities of your vehicle, and do not overestimate your driving skills.

Many full-time road warriors use free dispersed camping and their Youtube videos are fun and informative if you’re interested. I provide detailed information on this website and on my Youtube channel – Lets-See-America

2. To avoid the crowds, experienced gypsies do their own research using Google Maps and Google Earth to scout for new dispersed camp spots in advance. To avoid getting into trouble with rangers, they educate themselves with land boundaries and local rules. If you want to do the same, please adhere to “Leave-no-Trace” principles and do not unintentionally “develop” new campsites.

3. Visit or call local BLM District Offices and talk to the Rangers! They will explain the local rules and direct you to approved dispersed camping areas.

Arriving on BLM lands

Many areas have signs next to the highway indicating the start or end of Public Lands. Look for this signage:

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Logo
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Logo

Recreation areas may have information boards indicating allowed activities and camping rules.

BLM Information booth at Hurricane Cliffs in Utah

Here is what I do after arrival:

  1. I do my best to arrive before 4 pm in a new area. Searching for a site after dark is no fun.
  2. I study my paper and/or online maps to ensure I stay within the BLM boundaries.
  3. I look for information boards (see image above). Those are really helpful but rare!
  4. I pick an unoccupied site using basic common sense (away from other campers for example)
  5. I clean the site – broken glass, trash, etc. You do not want to ruin your tires or cut yourself during your stay.
  6. I walk the neighborhood just to see who is near and what escapes routes I have in case of emergencies or danger. I generally park my vehicle pointing towards the road for a faster getaway!

Finally, read or watch my BLM camping posts and become a Patreon!

I stay mostly on free Public Lands and write often about my experiences! These articles are sorted by State.

I provide clear directions with accurate GPS coordinates and post photos, video, and drone (aerial) video of each location.

If you want my personal tips and opinions, please become of Patreon of my work! For a small monthly contribution you help fund my research expenses and you gain access to exclusive information about travel destinations such as the best (or worst) sites in a particular BLM area!

Patreon Page – Lets-See-America

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -National Parks Service – Part 4

Everglades NP Camping at Flamingo

The National Parks Service (NPS) needs no introduction! With over 130 camping areas to choose from nationwide, families can spend a lifetime exploring the great American outdoors in the NPS.

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of NPS camping opportunities available in Florida.

Florida Camping Map - National Parks
Florida Camping Map – National Parks – click to enlarge

In this article, I cover National Park Service camping in Florida. Please note – NPS camping is NOT FREE. In fact, it is NOT CHEAP either with rates up to $42 (electricity) per site! But National Parks campgrounds are very popular and for this reason, I decided to include them in this camping series.

(Feature Image – Flamingo Campground – Everglades National Park)

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Organization of Camping in Florida
Organization of Public Camping in Florida – source: Eben Schoeman (click to enlarge image)

As described in the first article of this series and in the org chart above, there are three National Parks in Florida with drive-up camping facilities.

Dispersed drive-up camping is NOT ALLOWED. You must camp in developed campgrounds as listed below:

National Parks Service (NPS) Campgrounds in Florida (click to enlarge)

Everglades National Park – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Flamingo Adventures – the official booking site for the two drive-in locations Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park. Guest Services, Inc. is an authorized Concessioner of the National Park Service to provide retail, restaurant, lodging, campground, boat tours, boat rentals, kayak, and canoe rentals, and bike rentals.
  • Everglades National Park – official website with detailed background information about the Park.

Big Cypress National Preserve – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve including maps and photos. Official booking site for NPS campgrounds.
  • Big Cypress National Preserve – official website with detailed background information about the Park.

Gulf Islands National Seashore – Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the two best sources of information:

  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about campgrounds in Gulf Islands National Seashore including maps and photos. Official booking site for NPS campgrounds.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore – official website with detailed background information about the Park.

Recreation.gov

If you are unfamiliar with Recreation.gov, do spend some time exploring the site. It is the official portal for reservations, venue details, and descriptions of 12 Federal Participating Partners: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Highway Administration, National Archives & Records Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service.

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, National Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown in Red.

In Part 5, I write about National Forests in Florida and camping opportunities.

Return to Part 3 of this series

YES, Take me to Part 5!

Florida State Forest Camping

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Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -US Army Corps of Engineers – Part 3

Ortana South Campground - Source Recreation.gov

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a large federal provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states! Their campgrounds are extremely popular with campers. Unfortunately, there are only 3 recreation areas in Florida.

In this article, I cover the Army Corps of Engineers camping in Florida. Please note – USACE camping is NOT FREE. In fact, it is NOT CHEAP either with sites costing $30 and more for electricity and water. But as stated above these campgrounds are beautiful and much loved by campers nationwide. For this reason, I decided to include them in this camping series.

(Feature Image – Ortana South Campground – Courtesy Recreation.gov)

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Organization of Camping in Florida
Organization of Public Camping in Florida – source: Eben Schoeman (click to enlarge image)

As described in the first article of this series and in the org chart above, there are three Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas in Florida. They are:

USACE Campgrounds in Florida
USACE Campgrounds in Florida (click to enlarge)

Information and Booking

I will soon post a video review of each campground. In the meantime, here are the three best sources of information:

  • USACE Lake Okeechobee – informative website describing the USACE Recreation opportunities at Lake Okeechobee. Here you will find directions and information about facilities and amenities.
  • USACE Lake Okeechobee – The USACE Lake Okeechobee Mission Pages. Detailed background information about the area.
  • Recreation.gov – excellent website with detailed information about the campgrounds including maps and photos. Official booking site for USACE campgrounds.

Recreation.gov

If you are unfamiliar with Recreation.gov, do spend some time exploring the site. It is the official portal for reservations, venue details, and descriptions of 12 Federal Participating Partners: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Highway Administration, National Archives & Records Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service.

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, National Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown in Red.

In Part 4, I write about National Parks in Florida and camping opportunities.

Return to Part 2 of this series

YES, Take me to Part 4!

Florida State Forest Camping

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – State Forests – Part 6

With 38 State Forests, Florida offers a wide selection of camping opportunities away from the crowds. While most of the ...
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National Forests and BLM lands offer the ultimate free camping experiences in the USA. Unfortunately, BLM camping is not an ...
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Everglades NP Camping at Flamingo

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -National Parks Service – Part 4

The National Parks Service (NPS) needs no introduction! With over 130 camping areas to choose from nationwide, families can spend ...
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Ortana South Campground - Source Recreation.gov

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide -US Army Corps of Engineers – Part 3

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a large federal provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and ...
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BLM Website Search

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – Bureau of Land Management (BLM Land) – Part 2

When you arrive in Florida after camping on BLM Land in the Western part of the USA, you may find ...
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Florida River Island Campground

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide to Public Campgrounds and Dispersed Sites – Part 1

YES, FREE camping is possible in Florida! At first glance, finding free camping in Florida is an easy process. Simply ...
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