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

National Forests and BLM lands offer the ultimate free camping experiences in the USA. Unfortunately, BLM camping is not an ...
Read More
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

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 ...
Read More

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 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.