20 Best Free Camping Spots (on the East Coast)
We love sharing the best free camping spots in the USA! However, many campers have complained that we don’t feature the East Coast enough.
They’re exactly right – we’ve neglected the free camping spots on the East Coast.
Today we’re sharing twenty of the best (many of them with video tours). Our definition of the “East Coast” means they all must be located within the Eastern Time Zone.
Keep in mind: when you go free camping you most likely won’t have access to amenities. This means you’re on your own. Verify and research the accessibility of all free campsites before you attempt to set up camp.
Let’s dive in!
1. Cypress Creek Preserve (Florida)
Where’s It Located: Land O Lakes, FL
GPS: 28.2382, -82.4305
Why You’ll Love It: This free campsite will never be overcrowded. It’s operated by Florida Water Management, and even though it costs absolutely nothing, you have to make a reservation. This means you’ll always have (at least) a semi-private spot.
The area is beautiful as well. There are numerous oak tress, water front views and hiking trails.
Best of all, the entry is locked and gated. Upon making a reservation, you’ll receive a gate code. This process cuts out all sketchy traffic.
Keep In Mind: Limited space for big rigs. One or two large RVs can fit – most camping areas are better for 28 feet and under. Also, low hanging branches abound.
2. Cape Lookout National Seashore (North Carolina)
Where’s It Located: Harkers Island, NC
GPS: 34.6188, -76.524
Why You’ll Love It: Free beach camping on the east coast is hard to find! Not only does Cape Lookout provide that, it’s also largely unknown and untraveled. You won’t have a problem finding a campsite.
Listening to the Atlantic ocean, camping for free and having ultimate privacy – what’s not to love.
Keep In Mind: Here’s the catch – you’ve got to have a good 4×4 to get there. Truck campers, vans and small travel trailers are most likely the only ones who’ll be able to access it.
3. Gale River Loop Road (New Hampshire)
Where’s It Located: Bethlehem, NH
GPS: 44.2398, -71.6201
Why You’ll Love It: Tucked in the White Mountains National Forest, Gale River Loop is among the best free camping in New Hampshire.
The spot has just over 10 campsites and they fill up quickly!
If you time your camping trip right, you can see the most beautiful autumn leaves. There’s even a little cell reception available (but you may benefit from a cell booster).
Keep In Mind: Fills up quick – arrive early!
4. Redden State Forest (Delaware)
Where’s It Located: Georgetown, DE
GPS: 38.7411, -75.4083
Why You’ll Love It: This is terrific forest camping in the Northeast! The state forest offers 5 sites, all with lots of shade. You can probably fit a 30 foot RV here, but anything larger will become hard to maneuver.
A permit is required to camp at Redden State Forest (however, multiple reviewers say they didn’t need one).
Keep In Mind: Visit their website to get a permit…and make sure you’re not too big!
5. Santee Coastal Reserve (South Carolina)
Where’s It Located: McClellanville, SC
GPS: 33.1538, -79.3668
Why You’ll Love It: This spot is full of mature oak trees – it looks magical! The sites are large and can fit multiple RVs.
Best of all, Santee Coastal Reserve has miles of trails for hiking or biking.
Even though there aren’t many east coast free campsites, this spot never seems to fill all the way up.
Keep In Mind: Bring bug spray – mosquitos can be intense.
6. Medix Grade Road (Pennsylvania)
Where’s It Located: Weedville, PA
GPS: 41.2689, -78.4035
Why You’ll Love It: If you want to detach for a while, Medix Grade Road is a good place to do it. These forested campsites offer a lot of privacy. In fact, each site is about a half a mile apart.
Wildlife is plentiful here, too. However, don’t leave your food out, you may attract unwanted guests!
The area also offers numerous trails for hiking and biking.
Keep In Mind: Due to its location, cell connectivity may be nonexistent.
7. Sugar Hill Fire Tower (New York)
Where’s It Located: Watkins Glen, NY
GPS: 42.3872, -77.0026
Why You’ll Love It: Not only is this an absolutely free camping spot on the east coast, it also has a bathroom and water spigot on site. The area is a large, open field that can fit large RVs.
It’s a popular equestrian camp, as well. Horse stalls and trails are located onsite.
In 2018 Sugar Hill received the Campers Choice award from Campendium.
Keep In Mind: Even though it’s an open field with lots of room, sites may be un-level.
8. Barrington County Park (Georgia)
Where’s It Located: Townsend, GA
GPS: 31.4717, -81.6068
Why You’ll Love It: Barrington County Park is a beautiful, free campsite in Southeast Georgia (not too far from the coast). The site provides large spots that’ll fit all size RVs.
There’s also bathroom and shower available. A boat launch is also provided. It seems like you can fish from the shore, too.
Additionally, you should receive good cell service here.
Keep In Mind: This spot is in the boonies. Stock up on supplies before setting up camp.
9. Deep Creek Preserve (Florida)
Where’s It Located: Arcadia, FL
GPS: 27.0609, -82.0218
Why You’ll Love It: This is another amazing Florida campsite. Like most of them, you have to reserve your free camping spot in advance.
You can set up in the sun or shade – depending on the weather and if you want solar access (7 Reasons You Don’t Need Solar). According to a Campendium reviewer, “It was within an hour of every beach from Bradenton to Fort Meyers. And it was within 10 minutes of a Walmart”
Best of all, the site is big rig friendly!
Keep In Mind: It can get pretty hot here – come prepared!
10. Hidden Hollow Campground (Ohio)
Where’s It Located: Bloomingdale, OH
GPS: 40.3343, -80.7642
Why You’ll Love It: This is a very well maintained free campsite in Ohio. It’s located within the Fernwood State Forest.
Each site is well established with a picnic table and fire ring.
“Quiet and peaceful” is the way almost every review describes it. However, there is a nearby shooting range. It’s far enough away not to be a nuisance, but it’s still noticeable at times.
Keep In Mind: Come with a tank of fresh water – not many (if any) good fill options onsite.
11. Bears End (Vermont)
Where’s It Located: Shaftsbury, VT
GPS: 42.9967, -72.976
Why You’ll Love It: This forest campsite in Vermont has a TON of spots. According to a recent Campendium review, “Some are large enough to get up to a 30ft Rv into but most are small tent sites. There is a large paved parking lot at Kelley Stand that can take the larger 40ft rigs. Our site was a large size…”
Bears roam freely here. Enjoy the wildlife, but be extremely diligent with your trash & food.
Keep In Mind: Be be aware & come prepared!
12. Hawk Recreation Area (West Virginia)
Where’s It Located: Wardensville, WV
GPS: 39.116, -78.5004
Why You’ll Love It: This is a secluded campsite with well developed (and maintained) sites. It includes 15 total sites – about 6 for RVs and the rest for tents. The RV sites are very long and very level. A motorhome and tow vehicle could probably fit.
Vaulted toilet and water available on the grounds. A group camping area, grills and trails are also provided.
Keep In Mind: This is another free campsite which requires you to be “bear aware.”
13. Elmwood Recreation Area (South Carolina)
Where’s It Located: McClellanville, SC
GPS: 33.199, -79.47
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve ever visited an east coast National Forest, you’ll know what to expect – peaceful, secluded camping. There’s potable water available onsite as well!
Celine on Campendium says, “What an incredible hunting camp! It’s really peaceful. There is no designated site, we chose our site and moved to our liking. We took advantage of our stay here to visit a historic site located 3km. Very interesting.”
Most campers reported usable cell service.
Keep In Mind: If it’s hunting season, keep an eye out for hunters.
14. DuPuis Campground (Florida)
Where’s It Located: Indiantown, FL
GPS: 27.0049, -80.5595
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re trying to escape the winter blues, this is the free campsite for you! In fact, this spot has received the Campendium Campers Choice award in 2018 & 2019.
Additionally, the campsite provides hot showers and actual flush toilets. Big rigs can fit!
Keep In Mind: You’ll have to make a reservation in advance.
15. Hickock Brook Multi Use Area (New York)
Where’s It Located: Barryville, NY
GPS: 41.5017, -74.8764
Why You’ll Love It: This rustic spot is prefect for tents, vans and small trailers. You’ll have access to a small lake and be able get tucked back in the forest.
Campers also reported cellular access.
Here’s way a recent Campendium reviewer says, “Lovely place to stay in the forest with a little lake and active wildlife! There is a shooting range nearby but the noise wasn’t prevalent enough to bother me. The road in is gravel and offshoots to sites are dirt which can get muddy in the rain, but I saw many small vehicles come through successfully.”
Keep In Mind: Large RVs won’t fit!
16. Braley Pond Dispersed Campground (Virginia)
Where’s It Located: West Augusta, VA
GPS: 38.2866, -79.3008
Why You’ll Love It: If you want to disconnect, go fishing or just camp by the water – this site is for you. No cell phone access here! It’ll force you to slow down and enjoy nature.
Goldielocks on Campendium says, “The pond is small, but the fish are practically jumping onto your hook. Hiking, fishing and biking are all allowed and the only thing you need is your fishing license. It’s so quiet at night it’s almost spooky.”
Keep In Mind: Be prepared for emergencies. No cell service means, you’re on your own.
17. Dicks Creek Falls Campsites (Georgia)
Where’s It Located: Cleveland, GA
GPS: 34.6902, -83.9474
Why You’ll Love It: If you want to camp near water falls, Dicks Creek will deliver! Here’s the catch – this primitive, free campsite can only be accessed by 4×4 vehicles. Some folks have done it with sedans, but it’s not recommended.
RVs, you’re out of luck.
Caveman on Campendium says, “Can be busy during the summer months. locals like the area to swim in the falls. we did. Quiet and peaceful at night. campsites are spread out so you have privacy. No restrooms or showers. the woods and River is your only reprieve.”
Keep In Mind: RVs, try another spot.
18. Jackson Island Campground (Tennessee)
Where’s It Located: Spring City, TN
GPS: 35.6613, -84.8454
Why You’ll Love It: Last year this free campsite in Tennessee earned the Campendium Campers Choice Award! You’ll get large sites (pretty level) and port-o-potties on the grounds.
The Roads We Roam on Campendium say, “We stayed for 2 nights and were pleasantly surprised to find large sites – each with its own spectacular view! Easy to maneuver for big rigs and very quiet atmosphere. Law enforcement drove through about twice a day.”
Keep In Mind: It’s out in the boonies, come stocked with supplies.
19. Hickory Hammock Campground (Florida)
Where’s It Located: Lorida, FL
GPS: 27.4478, -81.1771
Why You’ll Love It: Here’s another 2019 Campers Choice Award winner! It’s quiet, secluded and easy for most RVs to fit. There’s even a camp host onsite.
A recent Campendium reviewer adds, “The place has good amenities for dry camping–composting toilets and an open shower as well as a convenient placement of a dumpster and recycling. We had a sunny spot for our solar power and only used our generator to turn on the air in the afternoon.”
Keep In Mind: This is a Florida free camping spot – remember you must reserve in advance.
20. Moose River Plains Camping Corridor (New York)
Where’s It Located: Inlet, NY
GPS: 43.6892, -74.7505
Why You’ll Love It: This free camping spot in New York has over 100 developed campsites! You’re bound to find an open site.
Outdoor activities abound. You can hike the numerous trails or spend the day on the water.
A recent Campendium reviewer says, “Very quiet, and serene. Ranger came by and introduced himself, nice chap and quite young. We enjoyed our stay. Roads in are pretty bumpy and full of roots in some places. I can’t see Class A RV’s making it in here but Trailers and and small RV’s should fair well.”
Keep In Mind: Large Rigs might be out of luck!
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.