7 Best Free Camping Spots in California

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

7 Best Free Camping Spots in California

California is called the Golden State for a reason and not just because it was a significant gold rush destination. Ocean, desert, trees – California has it all. There’s also an abundance of free camping in California.

With steep RV park prices across the state, camping gets expensive quickly. That’s why we put together a list of the seven best free camping spots in California. 

What is Free Camping?

Free camping is self-explanatory. It’s camping that costs nothing. This type of camping typically happens on BLM land or in National Forests. 

They are areas managed by the federal government and set aside for you to enjoy nature. Free camping is also known as boondocking, primitive camping, or dispersed camping.

Typically these camping spots have no amenities; you’ll have to bring everything you need. 

  • Water
  • Power
  • Waste Management
  • Food
  • Self Protection

Don’t let this intimidate you, though. We have many Boondocking Guides to help you learn the ropes.

#1 American Girl Mine

First on our list is the American Girl Mine, located 22 miles outside of Yuma, AZ. 

This site is near the border of California, Mexico, and Arizona. This desert environment provides a great place to relax in the warm weather, play with your off-roading toys, and enjoy the night sky. 

The allowed camping area is down a well-groomed dirt road with lots of space for any size rig. Don’t be surprised if you have some neighbors, but it is a large enough area to spread out. 

You also will find plenty of cell service from all major carriers.

#2 Willow Creek Road Dispersed

 Willow Creek Road Dispersed Camping is located in the famous Big Sur area of California. 

With views of the ocean and lots of wildflowers during the spring, this is a must-stop spot. Open year-round, five camp spots can fit an RV up to 30′ (based on reviews). There are no amenities and little cell service, but it is one of the best free escapes with an ocean view money can buy.

If you must have cell service, invest in an RV cell booster. They can really help you get connectivity in remote areas.

#3 Furnace Creek Road

 Furnace Creek is located 7 miles outside of Shoshone, CA, near the border of Nevada. 

This camping spot is a great hub location to Death Valley National Park, off-roading trails, natural hot springs, and old mines. It is also one of the best places to stargaze at night. 

On a drivable dirt road, there is a lot of space for any size vehicle. It does get scorching during the summer, so be prepared for that. 

Verizon is the only reported carrier with service, and it isn’t the best, so don’t expect to rely on it. Quite often, free camping in California means sketchy cell service.

#4 Needles Point Dispersed Camping

Needles Point is situated just outside of Sequoia National Park. This dispersed camping spot is accessible only by high clearance vehicles, during warmer seasons. 

It offers lots of shade under the trees and a quiet place to camp. 

Needles Point Dispersed Camping is ¼ mile from Needles Lookout trail that provides excellent views of the area. 

There is no cell service, which makes it the perfect getaway. Also, please remember this is bear country, food should be stored appropriately.

#5 Whisky Falls Campground

Whiskey Falls Campground is a great way to escape to the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

This free camping in California site offers beautiful pine trees and a waterfall. Nine sites are accessible by a rough dirt road. 

This site is only open during the warmer seasons due to snow. There is no cell service, and it can fill up during the weekends. But it offers a vault toilet, tables and fire pits.

  • GPS: 37.286, -119.44
  • Address: Whisky Snowmobile Trails Road, North Fork, CA 93643

#6 Scott Flat Campground

Scott Flat Campground is located in Northern California 80 miles from the coast. 

This site offers lots of trees, a river, and peace. Ten campsites all very well-spaced out from each other with a vaulted toilet, tables, and fire pits. 

The campground road is not maintained, and the sites can reportedly fit an RV up to 20′. Scott Flat is a great spot to turn off the phone with no cell service and go fishing and hiking.

#7 Yaqui Well Camp

Yaqui Well Campground is located in the Anza-Borrego Desert. 

This area is very popular for wildflowers during the spring, the incredible stargazing, and unlimited off-roading and hiking options. 

Yaqui Well campground says on the California Parks and Recreation site; it can fit a 35′ RV. However, the road is mostly loose sand will prove difficult for big rigs. 

This free camping in California spot offers quiet spots in the middle of a giant playground. There is limited AT&T service and a vaulted toilet.

Discover the Best Free Camping in the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

One comment

  1. do y’all know of any free camping spots along the north coast near or in humboldt or mendocino county or not as far inland as hayfork? thanks

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