Is There Free Camping on the East Coast?
Free camping on the East Coast… does it exist?
The answer is a loud “yes”, but you have to know where to look.
We’re huge advocates of getting out in nature and encouraging campers to try boondocking (the advanced term for free camping). But, many times, readers scold us for not featuring the East Coast.
The fact is, boondocking is not widely available in the eastern US. It is possible, however.
If you want to find the best free tent and RV campsites on the East Coast, read on.
Why Is It Hard To Find Free Camping on the East Coast?
In the Western portion of the United States, free camping is easy to come by. This is because of the abundant public lands, mostly managed by the BLM.
There is free camping on the East coast, but it’s harder to find. Free camping opportunities on the East coast are few and far between. The lack of free East coast camping is mainly because of population density.
There just isn’t an abundance of public lands in the eastern United States. But, if you know where to look, you can find awesome free camping anywhere.
How to Find Free Campsites
There are many ways you can find great free campsites anywhere you roam.
From websites, to apps and maps, to recommendations for other RVers, there are many ways you can go about it!
To find free camping near you, search online on websites like freecampsites.net and Campendium (full tutorial).
Other places to look include:
- Local ranger district websites and maps – look for “dispersed camping”
- YouTube for recommendations from other RVers
- Google searches
What To Know When Dispersed Camping:
When dispersed camping, you are responsible for everything you need. Usually, there are few if any amenities at free campsites.
You need to supply your own power source, whether that’s a generator or solar. You also need to bring enough water to last you, and find a dump station nearby for your gray and black water when you leave.
Dumpsters aren’t always provided, so keep in mind that you will have to take your trash out with you, too.
Here’s an in-depth guide to Boondocking for Beginners.
5 Great Free Campsites On The East Coast
Now you know how to find free camping and what to bring. Here are 5 of our favorite free campsites on the East Coast:
1 Cypress Creek Preserve – Florida
GPS: 28.2382, -82.4305
This free East coast campground is located near Land O’Lakes, Florida.
This campsite is operated by Florida Water Management and although it’s free, you do have to make a reservation. One of the best things about this free campsite is that it’s locked and gated. No worrying about sketchy activity around here!
2 Cape Lookout National Seashore – North Carolina
GPS: 34.6188, -76.524
Cape Lookout National Seashore is on Harkers Island, North Carolina. Not only is this free East coast camping, it’s free beach camping! That’s almost unheard of!
This is a little-known spot so you should have no problem finding an amazing campsite.
Free East Coast beach camping… what’s the catch? This campsite is best suited for 4×4 vehicles. Truck campers, vans, and smaller travel trailers are best for this sandy campsite.
3 Santee Coastal Reserve – South Carolina
GPS: 33.1538, -79.3668
Santee Coastal Reserve in South Carolina is full of beautiful mature oak trees.
This free campsite is large and can fit multiple RVs. You should have no problem finding a great spot to set up at Santee Coastal Reserve.
4 Sugar Hill Fire Tower – Watkins Glen, NY
GPS: 42.3872, -77.0026
Not only is the Sugar Hill Fire Tower campsite in Watkins Glen NY one of the best on the East Coast, it’s one of the best in New York State!
This campsite is spacious and even has bathrooms and a water spigot on site.
While you’re free camping in Watkins Glen, be sure to visit the incredible Watkins Glen State Park. This state park has over 19 stunning waterfalls!
5 Gale River Loop Road – New Hampshire
GPS: 44.2398, -71.6201
Gale River Loop Road in Bethlehem, New Hampshire has 10 campsites in the White Mountains National Forest. This camping area is popular and fills up quickly, so get there early to secure your spot!
Although it’s difficult to find free camping on the East Coast, it’s not impossible! You just have to know where to look and be in the right place at the right time.
If you want to discover more East Coast free camping spots, here’s our comprehensive list.
Discover the Best Free Camping Across 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:
This is nice to see (free camping) posted in your post because I’m sure there are lots of folks like me who would now that these are published, try them. But that is right, these are few & far between on the East Coast. The closest one to me in N.H. is very small (10 sites) and likely near impossible to get into. More such free sites are really needed now that camping has had such a dramatic resurgence this year…2020.