It wasn’t that long ago that we could pack up our gear and hit the road for an impromptu camping trip. Whether we were hoping to disconnect from technology or connect with nature after a long work week, it was often possible.
However, like us, many RVers find their favorite spots to be a bit more crowded than usual lately.
Today, we look at 10 of our favorite camping spots getting overrun in 2022.
Is Camping Becoming More Popular?
There has been a tremendous increase in people looking to get out of their homes and into the wilderness.
The RV industry has seen an explosion in demand and has struggled to keep up the past few years. Many buying up all those RVs are looking for places to use them on weekends and for extended vacations.
No matter the camping style, it’s hard to argue against the fact that camping is becoming more popular. We’re seeing an increase in demand for RVs, campsites, and all types of camping gear and RVing accessories.
While we love to see people embracing the lifestyle, the changes it’s creating for many who have been embracing it for years can be frustrating.
Are RV Parks Overcrowded?
RV parks are a business, and like most businesses, they typically try to maximize their profits. This means they’re cramming as many guests and their big RVs into their campgrounds as physically possible.
You’re typically not going to find much space between sites because this wastes space, which means lost potential revenue.
In some parts of the country, primarily the southeast and southwest, RV parks are popular places to stay during the winter months. While RV parks can offer superb amenities, they are often extremely overcrowded.
This can make using those amenities frustratingly difficult.
Is BLM Camping Overcrowded?
One of the best ways to escape crowded campgrounds has been to camp on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These camping options typically lack amenities, but they make up for it by providing increased privacy and more space.
However, as many people embrace the nomadic lifestyle, these spots are also beginning to experience issues with overcrowding.
While you could previously camp in many of these spots and enjoy peace and quiet, that’s not often the case anymore. Campsites that provided privacy now experience regular traffic from people looking to boondock. While these are public-use lands, most boondockers enjoyed the fact that most of the public was unaware these spots existed.
They’re looking forward to the day when boondocking and BLM camping are no longer trendy.
10 Camping Spots Overrun in 2022
We hate to see campsites overused and abused.
From our experience, this typically means there’s only a matter of time before restrictions are put in place to limit the use of the land. Let’s get started looking at 10 great camping spots overrun in 2022.
1. Alabama Hills Recreation Center
Alabama Hills Recreation Center has been a boondocker’s paradise for years. A network of backcountry roads provides unlimited potential to explore the area. The landscapes have drastic changes in elevation and make for a beautiful landscape for those camping.
There’s plenty of space for RVers to spread out to have privacy, and you can get plenty of sun if you have a solar system to keep your batteries charged.
However, in the fall of 2021, park officials addressed the issues the area was experiencing due to overcrowding. They restricted parts of the recreation area to day-use only and have stated we need to expect further changes regarding dispersed camping.
This will likely result in the need for permits, especially during peak seasons or weekends.
2. Saddle Mountain Dispersed Camping in Arizona
Any free camping location with lots of sites that can accommodate any sized rig and has great cell coverage will get overrun with time. Saddle Mountain Dispersed Camping is a rare unicorn dispersed camping location that checks all of the boxes people are looking for in a campsite.
The sites here are very spacious, and the roads are relatively easy to navigate most of the time.
Cattle often graze in the wide-open terrain, but it makes for a great place to enjoy the beautiful sunsets after a long day of adventuring. Once the sun sets, the desert skies come alive with shooting stars that often streak across the desert skies.
3. Palm Canyon Dispersed Camping in Quartzsite, AZ
Quartzsite, Ariz., prides itself in being one of the most popular RVing destinations during the winter months. Palm Canyon Dispersed Camping is just one of the many places to camp in this area. Here you’ll find many great sites capable of housing large and small rigs.
There are even several camping spots that would be great for groups traveling together in a caravan.
It’s a 20-minute drive down a long and bumpy road, but take it slow, and it’s a small price to get away from the chaos of sites closer to Quartzsite. You’ll find some incredible canyons to explore, and the sunsets here are breathtakingly beautiful.
Be sure to watch how the light changes the colors of the surrounding rocks and desert landscapes.
4. Joshua Tree South Dispersed Camping in California
Dispersed camping at this Joshua Tree spot is one of the best options in the area. The roads are easy to navigate and perfect for any sized rig. Depending on the time of year, you may get lucky and have the entire place to yourself. However, weekends and holidays can get crowded.
This camping location is close to Joshua Tree National Park. You can stay up to 14 days, which is more than enough time to explore all that the park has to offer. For a minimal fee, you can dump your tanks and fill up your freshwater tank at the campground in the national park.
It’s easy to see why so many love this site and why it gets crowded.
Pro Tip: Instead of camping in a crowded spot in Joshua Tree, try out one of these Best Free Camping Spots Near Joshua Tree National Park.
5. Craggy Wash Dispersed Camping in Lake Havasu City, AZ
This dispersed camping location in Lake Havasu City is fantastic! There are sites close to the road with plenty of space between sites for you to spread out. A camp host helps keep an eye on things and ensures everyone follows the rules and is safe. The proximity to town makes it great for making quick trips for stocking up on supplies and any other items you might need.
Those with AT&T service will love this site as there’s a cell tower at the entrance to the campground. You’ll get blazing speeds and easily be capable of streaming and staying connected.
However, while this may sound like a desert paradise, some guests have some complaints.
This area experiences a tremendous amount of traffic. The roads are dusty, and the increased traffic, especially on the weekends, can kick up quite a bit of dust. People have taken advantage of this spot for a while, and management tightened the 14-day limits.
Trash litters the landscape in places, and it would be very easy for officials to close this place up to give them time to clean it up.
6. Tom’s Best Spring Dispersed Camping in Utah
Located in the Dixie National Forest of Utah, Tim’s Best Spring Dispersed Camping is an excellent spot for those wanting to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. You can leave most campsites and be at the park’s main entrance in roughly 15 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time to explore and see why this is one of the best national parks.
This is a huge camping area with tremendous amounts of space. There’s plenty of room for guests to spread out and maintain their privacy.
Even if a neighbor is running a generator, there’s plenty of space that you likely won’t hear it, especially when inside your rig. The road goes on for miles, and there are sites on both sides of the road. The crowds typically thin out the further back you go.
If you want solitude, avoid the weekends.
This location gets very crowded then and on holidays.
7. Madden Peak Road Dispersed Camping in Colorado
Colorado has some of the best dispersed camping spots in the entire country. However, Madden Peak Road Dispersed Camping in San Juan National Forest is arguably the best. You’re 20 to 30 minutes from the city of Cortez and only 10 to 15 minutes from Mesa Verde National park.
Its great location can cause it to get busy. Try getting a site off the road to avoid the dusty conditions from the traffic.
There’s plenty of room for big rigs to maneuver. However, big rigs shouldn’t try to drive past a set of power lines that cross the road.
Camping here can provide tremendous views of the surrounding area, and the night skies simply can’t be beaten.
8. Nomad View Dispersed Camping in South Dakota
If you’re talking about boondocking in South Dakota, Nomad View is typically one of the first places people mention. This dispersed camping location is right outside the Badlands National Park entrance. Boondockers flock here in herds for the opportunity to camp near the edge and to open their RV doors to the incredible landscapes found throughout Badlands National Park.
Despite being overrun with campers, people have done a great job keeping this place clean. One thing that boondockers can’t control, though, is the weather.
Severe storms and winds hit the area, which can be rather intense. Many RVers overestimate their ability to get in and out of the campground after it rains.
This has created some large ruts in the road, which can cause serious damage to a vehicle or RV if you’re not paying attention. Take it slow, and you should have no problems finding a spot to camp.
9. Upper Teton View
If you’re looking to capture a picture of your rig in a campsite with snow-capped mountains in the distance, Upper Teton View is the place to stay. It provides gorgeous Grand Teton National Park views that look straight out of a movie. The view almost seems too good to be true, but it is.
This spot also provides quick and easy access to the national park. It’s even close enough that you could drive to visit Yellowstone National Park if you wanted to.
However, sites here are very limited and the roads getting in and out are very narrow. You’ll want to have a scout go ahead of you to ensure there’s no oncoming traffic. Two rigs can’t pass each other in certain spots, and there’s a significant drop-off on one side. Stay limits are typically 14 days, but some campgrounds limit camping to five days during peak seasons.
Pro Tip: Want to try to cross off two national parks in one day? We researched the perfect itineraries to answer Can You Visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks on the Same Day?
10. Government Wash Dispersed Camping in Nevada
Government Wash Dispersed Camping is in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There are many sites, plenty of space for big rigs, and excellent cell service. It’s the trifecta of dispersed camping sites!
People love this dispersed camping option because it’s a convenient and inexpensive way to check out Las Vegas. There’s typically a tremendous amount of privacy and plenty of spots available for anyone looking to stay. However, while the camping is free, you have to pay to enter the park. If you have the America the Beautiful Pass, it can get you in for free.
Guests have found that there are still tremendous amounts of crowds even as late as October. The roads can get very dusty, especially on weekends when people are traveling back and forth to Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, or even the Grand Canyon.
Will You Be Able to Find Free Camping in 2022?
You’ll likely still be able to find free camping in 2022, but it’s not going to be as easy as it once was. You’re likely to have better luck finding sites in the middle of the week before weekenders come in on Thursdays and Fridays. Have a backup plan and always leave sites cleaner than you found them.
Whether camping will be free or not, camping spots overrunning doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. With more people enjoying the great outdoors, campsites will continue to see an influx of guests. You just have to know the best times and times of year to visit.
Have you ever experienced a crowded campsite? Drop a comment below!
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