5 Best Free Camping Apps to Find Campsites and Boondocking Locations
One of the best parts about traveling in a van is the ability to get off the beaten path and camp comfortably in various remote locations.
Most vans are made to be self-contained, meaning they don’t require hookups or campgrounds to function normally. Free camping spots can be found on various types of public land in the U.S., including on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.
While some areas, such as national parks, are more regulated, free dispersed camping or “boondocking” as it’s commonly called is often legal just outside of park boundaries.
To find alternative wild camping spots, van campers can make use of a number of different apps that help travelers find free camping wherever their road trip takes them.
Many apps provide additional information, like whether or not a camping area has cell coverage, what jurisdiction of land the campsite is on, and where to fill up on water or propane nearby.
There are a lot of vanlife apps out there, so we compiled this list of the best apps to help you find campsites and boondocking locations on your next road trip.
FreeRoam is an app that helps people find the perfect campsite along their road trip. If you’re going to download only one camping app, we recommend FreeRoam.
This app is completely free and includes more features than most other similar apps. Users can search for campsites based on several different useful filters, including:
- Cell service: The app allows users to search for campsites with cell service, even adjusting for which carrier they use and how many bars they require.
- Rig length: Vanlifers don’t usually run into issues with their rigs being too long for campsites, but it’s still helpful to know whether a campsite has access issues for certain vehicles.
- Other filters: FreeRoam lets you be as picky as you want when searching for a campsite, with filters for shadiness, crowdedness, safety, noise levels, and more.
In addition to providing great filters to allow users to find the perfect campsite, FreeRoam includes helpful map overlays which you can toggle on and off.
Layers include BLM and Forest Service land boundaries, cellular service overlays for major carriers, fire and smoke hazard overlays, and elevation/satellite view layers.
FreeRoam’s layers allow you to quickly determine whether a potential campsite is on BLM land or within a National Forest. Free camping is allowed within these boundaries most of the time.
FreeRoam’s layers make it the best app for finding your own free campsite.
FreeRoam is available on Android and iOS. Learn more about the app here.
iOverlander has been a staple for years among vanlifers and others looking for boondocking locations.
Though the app itself is pretty barebones, it is still one of the best camping apps because it has a large database of campsites that have been contributed by users over the years.
This makes iOverlander the best app for finding campsites that others have already visited. The app also allows users to search for RV dump stations, places to fill up water and propane, showers, Wi-Fi locations, car washes, and laundromats.
Because iOverland is a crowdsourced app, anyone can add a campsite location’s GPS coordinates to the map. This makes it a bit less reliable than some other apps.
Some of the free campsites listed in the app are actually not on public land or in places where camping is legal, though with some practice it becomes easier to sort out the legit campsites.
The app also has locations such as Walmart parking lots and casinos where overnight parking is allowed, which can be helpful for those long drives when you just need a place to stop and rest for a few hours.
iOverlander is available on Android and iOS. Learn more about the app here.
3. The Dyrt
The Dyrt is a super popular app that provides many resources to people who are on camping trips in their vans.
The Dyrt is best used for finding and booking sites at established campgrounds and RV parks, rather than free campgrounds.
The app shows you reviews for each campground as well as information on amenities offered, what type of restrooms are available, whether it allows pets, whether tent camping or RV camping is allowed, etc.
Additionally, The Dyrt has great trip planning features that give you information on the area close to a campground, including favorite activities and even the upcoming weather.
The Dyrt has a free version with all the features listed above. Or, for $35.99/year, The Dyrt PRO membership gives you booking discounts on select campgrounds, waives fees when booking a campground through the app, and includes features like additional map layers and offline maps.
The Dyrt is available for Android and iOS. Learn more about the app here.
Campendium is similar to The Dyrt, except the app includes free sites as well as paid campgrounds.
The app is a little clunkier and more dated overall The Dyrt, though some users prefer it because there are often more user-provided reviews and pictures for campgrounds.
Campendium has a free version, or you can purchase a “Roadpass Pro” membership which costs $49.99/year and includes map overlays, plus memberships to a few RV-specific apps.
Campendium can be a good resource for people wanting to find reviews and additional information on campgrounds they are interested in staying at.
Campendium is available on Android and iOS. Find more information on the app here.
Allstays claims to be the #1 selling, ranked, and reviewed camping app in the world for over 144 months.
When you look through their massive database of campsites, rest areas, truck stops, and other places to stop and relax for the night, it’s easy to see why.
With over 60,000 places to spend the night, Allstays is worth downloading simply to scroll through the various options in the area you wish to camp.
User reviews and uploaded photos provide more information about campsites. The app doesn’t offer a trip planner or other premium features, but its large user database makes it a helpful tool when searching for campsites.
Allstays is available for iOS. Find out more about the app here.