One of the benefits to being a part of RV or Van Culture is that you have the ability to remove yourself and unplug from the traditional campsite. If you can sustain a few days without pluggable power, sewage dumps or running water because it is already on your rig, you can find some of the best locations to set up and enjoy for a night or more.
But how do you find those sites that are a bit more removed from the public eye? How do you know where to look for a boondocking site that will provide you with views that you can only dream to be visible from your backdoor? Where do you even begin?
After traveling for 4 years, I have found that apps can be very beneficial. However some apps do require a bit more work for them to be fully effective when traveling in some areas. Some apps have offline maps systems while others fall short of this feature. Some apps have more users and thus more data to determine if sites are the right fit for you. Some apps have crossover between traditional campsites and boondocks style sites.
I am here to share with you today, the Best 3 Apps for Finding FREE Campsites to cut through all the trail and error.
This site and app ( www.freecampsites.net ) are wonderful for finding some obscure off the beaten path kind of stops. With tons of users you can usually find a nice variety of sites no matter where you are in the country and many of those come with in depth reviews from users who have stopped in for a night or two along the way.
Photos can be uploaded to the site, although I have found that many users simply snap a single photo of their rig in their location and then simply move on with their stay. There are rarely photos of drive in, special features or additional details. However, accounts typically include some very valuable information to offset the lack of photos.
The one area in which this app could use a bit or work is their ability to be used when internet access is not available. There are no offline maps available on this site so you do have to toggle between your Google or Apple map and the app itself to have offline service. GPS coordinates are provided for each site which is helpful for this step however it can also be a bit more limiting if you do not preplan using this app.
This is one of my personal favorites! Available in both a website and app version, The Dyrt is a wonderful resource for finding camping sites of all kinds. Starting out as a more traditional camper who utilized improved camping I was able to always find a site using this app while on the road in addition to knowing how much it would cost ahead of time. As I continued to progress into more advanced and adventurous styles of travel the app still had me covered with more remote options for boondocking.
The Dyrt has a filtering system which allows you to customize your search. Like FreeCampsites, users rate and review their visit to locations. Comments can include anything from comfort of stay and difficult to find to special amenities or activities available in the area. More often than not, the reviews are accompanied by photos from users and videos of their visit. This allows you many additional options for seeing and understanding the camping location, something that is especially important when you get into free sites and want to know what to expect of them.
Additionally, The Dyrt (a free app) offers a PRO version which has offline map assistance and trip planning features to help you find locations which work best for you even when off grid for numerous days.
This feature has single handily changed the way I am able to maneuver on longer trips in areas which lack cellular service. I can now pick a location and line out the basics for where I want to go along the way and through the offline maps have at my disposal all the information I need for a great adventure without having to make stops that are out of the way just to look at a map or reconfigure for the next location.
iOverlander is a wonderful source for the full timers out there who are looking to boondock but also find services while on the road. The app through a series of icons alerts you to places you might be able to find dump stations, parking lots, remote campsites and more traditional ones. But something that sets iOverlander apart is that the app also shares locations for propane fill ups and RV service centers. In addition, they have added features for finding cafes, laundry mats or grocery stores in more remote areas that might be nomad friendly.
iOverlander, like the Dyrt, has access to offline maps, which can be extremely important for those on the road, however something to note about each site is some features may be more limited while in offline mode.
Check-ins are available on iOverlander which allow you to track some of your favorites and save them for return trips or sharing them with friends or followers of your channel or page at a later point. This is a feature I have really warmed up to personally so I can start sharing more info about some of my personal favorites on my blog and channel.
Use of these 3 apps in combination with one another will net you the most opportunity to find the perfect site. While each approaches the goal of finding the features you are most looking for uniquely and each has their own style of search and sharing, the apps are known to be the Holy Trinity of Free Campsite finding here in the states and appropriately so.