Website Lists Free Places to Camp with an RV

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RV travelers can learn about more than 1,000 free and inexpensive places to stay a night at FreeCampgrounds.com.

RV travelers can learn about more than 1,000 free and inexpensive places to stay a night at FreeCampgrounds.com.

Most of the online directory's listings are supplied by RVers themselves. They range from scenic government campgrounds to city-sponsored RV parks, truck stops, rest areas, commercial RV parks with a fee of $10 or less, desert lands of the West and the parking lots of RV-friendly businesses.

"City parks are one of the best deals going," said FreeCampgrounds.com editor Chuck Woodbury. "There are at least 100 of them around the country where an RVer is invited to stay a night or even a week for free. Sometimes there's a donation box, but even so, the requested amount is usually a fraction of what an RV park would charge. Some country parks and even fairgrounds also offer complimentary stays."

A recent survey of more than 2,000 recreational vehicle enthusiasts by RVtravel.com revealed that approximately 60 percent seek out free or inexpensive campgrounds to offset high fuel prices. "If an RVer can save $25 or $35 over what it would cost for an RV park, that money can go into the gas tank the next day," said Woodbury. But he noted that many RVers choose free locations simply out of convenience. "They may be too tired to go on but can’t find an RV park. Most of these RVers will choose a traditional RV park or public campground the next night."

Many truck stops permit overnight stays as well as other services to RVers like internet access, propane and mechanical work. Some RVers routinely hole up overnight in roadside rest areas, a practice Woodbury does not recommend for safety reasons. But he acknowledges it's a common practice.

The most popular free overnight stops are in the parking lots of Wal-Mart stores. "About 90 percent of the stores will allow an RVer to spend a night as long as they pull off in a corner and don't set up 'camp,'" said Woodbury, who also edits the 100,000-circulation RVtravel.com weekly newsletter.

Perhaps the best deal going for RVers on a budget is on the federal government's wide-open desert lands of Arizona and southeast California where a stay of up to seven months goes for $140. "There are minimal services at these Long Term Visitor Areas, but for RVers with solar panels and other devices, life can be very comfortable and affordable at less than 70 cents a day.

FreeCampgrounds.com visitors who post free campground information are encouraged to provide details about a site's scenic beauty and noise level. "Locations near railroad tracks are obviously not places where an RVer stays for a meaningful experience with nature," said Woodbury.

To search for a campground visit FreeCampgrounds.com.

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Chuck Woodbury
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