My Favorite Free Camping Apps to Find Dispersed Campsites

Looking for free campsites for your next trip?

There’s an app for that. Well, in all honesty, there’s way too many apps for that.

Seemingly hundreds of dispersed camping apps have popped up over the years. And, while most of them are, frankly, garbage, a select few are super helpful and well worth the download.

To make your life easier, I’ve rounded up the best free camping apps – that’s apps to find free campsites, not necessarily free-of-charge camping apps (although most don’t cost a penny) – that I personally use to find free dispersed campsites in 2021.

See Also: How to Find Free Campsites Near You


My Favorite Apps to Find Free Campsites

Here is my personal shortlist of the best free camping apps to find dispersed campsites (and free campgrounds) anywhere in the United States.

FreeRoam

screenshot from desktop version of FreeRoam

FreeRoam is currently my go-to app for finding dispersed campsites on public land.

Like other popular camping apps, it has a directory of campsites with user reviews that you can browse with their map tool. But I rarely use this feature.

What I love about the FreeRoam app is their public lands layering tool. Just one click turns on layers for BLM land or National Forest land with very accurate boundaries. Most of the time, free camping is allowed anywhere within these borders.

Although many other camping apps also offer public land layers, I find FreeRoam’s not only the easiest to use, but also the most accurate. The boundaries never cross over onto private land or inholding properties.

FreeRoam also offers cellular service overlays (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint), fire smoke and fire hazards overlays, and an elevation overlay as well as a satellite view layer.

Additional features include the above-mentioned campground directory as well as user forums, a trip planning tool, boondocking guides, and much more.

Best of all, FreeRoam is completely free! And their website works just as smoothly as their mobile app.

Download the app now: iOS | Android

Or learn more here: freeroam.app

iOverlander

screenshot from desktop version of iOverlander

iOverlander is another free camping app that I regularly use.

Like FreeRoam, both the mobile app and website versions are completely free to use.

Unlike FreeRoam, however, iOverlander is best used to find free campsites that others have previously stayed at rather than to find “undiscovered” dispersed campsites.

Browse the interactive map or search by location to find campsites suited to your needs. You can toggle a number of “Place Types” or “Amenities” on or off to further refine your search.

In addition to dispersed campsites and developed campgrounds, iOverlander has a huge directory of stealth camping spots as well as casinos and big box stores that allow overnight parking for campers.

In my personal experience, almost all of the actual dispersed campsites (especially those on public land) that I’ve found on iOverlander have been great – but, sadly, the same isn’t true for most of the stealth camping suggestions.

Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and one of these stealth camping or parking lot spots is fine for a night, but it’s wise to take these types of listings with a grain of salt. Most have “No Overnight Parking” signs or are regularly patrolled.

iOverlander also has tons of recommendations for RV dump stations, car washes, laundromats, propane fill-ups, showers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and so much more.

Since the app relies on user-generated content, most include visitor reviews and often even photos. The app can even be used offline without cellular service or Wi-Fi.

Download the app now: iOS | Android

Or learn more here: ioverlander.com

Gaia GPS

screenshot from desktop version of Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is the best camping app for detailed maps and high-resolution satellite imagery.

The extremely detailed GPS and topographical information combined with map layers (including public land overlays) makes it super easy to find free dispersed camping near you.

Although there are no marked dispersed campsites or user-generated campsite reviews, this tool is invaluable for finding potential dispersed campsites for your trip.

The free version is great, but Gaia GPS Premium is where it’s really at. Premium gives you the ability to access your maps offline (instrumental for off-grid camping) as well as access premium maps and special features.

This camping app also gives you the ability to layer several different maps on top of each other. For example, you can layer a road-use map with a land-use map to find easily accessible free campsites where you know you’re 100% allowed to camp.

Switch to satellite view from the standard topographical map for an even better idea of the terrain. Historical wildfire maps help you avoid burn zones while weather maps help you avoid smoky skies.

Gaia GPS even makes it easy to print custom maps so you always have a backup (very important when camping remotely).

Download the app now: iOS | Android

Or learn more here: gaiagps.com


My Favorite Websites to Find Free Campsites

In addition to the mobile camping apps above, the following websites complete my tool kit for finding free campsites online.

FreeCampsites.net

screenshot from desktop version of FreeCampsites.net

Although it’s not available as an app, the FreeCampsites.net website is the best place to find free campsites online (in my opinion).

FreeCampsites.net has been around for years. It has an extensive online database (likely the largest) of free and cheap campsites – almost all with user-generated reviews (most have pictures too).

Unfortunately, the user interface, especially the map feature, is clunky. Honestly, the entire design of the website is pretty outdated.

It’s much easier to navigate FreeCampsites.net on a computer or tablet. The website is responsive and can be used on mobile – but using the map on a smartphone is often quite glitchy.

Just know that all of the reviews left on this website are user-generated. That means they can be biased and very opinionated.

I’ve found some absolutely incredible dispersed campsites with this tool. I’ve also ended up at some that were duds, despite rave reviews from other campers.

The opposite has also happened – I’ve gone to campsites with very low ratings and poor reviews that ended up being amazing beyond all expectations.

Use FreeCampsites.net as just one tool in your arsenal to find free campsites. Always check to see if there are other campsite reviews available online for a more well-rounded idea of what to expect.

Learn more here: freecampsites.net

Campnado

desktop version of Campnado

Of course, we have to give ourselves a shout out!

Our goal here at Campnado is to become the best online resource for free dispersed campsites everywhere in the United States – and we’re accomplishing that slowly but surely.

All of the apps and websites on this list are extremely helpful. But the vast majority feature user-generated reviews. These are usually super subjective and sometimes state flat out incorrect information.

I’ve personally camped at every campsite recommended on Campnado, often several times at each.

I provide as much relevant info about each campsite as possible, including detailed video from most locations. I update my recommendations on a yearly basis in case anything has changed.   

Of course, my suggestions are also somewhat biased. But I take every effort to make sure you know who they’re best suited for (such as the accessibility of roads and sites for RVs and trailers).

My best free campsites guides are currently the best place to start your search.

Learn more about us here: campnado.com/about


Other Quality Free Camping Apps

FreeRoam, iOverlander, and Gaia GPS coupled with FreeCampsites.net are my go-to free camping apps. But the following apps are also helpful, although I don’t regularly use them myself.

The Dyrt

desktop version of The Dyrt

The Dyrt is an absolutely huge campground database filled largely with user-submitted ratings, reviews, and images.

Both a free and paid version are available as an app or on their website. The Dyrt Pro, the paid premium app, costs $35.99 per year.

The Dyrt app consists of an interactive map with icons for campgrounds. Click into the one that interests you and you’re greeted with basic campground info including the location and the main amenities/features along with user reviews and images.

Upgrading to the Dyrt Pro Membership gives you access to several additional features. For dispersed campers, the most useful are the BLM and National Forest overlays as well as the ability to use the app offline (when you’re out of cellular service).

Another premium feature, which I haven’t personally used, is a road trip planner which helps you plan a route and find the best campgrounds along it.

And, as an added bonus, a Pro subscription nets you fairly substantial discounts at select campgrounds and from certain camping gear brands.

The Dyrt offers a “Free 7-Day Pro Trial” to all users. Even better affiliate-style coupon codes are floating around online (usually a “Free 90-Day Pro Trial”) that I recommend you try to track down.

Download the app now: iOS | Android

Or lean more here: thedyrt.com

Campendium

screenshot from desktop version of Campendium

Campendium is another helpful app/website that acts as a database for campgrounds across the country.

It’s similar to the Dyrt, both in its app and website versions, albeit a little clunkier and not as aesthetically pleasing.

The Campendium app utilizes a map with icons for campgrounds and a search function. Each listed campground has basic info along with user-generated reviews, ratings, and images.

Like the Dyrt, Campendium offers a paid version of their service. A membership costs $20 per year and gives you cell coverage maps, public land overlays, and more.

Personally, I like the Dyrt’s app better than the Campendium App. But I like Campendium’s website experience better than the Dyrt’s.

That said, I don’t often use Campendium to actually find campsites. I use the other apps and websites discussed above (namely, FreeCampsites.net) and then I check Campendium (and the Dyrt) for even more opinions from past campers.

Although Campendium was originally made specifically with van campers and RVers in mind, it’s useful for anyone looking for free dispersed campsites, even if you’re in a tent or passenger vehicle.

Download the app now: iOS | Not Available on Android

Or learn more here: campendium.com

Allstays

screenshot of desktop version of Allstays

Let me preface this: I only use Allstays for information on overnight parking at Walmart.

It’s one of the best online resources for finding Walmart locations that allow free overnight parking for camping.

Users are able to leave their own “parking reports” that detail their overnight experiences. Most locations have at least a few reports left within the past year or two.

Despite my limited use of Allstays, the website does contain a boatload of additional information relevant to campers, especially RV and van campers.

Not only does it have an extensive database of campgrounds and RV parks, but it also lists hotels, casinos with free parking lot camping, truck stops, rest areas, and much more.

You can even use the app to find RV dump stations, propane fill-ups, and potable water along your route. It also includes additional RV-centric information about routes with low clearance or particularly steep grades.   

The Allstays website is outdated and kind of ugly, but still functional. They offer a variety of additional mobile apps, including a “Camp & RV” app, “Camp & Tent” app, and “Walmart Overnight Parking” app.

Each Allstays app costs a few bucks (one-time purchase). For example, their Camp & RV app runs for $9.99 while the “Walmart Overnight Parking” runs for $2.99.

Allstays Pro, which unlocks all of the website content, costs $34.95 per year. Most of the website is restricted when browsing without a membership.

Download the apps now: Allstays Apps (only available for iOS)

Or learn more here: allstays.com


Other Ways to Find Free Campsites

campers near a dispersed campsite in the desert with a motorcycle

Apps and websites are a great way to find free camping near you. But, sometimes, putting down your smartphone or computer and doing things that old-fashioned way is just as helpful.

  • MVUM Maps – Highly accurate and highly detailed Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at most BLM and Forest Service ranger stations. 
  • Ask a Ranger – Call ahead or stop and talk to a ranger in person for suggestions on the best dispersed campsites in the area.
  • Word of Mouth – Talk to others at dispersed campsites. Many will be willing to share their favorite nearby free campsites with friendly folks.

When I’m not pressed for time, one of my favorite ways to find dispersed campsites is to simply wander around on promising-looking BLM roads or National Forest roads until I stumble upon an adequate campsite for the night.


Let Me Know If You Need More Help

Still have questions about how to find free campsites?

First, I encourage you to take a look at my guide to finding free campsites. It breaks down free camping in more detail, including less-common tactics like casino camping, parking lot camping, and stealth camping.

My detailed guides to dispersed camping in each state are also helpful.

But, if you’re still have trouble finding a free campsite near your destination, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Feel free to shoot me a line: jake@campnado.com