8 Best Places to Camp for Free on East Coast

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In case it’s not glaringly obvious yet, we love the outdoors. From weeks spent camping to just a day in the backyard, being out in nature and sitting around the campfire enjoying some laughs and summery libations with friends is simply the best!

Unfortunately, sometimes a day in the backyard is all we can afford as staying at some campsites around the country can cost upwards of $30. 

If you’re like us, you’d rather spend more money stocking up on necessary supplies or cool, new camp gear, than on the site where you’re going to be staying.

Therefore, in this article, we’ve located the best places to camp along the east coast where you can stay absolutely free! 

Of course, please observe the “Leave it Better than You Found It” rule for these sites and pick up your trash (and others’ trash too if you find it). 

Just a word of warning before we continue: most, if not all, of these campsites will be primitive. This means there won’t be any bathrooms, showers, grills or any other amenities that might come with paid campsites. So if you’re not attuned to building your own fire or digging your own holes (that’s right) than maybe this list isn’t for you.

But if you’ve got no problem really roughing it then read on! 

8. Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area – Hazelhurst, GA

The Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area is open year round and there are an abundance of campsites (just about 29!) and there are no RV length limits, which is rare and awesome! You can stay at Bullard Creek for up to two weeks! The possibility of a two-week stay makes this definitely one of the best places to camp.

Amenities:

  • Boat Ramp
  • Drinking water
  • Near water
  • Shooting range

Activities:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife watching

Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area – McClellanville, SC

Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area is open only during non-hunting days so don’t expect to stay anytime in the fall or early winter. At Santee Coastal Reserve, you can camp up to four days. 

Amenities:

  • Near water

Activities:

  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife watching

Long Point Boat Launch – Maysville, NC

This site is particularly nice because of its location in the beautiful Croatan National Forest, which is one of the best places to camp in general. There are no amenities at this site but there are plenty of places to fish and boat as well as bird watch. The Croatan National Forest is home to the red-cockaded woodpecker, which is a designated endangered species.

Amenities:

  • Near water
  • Boat ramp and access for all craft types

Activities:

  • Fishing (river and stream)
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife watching

Deal Island WMA – Deal Island, MD

This camp is in the swamp surrounding our nation’s capital and mosquitos and other biting insects can be quite common in the warmer months so make sure to bring some insect repellant. This is primitive camping so don’t expect too many amenities.

Amenities

  • Near water

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Bird watching
  • Hunting
  • Crabbing
  • Fishing
  • Trapping (with yearly lease)
  • Bicycling

Mary Smith Hill – Andes, NY

Head north of Lew Beach in Sullivan County, and you’ll find the town of Andes, which is just south of the Pepacton Reservoir. Along the road you’ll find three lightly used campsites that will help you to locate the exact spot. You’re best bet is to camp with a tent or small camper as this spot isn’t suitable for RVs or other large camping vehicles.

Find more information here.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Bicycling
  • Wildlife watching

Amenities

  • Campfire ring

Michigan Brook – Chittenden, VE

Along a dirt road, you’ll find this year-round campsite. There are about 15 total sites and you can stay at Michigan brook for up to two weeks.

Amenities:

  • Near water

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife watching

Peabody Mountain – Bethel, ME

Thankfully, the road into this campsite is gravel making it easier for those of us who don’t have a 4x4 vehicle. The campsite itself is open year-round but the road isn’t maintained during winter, which can make it difficult for would-be campers to get in especially after a big winter storm so keep that in mind. You’ll find about five campsites here and the maximum RV length is 35ft. At Peabody Mountain, you can camp for up to two weeks.

Amenities:

  • Campfire Ring

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife watching

Reversing Falls Park – Pembroke, ME

This might be the northernmost best place to camp for free in America! The town of Pembroke maintains this city park and its free camping area. Here, you won’t find any amenities or facilities as it’s mostly known as a picnicking spot, but it’s quite nice either way.

 

Finding free, natural campsites can prove to be difficult. Luckily there are some great resources out there for helping you find each one. While it might not be the most glamorous campsite, if you’re in a pinch some of the best places to camp are right under your nose—truck stops, Wal-Mart parking lots, rest stops or, oddly enough, casinos all allow for overnight camping.

 Any way you find it, good luck and happy camping!

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