Where you set up camp largely depends on what you want to get out of it. Are you the type that prefers the conveniences of endless amounts of water and electricity? You probably want to be at a campground.
But if you're interested in private views, no neighbors, and not paying to camp, then you might be interested in "boondocking," which means camping on public land without connections to water or sewer.
So how do we find spots?
Our number one source is Campendium. They offer quite a few tools that make searching for all kinds of sites quick and easy.
There are all sorts of different free places that you can camp.
Generally speaking, you can camp for free for 14 days within most National Forests. After the 14 day limit, you have to move a minimum of 25 miles away, and not return for at least 30 days.
Just find an established spot that you like and, as long as your vehicle is off the road, you can stay there. But really, check out the unmarked spurs located off of the main National Forest roads. These always lead to some really private backwoods sites.
These rules for stay limits aren't always the same for all National Forests. Some allow you to stay for 30 days, and others only allow seven, and to not return for one year. When in doubt, check the National Forest website for the area you're interested in.
Another option includes land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The same general rules apply with regards to how long you can stay, but again always check the website for the local regional field office.
I like to think of BLM land as the "wild west" because there are most often more ATV's, and most BLM land is in the desert southwest.
LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area)
There are currently seven LTVA’s located in Southern California and Arizona. These locations offer long-term dispersed camping. You can stay here from September 15th through April 15th for $180. It’s really not a bad deal at all. It breaks down to $1 a day, and you can access all seven LTVA’s located throughout Southern California and Southern Arizona. So you can move from spot to spot if you need a change of scenery! They give you a sticker that you apply to your vehicles, and they do check them!
But during the off times, those locations are free! The same 14-day stay applies as it generally does, as this is managed by the BLM.
When you camp enough you start to run into times where Campendium may not have a campsite listed for the area you want to be in. When this happens, I like to search via Google Satellite the areas around our destination.
National Forest shows as green on Google Maps (don't rely on this solely, check out an app called US Public Lands), and what you're looking for are dirt roads with a name like FR-352, which indicate a forest road!
Most of the time when I'm scouting for sites with Google Satellite, I'll always find other RV's in the satellite view; a sure sign of a spot to park!
Campendium is our primary source of finding spots to camp, along with Google Satellite, but there are other sites too!
Harvest Hosts is one such site, where wineries offer a spot to park your rig. If that's not your style, check out Boondockers Welcome. Often times these are other RV owners who have created a location for boondockers on their property.
From private offerings, to open public land, there's definitely no shortage of places to camp. Just take your pick!