National Park Camping Alternatives

Written By

Dave Helgeson

Ideas for:

Long gone are the days of showing up and picking any old site.

Obtaining a reservation for a campsite in national parks is just as difficult

But don't give up if you can't get into your favorite park.

There is hope if you're willing to think outside the box (or more likely outside the park).

Ideas for free and low-cost camping near national parks include:

Boondocking inside or just outside national park boundaries.

Some national park and monuments allow “roadside camping” (dispersed camping) inside or nearby


Death Valley National Park

Gold Butte National Monument 

El Malpais National Monument

Another way you might score a campsite just minutes from the park:

State and federal lands that allow boondocking

Search with the phrase: “dispersed camping near __(name of the park).

How to find those alternative camping areas:

Look for lesser known campgrounds from agencies like:

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) 

Other campground alternatives might be found in places like:

State forest lands

Department of Natural Resources lands

Wildlife reserves

Fishing access sites

State trust lands

Want more resources to  find free and low cost camping near  national parks?

RV LIFE  Trip Wizard

RV LIFE Campground Reviews