When it comes to finding a place to camp, whether in a tent, car, or RV, you’ve got a lot of options!
So, the question is… how do you find safe places to camp?
Most camping spots that I have stayed at have been totally fine, but it all depended on my personal comfort zone. When you are looking to find safe places to camp, this will be true for you too.
You might be the adventurous type who wants to park out in the wilderness, as far away from civilization as possible, or you might be a bit more cautious and want to stay in a campground.
The choice is yours. My goal for this post is to help you find your personal comfort zone and to help you find safe places to camp that fit for you.
Before We Get Started
Let’s assess what your ideal camping spot would look like. You’re not going to have any fun on your camping trip if you’re all stressed out about safety! If we knock this out first, you’ll be able to focus on having fun during your trip.
If you’re camping with family or friends, be sure to consider their comfort levels as well.
Here are some questions to keep in mind when finding safe places to camp:
- Do you feel safe here (or bringing your family here)?
- Do you want to be close to a bathroom or bathhouse?
- Do you want to be close to other people or more secluded?
- Is this a good area?
- Are there any suspicious characters around?
- Do you feel comfortable camping in bear or mountain lion country?
If you feel uncomfortable in an area, question yourself. Do you actually feel uncomfortable or does the area just feel unfamiliar? Sometimes it is good to push our comfort zones. Other times your intuition is kicking in and you should probably move on.
Now, let’s get into some potential places for you to camp!
RV Parks and Campgrounds
If you’re looking for a safe place to camp, RV Parks, campgrounds, or state campgrounds are usually the best way to go. If I am alone, I look for well-known RV parks. These are pricier, but how much is your safety worth?
Campgrounds are great if you want to be around other people, especially families. If you don’t want to be around people, you might want to look into one of the other options or try state parks vs. RV Parks.
Here are some great websites for finding safe places to camp:
Campendium – This is my favorite place to look for campgrounds. It has reviews, a list of amenities, price estimates, and cell signal strength (for those of you working remotely!). It’s a good way to compare RV Parks, campgrounds, and free campsites, as we will cover next!
Hip Camp – This website has listings for campsites, vineyards, ranches, parks, and more. It lists sites for tent camping, RV parking, and even unique glamping experiences like yurts, cabins, and treehouses. You can also read reviews of each campsite.
Boondocking and Free Camping
If I’m camping with others, I’ll venture out to other options, like boondocking or free campsites. Boondocking sites (camping with no hook-ups) are usually more secluded and out in nature. You usually won’t have access to bathrooms, so plan accordingly! Some of my friends exclusively boondock and never stay in RV Parks or campgrounds.
Free camping can be a variety of places. It could mean boondocking, a free campground, or even someone’s driveway. The safety of these will depend on the specific location, so this is a good time to use that intuition of yours.
You can find great free camping spots on Campendium, or use one of these resources below!
Free Campsites – This website lists all kinds of free places to camp, from boondocking to free campgrounds to rest stops to parking lots and everything in between. You can also read up on reviews of various locations. You can find options for free camping for tents, cars, and RVs. Do as much research on the spot as you can before you get there and try to check it out during the day. Even with reviews, you can get a lot of variation with free campsites.
Harvest Hosts – This membership allows you to park your RV for free at wineries, breweries, and farms across the US. You can stay for one night and they do ask that you make a purchase (to show your gratitude for such a cool camping spot!) Sometimes, you can even volunteer at the places you stay. This could be a fun adventure for your trip! You also get access to reviews, so you’ll get a good feel for the safety of your campsite.
Boondockers Welcome – This membership is another great short-term option for RVers. You can park in people’s driveways (usually also RV owners) and know that you have a safe place to stay for the night. Plus, you can read up on references of each site before you ask to stay.
Last Resort Parking Spots for Cars and RVs
I call this “last resort parking” because these would certainly not be my top picks for safety. This would include overnight parking at rest stops, truck stops, and parking lots (Walmart, Casinos, etc) for cars and RVs. If you plan to stay in the parking lot of a business, remember to ask for permission. Safety varies by location, so use your best judgment.
Same goes for truck stops. These can be really hit or miss. We parked overnight at truck stops several times on road trips throughout my childhood and this is a source of many unpleasant memories. One time, a homeless man was standing outside my window, watching me sleep. This is an experience I would like to not repeat and also the reason I’m a bit more on the cautious side when it comes to finding a safe place to park!
If you’re in a pinch and need some sleep, go for it, but I wouldn’t be planning my trip around camping at the greatest truck stops and Walmart parking lots around the country. Sounds like a lot of logistics.
You’re now ready to plan your next great camping adventure! You know your own camping comfort level and how to find safe places to camp. If you want more tips on camping safety, check out these posts below:
- Safety First: A Checklist for Your Camping First Aid Kit
- 7 Essential Safety Tips Every Hiker Must Know
- Keeping Your Car and Possessions Safe While Camping