How to Find Free Campsites (for Vanlife, Car Camping, RVing, etc.)

How to Find Free Campsites (for Vanlife, Car Camping, RVing, etc.)

This video answers the question that I get asked more than any other: How do you find such great free campsites?

► My online store (SUV camping/vandwelling/overlanding accessories & SUV RVing merch):

** US Public Lands App:
** CalTopo:
** Benchmark Atlases on Amazon: (Amazon affiliate link)

** Gear I use:
** SUV RVing the Book: (Affiliate link)
** The blog:
** Instagram:
** My other YouTube channel:

#freecampsites #camping #freecamping


  1. Joyce Franklin on June 30, 2022 at 1:13 am

    Thanks for the video. Even though I live in Ohio and am an elderly widow that camps out of her minivan and will probably never get out West again I can still dream! Have camped in several states in the West in a tent with my husband. It is just a whole different world than here in the East. Each area has it’s own beauty. Am a subscriber and really enjoy your videos.

  2. Gardener Mike in San Antonio on June 30, 2022 at 1:16 am

    I have watched your fishing channel for a few days and this is the first video I have watched on this channel. Wow, great to know. I am very fortunate that Benchmark just made it’s 1st Edition for Texas just 6 months ago.

  3. AdventureSolo on June 30, 2022 at 1:19 am

    I also use, it’s very useful especially in areas where there isn’t a lot of federally owned public land like in the southeastern US or Texas. Definitely prefer using the Benchmark atlases when i’m traveling out west though, and often I like to stop in to ranger stations or district offices…most of the time i can get useful information from the local rangers and some even offer free detailed road and trail maps to plan any adventures.

  4. Betsy Kemper on June 30, 2022 at 1:22 am

    Thanks for the video. I just bought Colorado,Utah, and Arizona using your link. I can always count on you to be spot on with information.

  5. Lara Else on June 30, 2022 at 1:23 am

    Excellent educational video. Thank you…

  6. Kyst Studio - Epic Art Adventure on June 30, 2022 at 1:23 am

    Thankyou !

  7. Michael Janzen on June 30, 2022 at 1:24 am

    Love this old-school approach. I fully expected you might have a favorite app and I was pleasantly surprised you just use an atlas. Love it.

  8. Paul Bell on June 30, 2022 at 1:24 am

    I will pay you to use and review my Smoke N Go which is a portable (fits into any car or truck) smoker, grill and fire pit.  I just received my patent for the product that I invented as the result of full time RV living.  I invented it because I missed smoking and grilling on my Big Green Egg when we were tent camping.  And to my delight, it smokes and grills as well as a back yard smoker – not exaggerating.  As a bonus, it is a GREAT firepit as well.  You can see it at

  9. Gonagain on June 30, 2022 at 1:26 am

    That’s a good explanation! Great advice.

  10. Sensatious Hiatus on June 30, 2022 at 1:26 am

    I used your affiliate link to buy an AZ atlas…I’ve been needing to pick one up for a while now anyways. Thanks for the info!

  11. ndlz1 on June 30, 2022 at 1:27 am

    This is very much appreciated.🙏🏻

  12. freedom dove on June 30, 2022 at 1:27 am

    Thanks for another great video, Tristan. Much appreciated. 🙂

  13. Tim Farness on June 30, 2022 at 1:29 am

    Thank you Tristan. That sure sounds easy. Off to look at a map.

  14. Fables of a Forest on June 30, 2022 at 1:29 am

    Thank you. I have all the apps, but always always rely on my maps. Maps also give me a better perspective of what is around me.

  15. Garland Style on June 30, 2022 at 1:31 am

    well done Tristin. 🙂

  16. SUV RVing on June 30, 2022 at 1:32 am

    Thanks for watching! If you haven’t already, check out this week’s fishing video on my second channel:

  17. Paperlover123 on June 30, 2022 at 1:33 am

    do you carry extra gas to keep from running out???

  18. Camaro Across America on June 30, 2022 at 1:35 am

    Thank you so much for this info. Im just starting to car camp. This information is like gold too me. Heres a ignorant question. Going #2 do you dig a small hole then cover it? Im car camping in a 05 magnum wagon so any suggestions or video recomendations will help.Thank you.

  19. Kathleen Rivera Spencer on June 30, 2022 at 1:35 am

    thank you

  20. nkb brigger on June 30, 2022 at 1:37 am

    thanks for info on map atlas

  21. mjbarran on June 30, 2022 at 1:37 am

    Very helpful.

  22. Sarah Paty on June 30, 2022 at 1:37 am

    What specifically are some of your favorite places you’ve stayed?

  23. Brandi Vermillion on June 30, 2022 at 1:38 am

    Hi and thanks for the tips! Have you ever used the folded road & rec maps? My daughter and I are headed out for a 6-8 week National Parks adventure north and west of OK. For some of the states we will be in, it looks like the folded versions are all that’s available AND I am trying to keep packing super light so the folded ones make more sense if they will work just as well for finding free camping spots.

  24. Karen and dogs on June 30, 2022 at 1:39 am

    Thank you so much for simplifying it. I enjoy your videos!

  25. jackie hiaring on June 30, 2022 at 1:40 am

    So helpful. Thank you. Awareness of fire restrictions in area a must!

  26. Brandon Letzco on June 30, 2022 at 1:41 am

    Tips for quick overnighters out east, look for public boat ramps, especially and on large rivers. If there’s no sign saying no overnight parking you’re probably good. No one has ever bothered me.

  27. Richard Lee on June 30, 2022 at 1:42 am

    Thanks Tristan, timely info on dispersed camping , special thanks for simplifying the process and clear details on app’s and atlas. Btw, AMAZON has 50% off Colorado and Utah Benchmark atlases, I just ordered both of them, thanks again for the links.👍

  28. Adventures With Daniel on June 30, 2022 at 1:44 am

    Good stuff! There are soooo many amazing camp spots. Just gotta get out and explore!

  29. Juanita Greenspan on June 30, 2022 at 1:46 am

    I spent 11 days wandering in New Mexico and Texas in my Ford Transit Connect and had no problems finding free campsites. Thanks for the tutorial.

  30. nobodyhikes on June 30, 2022 at 1:48 am

    Do you look at the topography and/or other resources to check if the road is doable in whatever vehicle you may be in? Thanks for the tips, Tristan!

  31. KC Reeves on June 30, 2022 at 1:48 am

    Very important. Most National Forests and some BLM areas have Travel Management regulations in place. You need to look at the Motor Vehicle User Map associated with the National Forest to see which roads are open to the public and where dispersed camping is allowed. Each forest has different allowances for dispersed camping. For example, Coconino National Forest allows travel for up to 300 feet from the edge of the road for dispersed camping purposes. Kaibab only allows 100 feet. Another important item regarding travel in national forests is that many of the roads you come across are not open to the public, even if they
    are signed with a road number. If it isn’t on the MVUM, it’s not open.

  32. Karen Polansky on June 30, 2022 at 1:48 am

    Thanks for talking about the atlas. Too many people solely rely on apps. Where there’s no internet, there is no app that’s going to help you!

  33. tinabeane on June 30, 2022 at 1:49 am

    Thanks!! Very helpful video

  34. Edna Puckett on June 30, 2022 at 1:49 am

    I haven’t done any dispersed camping yet. I did reach out to the forest service in California and was told needed a fire permit. They’re available online for free after watching a video & taking a short quiz.

  35. CB Johnson on June 30, 2022 at 1:51 am

    Is there a schwa after the first syllable of your name? Sounds like it.

  36. Mary @H2OsEdge on June 30, 2022 at 1:51 am

    The way we found camping, before the internet… the hardcopy atlas. Mine are falling apart, just from dreamin’ about camping!

  37. Yosi Natural (Guerrera) on June 30, 2022 at 1:53 am

    I love your videos. Thanks for confirming this info! #Cuba

  38. 4Runner Sojourn on June 30, 2022 at 1:53 am

    Those atlases are the best idea for finding a free place to camp. I’ll probably spend a week’s pay to buy a half dozen of them. I will begin my travels in August, so I may need to find some shade trees, too! Thanks!

  39. StealthBraid on June 30, 2022 at 1:55 am

    Nice video Tristan. During the pandemic I’ve seen a lot more people get into camping and “vanlife”. I’ve been camping free on public lands for decades. One thing I wish you would have mentioned in your video is “leave no trace”… meaning, leave the spot as you found it. For whatever reason some people think because it’s public land, they can “trash it”.

  40. Kitleigh Clark on June 30, 2022 at 1:56 am

    Hey Tristan, great channel! Wondering what info you log about the campsites you find and how you use the info later. Maybe a video about that?

  41. Norsefalconer on June 30, 2022 at 1:58 am

    Oooh, to be THE paint provider with the contract to color code all that land! 🤔 😂😂😂

    I laugh, but, someone WILL look down to see if the ground where they are standing is color coded.

  42. Lilysgma on June 30, 2022 at 2:02 am

    Excellent advice, uncomplicated! Thank you, love your videos.

  43. Jackie Brewer on June 30, 2022 at 2:03 am

    Thank you for this information. Just yesterday a friend asked if I would like to do a road trip this summer and I was trying to figure out how I would plan that. Well your video has given me a really important part to that. Thank you very much.

  44. Edna Puckett on June 30, 2022 at 2:04 am

    Thank you, Tristen.

  45. Halabuji Outdoors 하라부지 어디가요 on June 30, 2022 at 2:06 am

    Good tips, simple and straight to the point! Just subbed. Thanks!

  46. Carole Courtney on June 30, 2022 at 2:08 am

    Lots of good information. I ordered a couple of atlases for a start. I live near Houston, so I’ll be very interested to see if the Texas Atlas will show me areas I’m not familiar with. I guess due to the history of Texas, there’s not much federal land. Looking forward to when I can move back to the Seattle area!

  47. raquel saniuk on June 30, 2022 at 2:10 am

    I use the app ioverlander. this has been really helpful in finding lots of free camping spots!

  48. Richard Lee on June 30, 2022 at 2:10 am

    I have watched most of your videos and multiple times on many of them, very much appreciated. In early July , what high ground for overnight dispersed camping areas in southern Utah would you recommend?, we will be coming from Telluride Co – Moab – Escalante – North Rim GC.

  49. Gary Johnson on June 30, 2022 at 2:11 am

    Annoying background noise

  50. ken nishikats on June 30, 2022 at 2:11 am

    How do you find a camping spot after dark? I was in Sam Houston National forest at a night, looking for a parking spot for 2 hours, and finally find someone’s private spot, finally aware at the next morning. It was only roads and dark deep forest.

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