Can You Camp in a National Park for Free?

Camping in a national park can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It can also be a great way to save money on travel expenses.

But is it possible to camp in a national park for free? The answer is yes, with some restrictions.

The National Park Service allows visitors to camp for free in certain areas, such as backcountry camping. Backcountry camping is primitive camping away from developed areas and roads.

This type of camping requires a permit and is subject to regulations. Backcountry camping can take place at various sites throughout the park, but sites must be designated by the park service.

In addition to backcountry camping, some national parks offer free primitive car camping in remote or dispersed areas. Dispersed car camping involves parking your vehicle in an undeveloped area and setting up camp there.

Dispersed car camping requires permits, and most parks require visitors to stay at least one mile away from developed areas and roads. Camping is typically limited to 14 days, but this varies by park.

Some national parks also offer low-cost or no-cost overnight accommodation through volunteer programs and other programs such as the Every Kid Outdoors program. This program allows fourth graders and their families to access federal lands for free for one year.


In conclusion, it is possible to camp in some national parks for free or at a low cost. However, permits are required for backcountry or dispersed car camping, and regulations may vary by park. It’s important to check the rules before planning your trip so that you can enjoy your time in the great outdoors responsibly!

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Alex Wright