Camping in national parks can be a great way to explore the outdoors and save money on a vacation. But is it free to camp in national parks?
The answer is both yes and no. In some cases, camping in a national park may be free, while in other cases there may be a fee associated with the camping experience.
The National Park Service (NPS) manages more than 84 million acres of land and water across the United States, including 409 designated national parks. Within these parks, visitors have the opportunity to camp, hike, boat, fish, and explore nature. While some NPS sites may offer free camping opportunities, most require visitors to pay a fee or obtain an appropriate permit prior to setting up camp.
For example, many of the larger national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite offer designated campsites for which visitors must pay a fee for use. These fees vary depending on the type of site and length of stay but typically range from $10-30 per night. Additionally, many of these sites also require visitors to obtain backcountry permits if they intend to stay overnight in more remote areas of the park beyond these designated campsites.
In contrast, many smaller or lesser known NPS sites may offer free camping opportunities as well as other recreational activities such as hiking or fishing that do not require an additional permit or fee. These free sites are typically first-come-first-serve so it is important to plan ahead if you are looking for a spot at one of these locations.
Conclusion: Is it free to camp in national parks? The answer is both yes and no – depending on the location and type of camping experience desired. While some NPS sites may offer free camping opportunities without requiring additional permits or fees, others may require payment for use of designated campsites or backcountry permits if intending to stay in more remote areas of the park.