Your Guide to Alternative RV Campsites

The Takacs family Jayco Jay Flight travel travel in a wildflower field.

Have you ever considered camping in locations other than traditional RV parks?

If you’re looking for a more “off-the-beaten-path” camping experience, we’re here to share some of our favorite unique, alternative RV campsites that you may not know about! 

Public Land

Surprisingly many people we have met have never tried camping on public lands other than national parks and state parks. These are our favorite alternatives to popular places like the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite. 

1. Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds 

 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates numerous campgrounds across the country, often near lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. These campsites are reasonably maintained and offer a more serene camping experience and can be booked at We camp at these campgrounds more than any other type since they are inexpensive to reserve, and most offer water and electric hookups. 

The Takacs family Jayco Jay Flight travel trailer at an Army Corps of Engineer park.

2. National Forests and Grasslands  

National forests are a fantastic option for RV camping with dispersed camping areas and developed campgrounds. Many national forests allow you to camp for free in designated areas, which makes them a budget-friendly choice. Under this category, you will also find national grasslands, which are almost the same as national forests, but you'll usually find them near prairies with forest areas mixed in. Of course, as avid stargazers, we love the grasslands for their openness to enjoy the night sky. 

3. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands 

The BLM manages huge areas of public lands, especially in the western U.S. Here you'll find plenty of opportunities for dispersed camping. As you would in the national forests and grasslands, do your research ahead so you boondock in the Bureau of Land Management’s designated areas. Not all BLM lands allow you to park wherever you want, but even so, you are sure to find some epic locations to camp. 

4. County and City Parks 

Don't overlook local county and city parks. Some have RV camping areas that are conveniently located,. We have a couple of parks we love to go to in Texas when the gorgeous spring blooms are occurring.  

Pro tip: South Florida’s Broward County owns four amazing urban parks with perfectly situated campgrounds to experience Miami, Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.

Private Land

There are so many options to choose from nowadays besides standard RV parks if you want to camp on private property.  

1. Agritourism

A few years ago, we discovered that plenty of farms in our part of Texas offer a place to park our Jayco. With many, you get a unique experience of camping in a quiet location with the ability to taste some of the food grown right next to the camping land. If you enjoy a more isolated experience, vineyards and farms typically limit the number of campers allowed on their property, so you also get a quieter time out in nature. 

You might be surprised to find out that some breweries and distilleries offer spots to camp. This can be a fun option if you like relaxed socializing while RVing. Sometimes you'll find a few places with outdoor patios connected to the brewery nearby to enjoy some good times. 

2. Golf Courses 

Maybe you are an RVer who loves to swing some clubs. Certain golf courses and resorts across the country have RV parking areas available with hookups, especially in popular golfing destinations. We've seen them scattered all over the US. You can usually expect a resort-like experience when staying at one of these spots. 

3. Fairgrounds 

If you love funnel cakes and tilt-a-whirl rides, consider camping at your state fairgrounds. Lots of states offer a place to RV while enjoying the fair. Some big state fairs can last weeks, which gives you some flexibility when planning a trip. 

4. Racetracks 

NASCAR fans know the excitement of spending a few days camping on the infield or around the speedway. Throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities all over America to experience the thrill of watching your favorite driver competing for a win while you are RVing right by them. Not only do you get to experience the race, but also get to tailgate while doing it. We know a couple of NASCAR fans that swear by this style of camping. Reservations are made through each speedway and the amenities can vary.  Texas Motor Speedway here in our home state offers a ton of options. 

5. Festivals  

Think of the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival for this category. What better way to enjoy an internationally known event than to do it from outside your RV? You can find a family-friendly festival like this one or try something wilder like Burning Man in northwest Nevada.

A sky full of hot air balloons in Albuquerque, New Mexico

6. Event Venues   

We have found a couple of properties near us that host outdoor weddings and other events that also allow you to camp. Some event venues can be many beautiful acres in size and allow RVers to boondock on their land when they aren't hosting. Check your area of interest if this option sounds fun. 

7. Churches and Other Places of Worship  

We occasionally see RVs parked on church property when traveling in rural areas and on back roads. With plenty of parking space, places of worship can make a fantastic alternative camping choice. Most areas have regulations about camping within city limits, so check local regulations before making plans with the church. 

8. Membership Organizations

In a town near our home, RVers are welcome to camp for a few nights at a well-known Shriner temple. They even have a couple of RV pedestals installed for members to use. Along the same lines, some Freemasons also provide RVers the opportunity to park for several days on their property. If you are a member of one of these groups, check with the chapter you are interested in staying near. 

As a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose or the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elk, you may have a place to camp that most people don't know about. Both fraternal organizations have been around since the 1800s helping people and may even help you with a spot to camp. Some Elk and Moose lodges around the country have RV camping areas available, usually for a small nightly fee for members.  

9. Museums 

Some are quirky and some are historic. Museums can sometimes be a cool alternative place to camp when RVing. We've seen everything from aviation museums to science museums offering spots to dry camp online. This camping option is perfect if you love to learn something new or teach your kids a little history. 

10. Work Camp 

This is something we are interested in doing once we retire. If you are ready to quit the “rat race”, think about working at an RV park, helping at a sugar beet harvest, or even providing construction site security. Many campgrounds and other occupations offer free campsites in exchange for working at the establishment. 

11. Casinos 

Believe it or not, many casinos allow RV camping in their parking lots for free or for a small fee. You can find them scattered all over America in states that allow gambling. This can be a handy option when traveling through areas with limited camping options or if everything in the area is booked, or if you want to stay in your home-on-wheels during a trip to the casino! 

12. Military Bases 

Not all US bases and posts offer camping, but the ones that do are pretty nice. If you are active military, a retiree, a military dependent, a veteran, or any number of other categories, call the US installation you are interested in RVing in for more details. Many of these alternative RVing spots have all the same amenities as you would find in the civilian world. 

13. Moochdocking 

Your friends or family might get mad at us for saying this, but an alternative camping option you might want to try could be staying on a friend or family member’s property. Instead of sleeping in their house, you can have all the necessities right in your own RV without bothering them by simply moochdocking. Just hook up your RV to their outside faucet and ask if their electrical system can handle your RV when using a converter, and you're all set. Remember to bring a nice gift for letting you stay on their property and check the local laws to see if this type of camping is even allowed. 


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Quick Overnight RV Spots 

Sometimes you can get tired driving long distances to get to your main camping destination. Here are a few alternate options if you need a quick place to stay. 

1. Retail Parking Lots 

While not the most scenic, many big box stores like Walmart and other retail stores permit overnight RV parking. This makes them a convenient stopover option since they are in most big towns across the US. All cities and towns have different regulations, so check with the store management before parking for the night. 

2. Truck Stops and Travel Centers 

This is an option most RVers may know but haven’t necessarily tried. Many truck stops and travel centers allow RV parking overnight, which can be convenient for road trips when you just don't have the will to go any further late at night. We rarely see RVers taking advantage of parking at truck stops for a little rest, but this is a good option. Lots of travel centers have security cameras and are well-lit, so take advantage of this quick camping option.

Top Resources for Finding Alternative Campsites 

How exactly do you go about finding some of these alternative campsite options? We recommend these resources to get started on your hunt to find the best campground to fit your RVing needs. 


The best tip we can give you is to join Facebook groups. There are literally dozens of groups related to whatever style of RVing you would like to try including RV Camping on BLM land, RVing Ghost Towns, and everything in between. 

Local Chamber of Commerce 

Call the chamber of commerce near the town you want to stay in to see what types of unique camping they know of in the area. Someone will likely be able to point you in the right direction, especially in a small town. 

RV Parky 

Created by full-time RVers, RV Parky is a database assembled to help fellow RVers find places to stay. There are plenty of hidden places on this list you won't find on the bigger sites. 


Campendium is a comprehensive database of campsites. Not only does it include traditional RV parks, but also alternative options like Walmart parking lots, casinos, and even some free dispersed camping areas on public lands. 

The Dyrt 

This camping website offers a database of traditional and alternative campsites, with a focus on camper reviews and photos. You can filter your search based on amenities, making it easy to find the perfect spot for your needs. 

Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome 

Harvest Hosts is a membership program that gives you access to wineries, farms, and other unique locations that allow self-contained RV camping. Just remember to buy something from the host when staying on their land as a thank you. 


This website has helped us find some of the roomiest private campsites on this list. HipCamp is a great resource to connect you to private campsites on people's land. You are sure to find plenty of spacious and unique options through this website. 

If you need to find a campsite on government-controlled public lands, will be your best resource. It's probably the most visited website we use on this list. Here you'll be able to get reservations for the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds and the National Forests/Grasslands we mentioned at the very beginning. 

The Takacs standing at a foggy lake.


Whether you're seeking solitude, adventure, or a budget-friendly way to explore the great outdoors, alternative RV campsites offer so many excellent opportunities. Alison and I suggest you try some of these alternative campsites so you can have tons of unforgettable RV moments!

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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Whether you're new to the world of RVing or you're ready to narrow your search, we're here to help you sort through it all and find the RV that's right for you. Explore RVs based off of your lifestyle and the features important to you.

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