Best Free Camping Apps for the Great Outdoors

posted in: Travel, Travel Tips | 1

From finding an open campsite to navigating and tracking the weather, these free camping apps will help you have a great trip.

We’ve accumulated a few favorites over the years during our many road trips where we camped in either a pop-up trailer or our recently converted minivan camper.

Having added and removed many apps that were either outdated, inadequate or simply a replica of an app we already had installed, we believe we’ve finally got the list down to something manageable.

Without further ado, here is our list of the best free camping apps and how we use them to find a place to stay, navigate, and plan our outdoor adventures.

  1. Free Campsites
  2. RV Parky
  3. iOverlander
  4. Campendium
  5. Chimani National Parks
  6. WeatherBug
  7. AllTrails
  8. Cairn Map Offline
  9. Offline Survival Manual
  10. Star Walk 2
  11. Geocaching
  12. Pokemon Go
  13. Allstays Camp and RV
The best free camping apps include van life campgrounds and free tent sites.
The best free camping apps include tent, RV, and van sites.

Finding a Campsite

Free Campsites (Android and iOS via web browser)

Free Campsites is the first free campsite app we open when planning a road trip or looking for a place to park for the night at the last second.

As of now, it seems to be the most comprehensive map of free campsites in the U.S. The Android app just opens their website which you can also access via a browser on Apple products. This one is our favorite free tent camping app as it always has the most updated options. 

On our Route 66 road trip, we spent the night for free on four different occasions thanks to this free camping USA app. Once near the Grand Canyon, once near White Sands National Park, and twice near Big Bend National Park.

The map is filtered by colored tents: free (green), pay (red), permit (blue), and research (yellow) sites. All are self-explanatory except research means in the phase of being researched so not necessarily accurate information. 

The best free tent camping app is Free Campsites.
Our favorite free tent camping app for van life campgrounds is Free Campsites available on Android and Apple.

Keep in mind that the free sites will usually not include many amenities- if any at all. Having an outdoor privacy tent and portable toilet comes in handy in these situations. 

Plan on most of these sites offering absolutely nothing other than a place to park your camper or set up a tent and you won’t be disappointed. Also, keep in mind that they all have limits on how many nights you can stay, so plan accordingly. Most limits are 2 weeks or less.

Despite these shortfalls, it’s certainly hard to beat the price!

RV Parky (Android and iOS)

If there are no free campsites in the area or you are looking to stay somewhere with amenities such as hot showers, we’ll get our bearings on what is around using the RV Parky app.

This is the best free RV camping app as it not only includes campgrounds but also has other useful information such as the locations of Travel Centers, Walmarts (it even has a filter for ones that allow overnight parking), Rest Areas, Casinos, a large variety of Camping stores (Cabela’s, Camping World) and even low bridge and road warnings for those driving a larger RV.

The best free RV camping app is RV Parky
The best free RV camping app is RV Parky available on Android and iOS.

Just click on a campground icon and it will show a pop-up that has the park name, 5-star rating, reviews, price (not always accurate but close), and icons showing which amenities it has.

You can even filter out campgrounds based on amenities, so if you want to see only campgrounds that have shade trees, allow pets, and have Wi-Fi you can filter for those things.

We also appreciate that you can choose whether to see everything on a basic map or overlay a satellite view to get a better idea of what is around without having to go to a separate app for this information.


iOverlander App (Android and iOS)

After using RV Parky to get our bearings and zero in on a potential camping spot, we then use the iOverlander app to get more information, see more reviews, and confirm the amenities are there including information on water, dump stations, and recycling bins.

Occasionally there will be another camping option that didn’t show up in another app that will show up here as their list is quite comprehensive.

iOverlander free camping app
The iOverlander app makes the list for best free camping apps.

The iOverlander app also has other countries other than the USA available as well: Canada, Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

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Campendium (Android and iOS)

The Campendium app has RV parks, publicly managed campgrounds, parking lots, and dump stations, but it really shines as the best boondocking app with many public land sites. 

Other helpful features are sections for reviews, cell phone connectivity information, a question and answer section, and notes from users. 

The Campendium app is the best app for BLM camping.
Campendium is one of the best free camping apps and a favorite among campers.

It allows you to search by zip code, city, state, campground, or state park, and has a helpful filter for free boondocking sites. 

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Chimani National Parks (Android and iOS)

The Chimani National Parks app is an outstanding resource for hiking and navigating in the U.S. national parks. We’ve used it many times including Yellowstone, Arches, Badlands, and Canyonlands to name a few.

It includes maps, information, and photos of more than 400 units of the National Park System including national parks, monuments, seashore, historic sites, and more.

The biggest perk of the app is its downloadable feature for maps, hiking information, fishing spots, campsites, and other points of interest since the national parks usually have no coverage for cell phones and spotty Wi-Fi.

It also features notifications about the latest park news, and the ability to earn and collect badges based upon the number of parks you visit.

Weather Report

WeatherBug (Android and iOS)

It’s always important to stay on top of weather forecasts when camping and hiking. Wind, rain and lightning are typical trip-ruining events that you should always be on the lookout for.

WeatherBug has detailed weather data to help you avoid any camping catastrophes. Some of its many features include forecasts, radar, lightning detection, local pollen details and alert notifications.

Best free outdoor and camping apps for finding a campsite, navigating, hiking and weather conditions.
WeatherBug App

Hiking & Safety

AllTrails (Android and iOS)

Covering over 50,000 hiking trails and mountain bike routes with maps, pictures, reviews, and hiking information, AllTrails is a favorite among many hikers including us.

Follow hikers that inspire you, save trails for future trips, and turn your phone into a GPS tracker so you don’t get lost.

We love reading the reviews before choosing a hike as it gives us an idea of whether or not we would like the trail, where to find the trailhead if it’s tricky, usually, it has the current condition of the trail, and any additional information we may need.

Here are the latest and greatest free camping apps! Find and book a campground. Interactive maps. Stay organized. Navigation.
AllTrails Hiking App

Cairn Map Offline (iOS only)

It’s always a good idea to have an extra layer of safety when it comes to hiking whether you are solo or with a group. Cairn has an emergency call locator with available cell coverage in the area. It allows you to find which service providers will work where in case of a crisis.

If you choose to set up its safety notification feature and it goes unanswered, Cairn will alert your emergency contact. You can record your hikes and it has offline topo maps available.


Offline Survival Manual (Android only)

The Offline Survival Manual has everything from the psychological aspects of a survival situation to how to build a basic shelter, what to eat, and how to make a fire and find direction. Useful for dire situations but also useful for learning about nature, hiking, and camping.

Plus, it has the interesting factor; pretty entertaining to read about what to do if you get a snake bite and how to use the moon to find your way. Offline Survival Manual is one of the most useful free camping apps for Android users. 

Free camping apps iphone. Find free campsites. Book a campground. Search interactive maps. Stay organized. Navigation.
Survival App

Just Plain Fun

Star Walk 2 (Android and iOS)

I always like to pretend I know what I’m talking about when I gaze up in the sky and see beautiful constellations. In reality, I have no idea. I can typically find the Big Dipper or is it the Little Dipper?

Star Walk is a great astronomy guide for exploring the night sky. And while camping in remote areas is usually the time you’ll be able to a clear starry sky.

You point your phone to the sky and it identifies planets, asteroids, comets, constellations and stars in real time.

Geocaching (Android and iOS)

Who doesn’t like treasure hunts? Geocaching is the official app for all the millions of containers hidden all over the world.

Even if you’re a newcomer to the geocache scene, the app walks you through your first finds with tips and instructions on what to do.

The app can be used to search for geocaches, submit whether or not you found a particular cache and has a LiveSearch option that continuously updates as you move.


Pokémon Go (Android and iOS)

I have yet to jump in on this latest craze, but we see people searching for their mons all over the place. It’s what all the cool kids are doing nowadays.

The basic Pokémon Go app is free which allows you to connect with friends, send gifts, unlock bonuses and search for Pokémon. The app is free to play but offers in-game purchases.

Be careful, from what I’ve been told it can be addictive!

Additional App for Military

Allstays Camp and RV Military (Android and iOS)

Since it’s only free for active military, military veterans and government employees, we put Allstays at the bottom of the list.

This app shows every military campground and includes commercial campgrounds that are a part of the Tents for Troops program together on one map. It’s one of the best camping apps for military personnel who enjoy camping. 

We like military campgrounds as they are relatively inexpensive, usually have good amenities, and due to the nature of them being on a military installation, are secure and usually have additional amenities such as commissaries, base exchanges, gas stations and nearby restaurants.

The Tents for Troops program is only for active military members and their immediate family members and allows them to enjoy a campsite for a minimum of 2 nights for free. Reservations are required and must be coordinated directly with the campground.

NOTE: Allstays also has a few paid apps for free camping that are worth the fee if you are on the road a few times a year searching for free campsites. 

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Do you have favorite free camping apps? Let us know in the comments below!

  1. puzzle ans

    I love camping, but I hate packing everything. These apps make packing a breeze!

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