Can I Camp For Free In The Forest?
Updated: Oct 22
Let’s talk camping. In particular, Camping for Beginners. This topic leaves us a massive amount of area to cover, so we will talk specifically about camping in the wilderness. Yes, just you and the family in the great outdoors. This method can be a fantastic time to become one with the land. You against the world, nothing could be better. This camping can be a simple time with no services to get back with nature.
Where can I camp for free, and what are the rules? These two questions go hand in hand. Basically, if you wish to camp for free, then the US National Park System is your best solution. There are some guidelines and rules that need to be observed and some smart camping procedures. Keep in mind that camping at a Federal Forest, you will likely be camping in the Wild with no services.
When it comes to camping on Federal Property is different than camping at a State Park. Most State Parks will provide a campground where simple services such as toilets, trash, and water are provided. At the same time, these state sites may be more straightforward and less involved than a typical full amenity Campground or RV Resort offers.
While Beginning Camping is a hot topic in this day and age, we still need to be safe. Wild camping puts you into the wilderness with no services and support, so some basics are essential to be safe.
Wild Campers are allowed to camp in a variety of locations on Federal Forest Land. Please be aware that you are on your own. You will experience wild animals and other situations that could be dangerous. You need to utilize safe practices such as Properly Securing Food and Trash so as not to attract predators, Check your water supply from the stream or lake. You will most definitely need to purify or boil the water before drinking. This measure will ensure that you don’t infect yourself with a waterborne illness or bacteria.
Beginner Campers need to be able prudent not only with foods but also with your waste. You need to dispose of and bury your waste correctly. This step is a mandatory camping practice when forest camping. This practice helps to keep you safe, but it is also just good practice and shows respect for nature and others.
Whenever I’m Wild Camping, I’m sure to let others know of my plans and when I plan to return. If possible, bringing a cell phone is a great idea, but you may not get a signal depending on your location. As Wild Campers, we need to go the extra mile to be safe. Let another person know your location and your itinerary. If something should happen, someone will be aware of your return date. This person can then evaluate the situation and gather help if needed.
When you choose to experience Wild Camping, location is everything. You need to select a site that has access to water, sunlight, and a driveable road. You have a wide range of rules here for beginner camping.
First, you can’t Wild Camp near a trailhead or along a hiking trail. You can drive in on an existing trail road or logging road. At this point, you should look for a clearing that is not low lying land, but still near a water source. You should park your vehicle off the road, but don’t drive it into the clearing. Keep in mind that your overall goal is to keep your footprint to a minimum while Forest Camping.
When choosing your location, you should aim for areas that compliment your areas of interest. Mountains, Hiking, Fishing, and Mountain biking are all areas of interest that the Wild Camper can embrace in the wilds of our Federal Forests. All of these different desires come with their particular topography. You should pick an area that will help you enjoy your time at Forest Camping.
Key Items To Bring
When Wild Camping, you, as the Beginner Camper, will need to be sure to have specific items on hand at all times. These essential items will be useful for one day in the forest or one month. Most of these items are common sense items, but they certainly will make your Forest Camping Trip more enjoyable.
These items are always on the top of my list, so I thought I would share these with you.
Water Filtration Method – This can be used on stream water to give you safe drinking water anywhere or anytime. LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag – This product Removes Lead, Bacteria, Parasites, and Chemicals from a stream and pond water. Just what you need in the woods. You can find this on Amazon for under $55.
Easy Set Up Tent – There are many options for tents when it comes to Wild Camping. You can choose an A-Frame Tent or a Dome Tent. These types of tents offer you great size flexibility in a quick set up tent. You should pick a size that will suit your style of camping and remember, you will need to carry it around, so be careful when it comes to size and weight. We have many tent reviews on our website that would be the perfect choice for you. So, take a look at the many options at familytentspro.com
Shovel/Hatchet Camping Tool – Multi-tools are the ideal option for Wild Camping. This tool combines multiple camping tools that will make you stay in the forest, better on so many levels. The RoverTac Multitool Camping Tool is the perfect choice as a survival tool. This Stainless Steel Sturdy Multi-Tool with Axe, Hammer, Knife, and Saw has all of the needed tools that will be necessary on your Wild Camping Excursion. We have also completed a review of this product in addition to using it first-hand on many beginner camping trips. It is a sturdy, well-balanced tool that will serve you well.
Camping Lantern – Beginner Camping also requires a site, and I mean sight in the dark. For this, you need the perfect lantern. It would be helpful if the light that you choose is also solar so that you can recharge the unit while you are in the woods. CaseTop 2 Pack Outdoor Camping Lamp, Portable Outdoor Rechargeable Solar LED Camping Light Lantern Handheld Flashlights with USB Charger. This two-pack of the best rechargeable camping lanterns will run you under $20 on Amazon.
Camping Potty- Yup, you will have to go while in the woods on your Wild Camping Trip. Sometimes, you might feel comfortable enough to perform this away from your site, but there may come a trip when a Camping Potty comes in handy. The CHONE Portable Toilet Camping Toilet is a Lightweight Washable Outdoor Commode Car Toilet Folding Stool, Travel Potty, and Toilet for Camping. This product is the perfect choice for your forest camping outing and helps to improve your comfort. This item is available on Amazon for under $20.
Method to Start a Fire – Yes, matches are still the most straightforward and smallest item that you can pack for your Wild Camping. You can place them in a waterproof container to ensure that they are dry and ready to go. Fire is one of the essential items when it comes to Forest Camping. You never can know what the weather will bring on any Wild Camping Trip.
Rules and Regulations
Now, you know where you are going to Wild Camp, You know what items to bring. You’re aware of some essential safety issues. This area is the point of understanding the scope of camping in the National Parks System. The National Forest Services is the go-to source of information and regulations regarding Dispersed Camping. This type of wild camping is about as close to nature as you can get. The rules provided by the NFS is the organization to answer any of your questions.
While there is much freedom for the Wild Camper, you still need to follow any rules in force when you set off for your trip. This knowledge includes restrictions on campfires. Also, you need to take special care with these fires even when they are openly allowed. Other overall rules prohibit Wild Camping from camping near developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas, and trailheads. This rule still leaves you a massive amount of space to camp at on your Forest Camping Trip.
Another rule states that you can only stay at your campsite for 16 days in 30 days. The remaining days must be at a location or an alternative site that is a least one mile away. Additionally, parties of over 75 people will need to get a permit from the National Parks System. This approval is a no-cost permit but is still essential.
Low Impact Camping
Remember, Beginner Camping in the Wild is supposed to be a low impact. You want to try to leave the forest precisely as you found it. This type of camping means that you need to take extra care from safety with campfires to no digging of trenches around your site. Additionally, you need to take special care with your trash and human waste. All of this will keep your impact on the land to the absolute minimum.
Even with all of this, you have the freedom to camp almost anywhere or anytime. You can camp during any of the seasons, in the mountains or the forest. The choice is yours. Please be sure to bring what you will need for the time of year and climate. Be prudent checking weather patterns and the forecasted weather for your trip. When you are a wild camper, you need to take everything into account. You will only have what you bring with you, so make sure to have a thought-out detailed list and stick to it. Finally, make sure you camp with a partner at the least. This way, if something should happen, then you have someone to aid you or get help.
In the end, Beginner Camping in the Wild can be an enriching trip. You come face to face with nature and see things that you will not see in a typical campground. As the Wild Camper, you need to be prudent on planning your trip from the items you bring, to where you are to camp and when your trip is scheduled. All of this planning will make your Wild Camping Trip one that you will remember fondly for years. This type of camping might become your trip of choice and a trip that you look forward to regularly. This no-frill camping can be extremely rewarding.
We have tried to give you a shortlist of items that are considered necessities during your trip. However, you may want and need many other things for your trip. So, take some time. Please be diligent and compile a comprehensive list that will increase your enjoyment and safety at the same time.
We are Family Tents Pro, and we’re here to help you with many thoughts about camping. From Wild Camping to Tent Camping on the Beah to Car Camping. We’ve researched so you can enjoy the trips. Additionally, we read the customer reviews and product information to pass it along to you. Also, we may earn a small commission should you choose to purchase through one of our links. This commission allows us to continue to bring you this valuable information. We have more information available on our website at familytentspro.com. You will find product reviews, top lists, and educational articles that will change the way you go camping.