the dyrt
Shari G.
Boone, NC
Joined June 2016
Environmental Educator, Photographer, Traveler, & RV Adventurer. We found Freedom in Can in 2012 and haven't looked back! http://freedominacan.com
Quiet & Very Close to Saguaro NP (west)

This BLM property, right off the Ajo highway near Tucson, is extremely convenient for a short or extended stay. Anyone can stay up to 14 nights, free of charge. Greeted people here from all walks of life -- from those living out of the back of truck to brand new 45 foot motorhomes.

Like many high-impact BLM areas, the entrance roads are not well-maintained so some are quite rough. We arrived in the dark, which we do not recommend as it was difficult to see where the entrances were and how rough the roads were ahead of us. The parking/camping spaces are not designated, but heavy use has carved out lots of opportunities.

There are a few places to walk or ride throughout the property, which is actually quite small based on typical BLM property. However, the nearby areas of Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park, offer plenty of opportunities for both.

No facilities, no water or even a stream…so plan ahead!

Great shade for the summer months

The Cave Creek Canyon on the western edge of the Chiricahua Mountains is a spectacular area that will completely take you by surprise. This cute campground tucked into the trees will charm your socks off!

Each site has the standard picnic table, bear locker, fire ring and lots of shade. The bathroom is a vault toilet, kept clean by the volunteer camp host, staying at Sandy Flat. This campground is rather small with just a couple small RV sites and lots of shade. Perfect for tent camping though. Great for warmer months, not so great for solar charging due to the shade, so we moved up the road to Sunny Flat campground. There are two small cabins available for rent near the forest visitor’s center, check with the Coronado National Forest, Douglas District office.

The area is a birder’s paradise and at certain times of year can get very busy. Great opportunities for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing throughout the entire mountain range. All the campgrounds are first-come, first-served.

There's not much in the area for food and gas, so come prepared. There is one small grill/basic grocery store down the mountain, but if you are looking for real groceries, shop before you come.

Awesome Choice for Christmas!

We came for just a night to see if it was open and spent 3 glorious nights here! The volunteer camphost, Jan, is fantastic! She single-handedly kept this campground open during the government shutdown…and hosted a Christmas potluck brunch at her site.

The Cave Creek Canyon on the western edge of the Chiricahua Mountains is a spectacular area that will completely take you by surprise. And the campground tucked into a wide-open clearing set in a spectacular valley ringed by stunning granite cliffs will also charm your socks off!

Each site has the standard picnic table, bear locker, fire ring, and lots of shade. Campsites which aren’t under the trees have a nice shelter over the table. The bathroom is a vault toilet, kept clean by the volunteer camp host. All the campgrounds are first-come, first-served.

This campground might be better for small RV’s than some of the others in the area because of the size of the sites, though anything bigger than 25 feet might have a tough time getting backed in. The area has some nice sunny spots for those like us who run on solar. There are also two small bunkhouses available for rent near the forest visitor’s center, check with the Coronado National Forest, Douglas District office.

The area is a birder’s paradise and at certain times of year can get very busy. Great opportunities for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing throughout the entire mountain range.

There's not much in the area for food and gas, so come prepared. There is one small grill/basic grocery store down the mountain, but if you are looking for real groceries, shop before you come.

Free, Beautiful, and WARM!

This campground, located on the bluff overlooking the dam and a large part of Lake Meredith, offers about 10 traditional RV sites with water and electric. There are also plenty of tent sites, each with a covered picnic pavillion. There is a sanitary dump, the bathrooms were very clean and are family-style (single use with toilet, sink, and shower). The water was hot with good pressure. The best part…this campground is FREE (unless you need hook-ups)!

The nearby boat launch is just down the hill, with a huge parking lot (our guess is that the lake gets busy in summer). The area offers some great fishing and water sport opportunities. There are a few hiking and mountain biking trails, though more seemed to be on the less developed, western shore of the lake.

The town of Fritch is less than 4 miles away with a few restaurants, a small grocery store, and gas stations. Be sure to check the Alibates Flint National Monument, just 10 miles south of town. It is worth a stop!

Quiet, Inexpensive, & Warm in December!

This very popular state park, on the edge of the Elephant Butte reservoir, is a great wintertime get away. We spent the winter solstice here and woke up at sunrise to see the moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east. Spectacular!

The campground offers many reservable spots, as well as first-come, first-served sites. Each site has water, electric, picnic table (with sunshade) and a fire ring. The bathrooms are either vault toilets or full service with showers. There are no trees for privacy, but the sites are nicely spaced apart so you don't feel like you are on top of your neighbors.

Now, we don’t normally get critical of other reviews on this site. But some were very negative about the bathrooms, and we simply cannot understand why. The bathrooms were heated, the toilets were clean, as were the showers. The water was warm! Yes, these showers are the push-button type which only gives you a minute or so of water before you push it again. However, the showers were free with the campsite, which only costs $14 (2018) and is in the desert! Water is a precious resource here, so you can’t get your nose out of joint over decisions made by management to limit water consumption when you’re only paying this little.

During the summer months when the reservoir is up to recreational levels, boating and fishing are the most popular activities. Judging by the size of the boat-launch parking lot, you’re going to have to get up early in the morning to grab a spot. There is a great hiking and mountain biking trail right out of the campground which winds between all the other park roads, picnic areas and amenities on the western side of the lake. The trail is relatively new and in most areas is graveled. However, rainstorms have washed a lot of sand across the trail in areas and it can be pretty soft. Further south along the trail we encountered many more arroyos which upped the challenge. The nice thing is that you can always hop back on the pavement to return to the campground.

The town of Elephant Butte is nearby which offers a few restaurants, a general store, and gas. But just 15 miles south is the larger town of Truth or Consequences (interesting story about the name). This town has everything you might need, grocery, gas, food and other lodging….and hot springs! Check out our blog for more details about the latter.

Aptly Named Campground, Truly Beautiful!

This adorable little campground just 3 miles south of the village of Jemez Springs, NM is situated in the in a wide canyon with expansive views of the mesas to the east and west. Some of the sites have a full shelter over the fire ring and picnic table. Many of the sites can accommodate larger RVs or motorhomes, but do not have water or electricity hook-ups. Potable water is available as well. The vault toilets were very clean, and well maintained. This campground had the best recycling and trash containers we’ve seen in months. We were able to recycle just about everything!

This area is perfect for anyone who loves to do any of the following: hike, bike, climb, snowshoe, ski, view wildlife, fly fish, soak in hot springs, gallery shop, or just hang out at your beautiful campsite. The town is within 30 minutes of Valles Caldera National Preserve and just a few more miles to Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos Skiing area. The town of Jemez Springs has just a few restaurants, be sure to try Olga's Famous Chile Rellenos at Los Ojos, the quirky and quaint little bar that looks like it came from a movie set.

The campground is open all year round and typically has a camp host. The sites are non-reservable, and are very inexpensive for the beautiful views you get!

Note: Despite how beautiful this place was and how much we enjoyed it, we had a scary incident happen that we reported to both the county sheriff and forest service office. If you want to know more, visit our blog. They told us that they had never had a report like this before, so this could have been a random incident, as we were there when there was no camp host. So, stay alert, especially if you are the only camper in the campground.

Great place to stay for the night near Bosque del Apache

Finding this little park on the banks of the Rio Grande just outside of town in the dark would have been unlikely without the very specific directions given to us at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center. “From the blinking light go east for 0.7 miles and turn left on the dirt road between the canal and the river.” Sure enough, there it is.

This small campground has about 5 sites, with picnic tables, but offers no other services—no water, fire rings or even toilets. But as the directions say, it’s close to town and it’s FREE. So, on a day where we spent most of the afternoon and watched the sunset while in the National Wildlife Refuge, this campsite served us well. We even planned to get up before sunrise to watch the birds take to the sky from their night-time roosting areas, so we weren’t there long.

The wildlife refuge is a birder’s paradise during the late fall and winter. Species of Sand Hill Cranes, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and a multitude of ducks winter here feeding on grain grown in nearby fields and roosting overnight in the shallow wetlands. The numbers of birds are overwhelming, and awe-inspiring. But when we learned that the Sand Hill Cranes have been making this journey for nearly 10 million years, we were simply blown away.

There are plenty of opportunities for other recreation in the area, road cycling, mountain biking, hiking and motor-sports. As we pulled out of the campground, we noticed a beach buggy cruising by which looked as cool as it was retro – total ‘70s style. There are other free, “dry camps” in the area, BLM land, etc. as well as a few other RV parks offering shorter or longer stays.

Tucked away from it all

Tucked into a low valley on the eastern shore of Lake Meredith, this campground offers tons of space for tent and small RV campers, with just a few sites that can accommodate a larger RV. There are several vault toilets and trash receptacles, but no drinking water – so plan accordingly. Sites are FREE and first-come, first-served.

The nearby boat launch is just down the hill, with a huge parking lot (our guess is that the lake gets BUSY in summer), offering some great fishing and water sport opportunities. There were a few hiking and mountain biking trails, more seemed to be on the less developed, western shore of the lake.

The town of Fritch is less than 3 miles away with a few restaurants and a small grocery store and gas stations. Be sure to check the Alibates National Monument, just 10 miles south of town. It is super cool!

Free, free, and free!

This campground is located on an impressive peninsula sticking out into Lake Meredith and probably has the best location to view the sunset on the entire reservoir. The small campground has about a dozen sites, all first-come, first-served. None of these are good for RVs longer than 15 feet, but ours and our only other neighbor (in a van) fit just fine.

The bathrooms were very clean and are family-style, single use with toilet, sink and shower. The water was hot with good pressure. Did I mention this campground and showers are FREE?

The nearby boat launch is just down the hill, with a huge parking lot (our guess is that the lake gets BUSY in summer) offering some great fishing and water sport opportunities. There were a few hiking and mountain biking trails,though more seemed to be on the less developed, western shore of the lake.

The town of Fritch is less than 4 miles away with a few restaurants and a small grocery store and gas stations. Be sure to check the Alibates National Monument, just 10 miles south of town. A very cool, little known spot.

Unexpected Beauty

The Cimarron Grassland is an amazing part of the Great Plains ecosystem and definitely worth a look when driving through the southwest corner of Kansas. It will not be what you’re expecting! The sunrises alone are worth the price of admission, which was just $7 per night.

Just off the park driving tour road, this little campground sits between small ponds in a larger wetland area within the Cimarron River. Each site is spacious with the usual picnic table, fire ring, and tent pad. Vault toilets and potable drinking water are available all year round, we just had to wait for the faucet to thaw after freezing up overnight.

The area is fantastic for bird lovers, and we watched flocks of Starlings tuck themselves into the marsh grasses for the night. Raptors, warblers, and many other bird species use the area as a fly-over stop during migration. Hiking is close by on the Sante Fe Trail which follows the original path of the old wagon trail through the plains, biking and other motorized recreational vehicles are allowed in certain areas. While the terrain might not be challenging, the sandy soil makes any long walk or ride just a little bit more difficult.

The nearby town of Elkhart affords the usual amenities for groceries, gas, and a few restaurants. The National Grassland office is also in town if you want more information about the area. Check out our blog about our time traveling through southern Kansas…and unexpected treat!

Easy Access to City

This isn't our typical "go to" type campground; we stopped here because we were having some trouble with our truck and needed to have it looked over before heading out further west. The RV park is really close to downtown Independence, Missouri and has everything we needed for the night. It's within walking distance of everything in town, has full hook-ups, wifi, bathrooms, and a laundry facility.

It is what you might expect for an RV park so close to downtown, a little lacking in outdoor aesthetics. But, the bathrooms were clean, the showers very hot, and the laundry room was tidy! Also, the manager was super nice and accommodating.

Independence has some cool stuff to check out and has a very midwestern, small-town feel to it, even though it is basically a suburb of the greater Kansas City area. There is a lot of charm and some interesting architecture in the immediate area. The Truman Library, the Community of Christ Church, the downtown theater and court house are all interesting and worth a look. We had some time to kill and made the rounds to these various places. If the weather would have been warmer, it would have been a very bikeable area, too.

Boat in & Hike In Camping Along Squam Lake

Simple, but gorgeous. The association maintains about a dozen campsites in the Squam Lake area -- some hike-in and others boat-in only. There are some with tent platforms and all have fire rings (camping fee includes 1 bundle of firewood). There is a composting toilet in each camping area, but no picnic table or drinking water. Come prepared with your own water…or a filter.

We did not camp here, as we came across these campsites while hiking and canoeing with some friends who have a cabin in the area. The sites are pricey and fill up quickly when reservations open for the year on Feb 15, but the money supports the conservation of the area via the Squam Lakes Association.

The area offers water sports of all kinds, amazing views, spectacular hiking and backpacking in the White Mountains and some cute little villages along the local highways. Nearest town is Meredith, about 10 minutes away, and has all that you need for your camping trip.

Easy access to Mt. Katahdin

Though not open during the off season, this Baxter State Park campground offers tent sites and lean-tos, each with a picnic table and fire ring. There are no sites for RV's here.

There is no running/drinking water, but the stream nearby is perfect for filtering. The pit toilets are cleaned daily. There is no electricity, so bring your solar panel. Rangers are assigned to each campground, so there is always someone to chat with if you have questions or emergencies while in the park.

You can start the 8-12 hour round trip to the summit of Mt. Katahdin from this campground, as it sits right at the base of the mountain. Or, choose from variety of other trail options if a 4000 ft elevation gain hike isn’t your thing.

Fall is one of the best times to be here…no bugs, less people, and full of autumn color! Be ready for wind and cold days though. You are sure to see many Appalachian Trail through hikers as they use this campground as their final base camp before summiting!

Your last stop for food and gas is in Millinocket, so be sure to stock up before you make your way to the park. Millinocket is about 18 miles from the main entrance to Baxter State Park.

Note: Dogs are not allowed in the park, but Katahdin Kritters is a pet boarding facility located in East Millinocket.

Convenient & Inexpensive for the Acadia area

Nice campsites, lots of options for both tents and RV’s, clean bathrooms, 50 cent showers, laundry room, a pool, and a playground for the kiddos. There is no dishwashing facility though, which seemed odd given all the other amenities. The campground staff are very sweet people.

No biking/hiking trails from the campground to the park, but it makes for an easy place to retreat to if you are visiting Acadia National Park and/or Bar Harbor. It’s beyond BUSY during the summer, but the fall is much less crowded and truly gorgeous! We cycled on the carriage roads, paddled in Frenchman's Bay, and hiked a few trails in Acadia -- all in a few days of camping here.

The Island Explorer bus makes a stop at this campground, so you can leave your car behind and enjoy the park on bike/foot. Everything you need for camping can be found in Ellsworth or Bar Harbor, located a few miles in either direction from this campground.

Paddlers Paradise!

Surrounded by water on 3 sides, this state park has a lot to offer. Well off the beaten track on the tidal backwater of Cobscook Bay, this park has a wide variety of sites to suit everyone’s style of camping. From full water and electrical RV hook-up sites, to tent-only camping loops, you can find your own camping bliss in this amazing park.

Each site comes with the standard picnic table and fire pit, but many have a shelter over the table as well. There are many pit-toilets scattered throughout, and the centralized bath house only offers inexpensive showers and sinks, no flush toilets however.

Additionally, there is a huge playground for the kids, as well as designated picnic sites complete with fire pit and picnic shelters. The campground loops wind around small headlands into the bay, so there are literally dozens of waterfront sites, but they are of course the most popular.

The bay is tidal, and has a HUGE tidal range, so opportunities for tide pooling, paddling, and other water sports just need a little planning ahead. Be sure to check out the reversing falls, just a 20 minute drive from the park. There is a nice boat ramp and picnic area just north of the park on the main road.

Calais is the nearest town, about 30 minutes away, and has all the you need while camping in the area.

Light on amenities, heavy on coastal views!

Just a few miles off the beaten track of Route 1 in Milbridge, Maine, lies a simple and inexpensive little campground with few amenities but with direct access to a stunning, rocky coastline. With just 12 sites, the campground can only accommodate a few larger RV’s. The sites are simple and rustic with a small spot for a few tents, fire pit and a picnic table. The bathrooms are a bit of a walk from the farthest site, but offer flush toilets and a single outdoor shower. Be the first one in the morning and you’ll get some hot water, but if there is a line, you are better off waiting it out. But what can you ask for when the site is only $10 bucks? It’s ocean view you’re there for! Water sport options abound.

There was a sign saying, “no trailers” on the road, but we made it just fine and the camp hosts never said anything about it. With that said, if the campground is busy, large RV’s would have a very hard time turning around at the end of the road, as there is no circle drive. So scout it out first before you head down the road.

We also had a run in with one of the park’s Red Squirrels who chewed through our engine’s fuel line while we camped there. Have never had this happen anywhere else and it probably never will again. Super helpful campground host helped us get the truck fixed! Full story about the psycho rodents can be found here.

Milbridge is the closest town, about 6 miles away and has all that you need while camping in the area.

Ant's Eye View of Mt. Katahdin!

If you enjoy camping with a wonderful view of Mt. Katahdin, then this campground is for you. This is 1 of the 3 campgrounds in Baxter that stays open for a bit past the normal season. It offers a few spots for small RV’s, tent sites, lean-tos, and a few camping cabins, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Our site even had a sheltered area over the picnic table.

There is no running/drinking water, but the stream nearby is perfect for filtering. The pit toilets are cleaned daily. There is no electricity, so bring your solar panel. Plan on packing out your trash. Rangers are assigned to each campground, so there is always someone to chat with if you have questions or emergencies while in the park.

You can start the 8 to 12-hour round trip to the summit of Mt. Katahdin from this campground, as it sits right at the base of the mountain. Or, you can choose from a variety of other trail options if a 4000 ft elevation gain isn’t your thing. You are sure to see many Appalachian Trail thru-hikers as they use this campground as their final base camp before summiting.

Fall is one of the best times to be here…no bugs, less people, and full of autumn color! Be ready for wind and cold days though.

Your last stop for food and gas is in Millinocket, so be sure to stock up before you make your way to the park. Millinocket is about 18 miles from the main entrance to Baxter State Park.

Note: Dogs are not allowed in the park, but Katahdin Kritters is a pet boarding facility located in East Millinocket.

No Need for Reservations

Don’t like making reservations? We hate them, too. This is the only campground on Mt. Desert Island near Acadia National Park that is first come, first served. But, come early! Great campsites, lots of options for both tents and RV’s, clean bathrooms, 50 cent showers, dishwashing sinks, and a playground for the kiddos.

No biking/hiking trails from the campground to the park, but it makes for an easy place to retreat to if you are visiting Acadia National Park and/or Bar Harbor. It’s beyond BUSY during the summer, but the fall is much less crowded and truly gorgeous! The Island Explorer bus makes a stop at this campground, so you can leave your car behind and enjoy the park on bike/foot.

Everything you need for camping can be found in Ellsworth or Bar Harbor, located a few miles in either direction from this campground.

Near Baxter State Park, with full amenities!

Located just a few miles outside of Baxter State Park, POC offers a few spots for small RV’s, tent sites, lean-tos, and a few camping cabins, each with a picnic table and fire ring. And, the property has an amazing view!

There are hot showers, clean bathrooms, a dishwashing sink, and even a game room with pool tables and a small bar. You can rent canoes and gear to paddle on the lake, with a great view of Mt. Katahdin. Or, sign up for a guided canoe or rafting trip.

Fall is one of the best times to be here…no bugs, less people, and full of autumn color! Be ready for wind and cold days though.

Your last stop for groceries and gas is in Millinocket, so be sure to stock up before you make your way to the park.

All for $11 per person/night! Haven’t seen these amenities for this low price anywhere else in Maine.

First to Review
Camping Cabins with an Incredible View

If you enjoy camping cabins on a lake with a wonderful view of Mt. Katahdin, then this campground is for you. This is 1 of the 3 campgrounds in Baxter that stays open for a bit past the normal season (thru the 3rd week of October).

It even has a small library with the best porch view you’ve ever seen. The cabins are simple and there are just pit toilets, but everything is kept very clean. Rangers are assigned to each campground, so there is always someone to chat with if you have questions or emergencies while in the park.

You can rent a canoe and gear to paddle on Daicey Pond, or bring your mountain bikes for an awesome ride along well-kept gravel roads. Great hiking options to waterfalls, along the Appalachian Trail, and up to Mt. Katahdin.

Fall is one of the best times to be here…no bugs, less people, and full of autumn color! Be ready for wind and cold days though.

Your last stop for food and gas is in Millinocket, so be sure to stock up before you make your way to the park. Millinocket is about 18 miles from the main entrance to Baxter State Park.

Note: Dogs are not allowed in the park, but Katahdin Kritters is a pet boarding facility located in East Millinocket.