Let’s talk about some resources and ways to find camping that meets your specific needs!
Everyone’s idea of motorcycle camping is a little different. Some may need to find campgrounds with paved routes, some may need showers, running water, or electrical hookups. Others may need, well, less than that.
Some State Park Campgrounds and many Private Campgrounds like RV Parks and KOAs will offer many more amenities than campgrounds that can be found on public lands like Forest Service and BLM which tend to be more on the primitive side with just a fire pit, picnic table and a pit toilet available for amenities.
There are many more options for planning a camping trip now than there used to be. With that there are many campgrounds now that require reservations in order to guarantee you a spot. If you choose to take your chances with first come first serve or try your hand at dispersed camping; First make sure you have many backups in case your first choice is full, Second PLEASE understand the rules and regulations around Dispersed Camping on Public Lands.
Always. Leave No Trace, whether you’re at a paid private campground, state park, unmanned forest service campground or dispersed on BLM land. Pack out all of your trash, and in some cases that does include your poo. Do. Your. Research.
Unsure what Dispersed Camping is? I have a handy video I did with my Park Ranger friend here. In addition to the video I highly encourage you to read what the Forest Service and the Bureu of Land Management have to say about Dispersed Camping.
Alright with that out of the way! Let’s talk about some resources and websites to assist in your search for campgrounds!
We have a list of these motorcycle only campgrounds on our Where to Camp page, which may be very helpful in your search! These campgrounds typically have a bath house, some cabins, and wide open fields to pitch your tent. Reservations generally aren't required, but you may want to call ahead to see if they have any events going on (if you want to avoid a large gathering of fellow motorcycle campers). There is a dense population of these campgrounds located in the Appalachian Mountains around GA, SC, NC, TN, and VA.
Can be a bit on the pricey side but offer many great amenities at most locations including showers and laundry facilities, and most times an on site mini convenience store with things you may have forgotten like fire wood, bug spray, sunscreen etc. They also have cabins if you’re less than stoked about setting up your tent for the night. They have locations all over the United States. Not all are totally paved, but they are all very well maintained. They’re what I like to call a low-risk option if you’re new to camping.
This is the website that many State Parks are using to reserve campsites. So it would also make sense to utilize it as a powerful search tool on its own that allows you to search for State Park Campgrounds across multiple states without going from State to State’s individual websites. Many State Park Campgrounds have paved loops.
This is the website that most reservable campgrounds run by the National Park Service, Forest Service and a few other government run public lands campgrounds.
The Airbnb of Camping, most listings are made by individuals for a camping spot, cabin, or glamping experiences on private property. Listings range from bare minimum spot in a backyard, to high end cabins with amenities.
The Dyrt is another search engine that crowdsources reviews and photos of campgrounds, it has also added a booking feature as well. They have campgrounds listed varying from private, state parks, public lands etc. They do have Premium features you can unluck with a paid subscription, but their regular search tools are still free.
This website is a resource that lists campgrounds of all kinds, independent, KOA, National/State Forest, State Parks, Public Lands, Army Corps, National Park, Military, County and City Parks, casinos and more. Think of it like a giant search engine. Because it is.
Also a camping search engine with map overlays for cell coverage, and some user reviews. They list Top Rated State Park Campgrounds, National Park Campgrounds, and they have a tab specific to finding Free Camping.
Ultimate Campgrounds USA and Canada
Is a kind of grassroots project to create a comprehensive list of public campgrounds of all kinds.
Best used for those who are already familiar with camping, and are ok riding on the dirt to find a ( probably primitive) place to sleep. The easiest to use app that shows the boundaries between public and private land, Designated, Private and Dispersed Camping Areas on BLM and Forest Service Land. If you do a decent amount of travel on dirt roads, and/or spend most of your time camping on Public Lands this App is well worth the yearly fee for Premium. It also does many other useful things like highlight offroad tracks, upload gpx files, allows you to download those areas for use offline with more accurate FS Roads than google maps and more. Use this Affiliate Link to get 20% Off your first year of Premium or Elite.
The BLM website has improved quite a bit from what it used to be but can still be a little finicky to navigate. Go to Visit>Camping on the right hand side you can find a link to an Interactive Map which lets you visually search for a campground, tell you if a campsite you’ve selected has a fee or no fee.
National Forest Service Interactive Map
This interactive map is great for finding designated camping on Forest Service and Grasslands. The Campground layer allows you to search for campgrounds within Forest Service land and will tell you some details about a campground, give you Lat/Long coordinates, which national forest it is located in and give you a website link to the page on the Nat. Forest Service website that will list more info about the campground including Fees, Amount of usage the site gets, if there is Potable Water, Restroom type offered (if any), and sometimes when it will be closed and open for the season.
The Find a Campground page of the Park Service website will show you what National Parks offer camping ‘opportunities’ as they call them, then link you to that respective Park’s website to show active campgrounds.
RVers and Vanlifers are very familiar with this app and speak about it highly. For Motorcycle Campers though, it can be quite hit and miss. Most spots are great if you’re going to pull in and level off with some blocks, but don’t always offer the nicest spots of ground to pitch a tent or hang a hammock. If you pull a pop up trailer this could still be a good place to check for spots. Just make sure you un-check the Short-Term Parking, maybe informal Campsites, Check Tent Friendly and that should help with your search.
Maybe not my first go-to when trying to find a nice place to stay for the night. This website is more dedicated to a place to lay your head for the night time hours, get up early and get out. From my experience anyway! Listings may not always be accurate so take this one with a heavy grain of salt.
Some important tips:
Do your Research -Do as much research as you can and don’t rely on any one website or tool to find camping. If you find a campground on one website try and search for it on other sites to cross-reference any reviews or additional information. Also make sure to get a satellite look at the campground with your preferred mapping app.
Have Back Ups - 2020 Introduced more people than ever to the great outdoors, campgrounds and dispersed camping areas all over the country have seen record breaking numbers. They’re also going at all times of the week, so just because it’s a Wednesday does not rule out a packed campground. So unless you book a spot ahead of time make sure you have a few backup campgrounds in case your first option doesn’t work out! Particular if you’re going to try and camp near major Recreation Hubs (ie Seattle, Portland, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Moab, Salt Lake City and so on.
AUTHOR: Amanda Zito