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The Priceless Joys of Free & Cheap RV Camping

When I decided to join Chris on the road back in 2007, I really didn’t understand this whole full time RVing thing.

I was used to weekend warrior type camping in my pop-up trailer. I made a reservation at a local state park, paid a fee, showed up, had neighbors 20-30 feet away with a smoldering campfire.. and kicked back for a day or two before packing up to return to normal life.

Our super tiny home on wheels in 2007.

He had eluded to me that there was free camping in amazing spots.

On our maiden cross country voyage, in that super spacious 16′ teardrop travel trailer – I was so stuck in planning mentality. I had to know where and when we would be each night (I’ve gotten over it.. mostly.).

A state park here. A friend’s house there. I did pretty good trying to plan our stays. We didn’t have resources like Allstays, Campendium, HarvestHosts, BoondockersWelcomeOvernightRVParking, Freecampsites, RVillage and Ultimate Public Campground Project back then.

(Resource: Our Guide to Finding Campgrounds.)

We were on a trajectory to get from Florida to San Francisco.. in 5 weeks.. so he could be the best man in a friend’s wedding.

I looked ahead on a map. About 200 miles out. I spotted a lake north of Amarillo. It was marked as Lake Meredith Recreation Area.

Fortressing Cliffs of Fritch Fortress / Lake Meredith

Fortressing Cliffs of Fritch Fortress / Lake Meredith

I looked it up at the National Park Service website. It had camping along it. What did it cost?

FREE

Woah? Really?

T@b Clamshell Trailer - Lake Meredith, TX

Our first stay at Lake Meredith.

Free. Like.. we pay nothing? It was along our way and free. But would we have cell phone signal (we hadn’t yet invented our app Coverage? to tell us these pertinent facts)? Would it be pretty?

After all, if it’s not worth charging for, it couldn’t be of much use.

We decided to route that way. Let’s check it out. After all, when you live on the road, committing to a new address isn’t really all that much of a commitment at all. If you don’t like it, you’ll be on your way soon anyway.

We passed through the small town of Fritch, Texas – just north of Amarillo. It was small. Their was one little grocery store where we bought some produce (we had no refrigerator back then, so we were always stopping to get fresh stuff). A liquor store where I think we got a bottle of wine… or maybe it was vodka?

And then we turned down the road towards Fritch Fortress.

Fortress. It sounds so… majestical.

Return to Lake Meredith - 8 years later.

Return to Lake Meredith – 8 years later.

And then we pulled into the camping loop. About 10 picnic/campground spots – all pull up sites.. along a fortressing cliff overlooking the lake. No one else was here. And it was… absolutely.. stunning.

We picked a spot and set up camp for the night.

We poured a glass of wine/vodka, and watched an amazing sunset across the lake. As the sun set, a burst of wind wooshed over the lake towards us, welcoming us home.

Really. This is FREE?!? A million dollar view experience, with rocking bandwidth.. and it’s FREE?

My mind was going into overload. I walked over to the bathhouse (yes, this free experience had flush toilets) and the sign said – ‘camping limit – 14 days.. 30 during the hunting season.’

It was this experience. My tracking down our next spot, setting the routing to it.. that really introduced me to the beauty of free camping.

And we’ve enjoyed many more equally mesmerizing experiences since:

It’s not that they are free.. but that they are PRICELESS.

Want to learn more about free and cheap camping options?

Our Live Video Chat Archive on this Topic:

In January 2016, we hosted our monthly live video chat with lots of tips and tricks on free & cheap RV camping options. Here is the archive:

(Caution: This is an hour long – make sure you have the time & bandwidth available):

Want announcements/reminders about our chats? Join our list or RSVP on Facebook.

 

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15 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. I really enjoy and have learned alot from your web site. I am in the process of building a self sustainable trailer. Solar panels, lithium battery pack etc. I am retiring next Jan. 1st. and plan on seeing all of this beautiful country we can. Thanks a million for the inspiration and info. We do quite a bit of fair weather camping here in Ohio. When i get this done here in a couple weeks we plan on testing it out around here in Oh. Pa. Wv. this summer then Jan. head to Fla. untill spring then out west. who knows maybe we;ll see you out there. Thanks again Dave R.

  2. Love your article. Could make a suggestion for your next video chat? To tow or not to tow? We are debating whether to tow our car along with us or leave it home and just rent a car when we need it. We’d love some advice. Thank you for the great information – Kevin and Mari

  3. Growing up on the east coast, I couldn’t begin to imagine that one could camp anywhere for free. what a life, huh?

  4. Thanks so very much for sharing your experiences with us. Just starting the RV search and your blogs and videos certainly help.

  5. Great job getting the word out. It’s amazing how few people know that camping can take place outside of developed campgrounds. Even less know that it’s often free, private, and more beautiful.

    Love that last photo. Is it at Mt Whitney?

    Keep on spreading freedom!

  6. If you are still in New Mexico and haven’t been to the Tinkertown Museum it’s worth the visit.
    On the East side of the Sandias.

  7. Wonderful article and a great intro for a video….I will have to watch the archived version (once I learn how :)…I am sure it will be full of great tips even for this old-timer….

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