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.
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, BoondockersWelcome, OvernightRVParking, 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.
I looked it up at the National Park Service website. It had camping along it. What did it cost?
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.
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):