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Last summer, I decided to take my then four year old daughter camping and we wanted to camp for FREE. A friend had recommended Magnolia Ridge up in Nederland – it’s FREE to camp and is first-come, first-served to claim a site. So, up we went.
Neither of us had ever been camping and, as a solo mom, I was a bit nervous about spending a night alone under the stars. We did it anyway. Of course, we carefully followed all the rules regarding food storage and campfires and there WERE a few moments of “what’s that noise!?” during the night where I momentarily considered escaping in panic. All in all though, we had a truly WONDERFUL experience – one we won’t soon forget and are likely to repeat this year in a new location.
Being the freebie lover that I am though, I’ll be on the look-out for opportunities to camp for FREE. We don’t mind roughing it a bit (that’s the whole point, right?) but keeping it on the cheap is imperative for our little family!
If you’re also on the hunt for opportunities to camp for FREE here are a couple places to get started in your search!
Free Campsites offers a goldmine of information regarding FREE campsites worldwide. Type “Colorado” or your more specific area of interest into their search bar and you may be surprised by the FREE campsites available near you. What I love about this site is that the information is provided by fellow previous campers and includes tips, tricks, and “need to know” items of interest. Campers are also able to RATE the campsite using a five star scale and leave reviews based upon their experience. Additionally, in order for a campsite to be added to their directory it must be accessible by vehicle and not have special criteria (regarding age, occupation, or group membership) in place for its use.
This is what the listing for Magnolia Ridge in Nederland says, for example:
Large fire pit and a dozen or so tent spots on a rocky hill on the North side of Magnolia Road. Sharp turn onto dirt road from Magnolia; first parking spot is along the wooden fence after about 50 yards. Another larger parking area is another 50 yards up but you’ll need high-clearance and probably 4WD to make it over the pitted, frequently-muddy road. Park and walk to the right up the hill aiming for the rocks. Several cleared and level tent locations surround the rocky fire pit common area, with loads of brush piles and dead trees to the NNW for firewood.
Campendium has a section devoted to FREE camping which offers information on campsites within the United States and select areas in Canada. They also have a rating system in place and you can view campsites by highest rated and other options which may be significant to you such as cell phone coverage. What I noticed is that while some campsites listed in “Colorado” have several reviews, many have none or just one review, which may make assessing the campsite challenging. The benefit of this website is the ability to sort options, especially if some particular amenity or aspect of a campsite is important to you.
How to Get FREE Camping Gear
According to the LA Times the average American household now contains 300,000 items. What the actual f*!.
People are literally drowning in their stuff. If you are on a tight budget and want to camp, you can use this fact as an opportunity. My recommendation is to simply ask for what you need. For example, you can post a “Wanted” ad on Craigslist. It may take awhile, but you’ll likely score a few items, if not all, of what you need for a simple camping trip. Another option is to borrow gear.
If you’re uncomfortable with those options, take half a day to do a thrift store tour in your area. You’ll surely score hot deals on a tent, sleeping bags, and camp worthy cookware.
Have you found some tips, tricks, resources, or hacks to camping for FREE? Share what you know in our fun and friendly Facebook community of Freebie lovers!
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