Free Camping in Alabama
From the camping areas in national forests to a slew of campgrounds provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, visitors can find free camping throughout the Cotton State. If you're looking for places to camp for free near Alabama's share of the Gulf Coast, the options are limited to a Walmart parking lot or a highway rest stop. Free RV camping in more natural settings can be found across the northern reaches of the state.
Free Camping in Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds
The lion's share of free RV camping comes in the form of campgrounds provided by the Army Corps of Engineers. A handful of these are situated near Tuscaloosa, on the banks of the Black Warrior River. Expect dispersed camping with few amenities at most sites. These are primarily parking lots near boat launches, but most have access to restrooms, and at least one has picnic tables and fire rings.
Additional, similar campsites exist on the Alabama River toward the southern end of the state.
While many of these spots can be accessed by mid-sized RVs, they are often a bit more friendly to tent camping. These areas are popular with local anglers, too, so expect early morning arrivals by eager fishermen.
Free Camping in Alabama's National Forests
When it comes to national forests in Alabama, travelers can find free campsites near I-85 in abundance in the Tuskegee National Forest. This is primitive camping, aka boondocking. Don't expect a formal campground; however, unlike your typical dispersed camping scenario, there are designated campsites situated throughout the national forest. A free permit is required and can be acquired at the Tuskegee Ranger District office. These sites are actually designated as "hunt camps," but outside of hunting season, they see little traffic and are spread out in a way that provides ample privacy.
In the William B. Bankhead National Forest, dispersed camping is permitted throughout the forest. A free, designated campground named McDougle Hunt Camp also exists just outside of the Sipsey Wilderness. As with most wilderness areas, cars, RVs, and even bicycles are not permitted within the wilderness boundaries. Additionally, if you plan on doing any hunting, you are required to stay in the designated hunting camps, though non-hunters can camp in a more dispersed fashion throughout the national forest.
Alabama's Talladega National Forest, east of Birmingham, allows for primitive, dispersed camping as well. The boat launch at Sweetwater Lake is one such campsite, though don't expect any facilities as this is pure boondocking in some of the state's most beautiful country.
More Free RV Camping Options in Alabama
County parks across the state provide free access to camping near towns like Waterloo, AL, and outside of Montgomery. Off the highway, overnighters can be had in many business parking lots, from the usual Cracker Barrel, Cabala's, and Walmarts to the more unusual Burger King overnight "truck lot."
Near the southern end of the state, one of the most popular camping destinations is the Wind Creek Casino & Hotel parking lot. No matter what your ideal camping experience looks like, Alabama promises to have something for everyone and something free for everyone as well!