Best Free Camping in Kentucky

Free Camping in Kentucky

By Nathan Swartz

While the Bluegrass State isn't exactly carpeted in free RV camping, there are certainly camping areas where you can find a place to call home "rent-free," and they're spread across the state evenly enough no matter which corner of KY you're interested in exploring.

See a map of all free camping in Kentucky.

Free RV Camping in Daniel Boone National Forest

When it comes to the great state of Kentucky, free camping is most abundant in Daniel Boone National Forest. One of the most natural settings you'll find in that forest is Beaver Creek Wilderness, and while motorized vehicles are prohibited within the wilderness area itself, free dispersed camping is permitted along Swain Ridge Road. Note that camping on public lands comes with more challenges than your typical RV camping experience. Don't expect much in the way of amenities, including bathrooms or trash service, and know that you'll be expected to pack out everything you brought with you if you want to take advantage of this type of wild camping.

Otherwise, be prepared for a serene experience where camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. You'll likely have few neighbors, though expect the forest service to occasionally do a drive-by or check in on you.

That said, there are even a few free campgrounds–with vault toilets, a picnic table, and fire rings at designated sites–throughout Daniel Boone National Forest. These camping locations are all situated about an hour and a half south of Lexington, KY, and include the S-Tree and Turkey Foot Campgrounds. You'll find more dispersed camping, without toilets, East of Lexington at Paragon Dispersed Camping Area near Cave Run Lake.

Free RV Camping Opportunities via Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources

Primarily located along the southern stretches of the state, wildlife management areas provide more options to find free RV camping sites. Campers can find spots along Lake Mauzy and near boat ramps outside of Redbird, KY, along the Cumberland River, and near Kevil, KY, on the Mississippi River.

Note that these areas are not always specifically designated for camping alone. They are popular with fishermen and hunters, so check ahead with the fish and wildlife service as to what hunting season you may be looking at before choosing one of these places as your ultimate camping destination.

The Army Corps of Engineers also manages a free campground at Wilson Creek Recreation Area on Green River Lake.

Free RV Camping in Parking Lots

Looking for a quick overnighter as you traverse the Bluegrass State? Though more akin to "RV parking" than camping, you'll find many free to stay parking lots across Kentucky at places like Walmart and Cabela's. Keep in mind these are privately owned businesses that are nice enough to allow RVers a place to stay for the night, so a modicum of restraint should be used in keeping your rig neat and not treating the place like a tailgate party.

A few rest areas along Interstate highways offer overnight parking as well. Always check for signage indicating whether there is a stay limit, or have a friendly conversation with any local law enforcement likely to patrol the lots before setting up camp. Like with camping in parking lots, it's best to refrain from putting out your awning, setting up the camp chairs, and making a spectacle of yourself, as a rest area is for exactly that–a free place to get some rest, not your own personal recreation area.

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Recent Kentucky Free Campsite Reviews

Jun 14, 2022

"FREE"

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Not bad for free. The only reason I am not giving 5 stars is because of the trash people have left behind. But like others have said, no frills, no cell. Pack in pack out. Pit toilets mostly clean and stocked with paper. Not a lot of FREE camping options in KY, so I am grateful for this one.

Corndog Caravan
33 reviews

"Quiet stopover"

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Interesting to get to: 13 miles off the interstate on 2 lanes to 1 lane to gravel road (about last 1/4+ mile). Parking area is a wide place on the gravel road. Beautiful scenery. Quiet, although a car or truck went by every 10-20 minutes during the day. AT&T was 1 bar LTE.

Hob
2 reviews
Hanson, KY

Love's Travel Stop

May 20, 2022

"Clean truck stop "

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First experience staying at a Love’s travel center. We found a great spot out of the way. Facing some grass. Great stop while passing through. Expect truck noises and vehicles moving in and out.

Diary of a Family
10 reviews
Bowling Green, KY

Woodbury Boat Ramp

May 19, 2022

"Good for a Quick Overnight"

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This is a free place to camp along the Green River. Easy to access with plenty of grassy areas to park. There are trees to park in the shade and stay cool with access to sun for solar. There were 4 other campers here during our overnight stay. The place was fine and worked well for an overnight stay while passing through. However, the...
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Shamy
18 reviews
Georgetown, KY

Cracker Barrel

May 19, 2022

"Quiet, level parking lot"

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I called and confirmed that they allow overnight parking. There are about 6-7 nice, large, pull through spots on the back of the parking lot. We had no problem manuvering or 36 ft travel trailer. Great overnight stop.

Doug
53 reviews