Best Free Camping in Mississippi

Free Camping in Mississippi

By Nathan Swartz

While free camping in the Magnolia State isn't as abundant as what you'll find in neighboring Arkansas, there are still opportunities to find camping destinations with no price tag. From Ocean Springs on the Gulf Coast to the Little Mountain Trail in the north, many of Mississippi's most sought-out destinations provide somewhere to hang your hammock for free.

See a map of all free camping in Mississippi.

National Forest Camping in Mississippi

Home to six national forests, some of the best camping spots can be found in the southernmost forests. Bienville National Forest holds free, dispersed camping along forest roads, as well as a handful of state-operated free campsites courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

Perhaps the most abundant free camping travelers will find in the state, however, comes in the form of a handful of boondocking sites scattered throughout the De Soto National Forest, which is also the closest to the coast. These locations vary greatly in what services you'll find. Take Fairley Bridge Landing and its minimal amenities, for example. You'll find a picnic table and fire ring at loosely-defined sites and even a primitive, vault toilet bathroom located at the campground as well. Moody's Landing, attached to the Black Creek National Wild and Scenic River, has even more to offer, including flushing restrooms and water available on-site (though not water hookups at your site, mind you.)

Bethel Bicycle Trailhead, on the other hand, is significantly more bare-bones, offering essentially just a wide-open clearing–which you'll share with those coming to utilize the trails themselves–and that's about it (though there is a bathroom on-site.) These are but an example of the variety of options available to those seeking free national forest camping in Mississippi.

When camping on any public land, it's vital to follow the Leave No Trace Principals, which include but are not limited to packing everything you bring in back out, camping on previously established, durable surfaces, and respecting your fellow campers. Planning ahead for any boondocking adventure is also the best way to ensure a successful trip. It's also a good idea to check with the local USFS ranger station, as some of these areas are closed to free camping at certain times of the year. Also, there is typically a 14-day stay limit at any given spot.

RV dump stations in Mississippi are located throughout the state, so you'll typically have options when it comes to safely disposing of your tanks after staying in these and other spots.

Army Corps of Engineers Camping

In the northern stretches of the Hospitality State, along the shores of Enid Lake, the Army Corps of Engineers holds true to the state moniker, providing three free campsites on public lands. Campers familiar with COE sites shouldn't expect the usual water and electricity hookups, but given the lack of cost, it's hard to complain. Instead, these are recreation areas where overnight camping in the parking lot is permissible.

Beyond the minimal digs when it comes to your site, waterborne activities abound, weather permitting, and typically fishing, canoeing, and motorized boats are all allowed on the lake.

Free Camping on the Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace is 444 miles of scenic road commemorating the infamous trail running through multiple states from the Cumberland River in Tennessee to the Mississippi River here in the Magnolia State. At least two places to find a free campsite exist in Mississippi itself. Jess Busby Campground provides free access to staying along the Natchez Trace, including picnic tables, designated sites, and even flushing toilets. Hiking trails to the top of Little Mountain begin at the campground, as well.

Further south, on the other side of Jackson, Rocky Springs Campground provides additional parkway camping in an organized but natural setting. Both of these spots also have garbage cans, and campground hosts come by to perform maintenance daily.

More Free Places to Camp in Mississippi

Beyond the natural areas previously discussed, businesses like Walmart and Cracker Barrel–relatively abundant along the busier highway corridors–often allow overnight camping in their parking lots. The Mississippi Welcome Center on US 61 and Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, an oceanfront affair, allow for more of the same. While camping in business parking lots is often completely legitimate, it can be a good idea to check in with the business itself to get an idea of the rules. The Scarlet Pearl, for example, doesn't necessarily require you to let them know you're overnighting, but doing so will ensure you don't have to move to a different corner of the parking lot during your stay or have security knock on your door.

portable computer displaying map of camping locations
mobile device showing map of camping locations


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Recent Mississippi Free Campsite Reviews

Pearl, MS

Bass Pro Shop

Aug 20, 2021

"Great Stop"

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As noted it’s in a safe pretty quiet area. We had a trucker staying at the next door hotel pull up at 4:40 AM - that was our only noise

1 review
Ackerman, MS

Jeff Busby Campground

Aug 13, 2021

"Quiet under the pines"

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We stopped August 2 2021. We were Northbound on the Trace. The sites are not numbered in any fashion. It didn’t matter because there was only 1 other RV there and tent. No hookups, no water. Just a quiet place to sleep. There are restrooms available. Pay attention when pulling back onto the Trace because there’s no direction signs.

Scott Lenyo
8 reviews
D'Iberville, MS

Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort

Jul 14, 2021

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Checked to make sure I could stay here, no issues. Got a knock on my window at 2am saying that overnight camping isn’t allowed and had to find another place to stay

Apr 26, 2021

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This is a trailhead parking lot that leads to some popular biking trails in the area. We camped for 2 nights and had perfect sun for solar, and great cell service. Big rig friendly, (we were in a 33 footer). If you are looking for a private quiet stay, this might not be for you. There were a lot of cars coming and going especially on Sunday, but...
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Olivia Voeltz
39 reviews
Apr 24, 2021

"Free RV Overnight Parking - Pull Through Sites"

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In this video, we show you free overnight RV parking at the Mississippi Welcome Center; video uploaded here on Campendium for your immediate reference. The overnight RV parking at this Mississippi Welcome Center is setup like a pull through campsite, each with a picnic table and trash receptacle. We stayed overnight here in our Cougar fifth...
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Lou Assaro
246 reviews