Best Free Camping in Virginia

Free Camping in Virginia

Are you looking for a spot to explore in the northeast that offers beautiful scenery and plenty to explore on a budget? Look no further than Virginia!

Is camping allowed in Virginia?

Between the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. There are public (state parks, national forests, national parks) and private options for campgrounds, many of which are RV accessible.

Developed campgrounds usually have an associated fee that includes amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, and nearby bathhouses. At these developed campgrounds, you might also have access to water, electricity, and sewer hook-ups.

Undeveloped camping opportunities do not typically have amenities. Still, what they lack in amenities, they make up for in savings. Think of dispersed camping as a way to hone your survival skills and reconnect with nature

Where can you camp for free in Virginia?

Want to find camping for free in Virginia? Luckily, there are several options for you to explore.

Public Lands

Primitive, walk-in tent camping is an option on some public lands. However, dispersed camping must be away from any developed recreational areas or campgrounds.

To be a good steward of the land when you are dispersed camping, remember to find a flat or worn spot that looks like it has been camped on before. Camping on an established site will protect the landscape and preserve the ecosystem. To further protect the natural areas, camping is limited to a maximum of 14 days within any 28 consecutive day period.

National Forests in Virginia

Sections of two different national forests are in Virginia, George Washington National Forest and the Jefferson National Forest. The forest service allows for free primitive or dispersed camping in some areas within the forest.

Dispersed camping or backcountry camping is limited to undeveloped areas. Recreation areas, administrative areas, active timber sale areas, and any areas that have a “no camping” sign cannot be used for primitive camping. Free camping is limited to no longer than 21 consecutive days, and all campsites must be at least 200 feet away from any water sources.

Combined, there are 2,340 miles of perennial streams (with almost half of these miles being considered trout waters), so make sure you pack some fishing gear if you have an angler with you on your camping trip.

Parts of these forests are adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park. If you want to explore the national park and camp for free, you can always set up camp at the nearby national forest in an undeveloped area.

Parking Lots

Depending on where you are in the state, you can look into staying overnight at a large parking lot (with owner approval) like a Bass Pro Shop, Cracker Barrel, or Walmart.

If you want to explore the Virginia coast, some RV campers have had positive experiences at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center. Be sure to check-in with management, support local businesses, and leave no trace.

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mobile device showing map of camping locations


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Recent Virginia Free Campsite Reviews

Aug 22, 2021

"Very Quiet"

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I found this location to be very quiet, which was enjoyable to me. The road in was a bit rocky in spots, but navigable if you pay attention. I stayed two nights, literally off-grid... no cell service on either T-mobile or Verizon. It was nice to recharge my batteries. I found it difficult to find an established site that could accommodate my...
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5 reviews
Richmond, VA

Cracker Barrel

Jul 27, 2021

"Usual cracker barrel overnight stay… Easy and good food"

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Usual cracker barrel overnight stay… Easy and good food! They have three dedicated RV spots!

Phat Mouse
1 review
Jul 02, 2021

"Level large parking lot. Well lit. Did see police patrol "

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Sign states you can’t stay longer than 48 hours. Was here 7/3/21 and saw a fireworks show out of front RV window. Wildlife Refuge access with a nice walking trail and some military information. 3 others RV and 5 tractor trailers. Didn’t find it too noisy being right across the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Debbie Furnari
3 reviews
Fredericksburg, VA


Jun 29, 2021

"Easy stay"

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Ok....slim pickings anywhere along 95. Some rest areas (all packed with trucks tho), most Walmarts, cracker barrels etc do not allow overnights, but I managed to find this one on rv parky. Huge parking lot. I tucked myself in the back, as far out of the way as possible. Cleanish. Some grassy areas for fido. Only 4 OTA TV channels. VZW...
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steve davies
21 reviews
Jun 28, 2021


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Good ppl. Frienly. Plenty of room for 6 RVers

2 reviews