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.

portable computer displaying map of camping locations
mobile device showing map of camping locations
Roadpass Pro
Signup for Roadpass Pro to get premium access to all of these great road travel apps.
Unlock pro campendium features
Ad Free Experience
Cell Service Overlays & Reports
Public Land Map Overlays
Trail Maps
Filter by Elevation
Pro icon Join Roadpass Pro

Recent Virginia Free Campsite Reviews

Gloucester, VA


Sep 12, 2023

"Easy overnight"

active staractive staractive staractive starinactive star
The parking lot was not posted as 'no camping'. We spent one night there - were the only RV in the lot. Went in to ask permission but found no one to speak with. The lot was a bit noisy but it was an easy overnight after spending the day at Beaver Dam Park (no camping there).

53 reviews
Aug 25, 2023

"Good for a night "

active staractive staractive staractive starinactive star
Got in late after a day at Shenandoah- good access, no problems in our sedan. Site had lots of space - fire ring. The lake itself wasn’t visible, just a typical woods area. But was pretty! Clean, space for a rig for sure, level, quiet.

3 reviews
Aug 25, 2023

"Pretty and quiet! "

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
We stayed here on a thursday night on August 3, 2023! We’re tenters and drive a sedan. Very accessible, no road issues! Only saw one other camper there. Many available sites, all gorgeous and many near pretty creeks. We were there on a rainy night so maybe that’s why it wasn’t crowded/noisy but didn’t seem too busy in general. Gorgeous sites...
Read More

3 reviews
Aug 20, 2023

"Very clean and nice rest stops"

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
This is one of the nicer rest stops we have seen in a while. Lots of picnic area, shade and area for kids to run.

20 reviews
Aug 16, 2023

"Easy To Utilize"

active staractive staractive staractive staractive star
Both gray and black water tanks can dump here. Yeah it’s $10. Located right by the air station opposite the front of the Loves.

3 reviews