Seven of the Best Free Campsites in the U.S. - Page 2

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Lost Coast, California
Lost Coast, California  (iStockphoto)
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4. Lost Coast, California
Coastal hiking will be just one of the highlights of your Lost Coast journey in the 11-mile stretch of the Sinkyone Wilderness beach area. There are 31 hike-in campsites that are free, but be sure to pinpoint your destination ahead of time; other sites in the area have an $8 fee.

Get Started
About 230 miles north of San Francisco, the Lost Coast is accessible from U.S. Route 101 at Garberville and Ferndale. Caution: the coastal roads are not all paved. High-clearance vehicles are recommended.

Active Junky Gear Recommendations
Sierra Designs Arrow Rock 30 Sleeping Bag (starting at $188.93); Therm-A-Rest BaseCamp Sleeping Pad (starting at $69.95)

5. Willow Creek Road, Big Sur, California
If you’re seeking some Redwood refuge, Willow Creek Trail is the just what the doctor ordered. A beautiful mile-long hike will lead you to some free campsites that include a gorgeous stream, secret swimming holes, and an overgrown emerald forest that will seemingly swallow you and your tent whole. Watch your back; Bigfoot may or may not be lingering deep in the woods!

Get Started
Travelling south on Highway 1 (about 150 miles south of San Francisco in the Big Sur area), the Willow Creek Road turnoff is 11.9 miles south of Lucia and 36 miles south of the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Active Junky Gear Recommendations
Black Diamond Icon Headlamp (starting at $47.95); Joby Gorillatorch Switchback Headlamp/Lantern (starting at $59.95)

6. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
While Virginia holds its fair share of heat, humidity, and bugs, Shenandoah National Park makes it all worth it. With 196,000 acres of (free) backcountry wilderness at your disposal, take a walk on the East Coast wild side through lush wilderness, watercourse hollows, and rocky slopes. Careful… the unpredictable storms in this area are infamous for downing trees, so keep an eye out for hostile weather conditions.

Get Started
About 50 miles northwest of Charlottesville and 130 miles west of Washington, D.C., the park stretches 105 miles from its northern entrance at Front Royal to its southern entrance near Waynesboro. Backcountry camping in the park requires a free permit.

Active Junky Gear Recommendations
Men’s Marmot Mica Rain Jacket (starting at $97.50); Women’s Helly Hansen Tofino Rain Jacket (starting at $109.95)

7. Assateague Island, Maryland
Assateague Island National Seashore offers several campsites that cost $30 per night, but there are also several undisclosed free spots for all you backcountry junkies that are worth a hike. This marshy, sandy, forested coastal area is fully equipped with wild horses and 48,000 acres of explore-able terrain. Surfing, swimming, kayaking, and fishing are among the many activities available here. Arrive early; campsites are first-come first-serve, and the good ones go quick!

Get Started
There are two entrances to Assateague Island National Seashore. Assateague's north entrance is at the end of Route 611, 8 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland. The south entrance is at the end of Route 175, two miles from Chincoteague, Virginia.

Active Junky Gear Recommendations
The North Face Prophet 52L Backpack ($178.95); The North Face La Loba 60L Women’s Backpack ($268.95)

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