Backpacking in a Camper Van Across America

Those of us who revelled in the freedom of backpacking in our youth, often look back with pleasure to the days of travelling without a plan. We exchanged tips with fellow travelers in cheap backpacker hostels in those days. Some of us still take casual RV holidays backpacking in a camper van, without knowing in advance where we will spend the night. We have spoken to more than a few of these otherwise solid middle-class people. Here are the tips we gleaned for backpacking in a camper van across America. We have pickup and drop off sites all over the country. By way of example, you could collect your rented motorhome in Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. Not to mention dozens of other more remote places.

backpacking in a camper van.St Joe River, Idaho Panhandle National Forests
St Joe River, Idaho Panhandle National Forests: Greg Tensmeyer BY Public Domain

Avoiding the Crowds while Backpacking in a Camper Van across America

Every American is an equal shareholder in federal real estate. From what we know this applies de facto to visitors too. The United States owns 154 National Forest protected areas covering 188,000 acres in total. That’s approximately the size of either Cambodia or Syria, or half the size of Japan. Camping is free under the law unless there are restrictions.

Many of the forests have hard-surfaced campsites, especially west of the Mississippi River. However, tents and open stoves and fires are generally not permitted. Other than that, simply follow your soul down a dirt road going nowhere slowly, until you find your perfect spot to go backpacking in a camper van across America.

backpacking in a camper van
Virginia Road Stop: Unknown Author / CC BY-SA 3.0

Choosing a Spot By the Side of a Regular Road

Thirteen states allow vehicles parked overnight at certain rest stops, but for one night only where it is safe. Again, you simply park your rental caravan anywhere there is no posted prohibition. The RV’s we rent out have their own bathrooms and kitchens, so you’ll not be short on conveniences when backpacking in a camper van with us. Here’s your checklist of the thirteen obliging states.

Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia all allow parking for a single night. So do Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio provided it’s a toll road. You may also have success at selected truck stops and state welcome centres.

backpacking in a camper van
Raton, New Mexico: Phillip Stewart / CC BY-SA 2.0

‘Rules of The Road’ for Camper Van Backpackers

It’s always a good idea to observe basic courtesies, like checking first with the parking attendant or ranger. Also greet your temporary neighbors if stopping over near a house or business. Americans are a generally friendly nation who will welcome you with local advice.

Chat with Go 4 Motorhome Rental if you are considering hiring a recreational vehicle in one our many popular tourist countries. We have pickup and drop-off agents everywhere in America, from Albuquerque to Whittier at the far end of the alphabet. We’ll give you a keen price, good advice and a warm welcome too.

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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