How to Find a Great Off-Road Campsite

Longer days and warmer weather mean camping season is here. Clean out the camper, pack up the weekend bins and start planning your adventures.

But, where do you go? With 985 million acres of public land in the U.S., and tens of thousands of campgrounds, pulling out a blank map can be overwhelming. Do you drive into the woods and hope to find a spot? Or what about heading towards the river? Is there public land? Will the campgrounds be full? Can my car get there?

onX Offroad offers access to land maps across North America with public and private land boundaries, recreation points and the most important feature: open roads and trails by vehicle. Wherever you are, the App lights up open trails as green, and temporarily closed trails red. Looking for off-road campsites near you? No matter where you live, we have you covered. Scan the map for the tent icons and start planning your next adventure.

Planning a camping trip should be fun, not stressful. Make sure you have appropriate gear, enough food and water, and a backup plan. Still don’t know where to go? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Check out our tips below for finding a great campsite.

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Campgrounds vs. Dispersed Campsites

Before you head out looking for a campsite, consider what type of campsite you prefer. If you want to reserve a spot, then campgrounds are the way to go. Many campgrounds take reservations online, and you can find many links in the onX Offroad App. Tap a Campground icon for more information. Campgrounds also have bathrooms and individual sites with fire rings and picnic tables. On the downside, campgrounds can be crowded and you’re often close to your neighbors.

Want a more adventurous weekend? Check out dispersed campsites. These are sites on public land, such as National Forest or BLM, that are not in designated campgrounds. They may only contain a small rock fire ring, and they are first-come first-serve. On the plus side, they are often removed from crowds and are free.

onX Offroad identifies both campground and dispersed campsites in the App. Pro tip: when planning your trip, drop Waypoints at a few different campsites, just in case one is full or you hit snow or other roadblocks.

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Can My Vehicle Get There?

The most important question when heading out to camp, often left way too late, is: “Can my rig get there?” When heading off pavement you have to think about seasonal closures, gates, and road width. You don’t want to get your truck stuck on a single track with nowhere to turn around. onX Offroad covers all of this for you. In the App, tap a road or trail and find out if it’s open to SUVs and trucks, or just SXSs and dirt bikes. On that same screen you can check “open dates” so you don’t hit a gate. Make sure you download your Offroad maps before you leave cell service so you can still access trail and road data and all of your saved Waypoints.

Plan Your Activities

If you are trying to decide where to camp, think of what you want to do while you’re there. If it’s hot, consider looking for a campsite near a lake, river or creek so you have somewhere to cool off. Scan the App for trailheads that may also lead to waterfalls or alpine lakes.

Ready to rip the SXS, 4×4, or dirt bike? Plan your trip around a concentration of open trails and roads using your Offroad App. Zoom in and look for green trails, which means they are open and ready to go. Red trails are temporarily closed. If you find a blue trail, tap on it for featured details like descriptions, difficulty ratings, and trail photos.

The Offroad App also highlights fishing accesses, climbing walls, historical points and more in all fifty states. No matter what you have planned for the weekend, where you live, or you’re with, there are activities for everyone in the App.

Don’t forget to download your Offline Maps before you head out of service, and drop Waypoints so you have plenty of backup activities for the weekend. A little planning goes a long way. onX Offroad can help you plan at home, and then be your guide in the backcountry.

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Jenny Sheets

Jenny Sheets is the copywriter and vertical marketing specialist for onX Offroad. She lives in Montana where she dirt bikes, trail runs, camps, and overlands with her husband, dog, and son, Henry Danger.