So we’ve been on the road for a month and a half now and have stayed in a WIDE variety of campsite locations and overnight options. There are paid campgrounds, free campsites in forests, Walmarts, Breweries, Casinos, and more. I figured It’d be fun to do a pros and cons comparison of all the different places we stayed between Florida and South Dakota.
Night 1: Boondocking on the Florida Coast
Hagens Cove in Perry, Florida
Night number one of the entire trip, we gunned it north to Perry, Florida from Clearwater. I didn’t find a ton of options for free camping on the gulf side of Florida but we did find one little hidden gem! Hagen’s Cove is a boat launch area with a big loop and several picnic spots.
We pulled into this campsite after dark so we didn’t really get a good look around until morning. When we woke up, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise and the whole place to ourselves to enjoy our morning tea and coffee. There was a little observation tower we climbed up to get the best views and take it all in.
- Had it to ourselves
- Beautiful Views
- Pit Toilets
- Not super far off the main roads.
- Scenic Route
- Great Verizon cell service.
- The mosquitos were INSANE (Marshland)
- A bit bumpy coming in on the dirt road.
- Got ourselves a bit creeped out being alone out there.
- A few cars drove through in the middle of the night.
- There was a sign that stated no camping but reviews said it was a non-issue.
- No Sprint cell service
Night 4: Harvest Host Brewery
Goat Island Brewing in Cullman, Alabama
After staying with friends for a couple nights, our next stop brought us to a Harvest Host in Cullman, Alabama. Goat Island Brewing was located in an industrial area with a big bag parking lot that we fit into easily. In exchange for a free stay, we just have to support the business. As beer lovers, this is a simple task! It also works well to grab some beers the night before so you can just scoot out early the next morning. Worked out as a campsite for us for a night!
- Free with some beers!
- Had a great time with the locals and some karaoke!
- People were super friendly.
- Close enough to the highway and to everything you need in town.
- Had the place to ourselves.
- Parking lot was pretty sloped. Hard to get the camper level.
- Needed to follow strict directions to get there because of low train bridges.
- Bright lights beamed into the camper.
- If you’re a light sleeper, you may have to deal with late night people, early morning workers and trains.
Night 8 & 9: Paid Campsite
Blue Springs Campground, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
We figured early on in our trip, we would need the luxuries of a real campground with hookups so we booked two nights at Blue Springs Campground, close to Kansas City. This campground was a great little find. We got there just before dark so we were able to set up without flashlights! The people were nice and the campground was rather empty for the most part.
The campsite was also located real close to a lake so we had a good time riding our bikes around and fishing in the mornings. A campsite with hookups is such a nice treat once in a while because you don’t have to worry about water or electric running out, but it definitely adds up if we were to do it more often.
- Quiet and friendly.
- Gravel spots with hookups, fire pits and picnic tables.
- Nice facilities and small enough to navigate around.
- On the more affordable side of campgrounds.
- Perfect home base for exploring Kansas City and running local errands.
- Opportunities nearby to go fishing and boating.
- Had some deer for neighbors!
- Had a free dump and fill site at the campground.
- Site was a bit unlevel and hard to back into.
- Not free!
- Loud cicadas all night long. Had nice weather but needed to keep the windows closed.
- Not right in the city so some driving is required.
Night 10: Boondocking at a Casino
Hard Rock Casino, Sioux City, Iowa
This Hard Rock Casino in Sioux City was by far our least favorite of the previous stays. We chose it because it was right off the highway to break up our long drive out to the Badlands but in retrospect, we would not stay here again. Not only did the town smell bad in general but the people who were drifting around the parking lot were not exactly the neighbors you would like.
We explored the town a little and road our bikes down to the river. Then we ventured inside the casino quick to check out the Hard Rock Gift Shop before coming back out to the camper to make some dinner.
(I collect pins from Hard Rock’s across the country and world and shared about it in a blog post years ago if you’re interested!)
- Right off the highway, easy to navigate to.
- Level parking lot and wooded near the back to feel a bit more secluded.
- Cell service was good for both of us!
- Seedy people. We had our bicycles locked up and found it had been tampered with in the morning. Luckily they didn’t get them!
- This town just stunk all around. Not sure why.
- Trucks came and went in the middle of the night.
- Didn’t feel bad packing up and taking off at a wicked early hour.
It’s fun waking up in new locations every night but we definitely prefer some over others. Top priority: affordability. We’re looking for free or free-in-exchange-for-beer. Secondly, we look for cell service. It helps if at least one of us have service because we can’t really do much research otherwise. And third: Location. As nice as it is to stay in beautiful destinations, sometimes they just aren’t as easy to get to with our travel trailer so this is not always the top priority. Looking forward to sharing some other spots we’ve been staying in since we left Iowa! They only keep getting better!
Interested in planning a road trip of your own and don’t know where to start with finding boondocking spots like these? I put together a blog post called Road Trip Planning 101. Or check out InMotion Adventures to see what I can do for you! Until next time…