Motocamping is today’s version of cowboy camping of the pioneering days. Centuries ago cowboys and travelers traversed by horse and set up camp along the trails for the night. Today, a more modern version of off road motorcycles have taken the lead in backcountry camping; the same as our horse camping ancestors. Hence, why it’s called Motocamping. It’s motorcycle camping at its’ best!
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What is Motocamping?
How to Find Motorcycle Camping Spots
Motocamping actually started using horses. Through time, the travel camping concept evolved into using 2-wheel motorized machines instead of 4-legged horses or mules.
But, it does come with its’ set of challenges. And that is comfort and finding places to camp with your motorcycle.
Motorcycle camping can be as comfortable as you wish. Of course, roughing it offers off-road riders the full-spectrum of outdoor enjoyment. Motocamping can vary from towing a popup camper trailer to a one person tent or hanging a hammock between two trees or posts.
There is no right or wrong way to motocamping. Just as long as motocampers respect the outdoors, campsites and the trails to get there.
Motocamping can cost you anywhere from FREE (we all love free!) to upwards to $50-75 a night. Camping fees hinge on where you camp, region of the country, what kind of camping you like, as well as amenities.
Just like RVs and regular tent camping, there’s actually two types of motorcycle camping. First being in designated campgrounds. And second, dispersed camping, aka wild camping or boondocking. Each has its’ own pros and cons. And depending on the comforts, you may split your trip to enjoy both types of camping.
So, whether you’re a sport tourer, cruiser type or off-the-beaten-path adventure motorcycle rider, there’s tons of places to camp with your motorcycle on or off the beaten path.
Motocamping in Designated Campgrounds
If you’re a slab rider, (asphalt roads and highways), there’s plenty of resources on finding campgrounds and camping sites accessible to motorcycles.
They’re literally everywhere from right off the main highway to the backroads in farming communities. Campgrounds are plentiful around water; albeit along the ocean or gulf coasts, lakes and rivers.
They are easily accessible where motorcycle riders can ride in and motocamp at their own campsite.
Designated campgrounds typically have a bathhouse with toilets, showers and other amenities such as onsite laundry facility, pool, game room, camp store, etc. Campsites may or may not include a picnic table, fire pit and/or permanent grill.
Be aware though, privately owned, commercial and membership campgrounds can be pricy depending on region and specific location. Their campground fees can be quite excessive for what you get.
But, if you’re more about comfort and safety than your wallet, then these type of designated campgrounds may be just the ticket for a good night’s sleep.
And of course, any campgrounds that are located near tourist attractions, National Parks and high cost living areas will dig deeper into your wallet.
Just be aware of the location where you’ll be camping. If you’re not going to be utilizing any nearby attractions, you may want to ride 50 or so miles away to save some money and not deal with the traffic.
Government-owned campgrounds like National Parks, Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service land, various State Parks and even county or small town parks typically cost less because there’s less amenities. Their interest is not to make a big profit but to promote and make camping affordable for everyone.
I do want to note, if you have a National Park pass, you may even get to stay overnight for a decent discount. Discounts usually apply to the National Park America the Beautiful SENIOR pass or disabled ACCESS pass.
I highly recommend getting one! We have the NP Access Pass and get half off most federal campgrounds and even some military FamCamps (weird, I know but that’s what was shared to us).
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Which National Park Pass Should You Get?
Motocamping in Dispersed Camping
For backcountry seeking ADV and dual sport riders, their version of motocamping is riding off-the beaten path and pitching a tent or stringing up a hammock along the route.
Dispersed camping, also known as wild camping, primitive camping or even boondocking, is vastly different from regular campground camping. They are usually only accessible by overlanding, off road motorcycles, or RVs and vans equipped to handle the terrain.
Dispersed camping is camping off grid in remote areas away from all of the city traffic nonsense that offers peace and tranquility. They are typically located in National Forests or Bureau of Land Management camping areas.
Most dispersed camping sites are minimally maintained and may or may not have a pit toilet, fire pit, picnic table.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ What is Campsite Squatting? Is It Legal?
Check out our friend at Dork in the Road as he talks about the pros and cons of each type of motocamping:
Motocamping in Shelters
Say you don’t want to stay in a ritzy and expensive hotel but you really don’t want to sleep in a tent. Where can motorcycle riders go to enjoy still motocamping but in the lap of luxury?
Simple! There’s quite a few campgrounds nationwide that offer cabins or cottages and furnished tents, yurt camping, and even bubble camping domes. RVing the Country, we’ve found lots of State Parks offer cabins at reasonable rates.
One of our favorite camping options to share with our motorcycle camping buds who don’t want to camp in a tent is to camp in an Airstream! (Crazy, right!!!?)
AutoCamp offers overnight lodging and accommodations in modern iconic Airstream suites and luxurious tents near select National Parks and cool attractions. AutoCamp brings high-end, boutique-style amenities, mid-century modern design, and welcoming hospitality to some of the world’s most beautiful natural places.
How to find great motocamping sites?
While just even the thought of motocamping may seem a little daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it. One of the challenges of motocamping is learning to find places to camp with your motorcycle…legally.
Just because you see a quiet dead end road, dirt road or trail does not mean you can ride your motorcycle on it let alone set up your place to camp for an overnight. They may be on or lead to private property, farms or ranches, or even government property, etc.
So, don’t think you can just roll in and park along the water, in the woods or wherever you think is a great spot to camp.
Otherwise, you may be end up landing yourself in jail for trespassing or looking down the barrel of a gun from a disgruntled property owner.
That said, there are fantastic resources out there that can lead motorcycle riders to some spectacular motocamping sites roadside or off road in the backcountry.
Speaking of backcountry, we recommend looking into the Backcountry Discovery Routes® or BDR®. It’s a non-profit advocacy organization that creates off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel. Currently (2023), they are concentrated in the western and the northeast regions of the U.S.
Also, ADV riders and Dual Sport riders can join specific Facebook groups that are crowd sourced. Members share all the best places to motocamp (and not so great places too!).
And lastly, there’s tons of organized rallies that riders can attend, listen to speakers and camp with other like-minded motorcycle riders.
Some of the best camping location tips we’ve learned are tossed out around the campfire.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Best Beach Camping Tips and Rules for Coastal Campers
Motorcycle Camping Apps and Websites
Captain Obvious will usually tell you to just use Google Maps (iOS or Android) to find campgrounds near me or motorcycle camping near me. You can look up and save locations to plan your trip and download maps to use offline.
And it’s pretty simple to see where you’re going to camp via classic mode, satellite or even topographical views. What Google maps doesn’t really help with is finding the best riding roads (you know we love our twisties!). Or, they may reroute you onto highways or roads you will least enjoy riding on.
But, if you’re wanting reputable information on places to camp with your motorcycle, look into crowd-sourced websites that offer reviews.
REVER highlights every epic road for easy reference. Create the perfect ride with a motorcycle route planner and automatically sync it to the REVER App for easy navigation and sharing.
EatSleepRIDE (ESR) combines several useful motorcycle app features into a single package, including a GPS, social network and crash detector. ESR pulls it all together nicely into a package that’s relatively easy to use and flexible.
Calimoto is designed to provide the most options for motorcyclists who want to enjoy scenic and windy roads less traveled. It offers offline navigation tools that will keep you on the right track; offering full turn-by-turn navigation.
Scenic is a genuine alternative to expensive motorcycle GPS units like the Garmin Zumo and TomTom Rider. With Scenic, you can plan, navigate, track, share and organize your motorcycle adventure.
Harley-Davidson provides a motorcycle trip planner, GPS, riding challenges and more. It also offers automatic notifications about nearby Harley events. The sister app, H-D Connect, allows Harley riders of newer models to actually connect your phone to your Harley’s built-in GPS. It can automatically transfer the trips you create in your trip planner to your bike’s navigation system.
FreeCampsites.net – Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, they’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find motorcycle camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
FURKOT gives motorcycles riders a little more edge to finding great motocamping locations. It’s a Google Maps based resource that also shows places to stop. And it allows you to program your motorcycle trip by days using different colors and icons. You can even set your daily mileage allowances to keep within your riding comfort zone.
GAIA GPS – is the offroad travel app that provides the best GPS navigation tools to help you explore the world. Discover scenic hike trails, camping sites, and amazing offroad routes with Gaia GPS. Offers offline maps, route planner, and distance tracker features all made to help you navigate picturesque routes.
iOverlander – is a completely volunteer-run database source of places for overlanders and motorcycle riders. It includes camping, hotels, restaurants, mechanics, water, etc. Details are listed for each place, including amenities, photos, date last visited and GPS coordinates.
The Dyrt – is a consumer subscription platform for camping, and one of the largest sources of information for campgrounds throughout the United States, via a website and mobile app. The content on The Dyrt is crowd-sourced as campers post reviews, photos, and videos about campgrounds in the U.S.
There are other apps for motorcycle riders. While we can’t recommend any due to lack of experience of using them, we’re listing them for riders to research on their own.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Military Camping: How Military and Veterans Can Camp Cheaply
Motorcycle Friendly Campgrounds
Since motorcycle touring has evolved greatly in the past decades, motorcycle campgrounds or motorcycle-friendly campgrounds have sprung up all over the country. These particular campgrounds are driven to cater to the needs of motorcycle riders.
In fact, had we known about or if these and other resources even existed, we may just well have continued our motorcycle adventures instead of RVing? Who knows? But I can tell you, it would have been a heck of a lot cheaper and more fun!
Pssst, he also has an awesome motocamping store chocked full of minimalist camping gear that is perfect for Adventure Riders!
Other welcoming motocamping locations and places to camp for motorcycle riders
The easiest and most accessible places are campgrounds or events that actually cater to the RV crowd. As RVers, we use RV LIFE’s RV Trip Wizard that could essentially be used by motorcycle riders as well with their campground reviews.
Similar to Boondockers Welcome for RVs, there are a few free camping opportunities for respectful riders. These are camping spaces offered by individual property owners (riding and non-riding) to camp on their land or lot.
- Bunk-a-Biker – Stay free within the community of motorcycle campers. Each person has something different to offer from a tent spot in their yard to a home built shed. Locations all over the world.
- Adventure Rider Forum Tent Space – where riders and non-riders offer respectful members a place to stay overnight.
- HipCamp – an online marketplace company that offers outdoor stays and camping experiences via a website and mobile app. Private landowners primarily list campsites, glampsites, RV spaces, and even cabins for users to discover and book based on listing type, location, landscape, activities offered, and amenities.
Some are free while HipCamp locations may charge for a campsite like an AirB&B property. But, when there’s no other legal camping in the area, they may be your best option.
They also are a great opportunity should motorcycle campers not want to stay in a loud and congested campground or deal with rude and obnoxious campers.
Might I add, when using any of those free camping resources, it’s of utmost importance to respect the property owner’s requirements and what they expect of their motorcycle camping guests. Always follow the leave no trace concept when camping anywhere.
Lastly, the biggest complaint of property owners is motorcycle riders not showing up on their agreed upon time slot. This ruins it for others who may have missed out due to your reservation. But also, strains the kindness of property owners. So, let’s not do that.
✰✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰✰ How to Recreate Responsibly in the Outdoors
Lets go motocamping!
As you see, motocamping is becoming more popular everyday. While two wheels replace four legs, the concept remains the same as centuries past.
Motocamping is a fun and adventurous way to explore the byways and backroads while camping along the way. It’s great to just unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to enjoy nature and solitude; all while enjoying the passion of riding and camping.
✰ PRO TIP ✰ Check out and subscribe to Moto Photo Adventures YouTube channel for their awesome motocamping gear reviews and adventure riding trip reports!
This article was collaboratively written by Dana Brown, StrykerADV and Always On Liberty.
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