Interest in camping is at all all-time high right now, as bored Americans who’ve grown fatigued by staying home and indoors, search for new and still socially distant ways to pass the time. Add that to the recent uptick in interest in van camping and glamping, and it’s a recipe for overbooked camping spots at state and national parks around the country.
If you want to get ahead of the camping curve, or just want to find a camping spot at a public or private campground before the year 2022, you’re going to have to start integrating technology into your camping routine. Need to stock up on camping supplies? Tap or click here for our outdoor recreation and camping shopping guide.
We know, we know — the whole point of camping is to unplug from technology and get back to nature, but desperate times and fully booked campsites call for desperate measures. Let’s take a look at how the camping apps below can help.
The 10 best apps for camping, RV travels, and road trips
There are tons of smartphone apps for camping, but not all are created equally. The apps below will help you find a tent or RV spot in a sea of booked sites, locate free boondocking spots and even help you find hidden trails for mountain biking or shops to stock up on supplies. Magic!
The free app for Recreation.gov is beloved by outdoor fanatics everywhere and for good reason. This app allows you to streamline your camping plans by making reservations at thousands of incredible camping destinations across the nation.
Considering how tough it is to get a camping spot right now as people flood into state and national parks for self-distancing summer vacations, this app could be a lifesaver — especially if you’re a last-minute planner. In addition to camping reservations, the Recreation.gov app will allow you to:
- Search unique campgrounds and individual campsites across the country
- Discover personalized recommendations based on your location
- Filter search results by what’s important to you and your trip (price, amenities, site type, and more)
- View photos and maps of campgrounds and campsites
- Seamlessly switch between interactive maps and search results
- Check real-time availability and location information for individual sites
- Review important details on activities, attractions, and experiences for your next trip
- Conveniently access your account information and your camping and ticket reservations
- Find tickets and tours for amazing activities
2. RV Parks & Campgrounds app
Much like the Recreation.gov app, the RV Parks & Campgrounds app gives you access to information on over 40,000 RV parks, campgrounds, rest areas, gas stations, and stores. If you’re looking for commercial RV parks, you can search by rating in this app and even view the results in list mode.
The nice thing about this app is that it uses local databases, so if you’re out in the middle of nowhere you can still search through the app. Even if you don’t have an internet signal (though you won’t be able to view photos or maps without a signal). Plus, this database includes information on truck stops, big box stores, and a ton of other resources outside of campgrounds, making it a useful tool for planning out stops you need to make.
3. KOA app
If you’re a regular camper, chances are you’ve stayed at a KOA or two over the years — but were you aware that there’s an app to make it easy to plan your next trip to any KOA in the nation? Whether you prefer to camp in your RV, book a cabin, or pitch a tent, the KOA app will show you the options available in the areas where you’re headed.
The KOA app offers information on over 500 locations to explore across the U.S. and Canada, and you can:
- Make reservations
- Search by city, state, campground name, or nearby attractions
- Search and filter within a specific campground to find the perfect site
- Map your nearby location or browse the map for your destination
- Get campground information, search tools and driving directions — even while offline
- Get access or notifications on KOA deals and events
4. AllTrails: Hike, Bike, and Run app
Looking for a place to hike that’s off the beaten path? The AllTrails app is the place to find it. This app offers users crowdsourced trail information, along with photos and reviews from millions of hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners — along with over 100,000 hand-curated trail maps.
Whether you’re trying to dig up a kid-friendly (or new hiker-friendly) trail or a hidden gem that isn’t highly trafficked, the AllTrails app can hook you up — with hand-curated GPS and topo maps, no less. This app offers a ton of other hiking- and biking-related features, too — including a GPS activity tracker, hiking, running, and cycling stats, and even off-route notifications to keep you from getting lost on your adventure.
5. Hipcamp app
Glamping fans, take note: Hipcamp is your app. This app offers access to unique camping experiences — whether that’s in a yurt in desolate New Mexico or a tiny home in a vineyard in the Pacific Northwest. Think of it like the nature-lovers Airbnb, with beachside cabins and eco-friendly lodge rentals instead of high-rise apartments.
You can also use the Hipcamp app to find more traditional accommodations like campgrounds in sought-after destinations like Yosemite, Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Zion. You’ll just find those public park listings alongside boutique destinations, private treehouses, or hillside yurts — all of which can be requested and booked through the app.
6. The Dyrt app
The Dyrt app was the #1 camping app of 2020 and for good reason — this app offers tons of camping information, including crowdsourced reviews and tips on the best tent, RV, and cabin sites submitted by other campers. Users can submit photos, reviews, and info on everything from federal lands to national parks, state parks, county parks, BLM land, KOA, Good Sam, Thousand Trails, private parks, and even military land for campers of all types.
One of the major selling points for The Dyrt app is that it offers users the most reviews of any camping app. You can filter the information by tent, RV, cabin, glamping, distance, rating, and other pertinent information — and can even request reservations through the app. And, as a bonus, this app also gives users access to camping deals and gear discounts to help you stock up on the necessary tools you need for your trip.
7. FreeRoam app
If you’re into boondocking — or camping for free at nontraditional campsites — FreeRoam is the app you need. This app is a boondocker’s dream, offering information on overnight camping spots, dumpsites, fresh water, groceries, propane, gyms, showers, cell towers, and other necessities. Plus, you can filter that information by road difficulty, safety, cell signal, weather, how crowded a place is, and other useful metrics.
FreeRoam also offers users a social component. You can use this app to meet new people, see other travelers nearby, find upcoming van and RV events, and even keep in touch with those you’ve met. Plus, you’ll get access to photo and video content with this app, and you can watch clips of other users describing clandestine campsites you may be interested in visiting.
8. AllStays app
If you’re on the go without internet access for long jaunts, you may want to download AllStays, the iOS app that lets you search for information on tent camping, RV resorts, RV-friendly parking lots, and other camper-friendly spots — whether you have internet signal or not.
This app does more than just offer access to camping spot info. It also gives users information on rest areas, repairs, tunnels, even inclines — all of which is necessary for RV campers who have to gauge whether their home-on-wheels can make it through certain types of terrain.
Plus, the maps in the app will add points as you scroll, and you can filter the map by type and over 30 amenities. The downside is that you can only use this app if you have an iOS device.
9. Boondocking app
Fans of boondocking have another option for their camping app needs with the Boondocking app, but only if they’re using iOS devices. The Boondocking app offers users inside information on over 980 boondocking locations, most of which are within the U.S.
In addition to the boondocking location information, this app offers:
- The distance from your current location to the boondocking location
- Multiple map types such as Open Street Map
- Info on each boondocking location, even when offline
- The ability to “favorite” certain locations
- Info on local weather for the location
- Location data sent directly to the Road Trip Planner app
To download the Boondocking app for Apple devices, tap or click here.
10. Star Walk 2 app
Star Walk 2 isn’t exactly a camping app, per se — it’s more of a camping-adjacent app, but it will make your trip to the great outdoors even more amazing because you can use it to map the stars in the night sky. This app enables you to stargaze via technology as you use your device to identify thousands of stars, comets, constellations, and other celestial bodies.
All you have to do is point your device to the sky and you’ll see a real-time map in the direction you’re pointing to. This app also offers users:
- Stunning 3D models of constellations and other sky objects
- “Time machine”
- Deep-sky objects
- Info about celestial bodies and sky events
- The sky at different wavelengths
- Augmented reality mode
- Night mode
- A “What’s new” section with the latest astronomical news
- A “Visible Tonight” section
- Siri Shortcuts to observe the celestial events quicker than ever