5 Ultimate Camping Apps for a Vanlife Road Trip - Native Campervans

5 Ultimate Camping Apps for a Vanlife Road Trip

Ultimate Camping Apps

As the Vanlife movement continues to boom in the US, robust Apps supporting #vanlife have surfaced. Being avid adventurers, we here at Native Campervans are constantly testing out the best camping Apps, and finding epic spots to camp out for a night. These are the ultimate camping apps we recommend.

Exploring in a Campervan allows you to camp in tent site locations no RV could ever dream of parking in. The beauty of vanlife is you get the camping experience – all the comradery of sitting around a fire pit, cooking in the outdoors, the magical landscape surrounding you, but sleeping comfortably inside your van.

But the big challenges. Where are these epic campsites? And how do you find them with the overwhelming amount of camping Apps to choose from? How do you know which ones to use? We’ve got you covered.

1. The Dyrt

Best For: Free, public and private campgrounds nationwide
Price: Free | Pro version – 30-day free with code: NAT30
Download: iOS and Android

The Dyrt is our favorite, go-to all-in-one resource app supporting #vanlife. Helping campers find the best campsites nationwide, with a repository of over 500,000 campgrounds. Book stays, read reviews, and peruse the extensive number of user-submitted photos and videos of most campgrounds. 

The app is slick, easy to use, and has a host of filter options to choose from. Each campground page will provide icons highlighting what type of camper it accommodates, whether pets are allowed, toilets or showers on-site, dump-station locations, and much more. You’ll also get a breakdown of the local area, the top attractions to visit, favorite activities among travelers, and the expected weather for the upcoming week.

The Dyrt also runs monthly contests for campers who write the most useful reviews of campgrounds, shelling out merch from top outdoor brands. And if you want to take your campground search offline, signing up for The Dyrt Pro ($35) gives you access to downloadable offline maps as well as big discounts on campgrounds and gear. We highly recommend adding this to your apps because it is the ultimate camping resrouce.

As a bonus for renting with us, we’re giving you free access to 30 days of The Dyrt PRO. The Dyrt is the #1 camping app and largest campground directory with access to 1 million+ campsites, reviews, and tips. The Dyrt PRO gives you:
– Offline access to 44,000 campgrounds and maps (no cell reception needed)
– Discounts for campgrounds and gear
– Trip Planner for building the ultimate camping trip
– Map Layers to help you find free camping

2. Recreation.gov

Recreation Camping apps

Best For: Federal Campgrounds (National Parks, Forests, BLM)
Price: Free
Download: iOS and Android

Recation.gov is a popular camping app that lists only federal camping options. Ranging from National Parks to Forests, and other federal recreation sites, the app also provides a host of activities available around the campgrounds. From white water rafting to the best fishing spots, to required backcountry permits, Recreation.gov offers a host of outdoor adventures at over 3,600 federal sites.

Pay your National Park entry fee as well as book tickets and educational tours through the app, for places like Carlsbad Caverns and Joshua Tree National Park.  The search interface is beautiful and easy to use, and you can book right through the app. Every campsite page has a list of facilities available, natural features, facility rates, Need-to-Knows and instructions on how to get to the campsite. 

The only downside is there are no user-submitted reviews or pictures. However, this App is a great resource to have for vanlife itineraries focused on exploring National Parks and Forests. Best of all it is Free to download and use. What other ultimate camping apps are there?

Read More: Best Campsites throughout Utah’s Mighty 5

3. iOverlander

Camping apps

Best For: Largest world-wide campsite database, mechanics/hardware stores for a pinch
Price: Free
Download: iOS and Android

iOverlander is a critical lifeline for vanlifers, providing a crowd-sourced, simple map solution to everything you would need while on the road. From wild campsites to established campgrounds, and everything in between, iOverlander’s repository is robust and constantly updated by travelers contributing information.

Need a quick one-night stopover spot after a long day of driving? Check out the Wild Camping sites in your area. Not sure where in town you can dump your wastewater? Head to the app and find your nearest dump station. Ran out of clean drinking water? No worries, check out all the local potable water spots around you.

One of the unique features of iOverlander is the addition of hardware stores, mechanics, and propane fill-up spots. Knowing where to find your closest mechanic is critical to getting back on the road in a pinch. And, you even see what the cellular coverage is at each campsite for the major telecom providers.

4. HipCamp

Hipcamp ultimate apps

Best For: Glamping and unique paid campsite spots
Price: Free
Download: iOS and Android

Commonly referred to as the ‘AirBnB of camping’, HipCamp is the go-to app for finding one-of-a-kind paid private campsites. With a repository of over 300,000 listings, HipCamp is as comprehensive a resource as they come.

Every ‘host’ has a small bio and recommendation rating associated with them. There are reviews aplenty, detailed lists of what each site does and does not provide, where the campsites are located, and lists of the top activities on the host’s property. The interface is slick – very Airbnb-esque – with a host of filters, you can use to drill down into such as; pet-friendly, restrooms/showers, and free wifi to name a few. Oh, and the community-sourced pictures are some of the best out there.

Want to live the life of a luxury vanlifer for the night, HipCamp is the app for you.

5. Freecampsites.net

Camping apps

Best For: Finding free one-night stopover spots
Price: Free
Download: iOS and Android

Freecampsites.net is not technically a part of the apps, but it is an ultimate camping finding for free areas around the US. Looking to explore the outdoors while keeping your wallet full? Freecampsite.net is a community-driven repository where fellow vanlifers share free campsites they uncover all over the country.

Features of each campsite page include GPS coordinates and directions, info on who manages the land, the best activities in the area, and a 5-day weather forecast. Followed up with a list of reviews and photos from previous campers. 

The interface is vintage and clunky but simple to use. Just type in a specific location where you’d like to camp and you’ll see all the campsites in the area. Paid campsites do find their way onto the map, however, all sites are color-coded so you can differentiate easily. The team behind Freecampsites.net are not interested in RV-friendly parking spots, so public lands are their forte.

Honorable Mentions

Price: Free
Download: iOS only

A cross between Freecampsites.net and Hipcamp, with a robust library of paid campgrounds and boondocking sites. If you’re exploring public lands such as BLM sites, National Forests or National Parks, this app is a great resource for finding epic free campsites.

The Vanlife App
Price: Free (Community-based version $35.99/year)
Download: iOS and Android

More than just a resource for campsites and amenity filtering, The Vanlife App is a community where you can connect with fellow vanlifers, see who else is in your area, and share stories and tips from your vanlife experiences. 

The app is free, however to access the community requires a $35.99/year subscription.

Harvest Host
Price: $79.99/year
Download: iOS and Android

A unique vanlife subscription app that lets you find local farms, breweries, wineries, and distilleries that offer short-term camping sites for free. You are just expected to purchase goods from your host. Harvest Host is a great resource to find some really unique vanlife experiences. Super helpful up in the North-East where wild camping options are limited.

If you’re looking for a high-quality campervan rental make sure to check out our van options for your next trip. Availability is scarce in our peak months, so don’t wait to reserve your camper. Enjoy your trip and don’t forget to download one of these ultimate camping apps.

Additional Resources for First-Time Vanlifers:

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