1. How to Locate Camping Sites for a Rooftop Tent
  2. How to Locate Publicly Designated Camping Areas
  3. Areas for Public, Dispersed Camping
  4. How do I locate a site?
  5. How do you know if camping is permitted?
  6. Alternative Car Camping Locations
  7. Conclusion

You may enjoy camping but want to avoid setting up a tent and sleeping on the ground. A rooftop tent could be an ideal option for you. With a little preparation, you can find the ideal camping spot and enjoy the great outdoors. There are numerous site options for camping, including publicly designated sites and National Forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands for dispersed camping. In this article, we'll look at the various rooftop tent camping sites and how to locate them for your next camping adventure.

How to Locate Camping Sites for a Rooftop Tent

There are three primary types of locations for camping with a rooftop tent:

Publicly Designated Camping Areas: campsites and campgrounds that are accessible to the general public.

Areas for Public, Dispersed Camping: BLM land and National Forests

Urban Boondocking, alternative Car Camping Locations: supermarkets, rest areas, etc.

Before you hit the open road, make sure to know how to locate each type of camping area.

How to Locate Publicly Designated Camping Areas

There are designated public camping areas in national parks, state parks, and national forest land.

Most of these campsites are designed for tent campers and are also suitable for those with rooftop tents. There are also RV/camping-specific sites in some areas. With a rooftop tent, you can access these sites and have fun even during busy times.

National and state parks are filled with designated camping areas that often charge a nominal fee. These locations are usually designed with tents, you can only camp with one.

Depending on the capacity, some campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and others require in-advance reservations.

On the National Park Service website, camping sites in national parks can be researched and reserved. Search for the desired park and navigate the camping section.

To locate campgrounds/campsites on national forest land (and other public land management designations), visit and enter your desired location in the search bar.

Visit the website of a specific state park to locate campgrounds and campsites.

Each state may use a different reservation system for State Parks; therefore, the best place to begin is the park's official website.

How to Find the Best Rooftop Camping Spots

Areas for Public, Dispersed Camping

If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city for your next trip, dispersed camping may be a good choice for you.

Dispersed camping happens outside designated, developed sites, meaning that there is no access to public facilities such as bathrooms, running water, or trash cans. These sites can offer you greater independence and solitude than a maintained campsite does.

National Forests and BLM lands feature the greatest accessibility for dispersed camping.

Driving and camping on the side of a Forest Service road are permissible in National Forests. With a little search work, you can find a truly scenic spot with more beautiful views than a typical campsite. BLM and National Forest land provide you with wonderful rooftop camping experiences in areas ranging from villages overlooking a valley and lake in the Appalachian mountains to a rocky crag in the desert overlooking the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Before you drive to National Forest for camping, check their website for information on any required permits. You will also find information regarding restrictions such as closed roads, restricted areas, and fire hazards.

Most BLM lands are located in areas featuring desert climates in the western United States. Similar to national forests, they typically permit car camping at pullouts or along access roads. Just be sure to stay on the road shoulder or in the designated pull-off to avoid causing damage to the area (but also make sure that any other passing cars can get by).

How to Find the Best Rooftop Camping Spots


How do I locate a site? is the best resource for locating National Forests and BLM lands where car camping is permitted. For example, search for "National Forests in Colorado" or "BLM lands in Utah."

The Camping Project on REI's website is an additional valuable resource.

Free camping resources such as Overlander and can also be useful. These are crowdsourced directories of campsites used by other users. They have information regarding camps on forest service and BLM land utilized by previous campers.

Numerous popular overland and off-road mapping applications, such as Gaia or OnX, also display land designations, so you may access a large database of campsites on your phone.

How do you know if camping is permitted?

If you are on forest service or BLM land far from recreational areas (picnic areas, trailheads, etc.) and there are no clear signs, you are likely permitted to camp.

If you want to read more about the rules and regulations, you can find additional information from the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Is there a rule to which I should pay closer attention?

Remember to pack out everything you bring when car camping in dispersed camping areas. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles.

This land must be considered a privilege. Keep it clean and make every effort to prevent or mitigate any harm or impact on the environment and its inhabitants.

How to Find the Best Rooftop Camping Spots


Alternative Car Camping Locations

There are several areas for car camping with a hard-shell rooftop tent that are not accessible to those carrying traditional tents making a cross-country trip and needing to sleep immediately. These consist of the following:

Rest Areas

State regulations regarding overnight parking in rest areas vary.

Many do not permit overnight parking, while others do so if you stay within a specified time limit.


Most locations permit car camping but require parking in the far reaches of the parking lot.

Truck Stops

Look for truck stops that offer overnight parking for RVs, campers, trailers, and similar vehicles.

Before settling in for the night, you should go inside and inquire about any possible fees.


You may be surprised that several casinos provide overnight parking for RVs, campers, and cars.

Ascendll Aluminum Hard Shell Side Open Rooftop Tent, 2 Person



In conclusion, a rooftop tent may be ideal for camping enthusiasts looking for more comfort. Various camping options exist, from designated and private campgrounds to dispersed camping on National Forests and BLM Lands. Proper planning and preparation help you explore the outdoors and find comfort. Prepare for your next camping trip with a rooftop tent by researching the various options available. Have fun!

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