Military Campgrounds & RV ParksUpdated: November 9, 2022
Find U.S. Military Campground and RV Park locations by state with this guide. Whether you are looking for a place to park your RV, set up your tent or stay in a rustic cabin, Morale, Welfare and Recreation joint services campgrounds and facilities provide eligible veterans, authorized caregivers and service members and their families a variety of accommodations and amenities at great rates without sacrificing luxury or location.
Click on each link to view military campgrounds and RV parks in each state:
“Best Kept Secrets”: Defense Department Online Guide to U.S. joint-service Campgrounds and Facilities
“Best Kept Secrets” connects active-duty service members and their families, National Guard, Reserve, DOD civilians and retired military members with campground sites that offer lower rates as compared to non-DOD campground sites. The look-up feature allows users to search by state to easily locate the campground of their choice, contact information, details on reservation policies, and a list of amenities and activities available at different locations.
Who Can Use Military Recreation Centers & Facilities (FamCamps)
Active Duty Service Members and Families
Active duty service members and their families (with proper ID) are allowed to use DoD / MWR military camping facilities on and off-post.
Veterans who meet certain requirements (see below) and their families may also be able to use military campgrounds. MWR offers access to many of its programs and facilities for:
- Military retirees and families
- Medal of Honor Recipients
- Purple Heart recipients
- Former Prisoners of War
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities (VA documented disability rating)
- Authorized family caregivers of eligible veterans enrolled in the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program
- Reserves members, Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service or a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the meets the requirements for being considered a veteran AND also meets the above criteria are eligible for campground access.
- Honorably discharged veterans are not authorized, unless they meet the additional criteria listed above.
In general, any campsite that requires a privately owned vehicle to enter a military base cannot be accessed by civilians with no military ties. There may or may not be provisions at a particular site for government employees, civilian contractors, etc. Each of the many different sites will have their own entry requirements. Some may be more relaxed about ID checks and general requirements, others will be quite strict. Depending on the destination, DoD civilians, Guard and Reserve members may all be welcome.
How do Eligible Veterans get an Identification Card to access the campgrounds?
To access the installation, veterans eligible solely under the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018, who have been issued a Veteran Health Identification Card from VA can present their VHIC to gain entry. The VHIC must display the veteran’s eligibility status (i.e., purple heart, former POW, service connected disability). Upon the first visit to the installation, eligible veterans must present their VHIC at the visitor control center.
Military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, veterans with a 100% disability rating, and veterans with a 100% unemployability rating due to a service-connected condition and their dependents are eligible to obtain DoD identification cards and are eligible for broader privileges than veterans who are eligible for access solely under Section 1065 of Title 10, United States Code.
Access Isn’t Guaranteed For Civilians
Military recreation facilities may or may not be open to those without military ID, veteran status, retirees, dependents, etc. Overall, if you are a retiree, disabled veteran, currently serving active duty, Guard, or Reservist, you may have a much easier time accessing certain camp facilities. Why?
It all depends on whether or not the campground is physically located on the military base, or adjacent to it. If you are trying to access a campground that is “behind the gate” on an Army post, Air Force base, etc. you will need to either carry the required ID (military ID for all employees, and dependent ID for all family members) or be escorted by someone who does.
Not all bases allow a military member to escort a civilian (non-family member) as a guest, but some do. In such cases the base will dictate what requirements must be met for ID, temporary passes, parking, etc.
Military campgrounds that are not physically located on post may have more relaxed guidelines for who can and cannot use the grounds.
Call ahead for best results. If you have one or more military members in your camping party, be sure to mention them and their status (still serving, retired, separated, disabled veteran, etc.) to see whether or not they can escort non-family members on the grounds.
Military Campground Tips
Are you interested in learning how to access and use military campgrounds? The first thing you’ll want to know is how to find them, and we have Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) to thank for many camping opportunities at or near military bases across the United States and even some bases overseas.
Each branch of military service has an MWR program that supports military members and their families at home and overseas. MWR’s stateside operations include camping, outdoor recreation, and related pastimes and there are so many military campgrounds that the DoD can list facilities available by state and not just referencing specific military bases.
Some military campgrounds require reservations in advance, others refuse them entirely and operate on a first-come, first served basis. You will need to contact the campground or recreation area in advance to learn which is which for your destination.
Some Military Campgrounds Are Seasonal
In an area such as Arizona or California, there may be year-round access to camping on or near a Fort, Air Base, Navy or Marine Corps installation. In other areas (Alaska is one of these) access may only be allowed in season. Know before you go!
Military Campground Fees
Military campgrounds are NOT free. Prices are based on the average local campground fees.
Length of Stay
Policies on length of stay will vary by the campground. Limits can be as short as 2 weeks or as long as 6 months.
What To Know Before You Pack Your Tent
There is a great deal of information out there about military campsites. What we know for certain is that access rules and other guidelines change frequently with military-associated sites.
What is permitted today could change tomorrow due to threat conditions, mission requirements, state or local ordinance changes, or even overall policy adjustments by the DoD or area commanders. Some sites may close due to natural disasters or other problems.
For example, if you plan to camp in areas in California known for wildfires or mudslides, be sure to call ahead to make sure there are no local conditions threatening to close certain facilities.
Furthermore, guidelines covering non-military affiliated guests at these facilities are always subject to change. What can a non-military camper expect when checking out these facilities? Your experience will vary greatly depending on the local customs, location of the camp ground, and other variables.
Look At Other Branches Of Service
Are you a soldier who has run out of ideas to find new-to-you camping opportunities? Why not try looking for places outside your own military service “comfort zone” and don’t be afraid to try something new. You don’t have to be a primitive-based camper or an RV owner to get a lot of use from MWR camping facilities.
And don’t forget to look outside your own familiar branch of service for such facilities–the Coast Guard has recreational lodging facilities such as the one near Lake Tahoe which offers the use of A-frame apartments, boat rentals, skiing and swimming, etc. “Camping” doesn’t have to mean tents and mosquitoes.
Campsite Hookups And Other Amenities
Not all MWR or military campsites feature RV hookups, trash disposal, or even electricity. Some do, others do not. Much depends on the location, your needs, time of year, etc.
You will need to contact the facility ahead of time to learn what services and features are available, opening and closing hours, and other needs. RV drivers may share space with cabins, tents, cottages, and cabins. Certain services or features RV operators expect at some sites are not found on certain military sites.
If you plan to travel with an RV or otherwise require electrical hookups, water, or other needs, make sure the military recreation area you are visiting can accommodate you.
Those who prefer primitive camping should research their destination to make sure the site is appropriate for such pursuits; some MWR outdoor recreation sites are close to movie theaters, swimming pools, even Commissary/BX access is possible at some locations. Others may feature the bare minimum–lots for campers and tents and little else.
When researching your destination, be sure to ask about after-hours access. You may find some operations feature gates which close after a certain hour or when the recreation area is full.
Some parks or grounds may be open year-round. Others are extremely seasonal. For example, the camping season in Alaska is listed on many camping sites as being May through September, but the “season” in Arizona seems fairly unlimited.
Some sites have limited space. And then there are others, like Agave Gulch FamCamp at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona which is listed as having “unlimited overflow sites” which might explain why no reservations are accepted at that facility.
Approaching A Military Campsite With An RV
If you have never used a military campsite before, or if you have never accessed on on-post before using a recreational vehicle, it will be very helpful to know three basic things about your vehicle:
- Clearance required for low-hanging overpasses or gates
- The driver’s ability to navigate sharp turns with an RV
- The exact location of all required insurance forms, ID, safety equipment, etc.
If you must enter a military base with your RV to use an MWR campground, call ahead to ask about clearances, turning radius issues, and most importantly, whether or not there is a designated entry point for RVs and other oversized vehicles.
If you are using a campground that is not physically located behind the base’s gate, there may be fewer worries in this department, but if you must physically drive onto the installation, know these things before the front gate is in your headlights.
Not All Military Campgrounds Require Tents Or RVs
Some love the idea of using a military campground, but hate the notion of “roughing it.” These travelers are in luck as there are sites that feature cottages, cabins, and some even feature snack bars, have access to nearby movie theaters (these are more likely to be for on-post sites); the Edwards Air Force Base FamCamp in California features rock wall climbing, Commissary access, and much more.
Use Military Campground Apps
Here are a few military campground apps to help find all the best military camping locations.
MilitaryOneSource also has a PDF list of Joint Services Campgrounds and Facilities in each state.
Other Tips For Using Military Campgrounds
- Not all military campsites have wildlife issues, but some may–be sure to research best practices for camping in that area including how to properly dispose of food, waste, and what to do if you encounter wildlife nearby the camp.
- Some military sites have easy access to commissaries, gas stations, etc. Others do not. Research and plan accordingly.
- RV-friendly campsites may have running water, electricity, and plenty of amenities. More primitive sites may be “bring what you need” and nothing more. Your experience will vary.
- It’s best to Google nearby military bases to your destination and look up the MWR office at the closest base to see what is possible at reservation time or travel time.
- The “leave no trace” rule is highly appropriate for using military campgrounds; for best results leave the site exactly as you found it with no trash, debris, discarded food or equipment, etc.
- Seasonal considerations are king–always ask when researching your chosen campsite about local floods, fires, storms, tornadoes, wildlife, etc. Know your surroundings before you arrive!
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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