With over 200 days of sunshine a year, some of the best beaches in the United States, as well as spectacular mountain ranges, Georgia is one of the best states in the country for camping.
Primitive (wild) and free camping in Georgia is legal in several areas. There are also some free campsites in the state parks and Wildlife Management Areas, so camping really is a cheap and easy way to enjoy the gorgeous landscape in the ‘Peach State’.
We cover wild (free) camping, the rules, and how to find Georgia’s free campsites in this article. As well as where to find cheap campsites that are also suited to RVs.
So grab your tent, and get ready for starry nights and spectacular scenery. Let’s start your camping in Georgia adventure!
Free camping in Georgia
In our opinion, there’s nothing better than free camping. It’s your chance to get back to basics, enjoy nature, and separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. It also allows you to experience some of nature’s best views for free.
The fantastic thing about Georgia is that free camping here is legal, as long as you are camping on state ground and adhere to a few simple guidelines (we outline those further down).
Land looked after by the Bureau for Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Wildlife Management Areas will be state owned. Typically any areas that are green on Google Maps are also publicly owned. A great state map, such as this one, could help in finding free camping spots too. Just be aware that sometimes signs exist on publicly owned land stating camping is not allowed in certain areas, usually to protect flora and fauna.
Yet with 67% of the state covered in forest, you should be spoiled for choice when it comes to camping in Georgia.
In order to minimize the impact on the environment many of the state parks and areas have their own campgrounds, in the hope of encouraging campers to pitch their tent there.
The fees for these campgrounds – many of which are suited for RVs – vary depending on what facilities there are. The more basic the campground the cheaper it tends to be. You can can see a list and the location of primitive campgrounds in state parks here. There are, however some campsites that are completely free! We have more on that further below.
Free camping in Georgia: The guidelines
With hiking trails crisis-crossing the state, many hikers and walkers prefer to camp as they walk. This is free camping at its wildest, but there are several rules that hikers are expected to abide by when wild camping, or staying in primitive campsites.
You should leave your pitch the way you found it, and minimize waste. When going to the toilet you should do it at least 100m from a water source (such as a river or lake), and use a trowel (like this folding one) when needed.
Be aware of restrictions on campfires in whatever region you are. If in doubt, avoid making a campfire. We’d recommend using a storm cooker, then you can cook anywhere you want. Without a doubt, the best ones on the market are Trangia storm cookers.
It’s best to stay for only a limited time in each camping spot. However in state parks and Wildlife Management Areas, you can often stay for up to two weeks at a time. This does vary from place to place though.
Be aware of the flora and fauna in the region of Georgia you’re planning to camp in. There is a chance you could come across bears while staying in forested areas, or alligators when near water.
State parks and WMA campsites: Finding free camping in Georgia with a view!
As we alluded to above, some of the best places to camp in Georgia are the state parks and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), as their campsites are situated in the state’s most stunning scenery.
In order to minimize the impact on the environment, there are several campsites and camping grounds in these public areas – a few are free, but most require a fee and need to be reserved in advance. That can be done here.
The free campsites tend to be in very rural areas and are geared towards hikers and backpackers. If you’re hiking the famous Appalachian Trail, then the shelters that are dotted along the way are free to use and don’t require any reservation. There are just over a dozen shelters along the trail in Georgia, all of which are situated beside a water source. You can see the shelters for the whole trail – there’s around one for every nine miles – by clicking here.
Free and primitive camping in Wildlife Management Areas is popular among hikers and hunters, and there are several free campsites within these areas. Although camping outside these campsites is well tolerated too.
You can find those primitive campgrounds by heading to this link, and clicking on the WMA area you are wishing to visit, or where your hiking trail is. That will take you to a dedicated page for the WMA area, where an interactive map exists. The free campgrounds are marked out on that map.