Last-Minute Camping for the 4th of July

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The great outdoors can get jam packed, especially on holiday weekends. But even if you haven’t planned a single thing, you can still spend the night under the stars this 4th of July! Check out our tips for snagging a last-minute camping spot. After all, there's no better way to celebrate the 'ol red, white, and blue than with a side of stars and campfires. 


1. Ditch the Popular Spots

Eldorado National Forest. Photo by Hipcamp Staff, Julian Bialowas

Some RV parks can book up over a year in advance, and many campers make their holiday weekend campground reservations beginning in March, right when reservations open. Think that doesn’t leave you with many options? Hardly. While everyone else is cruising to your area’s most popular state and national parks, you can locate some hidden gems of your own.

The good ‘ol U.S. of A’s National Forests are full of fantastic established and dispersed campsites, so don’t forget to remember them! Find a National Forest near you. 

2. Reserving a Last Minute Campsite

Sunset Yurt, Oz Farm. Photo by Hipcamper Michaela Ravasio

You may be planning at the eleventh hour, but you can still plan. Reserving a campsite isn’t out of the question, even if you’re only a few days away from the big holiday weekend. You might not get that coveted spot with sweeping views of the lake, but you’ll still get the opportunity to smell like a bonfire each and every night. Even popular campsited often have a few spots available a few days out from major holidays, and it doesn’t hurt to check. Note: Sunset Yurt at Oz Farm has availability on July 3!

3. Have 4x4, Will Drive

Heart of the Wild, Big Sur,. Photo by Hipcamp Staff, Julie Murrell 

Do you have a buddy with a 4x4 vehicle, or do you have one yourself? Perfect! Some campsites can only be reached with a high-clearance vehicle, so you’re limiting your competition. Bonus points if the campsite is super remote, like Heart of the Wild in Big Sur.

4. Throw on Your Backpack

Mt. Whitney Trailhead, Inyo National Forest. Photo by Hipcamp Voyager, Alyx Schwarz

Car camping is popular in part thanks to its accessibility—it’s a breeze. But, if you’re willing to hike in and are craving a more isolated experience, you’ll be able to beat some of the crowds by backpacking. You could use the long weekend to set off an an epic multi-day trip, or you could mosey down the trails a mile or two to find some more dispersed camping options. Search for a backpacking site. 

5. Don't Forget the Food!

Sweet Potato Burgers Recipe & More, Photo by Megan McDuffie

Cooking and the 4th of July go together like marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. And take it from us, you can have a seriously great menu that's also easy to make. Check out Food Before Fireworks: A Simple 4th of July Menu for a full breakdown of how to make everything you see in the delicious photo above.  

About the author: Megan Hettwer is a world traveling gypsy soul, freelance writer, and outdoor adventure connoisseur currently kicking it in Boulder, CO. She writes a ton of stuff centered around getting outside, including camping-related goodness for Hipcamp!