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What Are Military Campgrounds and Who Can Use Them?

What Are Military Campgrounds and Who Can Use Them?

Did you or someone you love serve in the military? Are you wondering if you’re allowed to utilize military campgrounds? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

As a veteran or active service member, it can be confusing to understand exactly what benefits you qualify for, and many times you’ll even find conflicting information. 

In this article, we aim to set the record straight by taking a closer look into what military campgrounds are and who’s allowed to stay there. Let’s begin. 

What Are US Military Campgrounds? 

Military campgrounds are part of the U.S. military’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Benefits. MWR benefits were created solely to provide soldiers and their families programs and services to boost morale and resiliency. These include services such as youth centers and recreation clubs.

Additionally, there are various military discounts, spouse employment programs, and financial counseling. Of course, they have large systems of campgrounds and recreation areas too. These campgrounds are usually steeply discounted and well-kept which appeal to traveling military families. Some even have cabin rentals.

Using Military RV Campgrounds | 5 Helpful Tips & 1 Essential Resource

Where Are Military Campgrounds Located?

Military campgrounds are located at various military bases all across the U.S. In fact, there are 278 military campgrounds in total. While not every state has one, they make it easier to find a place to stay when traveling across the country.

Each base tends to have its own rules regarding check-ins, fees, and even who can stay. Sometimes, two campgrounds located on the same base will have different rules. Because of this, it’s important to call ahead to find out all their requirements. 

RV with American flag parked at campsite.
Enjoy discounted campgrounds and recreation areas at military campsites.

Who Can Camp at Military Bases?

Unfortunately, being a veteran with an honorable discharge does not automatically make you eligible to stay at military campgrounds. In fact, many military bases have their own specific rules. However, each one follows this general guideline:

First, to stay at a campground you must be a military retiree, a National Guard member, a reservist, or their dependent. Additionally, active duty service members, their spouses or minor dependents, and service-connected disabled veterans are welcome. This includes recipients of the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart-awarded veterans. 

You can also stay at the campgrounds if you’re a surviving family member of a service member killed in action. Moreover, you can ask to stay as well if you’re a retired Defense Department civilian worker or sponsored by an eligible member.

Like we said before, some campgrounds are more lenient than others. The final decision is usually made by the commander of that particular base. 

Military Veterans
Military veterans, retirees, and their dependents can stay at military campgrounds.

Pro Tip: Explore the land of the free and the home of the brave with these tips on How to RV Across America: The Ultimate American Dream.

Can Service Connected Veterans Use Military Campgrounds? 

Yes, veterans with service-connected disabilities are qualified to use the campgrounds. According to militarycampgrounds.us, you must be an honorably discharged veteran with a 100% service-connected disability. 

Can Canadian Military Use U.S. Military Campgrounds?

This is a great question. Firstly, U.S. military service members can use Canada’s military campgrounds. However, for a Canadian to stay at a U.S. military campground there are further rules.

The answer to this eligibility question lies within a statement from militarycampgrounds.us. Individuals allowed to stay must be “military personnel of foreign nations and their family members when on orders from the U.S. Armed Forces or in overseas areas when the major command commander grants privileges in the best interest of the United States.”

In short, U.S. allies, such as Canadian Service members, can use the campgrounds when the commander grants permission. 

Military Family
Camp alongside fellow service members and their families at military campgrounds.

Is Military Camping Free? 

Unfortunately, military campgrounds are not free. Still, they do offer steep discounts and high-quality facilities. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere between $10 to $60 per night. Additionally, some campgrounds even allow you to pay a modest annual permit to access the campground. 

Military family walking together
Use military discounts in both campgrounds and national parks.

Do Military Get Discounts for Camping at National Parks? 

Yes! The America the Beautiful Military Pass allows U.S. military members and their dependents to access many national parks. Additionally, military veterans and Gold Star Family members also have access to the America the Beautiful Pass.

Unlike the original pass, the military pass is completely free. It covers entrance fees to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites. It also covers standard amenity fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation sites, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites. 

Pro Tip: Learn more about What Is an Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Campground before heading out on your next adventure.

US Military Campgrounds and RV Parks

Are Military Campgrounds Worth It?

In short, if you fall within the eligibility guidelines for military campgrounds, we think they are totally and completely worth it. For one, there are countless military campgrounds across the country. These campgrounds are usually in fantastic locations.

Moreover, you’ll probably pay much less to stay at those locations and enjoy more amenities. You’ll also get something that’s completely priceless: comradery with fellow service members and the peace and tranquility that camping brings. 

Thank you for your service, and enjoy your camping trip!

Have you ever been to a military campground? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Tom Gourley

Saturday 12th of March 2022

David is correct. My wife and I both have service connection disabilities that are not 100% and we Did not retire from the military, but we have stayed at many FamCamps across the country. Full hookups for $18.00 for some places. Tom G

Joel D

Saturday 12th of March 2022

My wife and I are both retired, disabled U.S. Navy veterans. We have stayed at several FamCamps. All of them have been well kept and friendly. Some are tucked well out of the way and some in urban areas. Naval Communication Station, Jim Creek, near Arlington, Washington; JBSA Canyon Lake, Canyon Lake, Texas, North of San Antonio; Keesler AFB, Gulfport, MS, to name a few. We are looking forward to places such as NAS Key West, FL and Camp Drum, NY. Some places have semi-permanent campers that are active duty members.

Pamela Williams

Friday 11th of March 2022

A note about some of the photos in this article - two for sure are displaying disrespect for the U.S. Flag, violating the Code which says in part, the Flag is not to be worn on the body. It is to be flown freely on a staff or mounted or a wall with the field to the left side. Lots of codes and I wish people would educate themselves before taking such photos. The Flag is not a decoration or a prop and shouldn't be used as such.

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Thank you for letting us know, and we apologize for the mistake. We've removed and replaced the photos you mentioned.

Ken Bowgren

Friday 11th of March 2022

I have a 20% service-connected disability. As mentioned in the article most campgrounds have their own rules. Check ahead and in our case, we had to get a security check at the welcome station. You will have to have your VA ID card with you and it must have the words service-connected on it. If yours does not contact your VA office and get the new card. When you go on to the installation you can escort and be responsible for your spouse and children. A potential problem is getting approval on weekends or holidays if the security office is closed. We went to Kings Bay Navy base in Georgia and were turned away at 3 PM on Friday because security was closed. We found a civilian campground nearby and came back on Monday for a few nights. My VA card is now good for one year before I have to renew it. During our stay, we went down to Navy Mayport in Jacksonville, FL, and got our authorization for one year there. Another benefit for the service-connected disabled Vet is the ability to stay at two of the four Military Resorts. We just spent a weekend at Shades of Green Resort at Disney. The other is Hale Koa in Hawaii.

John

Friday 11th of March 2022

Very informative article but as a veteran, it’s a little misleading. You state that “you must be a military retiree, active duty member, national guardsman, and reservist”. You don’t have to be all of those, just one of them.? Additionally, you have photos of people using our flag as a blanket. Happens all the time but just wanted to let you know that’s not what ‘ol glory was designed for. Again, nothing to lose any sleep over, enjoy following you guys.?

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hi John, thank you for your service. We've corrected the wording in the article and replaced the photos you mentioned. :)

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