No, the Army Corps of Engineers does not allow you to camp anywhere you want. They instead require you to camp in areas they have designated specifically for camping. Most of these areas are developed campgrounds with numbered spaces. They do offer boondocking opportunities, however they still require you to remain in areas designated for camping.
Does the Army Corps of Engineers Allow You Camp Anywhere You Want?
The Army Corps of Engineers has a nationwide rule requiring you to camp only in areas that they have designated for camping…
(a) Camping is permitted only at sites and/or areas designated by the District Commander.CFR Title 36 § 327.7 Camping
The “district commander” is the person in charge of the area where the water project is located. For the most part, the district commander uses the same set of rules that the ACOE uses nationwide. However, they do reserve the right to make modifications to these rules.
Read the full list of “Rules for Camping on Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds“.
Where to Find Camping Areas on Army Corps of Engineers Land
You can find camping areas on Army Corps of Engineers land in a variety of ways…
- Use the Army Corps of Engineers website. The ACOE website has every recreation area they’ve designated, along with every camping area.
- Use Recreation.gov to find campgrounds. Recreation.gov is the official website where you can discover federally managed campgrounds and make reservations. You can also find free campgrounds that require no reservations. However, they only list developed campgrounds, either free or fee. They do not list areas where boondocking is allowed.
- There are a couple of books that list ACOE campgrounds. “RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks“, and “Corps of Engineers Camping” (both available on Amazon). But, these books do not mention the boondocking areas.
Where to Find Boondocking on Army Corps of Engineers Land
This is where it gets tough. The only resource that seems to list every boondocking area on ACOE land, is the ACOE website itself.
Here is what we recommend…
- Go to: https://corpslakes.erdc.dren.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm
- Click on the state you want to visit
- Click the checkbox that says, “camping”.
- Click the button that says, “Find Lakes”.
- You should see a list of all ACOE projects in that state that support camping.
- Select a lake and click on it.
- You should see a list of camping areas for that lake.
- Some will show “$” indicating camping fees, and an ACOE symbol indicating that it is run directly by the ACOE.
- You want to find all camping areas that have no “$” but have the ACOE symbol. This should indicate free camping, though not necessarily boondocking.
- There is no way to identify which of these camping areas support boondocking. You’ll have to instead look at the campground on Google Maps Satellite to see if you can identify marked campsites or not.