You can camp at an Army Corps of Engineers campground for up fourteen (14) days per 30 day period at campgrounds per “project”. A project is defined as all grounds and facilities belonging to a particular reservoir. After fourteen days, you must move out of the project and not return to the same project until after the thirty (30) day period has expired.
How Long Can You Camp at an Army Corps of Engineers Campground?
The Army Corps of Engineers has codified its policy on maximum camping occupancy across all projects in the United States…
(b) Camping at one or more campsites at any one water resource project for a period longer than 14 days during any 30-consecutive-day period is prohibited without the written permission of the District Commander.CFR § 327.7 Camping
Here is how that policy interprets…
- As soon as you occupy a campsite, the 30-day period starts, as well as the 14-day limit.
- You have 14-days of camping at one or more campgrounds throughout a single project.
- A “project” refers to a “water resource”, which generally is a reservoir, including the grounds surrounding the reservoir, the recreational facilities on those grounds, and the dam itself.
- After you’ve exhausted the 14 days of camping, you may no longer camp or park overnight anywhere within that project until after the 30-day period has completed (16 more days).
Can I Continue Camping at Another Project?
Yes, after you have exhausted 14-days of camping at a project, you are allowed to move to a different project (reservoir) and get a fresh set of 14-days. In fact, as long as you keep moving to different projects every 14-days, you can camp at ACOE campgrounds indefinitely.
How Long Do I Have to Wait Until I Can Camp Again at the Same Campground?
After you’ve exhausted 14-days of camping at a project, you have to wait sixteen (16) days before you can return to the same campground or project. The 14 days of camping plus the 16 days of waiting equals the 30-day period. Thus in the mean time, you can move to a different project and find camping there, or find camping on other federal or state lands.
What if I Don’t Use Up My Full 14-days?
If for example, you had only used up 3-days of camping, and you decide to leave the project entirely for 7-days, you are allowed to return to the same project and use up the remaining 11-days there.
Your 14-day limit does not reset just because you left the project. It only resets after the 30-day period.
What if I Move to Another Campground Within the Same Project?
Your 14-day limit does not reset if you move to another campground within the same project. You are always allowed to move to different campgrounds within the same project, but it does not reset your 14-day limit nor the 30-day period.
What About Fee-Based Campgrounds?
The ACOE operates both fee campgrounds and free campgrounds within the same project. The 14-day limit and 30-day period apply only to campgrounds operated by the ACOE. These limits do not reset, nor are waived, just because you moved from a free campground to a fee, or vice versa.
However, it’s rare for an ACOE officer to enforce these limits on fee campgrounds. They only do so under the recommendation of a camp host. ACOE officers are more likely to enforce these limits on free campgrounds and boondocking areas.
The ACOE also partners with private operators within its projects, and these operators run their own campgrounds. The 14-day limit and 30-day period does not apply to these operators. They set their own limits, and some even charge monthly rates.
Where Do I Find a List of All ACOE Campgrounds?
The best resource thus far for finding a list of all ACOE campgrounds are in a handful of books dedicated to this subject…
- RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks, Roundabout Publications, 2019 (See it on Amazon)
- Corps of Engineers Camping, Ultimate Campgrounds, 2022 (See it on Amazon)