What Is Stealth Camping?


Looking to camp on your own terms? Stealth camping may be just the adventure you’re looking for. 

Stealth camping refers to camping in a remote or otherwise undetected location. Essentially, it’s camping anywhere not explicitly designated for overnight camping.

Stealth camping in the US can be a bit complicated, depending on where you are and the laws of the area. Below, we discuss safety and legality as well as the benefits and top tips to improve your experience.

Is Stealth Camping Safe?

Yes, it can be safe as long as you’re considerate about the location where you choose to camp. Depending on your location, you may want to take extra precautions and research the area for any special rules or regulations to help ensure a safe trip.

Stealth camping on busy city streets or areas where crime or violence is prevalent may not be a good idea. However, it can be perfectly safe if you choose places with no regulations that expressly prohibit overnight camping.

Is It Illegal to Stealth Camp?

The legality of stealth camping depends on where you are in the US. Certain regions, states, or cities may have laws or regulations that specifically prohibit this type of activity.

Stealth Camping in Cities

Most US states leave it up to cities and municipalities to create and enforce stealth camping laws. So, it’s essential to look up local regulations and check diligently for “no overnight parking” signs anywhere you’re considering setting up camp for the night.

Many urban cities are stricter about camping than smaller towns. For example, Denver has an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to sleep on a city street, park, or sidewalk – whether in a van, bus, tent, or just a sleeping bag. These laws primarily target homeless encampments but apply to anyone considering camping within city limits.

A common place to stealth camp is in parking lots, with Walmart being one of the most popular. However, many stores have gotten stricter, cracking down on overnight campers and placing “no overnight parking” signs. According to Walmart Corporate, whether or not overnight RV parking is allowed is up to each store manager, so this can still potentially be an excellent place to set up.

Setting up camp is generally not allowed near developed or recreational areas such as parks, campgrounds, picnic areas, etc.

Stealth Camping in the Wild

In some areas in the US, stealth camping is perfectly legal, although the government uses the term “dispersed camping” instead. These areas include public lands under the Bureau of Land Management, Wildlife Management Areas, national grasslands, or state forests. 

However, to follow the rules, these campsites must not disturb sensitive habitats or ecological areas and generally must be at least 150 ft from roadways and 100 ft from water. Dispersed camping isn’t allowed for more than 14 days.

If you’ll be stealth camping far from modern conveniences, don’t forget to come prepared with plenty of food, water, and anything else you’ll need — including a portable and lightweight power supply like EcoFlow’s EcoFlow RIVER 2 + 110W Portable Solar Panel, which makes it easy to avoid drawing unwanted attention while also allowing you to rapidly recharge electronic devices. 

The Benefits of Stealth Camping

Stealth camping can offer benefits that standard campsites can’t compete with.


Stealth camping is usually free unless you’ve decided to create a dispersed campsite somewhere like a national park, which may require an entrance fee. Most campgrounds in the US offer campsites for an average of $22 per night, so stealth camping for free each night can add up to significant savings rather quickly.


It can often be much more convenient than searching for and reserving a campsite. There’s no need to worry about campground availability or whether reservations are required, so you’re free to head out and find your own spot each night.


Stealth camping offers a unique sense of adventure and exploration that you can’t find at most standard campgrounds. Whether you’re looking for a remote, wild spot or want to explore the street outside your van overnight, stealth camping is a great way to ramp up the excitement.

How To Stealth Camp: 5 Stealth Camping Tips to Enhance Your Experience

If stealth camping has piqued your interest, here are five tips to help ensure a successful trip.

1. Choose the Right Vehicle

The vehicle you choose to stealth camp in can make or break your experience. Cars are usually too small to spend the night in, so most people opt for a van, camper, or RV. 

Choose a vehicle that allows you enough space to sleep comfortably and store supplies, but as far as stealth camping goes – the smaller, leaner, and more inconspicuous, the better. A camper van is less obvious than a large RV or camp trailer, so consider using one of these more low-profile vehicles.

2. Keep a Low Profile

In more urban locations, keeping a low profile is especially important. Avoid activities that could draw attention to yourself, such as running machinery or generators in the middle of the night, playing loud music, and having bright lights on throughout the night. The theme is stealth; be inconspicuous and blend in with your surroundings.

3. Know Your Surroundings

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and know what kind of area you’re in. If you don’t feel safe, moving on and finding a different spot is best. Pay attention to city ordinances or rules governing overnight parking to stay within the law and out of trouble.

4. Manage Your RV Power Needs

Plan for your electrical needs if you stay overnight in a camper van or RV. Invest in an off-grid energy source or portable power station, such as the EcoFlow RIVER 2 Portable Power Station, which can charge up your devices quickly without taking up too much space in your vehicle or weighing things down too much. If you need to recharge your portable power station, consider pairing it with 110W solar panels or using EcoFlow Flexible Solar Panels, which work great with RVs since you can mould them to fit your specific vehicle.

5. Leave No Trace

It’s essential to follow all leave-no-trace principles when stealth camping, even in urban areas. Remember the following:

• Leave your campsite as you found it by disposing of all waste properly and taking all belongings with you when you leave.

• Refrain from harvesting resources like firewood, and don’t build any fires.

• Respect the natural environment and wildlife in the area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Point of Stealth Camping?

The point of stealth camping is to essentially get away with sleeping in your vehicle overnight without getting caught or breaking any laws. It’s a great way to explore the wilderness, save money on accommodation, and have an adventurous night out.

How Do You Go Stealth Camping?

If you want to go stealth camping, you’ll want to start out by finding a vehicle suitable for overnight stays, such as an RV or camper van. Then, pick your spot carefully – look for somewhere away from residential areas and areas where overnight parking is prohibited.

What Happens if You Get Caught Stealth Camping?

If you’re caught disobeying anti-camping laws, it usually just results in a law enforcement official asking you to move. However, if you’re doing it in an area where it’s explicitly illegal, you may also run the risk of getting a citation or fine.

Is Stealth Camping Illegal in the US?

Stealth camping can be legal in the US as long as it’s done on public lands and away from places where overnight parking is strictly prohibited. However, make sure to check local ordinances and check for signs before you set up camp, just to be sure that what you’re doing is legal.

Final Thoughts

Stealth camping can be a great way to get out into the wilderness and explore without breaking the bank. If you take the points from this article into consideration, you can enjoy an under-the-radar adventure just about anywhere. Be sure to bring a power source, such as the EcoFlow RIVER 2 Portable Power Station, and solar panels to stay charged while off-the-grid.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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