Dispersed camping, or camping in a location other than a campground or recreation area on federally operated land, is a great way to see a pristine, untouched slice of nature. National Forests, Bureau of Land Management districts, and Wildlife Management areas are all areas where dispersed camping is an option for those looking for a rugged camping experience. Read on to learn more about dispersed camping!
The Manual ~ ” With fall in full swing, leaves around the country changing color, and cold air hurling down from the north, now is a great time to venture into the great outdoors. While going on a camping trip can be an expensive adventure, there is a way to go camping without spending any money, but there are a few restrictions and guidelines that you’ll have to follow. In the U.S., roughly one-quarter of the land is federally owned and free to camp on thanks to dispersed camping.
These kinds of “sites”’ don’t have any facilities. They may have a fire pit from a previous user, but that’s about it. There are no toilets, no place to store food away from bears, and certainly no showers like most car camping sites.
What these sites lack in facilities they make up for in natural resources. Pristine areas some people only see on Instagram are easily accessible from dispersed camping locations. Most people don’t attempt this kind of camping so you’ll likely have the place to yourself, free from the crowds and noise of the National Parks and other campsites.
Photo by Vlad Bagacian from Pexels
When choosing a destination, we need to be careful that we’re not traveling onto private land. Conveniently, the U.S. Forest Service has provided an interactive map of all the National Forests. Pull this up, scroll around to the area you want to visit, and see exactly what land is National Forest or National Park — National Forest is the one we’re looking for. The interactive map can show trails, official campsites, and resources for all kinds of activities. Many other websites list great places to camp for free around the country, including those outside National Forests and BLM land.
Going off-grid is often means going outside of cell service. Grocery stores and Ranger stations near where you want to camp will often have these special offline resources called paper maps you can take with you. They work without cell service or even power. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, paper will always work.” ~ The Manual
To read more about dispersed camping, and to get great advice on how not to leave a trace when you’re finished with your dispersed camping, click the link below.
**Please note: Due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel, we encourage people to always plan trips in accordance with the guidance provided by government and health officials.