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How to Camp on BLM Lands in California

When you are traveling by RV, you still may want to save money on campground fees while also taking responsibility for your environment. Each of us has a shared responsibility to make sure that we don’t put undue stresses on the environment. One way of doing that is to park on BLM lands that are designated for campers. We have some suggestions on how you can save money on campground fees, act responsibly towards your environment, and find great, scenic places to camp on California BLM lands.



  1. What is BLM land and how can I get a camping permit?


The Bureau of Land Management-managed lands offer numerous opportunities for camping under the stars ranging from staying in an RV at a highly developed campground to simply throwing a sleeping bag on the ground in the backcountry. No matter what type of experience you are looking for, you can find it on BLM-managed public lands. Today BLM, under the Department of the Interior, controls more than 245 million surface acres of land.


Developed Campgrounds:


At many locations the BLM provides developed facilities for camping. Campgrounds may include a variety of facilities, such as restrooms, potable water, electrical hookups, picnic areas, garbage cans, tent pads and group shelters. However, many campgrounds do not have all of these amenities and may only have a picnic table and fire ring. Make sure to check the campground’s website or call the appropriate field office when planning your trip.


Permits, Fees and Limitations:


  • Many BLM campgrounds require a fee to use a campground and some are free. These fees help maintain the facilities. Selecting a campsite is usually on a first-come, first- serve basis. However, some campgrounds take reservations which can be made at

  • A campsite is rented ONLY once it has been paid in full with the pay-stub properly completed and displayed on site and the site is occupied by campers.

  • Do not leave personal property unattended for more than 72 hours.

  • Due to adverse weather, many campgrounds are only seasonally available. Make sure to check if the campground is open before planning your trip.




The BLM and several other Federal agencies -- including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- participate in the Interagency Pass Program created by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and authorized by Congress in December 2004. 


The pass series collectively known as the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass provides access to Federal lands and waters across the country. You can view a list of offices that sell and distribute America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Lands Passes. 


Select the pass in the series that's right for you.  Learn more and purchase a pass online.


Some offices and recreation sites may be temporarily out of passes, but you can still order yours online. Please check with your nearest recreation site before purchasing a pass in person. You can learn more about the passes, including if you had already purchased a pass earlier, at this site:NPS Interagency Pass Program Information


  1. Camping on BLM Lands in California


Public lands in the Golden State offer a sense of adventure for outdoor enthusiasts, offering rivers, trails, campgrounds, off-road open areas, and more. Your experience will be as varied as the landscape and you can make it personally your own by choosing which BLM sites you wish to stay on. 


Spectacular scenery can be found among California’s scenic vistas, such as the foggy bluffs of the King Range National Conservation Area, the ancient redwood forest of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, the geological formations of the Alabama Hills, the valley of golden flowers in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and the wind sculpted sand dunes in the California Desert Conservation Area.  You will also find wilderness areas, national scenic and historic trails, national wild and scenic rivers, wildlife viewing areas and even a lighthouse or two to explore and learn more about California's history.


BLM California manages many developed campgrounds and picnic areas in the state. Each campground offers a different mix of facilities, landscapes, and outdoor activities. Most campgrounds have use fees ranging from $4.00 to $10.00 per unit per night. Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as "dispersed camping." Camping is allowed on Public Lands in California, whether in a campground or dispersed camping, for no more than a period of 14 days within any period of 28 consecutive days, unless otherwise identified.  


In addition, campers must not leave any personal property unattended for more than 10 days. Most of the remainder of public lands in California, not in BLM Campgrounds are open to dispersed camping, as long as such use does not conflict with other authorized uses or occurs in areas posted "closed to camping," or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources. Dispersed camping at Clear Creek Recreational Area and the King Range Wilderness require permits which are available at


  1. More to know about California Camping on BLM Lands


To find a camping site in California, please check the BLM California website which lists all of the 195 California parks. Once you find one you think you want to visit, this website also gives you contact information for each park. Be sure to contact them ahead of your visit to make certain it will work for you and your family.


Please obey all posted rules specific to the campground and keep the following in mind:


Fee sites vary in price. Please check the campground’s website or call the local field office for details.


Camping stay limits vary by location but are generally about two weeks within a month period.


Pay the camp fee within 30 minutes of occupying a site.


To find particular recreation activities on BLM Lands, you may be interested in visiting this link to the BLM California’s activities.

As a reminder, when you are getting ready to hit the road and camp either on BLM lands or elsewhere, first check with your nearest El Monte RV dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have. Please also check out our one-way special offers at El Monte RV.


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