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RV Camping on BLM Land

Have you heard of dispersed camping? What is this best kept secret of RV camping?

Have you heard of dispersed camping? What is this best kept secret of RV camping? You can camp, sometimes for FREE on BLM lands. But it helps to know where to look and how to do it. And, what will you need to go off-grid to camp this way? Where are the BLM lands located? How do I find one I can camp in? And what will I need in addition to my regular RV equipment to go off-grid? What exactly is dispersed camping?

  1. What exactly does dispersed camping mean?

Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as dispersed camping. Most of the remainder of public lands, that are not in campgrounds are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted "closed to camping," or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.

 

 

Dispersed camping is allowed on public lands for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. The 28-day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28-day period. After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25-mile radius of the previous location until the 29th day since the initial occupation. The purpose of this special rule is to prevent damage to sensitive resources caused by continual use of any particular areas. In addition, campers must not leave any personal property unattended for more than 10 days (or 12 months in Alaska).

  1. How do I locate BLM Lands I can camp on?

First, let’s define what BLM lands are:  Primarily located in the West, the BLM’s National Conservation Lands represent some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. They provide abundant recreational opportunities, important scientific research grounds, and outstanding ecological and cultural resources.

These areas are geographically diverse--made up of about 35 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert. They also include everything from broad Alaskan tundra, rugged coastlines, and red-rock deserts to historic lighthouses, mountains, and waterways. National Conservation Lands also work as a unifying and essential link for critical habitat, animal migrations, and public access across the West--pathways that are crucial to the nation’s efforts to conserve our critical natural resources. While many of the National Conservation Lands are remote, others are easily accessible and part of an active, vibrant landscape near communities where people live, work, and play.

You can visit the National Conservation Lands State pages to learn more about the National Conservation Lands near you. Here are the links to each area’s BLM Lands.

Alaska  |  Arizona  |  California  |  Colorado  |  Eastern States  |  Idaho  |  Montana/Dakotas  |  New Mexico  |  Nevada  |  Oregon/Washington  |  Utah  |  Wyoming

 

Where can I Camp?

BLM-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 camping experience you are looking for, you can find it on BLM-managed public lands.

 

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. 

 

What fees will you have to pay to camp on BLM Lands?

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

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

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

  4. 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.

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

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

Campsite Selection

 

Dispersed camp sites are located along most secondary roads and may not be marked. Popular locations can be recognized by the telltale flat disturbed area that has been used as a camp site before. Not all flat spots are sites. If possible, please use existing sites to avoid creating new disturbances. To further protect public lands, campers must not dispose of any refuse, hazardous materials, sewage, or in any manner pollute the surrounding area.

States may have additional requirements or restrictions for dispersed camping. Please see Regional Information before planning your trip.

On U.S. Forest Service lands, which may include national forests or national grasslands, dispersed camping is allowed unless otherwise noted.

It is typically not allowed within a mile of developed recreation areas, such as campgrounds, picnic areas, and trailheads.

  1. What will I need in addition to my regular RV Gear to Camp off-grid?

 

Dispersed camping offers little to no services for campers—often you won’t even find potable water. Plan to pack in everything you’ll need during your stay, and be prepared to pack it all out as well, including your trash. Items you should bring include:

 

  1. Printed maps in case you don’t have cell phone reception or can’t get to your downloaded maps

  2. A gallon per person a day of water and a backup water filtration system (little water purifying tablets are available if you don’t know the water quality)

  3. Food to last the duration of your stay

  4. Bear canisters or odor-proof bags for proper food storage if camping in bear country without access to bear lockers

  5. A container to store your garbage, as dispersed camping sites do not have trash cans

  6. Safety items, which could include a whistle, compass, flashlight, knife, tire repair kit, and extra layers for warmth

  7. Tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag if you’re not RVing

  8. Anything else you may need to be fully self-sufficient

Remember to check with your local El Monte RV Sales location for the latest selection of slightly used RVs. There are many fully refurbished RVs to choose from.

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