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Best Places For Dispersed Camping

East Fork Weiser River

Best Places to Camp for Free in Colorado
  • Cell Service: none

  • Elevation: 4305 ft

We were relieved to have found this free dispersed camping spot in Idahos Payette National Forest! Fully shaded and with the East Fork Weiser River running along the side of the site, we really enjoyed staying here and relaxing near the water.

Much like other Idaho national forest camping sites, there arent amenities here so be prepared to boondock for the duration of your stay.

When you leave Highway 95, turn east onto NF-172, following along the East Fork Weiser River. Pretty quickly, youll come to a big open site on your left, and if youre in a larger RV, you might want to snag that site.

As you continue down the road, youll see a couple more free camping options, but the one we stayed at is at the GPS coordinates listed above, and we were very happy with that spot.

Is Dispersed Camping Inon Blm Land Safe

Sometimes theres a fine line between adventure and danger, so it pays to always be vigilant. The roads arent in the best shape in some of these areas, so play it safe. Turn around and go somewhere else if you have to. Wild animals are another concern, and so is the weather. Because of the elevation, some of these areas can get bitterly cold. They dont get a lot of rain, but there can be sudden flooding when they do. So be sure to keep a close eye on weather reports and plan accordingly.

With the popularity of RVing these days, theres a good chance that youre not going to be alone at these spots. However, its always a good idea to let someone know where youll be and how long you plan to be there.

Lava Beds National Monument Road

Location: Modoc National Forest, Near Lava Beds National Monument

Last but not least on our list of the best places for free camping in California is a stretch of campsites on the southern road that leads into Lava Beds National Monument.

To access these dispersed campsites, start at the small community of Tionesta and head north on Lava Beds National Monument Road.

Youll notice dispersed campsites almost immediately but I recommend driving in at least a mile or two for a more private, secluded spot. Spacious level spots are available for boondocking in RVs and trailers.

Just be aware that dispersed camping isnt allowed within the national monument itself. So, make sure to set up camp before the entrance.

What I Like:

Camp here for the convenience to Lava Beds National Monument. There are dozens of previously-used campsites and its easy to find a private one. Many campsites are simply pull-offs right off the road, but there are a few dirt side roads that take you further back into the pine forest.

What I Dont Like:

It gets quite windy here at times. Much of the area also burned in recent forest fires, so expect charred and burnt trees, depending on where you set up camp.

Other Free Campsites Nearby:

Camping along Lava Beds National Monument Road north of Tionesta is your best bet, but there are also some dispersed campsites just south of Tionesta along County Road 97A as well.

For More Info:

Lava Beds National Monument Road is located in Modoc National Forest.

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Central Mountains Dispersed Camping

Colorados central mountains are home to some of the most popular outdoor destinations in the State. Youll enjoy bustling mountain towns, easy access from Denver, and tons of areas to explore. The diversity of dispersed camping options in the area is truly astounding, with our favorites highlighted below:

  • Aspen: Take in the glitz and glam of Aspen from your free campsite!
  • Glenwood Springs: A great low-key mountain town, Glenwood Springs is a worthwhile destination.
  • Leadville: The highest incorporated town in North America has some great dispersed camping nearby.
  • Buena Vista: A mellow river town with tons of surrounding wilderness to explore.
  • Breckenridge: A classic mining town turned ski mecca, be sure to look for campsites on Boreas Pass.

A few of our favorite dispersed campsites in Colorados Central Mountains include:

County Road 48 near Turquoise Lake Leadville Area

Restrooms: NoMap

County Road 48 just south of Turquoise Lake is the closest dispersed camping area to Leadville, Colorado. This is a popular camping area, so expect neighbors and be sure to leave no trace if you do camp here. Youll be well located to explore Turquoise Lake as well as the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Views of Mt. Elbert from the camping area are also stunning.

The road is gravel and should be passable by most vehicles and rigs.

Cottonwood Pass Buena Vista Area

Restrooms: NoWater: No, although sites on the south side of the road may have creek access. Crowds: ModerateMap

The Best Dispersed Camping Near Colorado Springs

Chinns Lake Dispersed Camping, CO

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

As Colorados second largest city, Colorado Springs has tons to offer. From climbing Pikes Peak, to exploring the Air Force Academy, to checking out the lovely downtown, there is plenty to do for all. What may surprise many visitors is that you have the ability to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Colorado Springs.

Although youll end up being a little ways from downtown, you can still end up being well located to explore all that the area has to offer from your campsite.

However, finding a great dispersed campsite can often be difficult. To help make it a bit easier for you, weve compiled the best dispersed camping near Colorado Springs, CO in to this easy to read guide.

Keep reading to find your perfect campsite!

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Walnut Canyon Dispersed Camping

If youre traveling through Arizona and are looking to camp under the stars without spending a penny, Walnut Canyon may be an ideal option. The open spaces punctuated by trees and stars make even the most experienced campers gaze in amazement. Furthermore, you will have easy access to several popular trails in Flagstaff here.

Why Youll Love It

Do you love camping but hate losing a stable phone connection for emergencies? Well, you dont need to worry about that here. Although patchy, you will find adequate cell coverage for emergencies.

Moreover, the roads are very safe, smooth, and easy to navigate, even for first-timers. Dont miss the famous Walnut Canyon National Monument during your hike.

  • 10 miles from downtown
  • The maximum RV length is unlimited
  • Amazing cellular signal

The Downsides

Although there are some private areas, most of the spots here are public and reasonably popular. Make sure you arrive early otherwise, you might not get the kind of privacy you hoped for.

  • The road in is dirt

How Do I Pick A Good Campsite

Many people drive out on Forest Service roads into the woods and find a clearing or a spot near a stream or with a view of the mountains. Do not drive on meadows to access your camping site. Drive on existing roads to prevent resource damage. You can also follow these tips:

  • Ask a ranger. For an inside track into the best places to stay, keep an eye out for any BLM Ranger Station or visitor center and ask the true locals for their suggestions. Weve never been lead astray and youll be amazed at how much theyll go out of their way to help you out.
  • Scour Google Maps. Again, look for the green areas that signify public lands. Use Google Earth to get an idea of roads and landscapes.
  • Attempt to camp on a paved road. If not possible, camp on bare, well-packed gravel. Note that this is done at your own risk: if renting an Escape Campervan, you are NOT covered by insurance and are NOT covered in the Escape Roadside Assistance plan if you are OFF a paved road. Camping on a level area also makes sleeping more comfortable.
  • If youre going to an area where others have camped before, pick a site that has been used before. Plants, soil, and wildlife are impacted by new campsites so using existing ones will minimize your impact on the forest. Always follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Check out these online resources and apps that make it easy to find places to camp:
  • iOverlander

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Best Dispersed Camping Spots In Or Near Tonto National Forest:

  • Tortilla Flat Dispersed Camping
Why Youll Love It

The wide-open spaces, ample dispersed camping sites, and warm temperatures at night are enough to attract any desert camper to Tonto National Forest. The forest itself has an abundance of pine-shaded mountains and deserts dotted with Saguaro cacti. With such a vast array of natural landscapes, youll be sure to find something you love.

Tonto has several paid campgrounds, but dispersed camping is what you need for an authentic outdoor experience. Whether youre looking to camp near a lake, spend the night by a river or wake up to a mountainous sunrise, Tonto has it all.

The Downsides

If youre visiting the park on a weekend, get ready to deal with heavy crowds. Unless youre one of those who like to mingle with others even while camping, this can be a damper that might keep you away.

Owens River Road Dispersed Camping In Mammoth Lakes

Best Places to Camp for Free in California

Coordinates:37.737, -118.9677

About:Owens River Road Dispersed Camping provides easy access to Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park. The area is wooded, making it an excellent option in the summer months for some shade. There are a lot of hiking trails that you can get to right from the camping area.

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Important Items To Bring To Black Canyon

Visiting the Black Canyon is a blast, but you need to be properly prepared. There is some vegetation, but most of it is short shrubs or juniper trees. Because of that and the intense altitude, staying hydrated is a must.

We love the Hydro Flask lineup of reusable water bottles. With the many water stations available on the South Rim, having a reusable water bottle is the most ecofriendly way to stay hydrated.

Another essential item for the Black Canyon, especially if you are considering backpacking or dispersed camping is a quality first-aid kit. No, not the $10 ones from Walmart with nothing more than a coupe band-aids and pain killers. Instead, check out the incredible first aid kits from MyMedic.

Finally, if you need more gear before you hit the road, consider shopping at REI. This outdoor gear retailer is different from many other companies because it is a Co-Op. That means investors do NOT run the show. REI is owned by its employees and customers, sort of like how a credit union operates. Become a member for a lifetime of awesome deals and to support a great organization which puts an environmental focus on everything it does.

Best Colorado Dispersed Camping Sites

Dispersed camping also known as primitive camping can be defined as car camping outside of a designated campground but still within applicable regulations. You can find most of the best Colorado dispersed camping sites on federally owned lands, such as national forest and BLM lands. There are typically no bathrooms or amenities, but you get to camp free of charge.

Most dispersed camping areas are located along roads that can only be handled by high clearance vehicles. However, you can access a few with just about any passenger car.

Please remember to respect the places you visit. And practice leave no trace principles by packing out everything you pack in. Now get out and enjoy Nomad Colorados list of some of our favorite Colorado dispersed camping areas, many of which are within two hours of Denver!

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La Verkin Overlook Camping

The last dispersed camping spot near Zion National park that you can visit is La Verkin Overlook camp. Somewhat farther along UT-9 on the south side, there are dispersed spots which you can choose for camping.

The land here is some open and some private, so you really have to look for the ideal spot where you can camp. You wont have any facilities here, and you need to be fully prepared to camp here.

Here we have shared the information for all the camping spots to find near Zion National Park. This makes it easier for the new RV campers to travel and stay for the nights in order to bring a whole new experience into their lives.

Each spot has its own pros and cons, which is why you can check more details about them individually. For more, check the FAQ section.

Lake Creek At The Southern Base Of The Sawtooth Mountains

Bulldog Canyon Dispersed Camping
  • Cell Service: Yes

  • Elevation: 6381 ft

A road trip through Idaho isnt complete without a visit to the Sawtooth Mountains!

There are gobs and gobs of free camping areas throughout the Sawtooth National Forest, but in most of the Sawtooth area, each individual campsite is marked with a number, and you arent allowed to camp anywhere without a designated number. This regulation is wonderful and helps minimize human impact on the land, but it does make securing a spot a little trickier.

The free dispersed camping area at the given coordinates, however, is less regulated, less popular, and very beautiful. There are no shade trees, which opens up the views of the surrounding hills and mountains.

Its found off Highway 75 in the southern part of the Sawtooth National Forest. After turning east onto Lake Creek Road/142, youll go through a neighborhood before the road turns to well maintained gravel.

Youll start seeing cleared spots meant for free camping on your left and right. Some are larger than others and there are certainly choices for even the largest RVs. The spots are spaced out about ¼ mile and the terrain is flat and wide open. So youll be able to see other campers but youll still have some privacy.

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Dispersed Camping In Utah: The Rules And Where You Can And Cannot Camp

In our opinion, theres nothing better than camping. Its a chance to get back to basics, enjoy nature, and separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. It also allows you to experience some of natures best views for free.

The fantastic thing about Utah is that dispersed camping is allowed and legal, as long as you are camping on state ground and adhere to a few simple guidelines. We outline those further down.

Land looked after by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and other state institutions will be publicly owned. Typically any areas that are green on Google Maps are also publicly owned. A great state map, such as this one, could help in finding camping spots too. This free interactive map by the Bureau of Land Management may also be useful.

Just be aware that there are a few public areas where dispersed camping in Utah is forbidden:

  • Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
  • Smithsonian Butte Back County Byway you are not allowed to camp within half a mile either side of this road
  • Baker Dam Recreation Area
  • Red Cliffs Recreation Area
  • Santa Clara River Reserve
  • Water source areas you are not allowed to camp within a quarter of a mile of big game water sources from October 15-Nov 1.
  • Riparian Areas
  • Youre not allowed to camp within 20 miles of Moab
  • Keep an eye out for signs that clearly state no camping in smaller areas too. Many exist in order to protect local flora, fauna, and fragile ecosystems.

Basic And Dispersed Location/amenity Information:

Basic Campground amenities include defined campsites, fire rings and/or grills, picnic tables, vault toilet, trash removal, mowed areas, and a boat ramp. Basic Campgrounds include:

  • Twin Lakes

A Basic Camping Area is an open field area without defined campsites. Amenities might include a vault toilet, trash removal, mowed areas, and a boat ramp. However, they may or may not have picnic tables and fire rings and/or grills. You may camp anywhere within the camping area with a Basic Camping Permit. Basic Camping Areas include:

  • Demumbers Bay
  • Ginger Bay
  • Neville Bay

Dispersed Camping includes remote campsites throughout the recreation area. Areas at the ends of forest roads or along the lakeshore often make wonderful campsites. If you camp in a location not designated on our map, it is considered dispersed camping. Read the full Camping Rules to learn where you can and cannot camp.

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs Dispersed Camping In Cedar City

Coordinates: 37.909474, -112.984858

About: You can brush up on your history by perusing ancient native petroglyphs and markings left by later explorers and pioneers. You can also view ancient dinosaur tracks nearby and some impressive boulders and gorgeous desert terrain. You may also encounter some sheep grazing. This area is about 13 miles north of Cedar City in southwestern Utah, just off Interstate 15. Choose from many wide-open sites along numerous dirt roads.

Oregon Dispersed Camping Rules And Regulations

Best Places to Camp for Free in Arizona

I cant repeat it enough always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping .

Most importantly, pack out all of your trash. Our public lands are experiencing a huge trash problem, both from unprepared campers and plain old a-holes.

So, come prepared to pack out your own trash, including food waste. I try to leave each campsite even cleaner than it was before I got there by picking up any garbage other campers left behind.

In addition to packing out your trash, its vital to properly dispose of human waste, especially in environmentally-sensitive areas.

Burying human waste in a cat hole is allowed on much of Oregons public lands as long as its 200 feet from any campsite, trail, or water source. But, I personally prefer to pack all of my waste out, either in a WAG bag or, better yet, a cheap portable toilet like the Luggable Loo.

Make sure to also follow all summertime campfire restrictions , stay out of any closed areas, and respect all stay limits .

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