Tips For Dispersed Camping On Blm Land
If youve never tried dispersed camping, it can feel intimidating to start. RVing on dispersed BLM land requires boondocking, meaning camping without hookups and amenities. Its also important to know that some BLM campsites are difficult to access, and require traversing dirt, rocky, steep, washboard, or deeply rutted roads.
Boondocking does not require a specific kind of RV or special equipment. But your RV setup may limit where and how long you can camp.
Once youve chosen your BLM dispersed camping area, here are some things you need to know before you arrive:
Do your homework. Read reviews of the BLM area in advance. Keep an eye out for reviews from campers with similar RVs or needs to your own. This will clue you into whether your RV can access the camping area, cell phone signal strength, current closures and conditions, and tips for local amenities.
Scout ahead. This is critical if you have a larger or low clearance RV. Park your RV or trailer nearby, then investigate in your tow vehicle, on bicycle, or by foot. Make sure the road into the campsites are safe for your RV and identify a place to park.
Arrive early. All dispersed camping is first come, first served, and sites at popular areas are usually claimed during peak seasons. Try to arrive on weekdays or during the off-season to nab the perfect campsite.
Have a backup plan. For all the reasons above, sometimes BLM camping plans dont work out. Have a backup camping area in mind just in case.
What Is Blm Land
Those who are unfamiliar with dispersed camping may be wondering, what is BLM land? First, we need to look at the acronym BLM to find out more about the organization that oversees BLM land.
These lands are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with responsibly managing land and resources for the use and enjoyment of the public.
The BLM is accountable for managing public lands for an array of uses such as energy and mineral development, grazing of livestock, recreation, along with timber harvesting, while ensuring cultural, natural, and historic resources are maintained for this and future generations.
Currently, the BLM oversees 245 million surface acres of public lands for the American people. The agency manages 1 in 10 acres in the U.S., or about 12 percent of the landmass of the U.S. Thats a little bit less than the size of Texas. The land is primarily located in the western states, including Alaska, California, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Moab Blm Camping Along The Colorado River
The Bureau of Land Management offers approximately 26 campgrounds in the Moab area. All individual sites are on a first-come-first-served basis only. Sites are not reservable. Sites can fill up quickly. Group sites can be reserved at Recreation.gov. All campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, trash removal and vault toilets. A $20 fee per night is collected at each campground, payments can be made by check or cash only.
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Motor Vehicle Use Maps
These are large PDFs made available from the Forest Service.
Many, but not all, of these maps show where dispersed camping is permitted. Roads with dots on either side represent free campsites. Each map has a legend.
Its best to download them for an easier time viewing, and so you have them with you if bring a computer on the road. I havent tried viewing them on a cell phone, but they are very large and it would be a headache.
To Print Open the map and find the area you need to print. Go to File, Print, and under Pages to Print, select More Options and Current view. Next under Page Sizing & Handling choose Fit. Select Orientation and then Print.
Tip Bring up the location in Google Maps too, so you can get more street names and info.
MVUM National Forests
Is Blm Camping Worth It
BLM camping can be as primitive or as elaborate as you want it to be. You just need to seek out the BLM campsites that match your style.
When you know your style and youve done a bit of planning, getting whisked away to a BLM campsite is most definitely worth it. The lands explored and the starry nights gazed upon will not be forgotten when camping on BLM lands.
Will you go BLM camping?
Best Free Camping Incolorado
While the Western United States are filled with seemingly endless opportunities to find beautiful, free camping, few states do it quite as well as Colorado.
From desert cliff-dwelling to the Rocky Mountains’ abundance of forests, and beyond to the Front Range including Denver and Fort Collins, finding free a free place to camp is not just about saving a buck it’s about living within the most splendid scenery the state has to offer.
Dispersed camping in the Centennial State is downright prolific throughout the dozen or so national forests and grasslands within the state’s borders. Are you looking for camping spots near Steamboat Springs? Forest roads and mountain passes galore await. Need beautiful free camping near Denver? Idaho Springs is only about a half-hour from town, yet filled with places to go mountain biking, tent camping, or enjoy your national forest.
Common Questions About Camping On Blm Land
What is BLM camping?
BLM camping is camping on public lands or in developed campgrounds managed by the Bureau of Land Management. You can BLM camp in an RV or tent.
Is BLM camping free?
Most dispersed BLM camping is free, but some areas or developed BLM campgrounds charge a nightly fee.
Can you boondock on BLM land?
You can boondock on most BLM public lands, however, some public lands restrict camping, so check with your local BLM field office to ensure recreation is welcome.
How long can you camp on BLM land?
Most BLM camping areas are limited to 14-night stays within a 28-day period. Stay maximums can vary, so check with your local BLM field office to confirm.
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How To Find Exact Dispersed Camping Boundaries
The trickiest part about dispersed camping is finding out exactly where its legal to camp. National Forest boundaries are not clearly marked from the road.
Our #1 tip is to talk to a local park ranger. They can give you the best lay of the land, road conditions, and any special considerations that need to be taken into account.
Aside from that, the USDA offers this helpful map which accurately labels the National Forest boundaries in Colorado.
Zoom In And Look For Roads
Once you have your map layers selected, make sure you look for roads. Because USFS and BLM land areas allow camping almost anywhere , just looking at the map pins does not give you the whole picture.
Sometimes you will find map pins within the map area. These can be a helpful indicator that others have found good camping in this area. Exploring the roads around existing map pins is a good place to start if you are new to camping in USFS and BLM land.
Many campers use Map Layers by finding a road they want to explore, packing up, and hitting the road. If the road is inside a National Forest or BLM land, you are likely to find free camping. And if you dont find something, as long as you have The Dyrt app you have all campgrounds at your fingertips.
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The Disadvantages Of Camping On Blm Land
The disadvantages of camping on BLM land largely come down to the lack of convenience that comes with paying for services.
- Its often unmarked. Because the land is just public land, its not always clear if an area is actually being used for another purpose or whether you can camp there. Its not impossible that you set up camp only to be told you have to move on, though this is rare.
- You cant reserve it. The trade off for it being free is that you might show up and discover someone else is already using the area and you might find yourself driving around looking for another spot. Of course, that doesnt mean you cant camp nearby, but since you both presumably came looking for solitude, its nice if you can move further away.
- No potable water: Theres probably not going to be potable water nearby, and if youre camping in the desert, there may not be any water at all. Make sure to bring your own water and read our guide to finding safe water sources in the wild.
- You might not be able to have a fire. There wont be established fire pits, so youll need to build your own practicing campfire safety, and youll need to check local fire restrictions before you strike a match.
Is There An App For Blm Land
As mentioned previously, there are many apps to find places to camp, but to know for sure if you are on BLM land, there are a couple of specific apps available to help you do so.
Other than Free Roam, another app is BLM Public Lands Map Guide USA. Available for $2.99, this app allows you to seek out BLM camping, recreational activities, mineral lands, and much more.
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Collecting Artifacts & Fossils
Indian and Other Historical Artifacts: You may not collect any artifacts, ancient or historical, on public lands. This includes arrow heads or flakes, pottery or potsherds, mats, rock art, old bottles or pieces of equipment and buildings. These items are part of our national heritage and scientists are still learning much from them. Human burial remains on both public and private land are protected by federal and state law from being collected.
Vertebrate Fossils: These include dinosaurs, mammals, sharks and fish, or any animal with skeletal structure. You cannot collect these fossils.
Invertebrate Fossils: These include ammonites, trilobites, and common plant fossils such as leaf impressions and cones, and may be collected in reasonable amounts.
Petrified wood can also be collected for personal use up to 25 pounds each day, plus one piece, but no more than 250 pounds in any calendar year . These materials must be for your personal collection and cannot be sold or traded.
Is Blm Camping Safe
While safety is never guaranteed anywhere you go, BLM camping can be just as safe as camping in a gated RV resort that costs hundreds of dollars. No matter where you are, you are ultimately responsible for doing the things you need to do to keep you feeling safe.
When camping anywhere, the general rule of thumb is to trust your gut and know your surroundings. Plan ahead. Know what amenities are available and what youll have to bring in to make up for those that arent.
If you know youll be off the beaten path a bit, are you prepared for an emergency if theres no cell service? Do you have a plan in place to handle the unknown? You cant prevent everything, but you can do your best to be prepared and feel safe.
In the end, camping on BLM land can be just as safe, if not safer, than camping in that gated RV park.
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How Can You Tell If Land Is Blm
Its not always easy to know if you are on BLM land or not. As mentioned before, the two best ways to do so are either through BLM.gov or Free Roam.
BLM.gov has many interactive maps, camping sites, and recreational activities listed out state by state and a lot of informative information on BLM land across the country.
Free Roam is a free app with many options available for camping, free and fees. But more importantly, it has an overlay option that shows BLM land, United States Forest Service land, and more.
Stop By The Local Blm Office
Also, while the information on the BLM land website can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to navigate, you can also search your local BLM area office for more specific information relating to your area. This can be helpful as well. There you will find the phone numbers and local policies related to your location. You can find them at the BLM site here.
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Its More Than Ok To Follow The Rules
For BLM, every field office has similar and different rules and its a necessity for you and the longevity of our public lands to familiarize yourself with them before you camp. For example, on lands managed by the BLMs Vernal Field Office, you can drive 300 feet off of a main road for dispersed camping. Managed lands in other areas have different rules.
Heres a few rules/best practices that are universal and should be applied in addition to each field offices individual rules.
Practice Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! – Wildlife is more present and ecosystems are often more delicate in the backcountry, so its particularly important to practice Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! principles. These principles include planning ahead, packing out your trash, being careful with fire, traveling or camping on durable surfaces, respecting cultural sites, wildlife, and other visitors and more.
Bathrooms – Some areas may have toilets nearby, if not, its not okay to just pop a squat anywhere. There are repercussions to our waste. Watch this video to be prepared for when nature calls. And now that youre super-duper excited for your next outdoor pooper-tunity, here are some additional bathroom tips.
How To Locate Blm Land To Camp Free On Your Phone
While I definitely use BLM.gov, I also use a variety of phone apps to locate and use BLM public land-free camping. My go-to apps are currently Campendium and Ultimate Campground. Both of these apps are invaluable to the avid adventurer. Personally, The Dyrt Pro is really outstanding, its up-to-date has interactive maps that outperform the others mentioned.
The Dyrt is a Free App and the free version has lots to enjoy, however by paying the $35 for the PRO version, you get to unlock lots more features and specifically the downloading offline maps and route planners that become invaluable as you venture out and cell phone service is spotty or non-existent.
But here is the best part, if youre not a fan of paying for the premium service, just grab the app and use the 7-day free trial for the Dryt PRO version, and youre not obligated to use it after your trip. That way, you get all the perks of the app, you get to find those sweet camping spots, and youre not out any extra cash, thats a win/win.
Psst! Bringing your doggo camping with you? You need to check out our Camping With A Doggo Checklist, you wont regret it!
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Geocaching On Public Lands
Geocaching is a 21st century treasure-hunting activity using Global Positioning System devices. The BLM welcomes this activity on public lands if you do it with minimal impact to the environment and if you follow conscientious land use ethics.
Geocaching is related to orienteering except it takes advantage of a GPS unit’s capabilities. People share worldwide locations of physical and virtual caches online. You use location coordinates to find caches. Then you may face a variety of rewards. You might have to leave or replace items in the cache, deliver items to another cache, or take a self-portrait to upload to an online album. The cache may be a small waterproof box or simply an unmistakable landmark to include in the portrait.
We may consider geocaching a management concern if it jeopardizes public health and safety, causes environmental damage, or conflicts with other authorized uses.
You can avoid concern about establishing a cache by contacting the local BLM office to identify the intended location and request authorization. We will be happy to check that the proposed cache location:
- Is not near a known archaeological site
- Will not interfere with threatened or endangered species habitat
- Will not conflict with other land uses
- Is not hazardous
- Requires no other special considerations
BLM’s Geocaching Rules
There’s no excuse for abuse!
- Suspicious behavior, substances, or objects
- Commercial use or sponsorship
Explore Your Public Lands In Colorado
Our map features recreation sites on public lands throughout the state across public land management agencies. Find your next hike or camping destination, decide where to fish, climb, hunt, make the most of the snow, enjoy the water, or plan a roadside picnic along a scenic drive out west.
Colorado contains a microcosm of almost all that is astounding about the West. Endless stretches of plains rise up slowly to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, then down to arid mesas, redrock canyons, and narrow mountain valleys.
The Front Range, or eastern face, of the Rocky Mountains is what Colorado is justly known for. Visit once, and you’ll rave about the ski areas with perfect snow and mind-boggling views, deer browsing in mountain meadows, or columbine growing by a glacier-fed creek. The Front Range is also the most populous, and recreational facilities tend to be highly developed and modern. The public lands of the western slope, on the other hand, offer an intriguing glimpse of the past. Fossils mark where dinosaurs roamed ancient ruins and petroglyphs dot thecanyons and tablelands and historic mining towns nestle in steep-sided valleys. The Plains have relatively little public lands, although the state manages a number of excellent wildlife viewing or hunting areas.
Take some time to explore the wonders of Colorado here. You will discover a wealth of detailed information about where to go and what to do while touring the public lands of this state.
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