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Camping On Blm Land Montana

Little City Of Rocks Primitive Spot

Motocamping: Solo Motorcycle Camping BLM – Montana
  • Cell Service: None

  • Elevation: 4528 ft

If it has rained in the past couple days, or if theres rain in the forecast, the road to this free camping spot outside of Idahos LIttle City of Rocks will be closed with a locked gate. Although a high clearance 4WD vehicle isnt necessary to travel on this road, it probably isnt suitable for bumper-pull campers or RVs.

This spot is 20 minutes north of Gooding. Head north on 46 for about 12 miles, then your GPS should route you left onto an unnamed gravel road. When that road Ys, stay to the right. After just over a mile on the gravel road youll be at the parking area for Little City of Rocks. This parking area is the free camping spot.

Obviously, there aren’t any amenities here. This is a secluded gravel lot with a makeshift fire pit others have created using rocks. Theres a decent chance you wont be sharing this area with others, as Little City of Rocks is a lesser known attraction and fairly out of the way as compared to other destinations.

There are no trees or shade here! In the summer months, youll want an awning and some ways to stay cool while camping. But Little City of Rocks is definitely worth exploring! Theres a trail that goes through it, with tons of awesome rock formations to explore.

Always Be Responsible For The Stuff You Bring

The majority of BLM sites lack garbage service, as well as other services. As a result, anything you bring in comes out as well. Hence more trash that stays on-site, the fewer opportunities we will have to use BLM properties in particular. We will lose rights to the property if we do not take care of it.

As weve said, the BLM Lands are used without compromising the nature and environment itself so if we do the opposite of that, we wont be able to appreciate these locations anymore.

The Streets Are Dangerous In The Woods You Might Have Bears But There Are Enough Places To Find Shelter That You Wont Have To Worry

Much of the impact these peoples have on the land is because of its lack of amenities that are generally expected when camping. A firepit, perhaps. A picnic table to prepare meals. A bathroom, of course. But when staying on USFS or BLM land, these accommodations are rare or nonexistent, which leads to environmental damages, particularly the accumulation of trash and waste.

When people dont move frequently enough, that leaves little opportunity for the land to heal and regrow. When visitors come out to the forest we want them to see the trees, the wildlife, the pristine waternot somebodys trash, Boehm elaborated.

To better understand the scale of impact, take the biannual cleanup the Rosenburg Police Department conducts along the South Umpqua Riverbed in Oregon. In 2017, a team of six people worked for four full days and removed about 10,500 pounds of debris from along the river. Trash included potted marijuana plants, syringes, road signs, bikes, shopping carts, and myriads of other garbage. Residents of the South Umpqua Riverbed were given advance notice of the cleanup operation.

Cleanups are not cheap either. The USFS in Colorado Springs estimated that it costs between $700 and $1,000 to clean up each individual non-recreational campsite which, depending on the area and amount of abandoned debris, can be a significant strain to agency budgets.

So what is to be done? How can federal lands be better managed to help at-risk communities?

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Tips/things To Know When Camping For Free In Montana:

You can find free campsites for RVs on any public lands in Montana that are managed by the USDA Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. The Dillon Field Office of the BLM can direct RV campers to remote and adventurous locations.

  • Use a map as much of the dispersed/free camping in Montana is located on a map. You can find all of the maps and information by visiting the website for Montana Bureau of Land Management.
  • Always use existing fire rings do not build new areas for fire.
  • Trash services are scarcely provided. Be prepared to take out any trash you bring in.
  • Be aware of bears and other animals. Proper food storage is a must when camping.
  • If restrooms are unavailable follow the proper guidelines of restrooms in the woods.
  • You may not camp within 100 feet of a lake or stream in a national forest.
  • More tips about free/dispersed camping in Montana can be found here.

Tips For Dispersed Camping On Blm Land

What is BLM Land Camping?

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.

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Is Camping On Blm Land Free

There are numerous opportunities for free camping on BLM land. Most of the free camping you will find on BLM land is in the form of dispersed camping. Dispersed camping usually simply means camping an area without and amenities. The BLM also sometimes offers primitive campsites with basic amenities such as a fire pit and picnic table for free as well, but usually only in certain districts and areas. Most of the free camping available on BLM land will have no amenities and so you will need to bring everything you need by yourself.

Where To Find Blm Campgrounds

BLM public lands are primarily located in 12 western states. This map from the Bureau of Land Management shows areas managed by the agency. States with designated land include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

There are two types of BLM camping: developed and dispersed.

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How To Find Dispersed Camping In Montana

Finding dispersed camping in Montana is a straightforward affair if you know where to look. Of course this guide is the perfect starting place, and weve outlined some of the best resources to help you find individual campsites below.

When searching for a good campsite ourselves, we prefer to use a combination of several online apps/websites along with publically available USFS/BLM maps.

Our favorite online resources are below:

  • Freecampsites.net Our go to resource for finding free camping in the US. Simply enter your desired location and filter through the results.
  • The Dyrt An app that lets you filter for free and dispersed campsites.
  • Campendium A website and app that allows you to see user reviews for campsites and campgrounds across the country.

Check out our Dispersed Camping App guide here.

Although you may find your next campsite by simply utilizing the sources above, we also highly recommend referencing the excellent information available through public agencies maps and resources. The best way to do this is typically by reaching out directly to the relevant USFS Ranger District in Montana to get the most current camping information and recommendations.

Finally, one of the best resources, specifically for national forest dispersed camping, is to utilize Motor Vehicle Use Maps or MVUMs for short. These maps are published by the Forest Service and display the entire network of forest service roads in a given area.

You Can Stay At A Blm Campground

Forest Service Police have questions, Rules for camping on BLM and National Forest land.

There are a wide variety of campgrounds within BLM land, from developed facilites with restrooms, potable water, electrical hookups, picnic areas, dump stations, and more to campgrounds that offer little more than a pit or ring for your campfire. If you want to camp at one of these designated campgrounds, then youll often need to pay a fee. Most of the time, these campgrounds are first-come, first-serve.

You can also make reservations for a campsite at a specific campground. To make reservations at a campground, head to recreation.gov and find the campground you want to stay at and make your reservation. Its important to note that some campgrounds may have restrictions on the size of RV you can have. This is something you need to check ahead of time. Each campground is different.

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Ryan Road Dispersed Area

Ryan Road is also marked as Forest Road 10325 on Forest Service Maps. Dispersed camping is allowed along this road. This road also leads to Ryan Field, a small airstrip used for Forest Service personnel. Ryan Road has several small pullouts and clearings where people can camp. There is also a large dirt lot down the road that can accommodate several large RVs.

Starting GPS: Starts on US Highway 2, right at the intersection with Ryan Road. You can camp anywhere off of Ryan Road, as long as there is a previously used clearing or campsite.

Black Canyon Recreation Site

  • Cell Service: Yes on booster

  • Elevation: 4748 ft

This free camping area is really more of a gravel parking area on BLM land in the mountains above Pocatello, ID. The sign posted during our visit stated that its only open April 14 – November 16.

Because no one was there during our quick overnight stop, we enjoyed this place and the great views. Theres a pit toilet at one end of the parking area and several nice tent sites right across the road with covered picnic tables and fire pits.

This is an OHV area, so from what we understand, it can get rather noisy on the weekends from ATV and OHV traffic. If this were the case, I would imagine this free camping area would be suited for nothing more than a late night pull-in and place to lay your head, if that.

There is no exit directly from I-15 onto N. Black Canyon Road, so your GPS will first route you onto Old Hwy 91 in order to get to this free campsite. The gravel road in is a little bumpy but should be fine for all types of vehicles and campers, but is not ideal for larger RVs.

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The Best Free Camping In The Usa

We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Heres our list of the20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

If you havent tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

Where Is Dispersed Camping Allowed In Montana

The Best Free BLM Camping in the United States

Dispersed campers in Montana will do best looking for campsites located on land controlled by two federal agencies: the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management . Out of those two, the vast majority of camping opportunities occur within the states national forests.

The USFS generally permits dispersed camping anywhere in a national forest where it is not explicitly prohibited, or in too close of proximity to other recreational amenities such as developed campgrounds, trailheads, and parking areas. The same goes for the BLM, although it is often less clear if camping is permitted on BLM land when compared to national forests.

US Forest Service Dispersed Camping in Montana

Montana technically has eight National Forests within its boundaries, although the Idaho Panhandle NF barely streches into Montanas northwestern most corner. In addition, a few of these national forests are administered as a single entity, even thought they are technically two different forests. Helena-Lewis and Clark NF is a good example of this.

And while there are general guidelines of dispersed camping provided the US Forest Service, each individual forest can set its own rules and regulations for camping. Thus, you always want to check directly with the National Forest where you plan to camp before setting up.

The list below features all of the US National Forests in Montana that permit dispersed camping, along with links to the relevant rules and regulations for each:

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Six Mile Gap Campground

Directions: Campground is approximately 26 miles southeast of Encampment. Travel south on Highway 230 26 miles to National Forest System Road 492, turn left and travel two miles to Six Mile Gap Campground.Description: 9 campsites with tables, fire rings, hand pump, trash pick-up, vault toilets, host on site. Campground is a combination of walk-in tent sites and camper sites. Popular access to the Platte River Wilderness and to the Platte River for floating. Fishing in the Platte River. Hunting in the general vicinity. Wildlife seen in the area includes elk, deer and big horn sheep. All sites are first-come-first-serve.Administered by: National Forest ServiceElevation: 8,000 feet Recommended Season: May 15 October Fee: $10/ night Stay: 14 day limit

Finlay Flats Recreation Area In Montana

  • Cell Service: none, but we were told other sites at the same campground do have service

  • Elevation: 2,335 ft

Although this free campsite is actually in Montana, were including it on this list because its on your likely route for your Idaho road trip if you avoid interstates like us and are trying to zig zag through the national forests of Idaho.

This dispersed camping area is found on national forest land along the Clark Fork River, just off Hwy 200 near the Idaho/Montana border. After turning north onto NF-2654/Finlay Flats Road, which is well maintained gravel, travel under 2 miles, cross the railroad tracks, and youll arrive at Finlay Flats.

The free camping spots are large enough for bigger RVs, level, and most of the 10-12 sites have a bit of shade. The spots are close enough together that you wont have a lot of privacy or feel very secluded, but the views of the Clark Fork River and surrounding area more than make up for it.

Youll need to be prepared to boondock while staying at this free campground. There is no potable water, trash, or electricity, however, there are pit toilets available.

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How Long Are You Allowed To Camp In State Areas

Legally in Bureau of Land Management areas you can camp for two weeks at a time within a 30 mile radius during a 28-day period. What that means, is that you may camp within a 30 mile radius for two weeks, either all in one block, or spread out across a 28-day period. This is perfect for hikers who will move camp a few miles at a time.

The regulations are slightly different in state forests. In these areas you may camp for 14 days at a time in a period of 30 days within a radius of 20 miles. You must then move on, and camp outside that radius if you wish to continue camping.

Furthermore, if you are a group of 75 or more people you must gain a permit to camp in a U.S. state forest you can get that by contacting the local district office. There will be no fee.

The Missouri River Breaks Monument

#541 Red Mountian BLM Park Montana

The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument comprises 375,000 acres of public land in central Montana. It is part of the nations system of National Conservation Lands administered by the BLM. The National Conservation Lands include approximately 27 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Scenic and Historic Trails. These lands hold a spectacular array of plant life, wildlife, unique geological features, endless recreational opportunities and significant historical and cultural values.

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Arches National Park Timed Entry

Arches National Park

On January 3, 2022, Arches National Park will implement a pilot timed entry reservation system to enter the park from April through October, 2022. Visitors will need three things for their visit, 1) timed entry ticket, 2) photo ID, and 3) park entrance fee OR valid park pass. Each private vehicle …

Rules To Follow While Dispersed Camping

  • Camp 100 feet away from any water source
  • Camp within 150 feet of a roadway
  • Camp outside of a 1-mile radius of any designated campsite
  • Dont camp at a site for more than 16 days
  • After 16 days you must move to a dispersed site that is at least 5 miles away.
  • Camp where others have camped before
  • It is easy to recognize land that has been camped on before look for warn down dirt and rock clusters that have been formed to keep fires in check.
  • Pack it in, pack it out
  • Dont leave behind trash or anything else you carry in with you.
  • Check beforehand for any other restrictions
  • Depending on the administering agency, what the weather has been like, and other various factors, there may be specific rules in place, most commonly restrictions on campfires.
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