Guidelines For Dispersed Camping
First and foremost, check the rules and regulations for the location you plan on visiting. These will include length of stay, group size limitations, permit requirements, and if you must use a designated campsite. But, in general, here are a few basic guidelines:
- Use established fire rings
- Use dead, fallen wood or heat-treated wood if bringing your own
- Safely store odorous items when applicable
- Pack out your trash. Do not burn!
- Use the bathroom at least 200 ft away from any trails, campsites, or water sources
- Respect wildlife
- Leave what you find
Most of these guidelines will be covered in further detail below, but I do want to briefly discuss campfire rules.
To minimize the impact we have on the land, it is advised that we do not create a new fire ring unless absolutely necessary. Some public lands strictly forbid it, so check out their website and know before you go.
Also, use dead wood for your campfires. Do not saw, cut, or chop branches. It is very difficult to burn green wood anyway, so spare the tree the harm.
And if bringing your own firewood, make sure it is heat treated. This prevents the spread of foreign insects and pathogens that can cause severe damage to non-native habitats. I mention this because some dispersed camping sites are accessible by vehicle, so bringing your own firewood may not be as difficult as some think.
New Mexico National Forests
The Land of Enchantment is home to several national forests, most of which follow a similar pattern of juniper-pinyon lining sand-colored mountains full of mysterious creatures such as the Gila monster. Unlike much of the rest of the southwest, New Mexico tends to be cold in the winter and so exploring its national forestlands is best done in the spring and fall to avoid extreme temperatures one way or another.
The usual suspects like Santa Fe and Taos get all the love, but while farther and fewer between than its neighboring Colorado, small towns like Hatch and old town Las Vegas, New Mexico are at least worth a day trip.
National Forests In North Carolina
One of the biggest draws for free camping in North Carolina is the abundance of national forest land. Dispersed camping is available within designated sites. These areas are primitive in nature without bathrooms, showers, electricity, or the amenities you will find at developed campgrounds.
There are four National Forests in North Carolina, with hundreds of thousands of acres to explore and enjoy. Each has designated areas where campers can take advantage of dispersed camping.
- Pisgah National Forest. This beautiful forest is filled with high peaks, waterfalls, and over 500,000 acres to explore. Choose from locations within the Appalachian Ranger District, Grandfather Ranger District, and the Pisgah Ranger District to enjoy free camping in North Carolina.
- Croatan National Forest. This national forest is a popular location for visitors as it is the only true coastal forest on the east coast. Its bordered on three sides by water and the area includes both bogs and saltwater estuaries for campers to explore.
- Nantahala National Forest. With over 530,000 acres of forest land, this is the largest forest in NC. There are plenty of spots for free camping here within the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala Ranger District, and the Tusquitee Ranger District.
- Uwharrie National Forest. Primitive camping is available within this national forest. Be sure to pay attention to posted signs that indicate if camping is not allowed in the area.
Read Also: Where To Go Camping In October
Dispersed Camping: What It Is And How To Do It Right
Are you familiar with the term dispersed camping? Perhaps not, but you probably already know what it is and not even know it.
Dispersed camping, like primitive camping, is camping on public lands away from designated campgrounds. It allows you to avoid larger crowds but does not include the luxury of facilities, such as bathrooms and showers.
In other words, if you have ever had an overnight hiking trip, you likely participated in dispersed camping simply by pitching your tent in a clear spot along the trail. In some of the more popular dispersed camping sites, you might find a lean-to shelter and even a privy, but it will still be considered dispersed when not in a campground.
So, why the confusing terminology?
Dispersed camping is used by the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to distinguish campgrounds from more primitive camping that is permitted on public lands. Aside from that, dispersed camping is primitive camping it is just more official.
Looking to try dispersed camping for the first time? Let us go over a few things.
Pisgah National Forest To Begin Reopening Trails Roads Ease Camping Restrictions
The Pisgah National Forest has begun to reopen many trails and roads and partially lift restrictions for dispersed camping.
The U.S. Forest Service announced the move Thursday, using a site-by-site approach, including assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety of recreation areas. Facilities and services may remain limited at some sites, a release from the Forest Service states.
Popular recreation areas that will reopen include, but are not limited to:
Catawba Falls, TR 225
Brown Mountain Off Highway Vehicle Area
Black Balsam Road, FSR 816, and associated trails
Bent Creek Road, FSR 479 and most trails and trailheads
For a complete list of trails, roads, and recreation areas that are reopening please visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/pisgahreopenings. The few roads that remain closed are only closed to motorized vehicles, non-motorized use is allowed.
Restrictions on dispersed camping will be lifted for the entire Appalachian Ranger District. Dispersed camping restrictions will also be lifted for the Grandfather Ranger District with the exception of overnight camping within the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area on the weekends, which requires a permit.
For the month of May, the Forest Service will not be issuing these permits. Dispersed camping restrictions remain in place for the Pisgah Ranger District. These decisions were made in coordination with county and local partners to ensure the safety of the public and employees.
Recommended Reading: Best Fall Camping In Pa
Travel Info: Find Updates And Reopenings In Asheville & Western North Carolina
The massive Pisgah National Forest is divided into three districts. The Pisgah Ranger District includes the Brevard area with places such as Looking Glass Rock, Sliding Rock and many waterfalls.
Within the Pisgah Ranger District there are disbursed roadside camping sites that are available on a first come – first serve basis. These campsites are located alongside gravel roads throughout the district and include a parking area, tent pad, and fire ring. Toilet facilities and drinking water are not available.
Trash pick-up is not provided. Trash must be collected and disposed of properly. Failure to remove or properly dispose of trash is a crime and law enforcement officers will issue citations for littering if trash is strewn about or not properly disposed of.
The following regulations must be adhered to and are strictly enforced by Law Enforcement Officers.
Warning: Unattended property and equipment in these areas can be an easy target for criminal activity. Protect your property by locking valuables out of site. Access to these campsites is easy by any vehicle. If you see anyone stealing anything from a roadside campsite or parking area near a public trailhead, picnic, or recreation area please call 911 to report it or call USPS Law Enforcement at the Pisgah District Ranger Station at 828-877-3265.
The Best Rv Camping In Deschutes National Forest
One of the states more well-known forests, partly due to its proximity to ever-growing but still happening Bend, and partly due to the brewery that took its name, the Deschutes National Forest is pristine outdoor living with everything from canoe camping to birdwatching, hiking trails to mountain bike downhills, and all in abundance.
Also Check: Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area Wyoming
The Best Rv Camping In San Isabel National Forest
Leadville, Buena Vista, and Salida all have something to offer when it comes to small-town interest. Leadville boasts of its elevation, twice that of the Mile High City of Denver, while Salida is a rafting town that cant be missed. Perhaps best of all is showing up in Buena Vista and hearing how the locals pronounce it.
First Is Boondocking In North Carolina Even Legal
According to the USDA Forest Service, dispersed camping in North Carolina is only allowed in designated areas.
Meaning, no one can simply pull off anywhere and spend the night. Luckily, there is a list of designated camping spots to reference on the USDAs website, along with many other resources.
Although restrictions exist, you will soon see that there is an abundance of sites to choose from all completely free and in stunning locations.
Another important rule to remember is: there is a 14 day limit for public land camping .
This protects the land and surrounding ecosystem from regular human activity and allows others to enjoy the area as well.
In most cases, there are little to no amenities at these sites. Therefore, it is important to prepare accordingly and pack out anything you brought into the camp.
I highly recommend a visit to the USDAs Outdoor and Safety Ethics page, which provides helpful information on topics such as weather safety, wildlife safety, and outdoor ethics.
After all, having the right preparedness in any situation allows for more enjoyment and relaxation.
So, in short: yes! Boondocking is absolutely legal in North Carolina, as long as youre camping in designated areas, abiding by the time limit, and respecting the outdoor ethics of the area.
And luckily, there is no shortage of free camping areas located throughout the vast National Forests.
Of course, like everywhere else in the United States, camping on private property is prohibited.
Also Check: Camping Near Shawnee National Forest
Wash Creek Horse Camp
Wash Creek Horse Camp is a small group area designed for equestrian use located two miles northeast of the North Mills River Recreation Area and Bent Creek of the Pisgah Ranger District. Wash Creek offers a remote hardwood forest setting with a small, shallow stream nearby.
As part of the Pisgah National Forest, a network of equestrian trails are available in the North Mills River, Trace Ridge and Wash Creek areas and are easily accessible with space for several horse trailers. Hiking, fishing and hunting are popular activities in the area. Some of these trails are shared by mountain bikers. Routes are marked with signs and colored blazes.
Campfire rings, and hitching posts for horses
Campsite Occupancy: The site typically holds 25 people.
Wash Creek Campsite Fee: $30 per day
The Best Rv Camping In Coronado National Forest
Tombstone, Arizonayou know it from countless silver screen appearancesand the slightly more authentic Bisbee, AZ are the highlights in the Coronado, but as big cities in the Grand Canyon State go, Tucson is easily the most interesting. Further west, Patagonia, Arizona is an experience worth parallel parking in and of itself.
You May Like: Camping Sites In Colorado Springs
Primitive Camping Guidelines For Fpr Lands
Primitive camping is allowed within designated areas of selected state lands.
Camping must be at least 100 feet from any stream or body of water
Camping must be at least 200 feet from any trail or property line, and 1000 feet from any traveled road.
Camping is allowed up to three consecutive nights in the same area.
Groups of eleven or more individuals must obtain a permit from the District Office in order to primitive camp.
Only dead and down trees or branches may be used for firewood.
Camping above 2500 feet in elevation is prohibited unless otherwise designated.
We require one responsible adult for every 4 campers under the age of 14.
If you carry it in – carry it out!
Leave your campsite so clean that no one else can find it.
The use of backpacker stoves with self-contained fuel is urged.
Some areas have remote lean-tos for overnight camping
Playing In The Pisgah: How To Spend A Weekend In Western Carolina
It’s no secret that the mountains of Western North Carolina have a wide array of wonderful places to live and play. With vibrant mountain towns like Boone, Brevard, and Asheville, as well as well-preserved national forests and serpentine scenic highways, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to visit this area . If you’re going on vacation this holiday season, make sure the Pisgah is on the top of your list. And while you’re there, use this weekend guide for a night of camping and a day of hiking and trail running.
Also Check: Free Camping Near Nashville Tennessee
Looking Glass Falls And Camping In Pisgah National Forest
Brevard and the Pisgah National Forest is one of our favorite places to visit. Its an area that is filled with tons of amazing outdoor activities. Activities that cant be done in a day or even two days. This is why we try to visit as often as possible. With the weather warming a tad, we decided to pack up and spend the weekend in Brevard. One of our stops included Looking Glass Falls, which is a well-known and beautiful waterfall located in Western North Carolina.You may also like:Hiking with Llamas
White Pine South Group Campsite Info
White Pine South Group Camp is nestled along Avery Creek in the lush forests of the Appalachian Mountains. The facility provides tent camping year-round and can accommodate families, scout troops and other groups of up to 25 people.
This is a walk-in, tent-only facility parking lot is provided
Picnic tables, campfire rings with grills, and lantern posts
White Pines South Campsite: $55 per day
Don’t Miss: Anza Borrego Desert State Park Camping
Free Camping In North Carolina: What You Need To Know
North Carolina is a state where mountains, forests, and free camping opportunities abound. When it comes to free camping in North Carolina, there tends to be a bit of confusion about what is and what isnt legally permitted.
So, where can you camp for free in North Carolina? Can you simply walk into a forest, pitch a tent and call it a day? What about a parking lot or a wildlife management area?
Well, yes…and no. Keep reading to learn more about free camping in North Carolina!
How To Get There:
35.22, -82.7783335°13’12″N, 82°46’42″WFrom Asheville, take State Highway 280 south to Brevard. At the junction of U.S. Highway 276/64/280, follow Highway 64 west through Brevard to Cathy’s Creek Road/Forest Road 471. Take a right and go 1.25 miles to campground entrance.
Vehicles must cross a creek to enter both Cove Creek and Kuykendall camping areas.you cross the creek at your own risk.
You May Like: Best Fire Pits For Camping
Basic And Dispersed Camping Information
Basic and Dispersed Permits:
You may camp almost anywhere in Land Between the Lakes. A Basic Camping Permit is required for each person 18 and over when camping in Basic Camping Facilities. A Dispersed Camping Permit is required when camping in non-designated areas of the recreation area. Both permits currently cost $50 for an annual permit and $10 for a 3-day permit and can be purchased online or any of our facilities. Please note that these permits do not apply when camping at Self-Service Campgrounds.
Camping Near You Find A Free Campsite
Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. Freecampsites.net makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.
This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
Don’t Miss: Camping Within Two Hours Of Me
Dispersed Camping & Looking Glass Falls
Camping and winter doesnt always go hand-in-hand in Western North Carolina. We love utilizing state and federal campgrounds when possible,and most of those close down during the winter months. That leaves us with two options. An RV campground or dispersed camping. Since our crew always chooses sleeping in a tent over sleeping in the bus when the weathers nice. Dispersed camping is the way to go for us.
Luckily, during the off-season months, its pretty easy getting a dispersed site in the Pisgah National Forest area. However, as we approach Spring, it becomes almost impossible. Thats why our family chooses to brave the 20° nights. We are always greeted with absolutely beautiful days with almost perfect weather. Plus, the area isnt crowded during this time.
There are several dispersed camping spots in the area. A quick stop by the Ranger Station will point you in the direction you need to go. Also, its a great way to get information about the area.