eastern sierras in the morning

Dispersed Camping on Public Land

There is a natural propensity to want more freedom and space when visiting the great outside. If you didn’t have the guidance from a parent or family friend that took you outdoors when you were younger, you may tend to look to the internet gods for answers on how to increase your satisfaction or enhance your experience in the outdoors. There has to be more than the stone fire ring and iron grate campsites, right? Dispersed camping on public land is that next progression.

What is Dispersed Camping?

Dispersed camping is simply camping, but in a space that has not been developed with convenient amenities like water, trash, and reservations. These few limitations, surprisingly, remove a large population of campers from your view and open up a ton of opportunities to experience a wild space as it was meant to be observed.

Generally, one needs to either hike or drive into this remote wild with a 4×4 vehicle.

One of the things that leads campers to want to experience this type of camping is the freedom from neighbors, noise, and a feeling of remoteness not found in reservation-based camp sites.

Where Can I Set up a Remote Campsite?

National Forests generally allow dispersed camping and so does BLM land (Bureau of Land Management). National or State Parks, on the other hand, generally do not allow for dispersed camping and camp must be built in designated areas.

Depending on the type of public land you would be setting up your dispersed campsite on, there may be small rules to adhere to. For instance, one of my local dispersed camp sites is in Sequoia National Forest near the Kern River. The Forest Service disallows for dispersed camping within 25-feet of the waters edge due to safety concerns. Your mileage may vary.

Check your local regulations before heading out, and remember to always “leave no trace.”

Helpful Resources:
BLM Website
Forest Service Website

dispersed camping camp fire at papoose flats

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