BLM refers to the Bureau of Land Management and they promote the safe use of public lands to ensure that it is sustained and protected for future generations. BLM dispersed camping provides an inexpensive way for campers to enjoy the great outdoors.
Dispersed camping spots are located on land away from designated sites and developed recreational facilities, although you will find other BLM sites that are more developed. Most BLM camping spots surround a basic concept and typically have few or no facilities on offer.
Some may have a picnic ring and a fire ring. Whilst some popular sites offer restrooms or a portable water source, others will not. The majority of sites work via a first-come, first-served system so late-night arrivals will likely struggle to get a vacant spot.
Dispersed camping is permitted for 14 days. After this time, campers will be required to relocate to another spot that is at least 25 miles away. This area must not be revisited for 28 days.
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Where is BLM land for dispersed camping?
Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere inside the US so long as there isn’t any fencing or signs surrounding specific spots that state that camping in this area is not permitted.
As the BLM controls over 245 million acres of land there are plenty of spots to choose from. These campsites are typically located along secondary roads though, in some instances, they may not be clearly marked.
Campers are advised to use existing sites rather than creating a new one because not all areas of flat land are intended for this type of camping. Popular BLM locations can be identified by land that appears as though it has been disturbed and used regularly, e.g there will be signs that show campers were previously present in the area.
To reach your camping spot, you are also required to drive on established roads, dirt roads, or trails and off-road vehicles are not allowed. There are also certain conditions regarding dispersed camping in cities or on private land.
If the public lands owned by BLM extend into the city, you will be required to abide by the laws of each city, as some will not permit camping unless it takes place at a designated campsite.
If you have to travel across private property to reach your destination on public lands, you must first ask the owner if you are allowed to do so before proceeding.
The BLM website also provides regional maps which can be used to pinpoint dispersed BLM camp spots that may be of interest to you.
Is BLM camping free?
In most instances, campers will have to pay a fee to stay on BLM land. These fees can vary between sites as some may charge more than others. The cost of staying at a BLM campsite is considerably cheaper than staying at a developed or designated facility.
The fees that the BLM gets from their visitors are used to maintain the site and it must be paid within 30 minutes of arriving at the site. Some dispersed BLM campsites will be free of charge, however, this will depend on the facilities that the land offers.
Those that are sparse and offer limited resources are likely to cost less than those that are more developed with a more expansive range of facilities on offer.
Is it safe to camp on BLM land?
Camping on BLM land is safe, in fact, you can pitch your tent virtually anywhere on these camping grounds. As mentioned previously, it is important to stick to popular spots with visible signs that others have camped there previously, e.g track marks on the road and path or remnants of sticks that were used for the fire.
If access to a site is not permitted for whatever reason, there will be fencing or signs to show this. The BLM also employs many rangers who are responsible for ensuring that the land itself is not only protected but the camp spots offer safety and security to public land users.
BLM also supports multiple programs and initiatives that focus on prioritizing the safety of the land users.
Campers can also light fires using the existing fire rings, however, the fire conditions should be inspected before attempting to do so to ensure that it will not present a risk to safety. When a fire is lit it should be contained and put out if there isn’t anyone present to monitor it.
Campers are also advised to camp around 200 feet away from water sources. This ensures that there isn’t a risk of the water getting contaminated and you aren’t confronted with any animals that may visit the water during the night.
You will also find that BLM land that encounters a lot of adverse weather open on a seasonal basis. This ensures that any unexpected or harsh weather conditions experienced in these areas do not present a risk to those who are intending to use the land.
Those who are new to dispersed camping are advised to take precautions on their first trip so that it can be enjoyed safely.
How much does it cost to camp on BLM land?
Due to the nature of dispersed camping, some spots will be free because land users will be camping away from built-up and designated sites. However, on other, slightly more developed areas of BLM land, the fee is likely to fall within the range of $4.00 to $10.00.
The exact amount that you will pay will vary depending on the available amenities.
If you are provided with basic resources you are likely to pay around $4.00, however, if you visit more developed BLM areas that offer more facilities such as a restroom, access to an electric hook up or a portable water supply, and cans to dispose of your garbage you should expect this to be reflected in a higher fee.
On the whole, camping on BLM land isn’t an overly expensive experience and it will of course differ depending on the length of your stay.