Dispersed Camping on Public Lands Explained! (Finding Free & Cheap Campsites)

Dispersed Camping on Public Lands Explained! (Finding Free & Cheap Campsites)

In this video I talk about the various types of public lands in the US (national forest, BLM, national park, national monument, national recreation area, national wildlife refuge, national preserve, wilderness area, wildlife management area, state park lands, etc.) and how friendly they are to dispersed camping.

** PublicLands.org: http://publiclands.org/
** CalTopo (select the “Land Management” option from the top-right corner drop-down menu): https://caltopo.com/
** USGS Survey Map: https://maps.usgs.gov/padus/

► My online store (SUV camping/vandwelling/overlanding accessories & SUV RVing merch): https://KamchatkaGear.com

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** The blog: http://suvrving.com
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** My other YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/tenkaraaddict

#camping #publiclands #dispersedcamping


  1. happy moonshadow on May 23, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    You still have to have a pass to be on national forest.

  2. e Burtonavich on May 23, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    With that list, add the bordering Can Not Camp areas/places.

  3. 5stardave on May 23, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Get a BLM or forest map from their office. Since you are camping for free the least you can do is buy a map to help support the land you are staying on. National Forest maps will also mark out private property within the forest.

  4. Kris T.’s Stuff on May 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you! This video was very helpful.

  5. Coniferous Forests on May 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    thank you for putting it in terms Im capable to understand. Otherwise it takes hours and hours of research. I always thought that wilderness is the most relaxed in terms of where you can camp and do things, turned out to be totally opposite.

  6. Joseph Fox Reno on May 23, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Good luck doing Mt. Bora in Custer Country

  7. Crunchy Buns on May 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Great video!

  8. Miguel Infante on May 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for all the great info. I’m thinking about doing some car camping the next time I go out west to Utah or whatever. I’m gonna look for more info on that in your other videos. I’m not sure it would work in a rental car though. I live in boring , flat Florida but my dream is to move out west so I can go on adventures like you do on a more regular basis instead of on a yearly trip. Florida is a beautiful state but most of the recreation here centers around water, like fishing , scuba diving, snorkeling, etc. It’s so developed here there are very few places you can go exploring in and find some solitude. Are there any other Florida residents who feel like I do and wish they lived out west? Anyway, great video.

  9. Kristopher Nekula on May 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    I have always found it weird that while NPS and BLM are under the Department if the Interior, the USFS is under the USDA

  10. HereToLearnabc123 on May 23, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Great Video wish I saw this before my first strip out to big sur but definitely a big YES to the comprehensive list 😁

  11. John Aiello on May 23, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    … and if you see Bigfoot, make sure you use an old camera that is out of focus. Do not — I repeat — do not use your high quality cellphone camera!

  12. mark peterson on May 23, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Love your videos…! Where do you call home and why?

  13. Tony Chen on May 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    good review. any grizzly bear in idaho?

  14. Gil Kennedy on May 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Is here a place that exist where there is NO rules

  15. Chris Kelleher on May 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    How do you call for help, radio wise to reach a ranger ? I hope your hips are OK. Just tuned into your channel.

  16. Terry Cuyler on May 23, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Wise tips. I. Admiring the little pocket on your right pack strap. Can you tell me where to obtain one like it?

  17. GR Wolf on May 23, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Any experience with banks of navigable waters such as rivers/streams? I was under the impression that all navigable waters have a fairly large easement for camping while kayaking or boating.

  18. Jordan on May 23, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Be careful using Google Maps. The green area does not necessarily mean you are on national forest land, but is the "acquisition area" boundary of that national forest. That means that is the boundary within which the national forest *may* acquire land, but there absolutely can be, and often is, private property also within these boundaries (eg huge swaths of private property in Colorado are labeled green in Maps that are not part of national forest). Sometimes entire towns full of private property appear within the green area on Google Maps. You are better off looking up the MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map) for the particular national forest you’re interested in. Google Maps green areas can give you a lead, but can’t be trusted as to whether you can or can’t legally camp there (or even enter there).

  19. That's besides the point on May 23, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    I don’t like state parks.. they are overpriced and have like 20 park rangers per 5000 sq. ft.
    Can’t even fart without being told not to.

  20. Erika Woods on May 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    This is super helpful. I am new to the backpacking world and I have asked around about where is safe to disperse camp and people look at me like I have three heads, especially experienced hikers.

  21. Darwin James on May 23, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I need a list. Planning to fish and camp this summer…

  22. jesus fish on May 23, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    What about National Grasslands?

  23. walkabout29 on May 23, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Very thorough……….thank you

  24. Benjamin Howell on May 23, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    You know your stuff! First time leaving a comment on YouTube, but I had to say thanks for the wealth of information. A comprehensive list would be great, but I think it would be difficult to maintain with updating for changes. Thanks again!

  25. Audio on May 23, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    This video is way too long.

  26. tracker 584 on May 23, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    does anyone do this type video for FLORIDA..GEORGIA..NORTH CAROLINA..TENNESSEE area? i hope to be able to start this lifestyle in the forseeable future. just me and a dog…just studying and trying to learn all i can before i jump off that big scary step and get myself in trouble…i am a senior citizen

  27. P Lebrun on May 23, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    What about the reservations? Particulary Navajo, as so much of the AZ/UT area around Lake Powell is Navajo. Do you have to get permission for that? How?

  28. Craig S on May 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Great info, thanks for taking the time to video and talk about. Hope you get to hit all your check marks

  29. Joel Martin on May 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    The county you live in, is the closest county to you, I had to think about that for awhile…
    Otherwise great video thanks!

  30. Sewspcl on May 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I love how you can hike and talk! Very informative! Thanks.

  31. Ryan Farnham on May 23, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    BLM is desert and pasture/plains lands, not just desert.

  32. Alan August on May 23, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Yes for the list!! Thank you for a very informative video.
    Here in northeast Wisconsin (Door County), among the various state parks, we have Newport State Park. It is the only ‘wilderness-designated’ state park in Wisconsin. It is a walk-in/hike-in only area, thus restricting it to no vehicle/mechanical access. By standards for most of the people visiting this area, this nearly 2400 acre ‘parcel’ represents the ‘wildest’ area they will ever visit or encounter. Of course there is a fee structure to enter this park.

  33. Traveling with Rick on May 23, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    How long can you stay at one time at BLM and national forests? You are a wealth of camping information. All why hiking lol. Impressed. Fun fact: BLM is the largest land owner in the world.

  34. Alan Nodolf on May 23, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Inside the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park, there is a National Forest Road that has dispersed(free) camping with good road, and is about 10 miles from the main village at the GCNP. Close access to the south rim. Long Term Visitor’s Areas are not quite free, usually around $40/14 days, but are often in scenic areas. My favorite website to find free camping is Campendium.

  35. David Wellen on May 23, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    I am new to your channel but I really enjoyed this video. It was very informative and like you I prefer to camp for free away from the crowds. I live in Utah and Travel all over the state but Idaho is my favorite place to visit in the summer. I ride four wheelers a lot but I am not the guy who tears things up. I just like to explore different places. I love all the National Forests in Idaho and they all have excellent facilities (pit toilets) and free campgrounds and sites. Ice Hole and Fir Creek are two of my favorites. I mention them because it seems to me that you would probably be familiar with both. You covered several of the places I have visited and I agree with your assessment of each of them. Thanks for a great video. I will be looking forward to more of your videos.

  36. Peggy Huang on May 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Oh yes! A comprehensive list of public lands that are camping friendly would be great! Thank you!

  37. Paula Campbell on May 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Very informative
    Thank you

  38. Badams63 Adams on May 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I think a list would be absolutely great as I have problem finding a lot of these places. I’m new to the van life.

  39. Alan Nodolf on May 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    The first three days of camping at the city park in Lander, Wyoming, are free. Good grass for tent camping, sinks and flush toilets. Same for the fairgrounds in Roundup, Montana.

  40. Ben on May 23, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    That’s the biggest benefit of wandering without a vehicle. You can stealth camp just about anywhere. I did it for a summer outside Crescent City, CA in the blackberry brambles near the beach. Kept my laptop and daypack at a friend’s place, got the backpacking gear and biked the few miles out to the same hidden spot under a cascara segrada tree in the berries. Switched out bags in the morning and biked around town all day, hung out by the ocean, whatever. Trimmed weed 4-5 times per week for money and volunteered as an instructor for a primitive skills daycamp. Saw elk in the berries and seals by the ocean, good summer. I’m excited about this huge upturn in personal electric vehicles. An ebike with a solar setup is my dream long range vehicle. The next gen panels and batteries are going to make it so slick.

  41. Kerry Owen on May 23, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Just google blm or national forrest land of the state you’re intrested in. Each state has their own color coded maps.

  42. Emily Gibson on May 23, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    I’ve read a lot about BLM’s and National Forests, but this is the best comprehensive description! Thank you.

  43. The Nexus on May 23, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Many so called free camping areas are now being restricted. Many long timers with channels are now moving into the homesteading community. Even today, the mindset is that these communities don’t want drifters living in or even around "their" community. Idaho authorities will definitely confront anyone with out of state plates, unless you are in a designated fee camping area. Places like Lake Tahoe, which I spent 1 month there 2019 summer season has now posted No Camping signs everywhere you go. It’s really a shame.

  44. Gary Davis on May 23, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Great information, thank you.

  45. Bryan Hersman on May 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    For Montana there is a great free web page that lists who owns what. BLM, National Forest, but there is also a bunch of state lands where dispersed camping is allowed. http://svc.mt.gov/msl/mtcadastral

  46. Jake Lehman on May 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Where do you park your car when venturing out for disperse camping?

  47. Daniel Skorich on May 23, 2020 at 5:17 pm


  48. Tammy Fleming on May 23, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Great info. I do have a question about BLM land. I know you can stay 14 days free. My question is do you need a permit for that? If not how do they know how long you have been there? Thanks

  49. Jon MrE on May 23, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    unfortunately, google maps has issues with their green polygons in Montana and parts of Washington. They will include state and USFS land in the same polygon, and in some cases omit USFS land entirely. Example, the Custer Gallatin NF they have half of it represented by a polygon, and the other half missing entirely. The best way to ensure you are on USFS land and see if there are any areas that are under certain restrictions, check that forests’ Motor Vehicle Use Map. They are excellent resources to see where enclaves and enclaves are in the forest boundary. Some forests, such as the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie NF have put together very comprehensive Road Conditions maps which also display where these boundaries are. These Dispersal Sites are hugely important now as well as Developed areas are closed but Undeveloped areas remain open so long as people are being respectful of the normal dispersal camping rules. Please, this summer, let’s all take care of these spaces so we can use them!

  50. William Weck on May 23, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    This was very helpful, thanks! When you go boondocking in the national forests, should you try to find a spot on google maps satellite view or are they quite easy to find when there? I would be hoping to pull my car off the road and set up a tent. And also one more thing, are campfires allowed in the national forests? Thanks

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