Dispersed camping is an option for people who want to feel closer to nature while camping. However, it’s important to respect the natural environment when dispersed camping. For example, in drier regions of the country, fire bans are common. As a result, you’ll need to bring deadfall to use as firewood. Also, you’ll need to carry an axe and shovel. Another important factor to consider when dispersed camping is the proper disposal of human waste. Unlike regulated camping, dispersed camping is not permitted near any source of water, so you’ll need to find a way to properly dispose of your waste. This means digging a six to eight-inch hole, preferably away from water sources, and fill it with dirt. Moreover, it’s important to make sure that your toilet paper is dry and is disposed of properly.

Shot of a couple creating a heart shape with their hands during a camping trip.


A good map is essential when dispersed camping. Whether you’re navigating a large area or navigating small back roads, a good map can help you make the right decisions. Digital maps are especially useful, and there are several digital options available.

Google Maps

You can also make use of Google Maps, which is a free option. However, if you’d rather not spend the money, you can also bring a gazetteer and DeLorme Atlas. These can be great backups for maps in areas with poor cell service.

One great way to get outdoors and see the country is to go on a road trip and pitch a tent on a national forest. In fact, you can find many dispersed camping locations free of charge. A good way to find one is to search for a National Forest boundary along Interstate 90. You can find access roads to the area if you have a GPS. Dispersed camping is an alternative to camping at designated campgrounds, but there are a few restrictions. For instance, it’s not allowed in campgrounds with developed recreation areas. You may also not be able to use running water or restroom facilities. 


Dispersed camping may also be prohibited in certain areas, such as trails or in the vicinity of mountains or streams. It’s important to follow the rules and be respectful of the land and wildlife. Dispersed camping is regulated on public lands maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM manages approximately two-four million acres of public land, or one-sixth of U.S. land. While there are some designated campgrounds, most BLM land is open to dispersed camping. These sites must not adversely affect wildlife or conflict with other uses.

Local Laws

You should check local laws before dispersed camping in order to avoid violating local regulations. If you are unable to check local rules, be sure to check with the entity that owns the land. Generally, dispersed camping is allowed within a one-mile radius of a campground. However, if you are planning to set up camp within 150 feet of a road, this may not be permitted. In addition, you should always make sure you have access to water and a way to treat water that is not treated in a campground. It is important that you keep your vehicles and belongings out of the road and do not drive over plant life. Located at an elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, it is cool and offers ample shade.

It's a road-tripping option