Dispersed camping is a unique and rewarding way to experience the great outdoors. By camping outside of designated campgrounds, you can enjoy a more remote and wilderness experience, but it also comes with its own set of rules and considerations. From researching the area to preparing the right gear, dispersed camping requires a little bit more planning and preparation than traditional camping. But, with the right knowledge and preparation, you can have an unforgettable and safe trip. This article will cover the essential information you need to know about dispersed camping, from finding the perfect spot, to understanding the Leave No Trace principles, to the appropriate gear to take. So, if you're looking to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in nature, read on to learn more about dispersed camping and how to make the most of your wilderness experience
What is dispersed camping?
Dispersed camping is a type of camping that takes place outside of designated campgrounds. It allows campers to enjoy a more remote and wilderness experience, but it also comes with some unique rules and considerations..
Reasons why people choose to go dispersed camping:
Dispersed camping can offer a more peaceful and secluded camping experience, as well as the chance to explore less-traveled areas of the wilderness. It can also be a more affordable option, as there are usually no fees for dispersed camping.
What is the difference between dispersed camping and boondocking
Dispersed camping and boondocking are similar in that they both involve camping outside of designated campgrounds, but there are some key differences between the two.
Dispersed camping refers to camping on public lands, such as National Forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, and National Parks, that is outside of designated campgrounds. These lands are managed by federal agencies and typically have specific rules and regulations for dispersed camping, such as requiring a permit, limiting the number of days you can camp in one spot, and restrictions on campfires and other activities.
Boondocking, also known as dry camping or wild camping, refers to camping on public lands that is not officially designated for camping. It typically takes place on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, National Forests, and other public lands that allow camping, but don't have any official campgrounds. Boondocking is also popular among RVers who want to camp without hookups such as electricity and water. Boondocking is usually free, but it may come with some restrictions, such as limits on how long you can stay in one spot, or distance from roads and other facilities.
In summary, dispersed camping is camping outside of designated campgrounds on public lands that are managed by federal agencies and have specific rules and regulations, while boondocking is camping on public lands that is not officially designated for camping and usually free, but comes with some restrictions.
Planning your Dispersed camping trip:
Researching the area where you plan to camp: Before you head out, it's important to research the area where you plan to camp. Look for information on the weather, terrain, and any potential hazards. You should also be aware of the rules and regulations for dispersed camping in the area.
Getting the necessary permits: Depending on the area, you may need to get a permit for dispersed camping. Make sure to check ahead of time and obtain any necessary permits.
Preparing for the weather and terrain: Dispersed camping often takes place in more remote and rugged areas, so it's important to be prepared for the weather and terrain. Bring appropriate clothing and gear for the forecasted conditions, and be prepared for unexpected changes in weather.
Packing the right gear: Make sure you have all the necessary gear for camping in the wilderness, such as a tent, sleeping bag, and camping stove and camping toilet. You should also bring a first aid kit, a map and compass, and a way to purify water.
Understanding Leave No Trace principles: Leave No Trace is a set of principles for outdoor ethics that encourages people to minimize their impact on the environment. When dispersed camping, it's important to follow these principles to help preserve the wilderness for future generations.
Finding the perfect spot
- Look for a flat and well-drained spot that is protected from the wind. Avoid areas with a lot of vegetation, as this can damage the ecosystem.
- Understanding the difference between designated and undesignated areas: Designated areas are specific locations set aside for dispersed camping, while undesignated areas are any other locations that are not designated. Make sure you are aware of the rules for camping in the specific area you choose
- Choosing a spot that is at least 100 yards away from water sources: Camping too close to water sources can have negative impacts on both the water and the surrounding ecosystem.
How To Find Dispersed Campsites:
Dispersed camping sites can be found on public lands managed by federal agencies such as the National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and National Park Service. Some popular places to find dispersed camping sites include:
- National Forests: National Forests offer a wide variety of dispersed camping opportunities. You can find information on dispersed camping sites and rules on the website of the National Forest where you plan to camp.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands: The BLM manages over 245 million acres of public lands, many of which are open to dispersed camping. You can find information on dispersed camping sites and rules on the BLM website or by contacting the local BLM office.
- National Parks: While most National Parks have designated campgrounds, some also allow dispersed camping in specific areas. Check the National Park Service website for information on dispersed camping opportunities and rules.
- State and local lands: Many states and local governments also manage lands that are open to dispersed camping. Check the website of the state or local agency responsible for the lands where you plan to camp for information on dispersed camping opportunities and rules.
- Online resources: There are also several online resources that can help you find dispersed camping sites, such as freecampsites.net, dispersedcamping.com and other camping forums, these resources can be helpful in finding dispersed camping sites and getting information from other campers about their experiences.
It's always important to check the rules and regulations for dispersed camping in the specific area where you plan to camp, as they can vary depending on the land manager and location.
Tips for Dispersed camping:
- Know the rules and regulations for dispersed camping in the area where you plan to camp. This includes obtaining any necessary permits and understanding any restrictions on camping locations or activities.
- Bring a map and compass, and know how to use them. Dispersed camping often takes place in remote areas where cell phone service may be limited or non-existent. Having a map and compass can help you navigate and find your way back to civilization if needed.
- Plan for the weather and bring appropriate clothing and gear. The weather can change quickly in the wilderness, so be prepared for any conditions.
- Bring a first aid kit and know basic first aid. Accidents can happen, so it's important to be prepared in case of injury.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles. This includes minimizing impact on the environment, properly disposing of waste, and respecting wildlife and other campers.
- Bring a water filter or purification tablets. Drinkable water can be scarce or not potable in the wilderness, so a water filter or purification tablets can be a lifesaver.
- Bring a camping stove and enough food. Dispersed camping often takes place in remote areas where there are no facilities for cooking or obtaining food.
- Be aware of the local wildlife and take precautions to protect yourself and the animals. This includes storing food properly, keeping a safe distance, and being aware of any dangerous animals in the area.
- Let someone know your camping itinerary. It's always a good idea to let someone know where you're going and when you plan to return. This will be helpful in case of emergency.
- Be prepared to pack out everything you packed in. Dispersed camping means you're responsible for your own waste and garbage, so be prepared to bring it all back out with you when you leave.
Is Dispersed camping dangerous?
Dispersed camping can come with some added risks compared to camping in a designated campground, but if you are properly prepared, it can be a safe and enjoyable experience.
Some of the risks associated with dispersed camping include:
- Weather: Dispersed camping often takes place in remote and rugged areas, which can be exposed to severe weather conditions. Make sure to check the forecast and bring appropriate clothing and gear to protect yourself from the elements.
- Navigation: Dispersed camping often takes place in remote areas where cell phone service may be limited or non-existent. Make sure to bring a map and compass, and know how to use them, in case you need to navigate back to civilization.
- Wildlife: Dispersed camping takes place in the wilderness, where you may encounter wild animals. Make sure to take precautions to protect yourself and the animals, such as storing food properly and keeping a safe distance.
- Accidents: Accidents can happen when camping in the wilderness, such as falls or injuries from outdoor equipment. Make sure to bring a first aid kit and know basic first aid.
- Getting lost: Make sure to know your location and the path you take to get there. It's a good idea to let someone know your camping itinerary and when you plan to return.
By being prepared and taking the necessary precautions, dispersed camping can be a safe and enjoyable experience. It's important to do your research before your trip and to be aware of the specific rules and regulations for dispersed camping in the area where you plan to camp.
Dispersed camping is the ultimate way to get away from it all and reconnect with nature. Forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and say hello to serene wilderness and peace. With a bit of planning and preparation, you'll be roasting marshmallows over a campfire and marveling at the stars in no time! Make sure to bring the right gear, a sense of adventure and a good attitude, that's all you need to make your dispersed camping trip a blast. So, pack your bags, grab your friends and family and get ready for an unforgettable experience that you'll be talking about for years to come. Remember to leave no trace, respect t