Luno supports a license to roam whenever possible. This loose lifestyle is great for adventure, but it can make it a bit tricky to plan resting places ahead of time. Luckily, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has got our back when it comes to free camping in California and beyond! The millions of acres of BLM land throughout the country offer plenty of free and accessible space for us to use as a home base while car camping. Here’s how you can take advantage of all of those acres for unbridled exploration in the future!
What is BLM Land?
BLM land refers to the more than 245 million acres that are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau administers the use and protection of public lands with the dual mission to conserve and preserve the terrain for ecological and recreational purposes. There is no shortage of BLM land in the U.S. as it makes up roughly 10% of the total acreage of the country. More than 55 million people in the West live within 25 miles of BLM lands.
BLM land is exciting because it is owned by everyone. This means that all of those sprawling acres are available for use by the public so you can pull up and throw down in any of these millions of acres as you please. You may even camp on land that has mining claims, so long as there are no signs posted by BLM management that indicate otherwise. You may also cross private land if there is a public road to reach BLM areas. Best of all, the use of land is typically free! More than 99% of the land managed by BLM is available to the public at no cost. This grants travelers the liberty to explore unencumbered by campsite reservations and late check-out fees so they can roll wherever the road takes them.
How do you find BLM Land?
Finding BLM land is a walk in the public park. The most straightforward approach is to head to the source by hitting up the Bureau of Land Management website when searching for available spaces. Head over here and select a location in the dropdown menu. After that, you can select camping from the activity options or go with any other activity that suits this weekend’s fancy.
Your search will result in a list of all of the available public lands for the activity and location that you selected. These lands will likely range anywhere from underdeveloped areas to full-blown RV parks. There are specific longitude and latitude coordinates included for less developed spaces, as well as detailed directions to access the land. A vast majority of the land is free to the public; some sites require a small fee while others are donation-based to cover maintenance expenses.
There are also plenty of collaborative sites to peruse if you’re looking for a free place to rest your head at night. Freecampsites.net is an all-star when searching for public land. Similarly to blm.gov, Freecampsites.net includes precise GPS coordinates for you to locate each site. The data is comprehensive of all nearby spaces that may accommodate an inflating camping air mattress. Even Walmart parking lots are included in search results! Simply enter a location into the search bar and scope out the green results for free dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is allowed on most BLM land for up to 14 days. Once those 14 days are up, campers are expected to relocate at least 25 miles away from the space they last occupied.
One particularly exciting feature of Freecampsites.net is the reviews that are included for locations. These reviews provide valuable feedback from people who have used the spaces before. This feedback from past visitors offers great insight for future travelers who are looking to know before they go. Reviews often cover a wide range of pertinent topics such as parking advice, amenity availability, accessibility, and sound pollution. Popular location reviews will even include reports on cellular availability based on the carrier.
If you’re seeking a more secluded space, Publiclands.org is a superb site with an extensive interactive map for car campers. The sidebar menu allows you to search based on the criterion of location, facilities, and public lands. The site goes so far as to break down public lands into separate categories based on the entities that manage the acres. For affordable car camping purposes, you’re going to want to look exclusively for BLM land. Keep your eye out for the yellow Bureau of Land Management icons scattered around the map. Additionally, you can check for the fee listing and seasonal availability to see when to use the space and how much it will cost.
Word of mouth
A final and obvious method for locating BLM land is to visit popular public spots. Some BLM lands are well-known destinations (and for good reason!). Soldier Meadow in Nevada is a highly sought-after home base. The meadow offers visitors a special treat with a series of delightfully warm hot springs among the historic surroundings. The wild and scenic Rogue River in Oregon is another acclaimed BLM car camping destination. Rogue River boasts exciting whitewater rafting and priceless wildlife sightings for visitors. Speaking of priceless...the public may camp anywhere along the riverbank free of charge for up to 14 days! That’s right, you get relentless thrills and a place to chill all for the low price of free-ninety-nine.
So what are you waiting for? Save money and live better by car camping on the wonderful BLM land all around us.