Tips & Guides | February 2021

How to Use BLM Land for Free Camping

Sometimes campsites are more like cramped-sites. Don’t get us wrong, we love the community of a campground. It’s just that said community can sometimes feel a little claustrophobic. Lately, we've been opting out of traditional campsites in favor of a more natural stay on unincorporated Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land for car camping adventures.

BLM land offers tranquility that is often compromised when staying at a packed campground. The sprawling open space and solitude of BLM land are ideal for travelers who are seeking an escape from the constant push notifications of the day to day. Since most BLM land is largely undeveloped, using it requires a little additional planning for dispersed camping and boondocking trips. Here are a few of Luno's tips and tricks for smooth sailing on the road less traveled. 

Always be hydrating

Some BLM land can be super au naturel. There is no guarantee of running water or electricity since these spaces are owned by the public and maintained by the Bureau. While this lack of amenities may seem alarming at first, we assure you that the situation is totally manageable. Water is going to be the most important resource for you to prioritize. To avoid lugging gallons of water with you while on the road, we suggest that you carry empty jugs in the car that you can fill up when you get closer to your destination after you’ve done most of your traveling. Make note of the nearest water source as soon as you settle into your home base. Whether that be a nearby stream or a local gas station, it’s always good to be aware of your options just in case of an emergency and make it safe to sleep in your car. 

Save it, don’t spray it!

A little conservation can go a long way in the wild West! Opting for hand sanitizer rather than washing your hands is a great way to stretch your water supply a little further. Additionally, pre-washing fruits and vegetables before you get on the road helps to save water without compromising sanitation. One of the greatest drains on water supply is dishwashing. An easy way to sidestep this pitfall is by repurposing using food containers as crockery for rapid disposal and minimal water usage. A can of beans is actually a bowl of beans once you commit to the cause.

Work smarter, not harder

Similarly to water, energy is another commodity to be conserved while car camping on BLM land. You may be surprised how comfortable you can be while using very little energy! You can ditch the AC by cracking your windows and using a sunshade for your front windshield to keep things cool during the day. We also recommend swapping out light bulbs for LEDs; LEDs use less power and have a longer battery life than conventional bulbs. A portable gas stove should suffice if you’re just poppin’ a squat for a couple of days. Otherwise, solar panels are a crucial player in the game of energy generation while staying on BLM land. 

Pack it in

Since BLM land has a strict leave no trace policy (more on that later), you’re going to need to take anything you bring in back out. BLM land does not usually have maintenance infrastructure in place, so be prepared to take all of your trash with you when you head home. One way to ease the burden of transport is to bring an appropriate amount of everything you plan on using. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to crank through that 20 rack of Costco beans in one trip. If you don’t plan on eating an entire loaf of bread then opt to pack just a few slices in a reusable container. This will save precious trunk real estate and minimize the waste you generate while traveling.

Like a good neighbor...

Last, but most certainly not least—always abide by proper BLM land etiquette. The land is a public resource. As such, it is a common commodity to be respectfully shared with fellow travelers. Don’t cramp anyone’s camp! Part of the attraction of BLM land is the serenity that comes with sprawling space. Give your neighbor plenty of elbow room; 50 yards is a good minimum distance between sites. Per usual, you’re going to want to leave no trace at the end of your stay. Aim to leave the land better than it was when you first arrived. Keep in mind the use of BLM land is a privilege. Respecting the space is the best way to ensure that you, and others, can exercise that privilege for trips to come.

We hope that these tips come in handy when you explore the unexplored on BLM land! As always, we at Luno wish you safe and fun travels wherever the road may take you. 

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