Dispersed camping is great for large groups so noise is not an issue

Dispersed Camping – What Is It?

We’ve all had the experience of arriving at a campground and finding the dreaded “Campground Full” sign. You drive to the next campground down the road and that one’s full too. And the next one. Or, maybe you go online to try and reserve a spot in a campground ahead of time and find that they’re all booked up for the next six months. Instead of throwing up your hands and checking into the nearest hotel, you can consider dispersed camping instead.

Dispersed camping is camping (in a tent, van, or RV) outside of an established campground. It is legal to camp on most National Forest or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land for up to fourteen days. It’s a great way to avoid the frustration of full campgrounds and can offer a more remote wilderness feeling. You’re able to camp further away from other people and best of all, it’s free! There are often opportunities for dispersed camping near to national parks or popular campgrounds so you can still have access to the same activities.

Dispersed Camping Photo 2

Bring Your Own Gear Dispersed Camping

If you’ve only ever camped in a campground with picnic tables, fire rings, and bathrooms, dispersed camping might seem daunting. You might need to own a few more things (like a small table and a large container for carrying water), and you’ll need to have a plan for disposing of waste. Many popular dispersed camping areas get heavily impacted. It is not uncommon to pull off the road and find a site surrounded by de-limbed trees and littered with large fire rings, garbage, and toilet paper. Dispersed camping requires a strong Leave No Trace ethic to protect the landscape and leave the area nice for other visitors. In addition to being generally disrespectful, irresponsible use of public lands can lead to favored areas being closed to camping. It is important to leave sites free of trash, to dispose appropriately of human waste, make sure all campfires are out before you leave, and to obey “no camping” signs.

Bring your own setup – table cloths always set some vibes!
Bring your own set up while dispersed camping

Bring Your Own Gear Dispersed Camping

If you’ve only ever camped in a campground with picnic tables, fire rings, and bathrooms, dispersed camping might seem daunting. You might need to own a few more things (like a small table and a large container for carrying water), and you’ll need to have a plan for disposing of waste. Many popular dispersed camping areas get heavily impacted. It is not uncommon to pull off the road and find a site surrounded by de-limbed trees and littered with large fire rings, garbage, and toilet paper. Dispersed camping requires a strong Leave No Trace ethic to protect the landscape and leave the area nice for other visitors. In addition to being generally disrespectful, irresponsible use of public lands can lead to favored areas being closed to camping. It is important to leave sites free of trash, to dispose appropriately of human waste, make sure all campfires are out before you leave, and to obey “no camping” signs.

Wake up to nature – solitude

GuideGap Specializes In Dispersed Campsites

As dispersed camping grows more popular, well-known areas are starting to fill up. Lesser-known areas are often found a little bit off the beaten track and may require traveling on rough dirt roads, although you can do it in any vehicle if you know where to go. Getting local advice is the key to finding the best dispersed sites, because those most quickly found online are likely going to be the most crowded! GuideGap local guides can recommend dispersed camping locations in advance as part of your Outdoor Adventure Trip Plan so you don’t have to stress about where you’re going to sleep. We have helped many families go camping who thought their only option was a campground, but were disappointed to find that all the sites were booked. GuideGap locals know the best places that are least likely to be crowded and are close to the adventure activities you’re hoping to do on your camping trip: whether it’s hiking in a national park, mountain biking, four-wheeling, or just relaxing in a hammock next to a creek.

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About The Author:  Shaina

Shaina Maytum is a writer, educator, and adventurer living on Colorado’s Front Range. She loves exploring the wilderness of the American West, but never forgets that these special places need protecting. Shaina strives – through writing, education, and advocacy – to make sure future generations of humans and animals will also be able to sleep under silent, starry skies. Read more of her work at shainamaytum.com

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