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BLM land, boondocking


usaperuvian

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I just bought a map so I can try to boondock on BLM land. Now from what I read is that you must only park in a spot already made. Is that correct? You should not pull over in undisturbed land.

This is an excellent question. And I'm not sure that I know the exact answer. BLM is not the only public land on which you can camp ad every agency has different rules about where you are permitted to camp and how long you are permitted to camp. And often how much you have to pay to camp.

 

Speaking personally, I don't drive over the terrain and plant life to find a spot that has been left in its natural state. I'm not absolutely certain how the rules read, but I'm just a little sensitive to the idea that if we drove over every sagebrush and ocotillo there wouldn't be much left in a few short years.

 

But, having said that, it's obvious that someone had to camp there first. Most BLM land that is open to camping was, at one time, untrammeled by the wheels of RVs. There are impromptu rock-lined fire pits, filled in holes and smoothed down humps where once there was no sign of mankind.

 

I don't know, personally, if there are any rules set in place now (as opposed to earlier) that restrict camping. I suspect each place has some rules of its own. I just choose to go where others have gone.

 

Besides, there is less likelihood of getting stuck...

 

WDR

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You can pull over and camp anywhere on BLM lands. What you can't do is "develop" a new campsite.. trenching, building fire pits, clear vegetation (living vegetation), and the like. It will depend on the specific ranger, but most don't have any problem whatsoever if you "place a few rocks to contain your fire" as long as it is fully dispersed before you leave. Where possible it is best to use an already established site. It certainly makes life easier, but t'ain't no restrictions of any kind about where you can and can't camp.

 

Typically, a ranger will just make a notation of where you are and your license plate info. If you don't "leave it as you found it" they will send you a fine in the mail and may restrict your ability to purchase passes for a period of time if you junk up the place. Of course... if your beyond dispersed camping areas it's pretty rare to have a ranger pay you a visit in most parts of the country. Wide open type areas (desert/plains) you're much more likely to get a stop and greet.

 

On Edit: I guess I should have thrown in the caveat... you may run across some restricted areas in the form of gated roads.

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...You can pull over and camp anywhere on BLM lands...

I do not believe this is true. For example in the Moab area there are areas that are restricted to camping in designated sites only. "Because of the volume of visitors to the Moab area, the BLM has found it necessary to restrict camping to campgrounds or designated sites in our very popular areas." I believe there are other areas where this is also the case. You really need to check with the state or district offices to find out the rules in the specific areas where you want to disperse camp/boondock.

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I do not believe this is true. For example in the Moab area there are areas that are restricted to camping in designated sites only. "Because of the volume of visitors to the Moab area, the BLM has found it necessary to restrict camping to campgrounds or designated sites in our very popular areas." I believe there are other areas where this is also the case.

 

 

No. You're right. I should have added "unless posted otherwise". I thought she was asking about the BLM maps in general with undeveloped public access... not "BLM campgrounds" or specific areas that are no camping of any kind zones. I assumed that was understood. My bad. :P

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  • 2 months later...

We had no qualms about leaving our motorhome and taking off to do some 4-wheeling or going into town- never had any problems.

 

We chose not to park near any groups. We prefered finding our own spot. We also don't go around ATVers because of the noise. The only time we felt uncomfortable (not scared) was after parking near the Salton Sea some yahoos pulled in and proceeded to do some target shooting. We left.

 

Overall, we've had fun times while boondocking on BLM land and also national forest lands. We like the peaceful surroundings, beauty and dark night skies.

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In terms of camping in BLM sites, how safe is it to unhitch and leave one's trailer when gone to town and/or sightseeing? Should we not unhitch?

 

Any thoughts on boondocking safety in general?

 

Personally, I feel much safer out in the sticks than I do in a CG. My thought being that there aren't too many would be thieves trolling miles from nowhere through the countless square acres of BLM land looking for an easy target. It's not like anyone can really sneak up on ya when theirs is the only car engine you've probably heard all week. People tend to take notice of every passing vehicle. ;) I don't have any qualms about unhitching. I'll often go for a walk and be away from my rig for a day or two.

 

It might just be wishful thinking, but I tend to feel that fellow campers in the wild have more respect for another mans camp, and while it isn't always true, I think if you asked most people, it's a fairly safe bet to assume there's a gun in every camp. :D

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Like Yarome, we feel safest the further we are from civilization. Passersby assume that back-country boondockers (not a tautology considering the wide range of what folks consider boondocking) like back country dwellers have "protection" whether they do or not and avoid confrontation. We also believe that the folks that camp in wilds do have a lot more respect for other campers space. When out by ourselves in the only spot usable, we have always been asked by others if we would mind their joining us. Each time we wound up enjoying each others' company and keeping in contact for a few years. We had this happen down at Buena Vista National Wildlife Area on border in Mexico with the Yankers. Ran into them again at an Escapees Boondocker get together at Shanty Pond in Florida and then again in Arizona desert near the Colorado, about 20 miles from (shudder) Quartzite.

Reed and Elaine

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However, back to the original question, boondocking only in previously used camping spots. I don't find it an unreasonable request, to park in an already used spot!

 

Yes, please only park in spots where you won't be disturbing or making new camping spots, especially trampling down existing vegetation.

 

If everyone made a new camping spot, building new fire rings, and trampling down vegetation, it wouldn't be long before the whole place will be a mess.

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  • 1 month later...

We always try to reuse camp spots and fire rings whenever possible - just part of walking lightly upon the earth. We do lock the camper if we are going to be away for a time but I believe that there are only a few different lock patterns on trailers anyway so it would be easy to break in.

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We always try to reuse camp spots and fire rings whenever possible .

 

Tongue in cheek.. if you find a reuse camp, you didn't go far enough. lol.

 

But yes. I agree with the sentiment. Pulling camp should always be in better condition than when you found it. Most rangers don't have a problem with a new fire ring as long as you break it down before you leave.

 

And as a side tip. From my experience they ALL respond well to cowboy coffee fresh off the fire and Bushmills. :P It pays to make friendly.

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