Don’t Break These BLM Boondocking Rules!

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RV in field with sunset in background

In the United States, we are lucky to have so much public land open to us as recreation areas for activities like boondocking. Bureau Land Management (BLM) lands offer an incredible opportunity for free RV parking in some spectacular places, but it’s also our responsibility to protect these special places by following a few rules.  While the Bureau of Land Management offers some guidelines for boondocking, we’ve got a few common courtesies of our own to add.  

Below are our top 6 BLM Boondocking Rules You Shouldn’t Break.

Be a Good Neighbor

Try not to block someone else’s view.  Most BLM boondocking is a first come first served situation when choosing a place to camp. If they got there first, don’t pull up in front of them and block their view.

Be aware of generator usage.  People come to BLM lands to be in nature, they’re generally looking for peace and quiet. Generators can be quite disturbing so limit your hours of use as much as possible. And if you must use it, try parking a bit further from other campers, especially those who are primitive camping.

And “give a little distance” is a good BLM boondocking rule in general too. Be respectful of your neighbors and choose a site that gives some space between you and the next camper. When in doubt you can always say “hi” and ask if they mind you camping next door.

Obey Stay Limits

Most BLM boondocking sites have a posted stay limit rule of 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period, but some areas do vary so be sure to read posted signs.  This rule serves the purpose of preventing damage to sensitive resources caused by continuous use of any one particular area.

Sign in front of a lake that says no overnight parking, no camping, no fires. Obeying the signs is following BLM Boondocking rules.

Don’t Dump Your Tanks on the Ground

Dry camping means you won’t have hookups, and it’s never ok to dump your tanks on the ground (grey or black). Don’t dump anything for that matter- refuse, hazardous materials, sewage.  If you’re planning a longer camping trip, be sure to research dump stations nearby in advance.

You can also use a sewer waste tote which is one of our Boondocking essentials.

Use Established Spots and Roads

Some BLM lands offer designated campgrounds, but most dispersed camping areas for boondocking will be located along secondary roads and may not be marked. 

Unlike developed campgrounds, you’ll have to seek out your spot to set up camp.  Established spots can be recognized by flat, disturbed areas that seem to have been used as a campsite before.  Often a fire ring is a telltale of an appropriate spot to claim.

A tent with a fire burning in front. A small table with coffee on it and a beautiful lake view in the background. Staying in established campsites is a great way to abide by BLM Boondocking rules

Pro Tip: Need to brush up on other terms for boondocking? Read the 5 Types of Boondocking Defined.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Always practice the golden rule of outdoor ethics- Leave No Trace. Pack out all leftover food, trash, and litter.  Use your own toilet facilities whenever possible, and always pack out your own toilet paper. Pack it out means take it with you, a good steward would never burn their trash.

Taking your trash with you is a great way to abide by BLM Boondocking rules.

Respect the Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance, and never follow or approach them.  Do not leave food scraps or directly feed the animals as it disrupts the natural ecosystem. Store your food and trash securely. 

Let’s all share these beautiful public lands and take care of them together.  Don’t be those people out there ruining it for everyone else. 

Hooked on boondocking?  BLM campgrounds aren’t the only way!  Check out national forest dispersed camping, army corps of engineers land, or state trust land.

Not sure where to find a campground or to find public land?  Try our favorite apps and website to find epic locations:

  1. It really is crazy that adults require this type of reminder/directive. Who is training their kids? Thanks for all you guys do!!
    Be well and stay safe!

  2. I’ve done everything in camping from car to overnight backpacking and common sense and common courtesy are the Golden Rules. Behave as expected in a stranger’s home!! It’s so simple !!

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