These Are the Best Places for BLM Camping California

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A woman tent camping in California in the mountains.

Did you know you can find beautiful places to camp throughout California without making reservations? Bureau of Land Management (BLM) camping in California is an affordable way to experience the state with free million-dollar views. 

Keep reading to learn how to find the best places for BLM camping in California. Then, we reveal eight of our favorite spots that you won’t want to miss.

So let’s take a look!

What Is BLM Camping? 

The Bureau protects undeveloped public lands. Some BLM areas offer dispersed BLM camping in California at little to no cost. You‘re typically allowed to stay up to 14 nights on BLM land, and some locations require a permit. Signs will be posted if a permit is required.

Also, it’s always a good idea to thoroughly read any signage in case of special rules and regulations for the area. In addition, there may be BLM lands that offer some amenities for campers, but mostly, you’ll find boondocking options only.

A camper van boondocking as the sun sets over mountains in the desert.

Is BLM Camping Free? 

Almost all BLM camping in California is free and requires no reservations or permits. However, you still need to abide by all rules posted, especially the “Leave No Trace” policy.

If BLM land is consistently damaged, the government will close it to the public. We want to keep these free camping options open.

Therefore, making sure you leave no trash and cause no damage to the land is extremely important. While camping is free, the rules keep the land beautiful and accessible for others.

Pro Tip: Never break these BLM boondocking rules!

Can You Just Camp Anywhere in California? 

There is BLM land in California that you can camp on. However, it’s not possible to camp just anywhere in the state. Campendium is an excellent website and app to find BLM camping locations. We recommend reading reviews to get a feel for what a spot is like and if it’s somewhere your RV will fit.

The Best Places for BLM Camping California

Let’s look at the eight top places for BLM camping in California. 

Sand Flat Dispersed Camping in Mount Shasta

Coordinates: 41.3539, -122.2497

About: Sand Flat Dispersed Camping has a beautiful mountain peak view in Mount Shasta, California. Located in the northern part of the state, you’ll have access to many hikes through the wilderness.

The road to the campsites can be rough, and high clearance is recommended. We always recommend scouting out a BLM camping site on foot or with a bike before driving back to discover you might not get through or be able to turn around.

Alabama Hills Recreation Area in Lone Pine

Coordinates: 36.5958, -118.1092

Take a look at the Alabama Hills Recreation Area.

About: BLM camping in California allows for some breathtaking views. Alabama Hills Recreation Area is no exception. It’s surrounded by mountains and is near Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. The spot has a view of Mt. Whitney.

While the west side of the recreation area is only for day use, there are still plenty of overnight boondocking options. Be sure to find a campsite here during daylight hours as the roads can be dangerous, and you’ll need a clear view.

Volcanic Tablelands in Bishop

Coordinates: 37.4288, -118.4251

About: Volcanic Tablelands is just north of Death Valley National Park. It offers spots for any size rig. However, the road is a little bumpy, so we recommend scouting the area first if you have a low clearance RV.

You get a wonderful view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains here, and the town of Bishop and its conveniences are just a short drive away. 

Owens River Road Dispersed Camping in Mammoth Lakes

Coordinates: 37.737, -118.9677

About: Owens River Road Dispersed Camping provides easy access to Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park. The area is wooded, making it an excellent option in the summer months for some shade. There are a lot of hiking trails that you can get to right from the camping area. 

Two campers take a break from their hike through the woods in California while on a camping trip.

Sawtooth Canyon Campground in Lucerne Valley

Coordinates: 34.6703, -116.984

About: Sawtooth Canyon Campground is in central California. Lucerne Valley is a hot spot for rock climbers. The road getting to the campsites is well maintained but can be a little slow going.

It’s a free BLM camping area, and a ranger patrols regularly. Off-road vehicles aren’t allowed in the area. 

Joshua Tree South Dispersed Camping in Chiriaco Summit

Coordinates: 33.6745, -115.8019

About: When thinking of BLM camping in California, this campground comes to mind. Joshua Tree South Dispersed Camping is between the national park’s south entrance and I-10. You can actually see the BLM camping from the interstate.

It’s the perfect location to visit Joshua Tree National Park while being about a 30-minute drive from all of the conveniences of Coachella Valley.

A motorhome camping in Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Pro Tip: Get the inside scoop on how to RV camp in the popular Joshua Tree National Park.

Blair Valley Dispersed Camping in Julian

Coordinates: 33.0377, -116.4096

About: Blair Valley Dispersed Camping is in southern California, about 75 miles east of San Diego. It’s in the desert and will get extremely hot in the summer months. The road does get rough with some washouts, and it’s difficult to find level ground, so be sure to go prepared with leveling blocks.

Tumco Historic Townsite in Winterhaven

Coordinates: 32.8811, -114.8325

About: Tumco Historic Townsite in Winterhaven is a spacious area in the desert. The dispersed camping is easy to access. Although there’s not much to see in the historic town, it’s a great place to base yourself for sand dunes nearby, and it’s close to the border of Arizona and Mexico.

Is It Safe to Camp on BLM Land? 

It is generally safe to go BLM camping in California. Like any outdoor and off-grid experience, it’s wise to take precautions. Know your surroundings, be observant, and have an exit plan should you feel uncomfortable or encounter a dangerous situation.

We also recommend always letting someone know where you are and having emergency numbers written down. 

Is BLM Camping in California Worth It? 

BLM camping in California in California is worth it. There is so much to see in the large, west coast state. And waking up in the morning to mountains or deserts is a great way to start the day. 

If you have an opportunity to do BLM camping in California, let us know about your experience. There are many more spots to camp for free in the state than we’ve listed here, but this is an excellent start to your BLM camping adventures.

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