Finding Dispersed Campsites

Finding dispersed camping can be difficult if you do not know where to even start looking. The following ideas can help you:

1. Check the Forest Service website or office

If you want to camp on national forest lands, the best thing to do is to check the regulations and restrictions of the national forest you want to visit through their website or field office.

Most national forests welcome dispersed camping. But there may be designated spots and restrictions.

Once you’re clear on the regulations, you can proceed finding dispersed camping spots on that national forest by asking rangers by phone or by checking the map provided on the appropriate national forest website.

2. Use apps such as iOverlander and Campendium

On the app, check for camping spots around the area you want to go. Then, check the reviews and photos tagged on the camping spots to know if you can access that spot by vehicle.

Another thing that you can do is to copy the coordinates of the spot that you’re interested in and locate it using Gaia GPS or Google Maps. Using the satellite view, check if there are other clearances and potential campsites near the camping spot so you have other options and check if there are other vehicles captured around that area so you can confirm that the trail can be accessed by your vehicle.
Another great tool you can use is FreeRoam. FreeRoam has a public lands layer that allows you to view several BLM and National Forest lands with accurate borders. Additionally, along with a satellite view, it also has a cellular service overlay, fire hazard/fire smoke overlays and elevation overlay so you can select campsites with your preferred conditions.

3. Use Gaia GPS and Google Earth

This process is for finding dispersed camping spots with your preferred conditions and scenery. If you already have a good idea of where potential campgrounds may be in the general area you want to go to, you can then use Gaia to select the best campsite in said area.

Using Gaia, locate the general area and use Topo, MVUM, and Satellite View layers. Find your preferred campsite in that area by browsing the map.

If you want to have amazing views, find clearings not far from cliffs using the Topo layer, find clearing inside tree lines using the Sat View. Either way, confirm that the spot you’ve chosen is accessible through a vehicle using the MVUM layer. Then you can have a better view of the camping site you’ve chosen using Google Earth.