Carson National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed camping is allowed within Carson National Forest.
  • Roadside dispersed camping is subject to seasonality. Check the MVUMs for allowed times of year.
  • Some roads are restricted to within 150′ of the road; others are restricted to 300′. Check the MVUMs for that road.
  • No camping within 200′ of a water source.
  • Time limit: 14 days.
  • Campfires are allowed but discouraged.

Designated Dispersed Camping Areas:

  • Laguna Larga is the only one. Doesn’t look like much of a road going into it.

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Caribou-Targhee National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules

  • Most of the dispersed camping rules are not clearly posted anywhere I can find. I have sent an email asking for details.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed within 300 feet of the centerline of the road.
  • Time limit: Unknown
  • There is no dispersed camping indicator on the MVUMs.

Designated Dispersed Camping Areas

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Boise National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed Camping is allowed within Boise National Forest.
  • Time limit: 14 days in a row, then move 5 miles. The website says the time limits vary by district, but a Ranger in the Lowman district told me they’re actually all the same.
  • Choose sites that are already established (to localize damage).
  • No dispersed camping within 100 feet of a water source.
  • You may collect nearby downed firewood, but you may not take more than 1/4 cord out of the forest without a fuelwood permit.
  • Distance from road varies by district (generally 150′).

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Black Hills National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

The rules on the website were incomplete, so I emailed the forest to fill in the blanks. TLDR: If you’re gonna be in BHNF, you’ll need to go to a campground.

  • The forest is interspersed with private lands, so carry your MVUMs and watch for signs.
  • Dispersed Camping is allowed within Black Hills.
  • No dispersed camping less than 100′ from the centerline of the road.
  • No dispersed camping more than 300′ from the centerline of the road.
  • Motorized access to your campsite is only allowed on USFS land, so again, pay attention to your MVUMs and signs.
  • No dispersed camping within 100′ of any road, stream, or trail
  • No dispersed camping within 1/2 mile of any campgrounds, recreation areas, reservoirs. or hiking trails.
  • No dispersed camping in current timber sale areas. If there is logging equipment, you’re in one.
  • No dispersed camping in active mining claims. If there is heavy equipment, you’re in one.
  • Stay out of mines and caves unless you have a permit for them.
  • Time limit: 14 days in any 60-day period, after which you must leave the forest entirely.
  • There are no roadside campsites for dispersed camping in a vehicle, so you’ll have to leave the vehicle behind or go somewhere else.
  • No open fires in the South Dakota parts of the forest.  Open fires are allowed on the Wyoming side unless a special order prohibiting them is in effect.
  • Additional rules apply within the Black Elk Wilderness. Apparently you have to go there in person and look at a physical pamphlet to find out what they are.

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Bitterroot National Forest

Bitterroot boasts the “largest expanse of continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states“, and that’s just half the forest!

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • The only DC rules I can find are on the MVUMs themselves.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed within Bitterroot NF, within 300′ of the centerline of an allowed road.
  • No camping within 30′ of any body of water
  • Campsite access must be by non-motorized means. I infer this only applies if you’re going off road.
  • You’re not allowed to damage any vegetation to get to your campsite, so don’t drive off road.
  • Some roads are only open seasonally.

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Travel Management Rule

The Travel Management Rule is a regulation set forth by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2005 in which it instructed all National Forests to standardize the way they tell us where we can drive and camp.  It did many other things too, but specifically the part that applies to vandwellers is 36 CFR 212.51(b), which states:

Motor vehicle use for dispersed camping or big game retrieval. In designating routes, the responsible official may include in the designation the limited use of motor vehicles within a specified distance of certain designated routes, and if appropriate within specified time periods, solely for the purposes of dispersed camping or retrieval of a downed big game animal by an individual who has legally taken that animal.

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Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed Camping is allowed within BDNF. The MVUMs do not have Dispersed Camping in the legend, so it’s “probably” allowed by default. I have sent an email to them and await a response.
  • Time limit: 16 days in one area within any 30 day period. “Area” is not defined.
  • Mandatory forest-wide storage order:
    • During the day, a human must be within 100 feet, and in sight, of all food not in storage.
    • At night, food must be in storage except while being transported, eaten, or prepared
    • An enclosed, hard-sided vehicle (van) counts as properly stored
    • Otherwise it must be in a certified bear-resistant container

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Ashley National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

I couldn’t find the MVUMs on the official website, so I called a ranger district and asked the ranger who answered. While I was there I verified some of the rules.

  • Dispersed camping is allowed within ANF, but only in areas designated by the MVUMs or in designated Dispersed Camping areas.
  • Time limit: 16 days in a 30 day period, after which you have to move 5 miles away.
  • Do not leave any equipment unsupervised for more than 72 hours.
  • Camp within 150 feet of the road in Utah, and within 300 feet of the road in Wyoming.
  • No dispersed camping within 1/4 mile of any developed campground, boat ramp, guard station, or visitor center.

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Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland

Arapaho NF, Roosevelt NF, and Pawnee NG are all grouped together in the USFS website; but do not be confused: They are not in the same place.

Dispersed Camping Rules

  • Time limit: 14 consecutive days, after which you must move 3 miles
  • Time limit: 28 total days in any 60-day period
  • No dispersed camping at developed trailheads or picnic sites
  • USFS Land is interspersed with private land; watch for signs and check your MVUMs.
  • “Some” areas only allow camping at designated sites.

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Apalachicola National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules

  • Dispersed Camping is allowed in Apalachicola, but not during “general gun season“. The specific dates of the general gun season depend on the location; see the link.
  • No dispersed camping within 100 feet of any water source.
  • Time limit: 14 days per month (applies to all NFs in Florida)

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