can you camp for free in national forests 2021


National parks offer several recreational services such as camping, hiking, backpacking among others. A good venue for camping, the big question is can you camp for free in national forests? In order to enjoy all those fascinating camping experiences, you would need to get a camp permit and probably book a reservation.

This will definitely cost you some money. Not having enough money to fund your permit should not be an ultimate hindrance or a reason to suspend your adventure.

You can actually camp for free, which is otherwise known as dispersed camping. Although each park has its own set down rules and regulations guiding the activities in the forest, you can still get a place to camp for free. Since dispersed camping is not so common, you would most likely be having the location to yourself.

The peace and silence are just pure bliss. You can camp in a national forest provided you go to the right park. This article contains some things you need to know about free camping in a national forest.

Can you camp wherever you want in a national park?

There are several parks you can possibly camp in and each has its own rules. You might not be allowed to camp wherever you want in most parks, usually for the sake of orderliness. This is why most campers are required to make reservations and get permits (if the park requires them). There are several parks that allow dispersing camping, where you get to camp in an undeveloped location.

You get to provide for yourself everything you need. Although you might still be required to register just to avoid unnecessary confusion. You might find parks which allow you to camp wherever you want, provided you have the permission to. It is advisable to get permission before you set up a camp.

can you camp for free in national forests


Which national park is free to camp?

Free camping which is also known as dispersed camping or backcountry camping is allowed in several parks. Although the rules for each park might vary. There are two major parks that allow backcountry camping namely: national forest and Bureau of land management land.

National forest: they are public lands in the US that are overseen by the management of USDA forest services. You would find a national forest in almost all the states. The national forests do allow dispersed camping in some or most of its forests. You could easily get your free permit by registering online with the right body.

Bureau of land management lands: this is are lands being managed by the government agency Bureau of land management. They manage these lands for several uses, usually recreation and grazing. You could camp for free in any of the parks managed by the bureau of land management, although in most cases, tent campers are not allowed due to the number of activities going on. You definitely would not want to wake one morning I find herds all around your tent. You are allowed to go in a van or recreational vehicle in case you plan to go for disperse camping. Free or not, you need to get a permit.

Can you live for free in a national forest?

One of the major reasons for the number of regulations guiding camps in a national forest is to prevent citizens from turning the park into a permanent house. The time range for each national forest might vary.

Most of the national forests allow a maximum of 16 days. Some offer less while some more although some parks allow you to move from one campsite to the other but you would have to get a new permit if you are move.

can you camp for free in national forests

What is the best method to extinguish a campfire?

Depending on the campsite and the facilities in the park, you might be mandated to use the existing fire ring or pit. There are parks that do not allow campfires and you might be sanction if caught making fire. You should inquire from the ranger station if there are restrictions against making a campfire before you start making one.

If it is confirmed that there are no restrictions then the next thing to do would be the need to learn how to put out a campfire as it might lead to a wildfire, putting people and wildlife in grave danger if it is not properly done.

  • Right setup: the first step to putting out fire starts from the way you made it. You need to build the campfire in a safe way. You should build the fire in a fire ring or pit. Be sure there are no dry leaves, sticks, branches, and other flammables close to it as they can easily catch fire. All should be at least 6 feet from it.


  • Maintain your fire: one of the ways of maintaining it is to be sure what the weather is like. If it is windy, it would be good you put it out. Be sure the fire is at no point unattended to. Burning trash and plastic in the campfire is not advisable.


  • Once you are done with the fire, you are to douse the fire with water until all hissing sound has stopped. Spread out the ashes and remains of the fire and pour more water to be sure there is no trace of fire again.  You can try to place your hand over the ash. If it is still warm, you might have to pour more water.

can you camp for free in national forests

Conclusion: can you camp for free in national forests

Just in case you want to spend some quality time with your family and revitalize your relationship or maybe you want to enjoy the bliss of nature but fund seems to pose as a hindrance. You do not have to worry, you can simply go for a disperse camping where you could get your permit for free.

The National Forest and Bureau of land management land offer great disperse camping services, you could choose any of them. You would not want to get yourself into fire trouble while camping. This guide should help you make and put out the fire the right way. Have a nice camping experience and hope this answers the question to worry question can you camp for free in national forests?


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