Matt Johnson

What is Dispersed Camping?

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 1, 2022Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Dispersed camping is a great way to get out into nature and enjoy all it offers. It can also be a cheaper option than staying at a campground.

Of course, here at GlamperGear, we enjoy the finer side of camping (ahem, glamping), but there’s a time and a place for this type of camping.

However, there are some things you need to know before you go dispersed camping so that your trip is safe and enjoyable.

What dispersed camping is.

For the uninitiated, dispersed camping means camping outside a developed campground. This can involve pitching a tent in the woods, parking an RV in an open meadow, or anything in between. You may hear it referenced as boondocking or primitive camping from time to time.

It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors without dealing with the crowds and noise of a traditional campground. It’s also a great way to save money, as boondocking is usually free (or low-cost).

Of course, it also has its challenges. There are no amenities such as water or toilets, and you’ll need to be prepared for all weather conditions. But for those willing to rough it, dispersed camping can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

The benefits of roughing it in the wilderness.

One of the most exemplary aspects of dispersed camping is that it allows you to get away from it all.

There are no hotel reservations to make, no restaurants to choose from, and no crowds to contend with. Instead, you can simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.

Dispersed camping is also an excellent method to save money. You may avoid the exorbitant cost of accommodation and meals by roughing it in the wild.

You can take all of the amenities you are used to at home with you because there are no facilities in most primative camping locations.

So whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape or a budget-friendly adventure, dispersed camping offers what you’re looking for.

How to find the perfect campsite.

How to Find a Dispersed Campsite

Dispersed campsites are typically free, although some may require a permit.

To find a dispersed campsite, check with the local ranger station or land management office. They can provide maps and information about where dispersed camping is allowed. Agencies such as BLM and the National Forest Service are great resources as their lands are usually open for camping.

You can also search for trip reports and forums where others have shared their experiences and locations of dispersed campsites.

When choosing a spot, pick a location at least 200 feet away from any water source, such as a lake or river.

You should also camp on durable surfaces, such as rock or gravel to minimize your impact on the surrounding environment.

Finally, pack out all of your trash and clean up any evidence of your stay before you leave.

Following these simple guidelines can help preserve our public lands for future generations to enjoy.

What to bring with you when dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping is an excellent option if you’re looking for an adventurous camping experience. While this type of camping can be advantageous, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some essential items to bring with you when dispersed camping-

  • A map of the area. This will help you find your way back to your campsite if lost.
  • A navigation device. A GPS or compass can be beneficial in case you lose your way.
  • Food and water. Be sure to bring enough food and water for your entire trip. It’s also a good idea to bring along some extra in emergencies.
  • Shelter. A tent will shelter you from the elements. If you plan on spending time in areas with potentially dangerous wildlife, consider bringing a tent with a sturdier build. You can even bring out an RV in some instances.
  • Firewood. You’ll need firewood for cooking and warmth. If possible, try to find firewood that has already been cut and seasoned. This will save you time and effort while campsite.
  • First aid kit. This is essential for any camping trip. Pack items such as bandages, antiseptic, and pain medication. Insect repellent and sunscreen. These will help you avoid bug bites and sunburns.
  • A flashlight or headlamp. A light source is essential for camping trips. A flashlight can be used for exploring your surroundings after dark. A headlamp is a hands-free option that can be beneficial when cooking or setting up camp.
  • Clothing. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing for the climate you’ll be camping in. Layering is always a good idea as weather can change unexpectedly.

Tips for having a great time while dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping can be a great way to get off the beaten path and connect with nature. However, preparing before heading out into the wilderness is essential. Here are a few tips for having a great time while dispersed camping-

  • Make sure you have a good map of the area. This will help you find potential campsites and avoid getting lost.
  • Bring plenty of supplies, including food, water, and emergency gear.
  • Be respectful of the environment. Remember to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Have fun! Enjoy the peace of being in nature and savor the experience of truly roughing it.

Dispersed camping can be a great way to get out into nature and enjoy all it offers. Depending on where you go, it can also be a more affordable option than traditional camping. If you’re interested in trying dispersed camping, do your research first and understand the rules and regulations for the area you want to visit.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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