Discover BLM Map Overlays with This Member Perk

Signing on as a Campendium Member not only helps us maintain and improve Campendium, but it also unlocks a bunch of sweet perks! The Bureau of Land Management map overlay is just one of the features available to Members that will help you find that perfect campsite for your next trip.

In this article, we invite you to learn more, including why many campers love BLM land, how to use the map overlay and a few of the Campendium community’s favorite BLM camp areas.

Fence in front of frozen river with mountains in the background.
Dugway Recreation Site | Sinclair, WY – Photo by: Wishdiver

What is the Bureau of Land Management?

There are three major federal public land managers in the United States—the United States Forest Service (USFS), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Of the three, the BLM arguably manages the most diverse landscapes in the country, from red-rock deserts to high plains to forests. They also oversee the most public land—245 million acres or approximately one out of every ten acres in the United States.

The BLM has a strong “multi-use” mandate, which states that they are tasked with “managing public lands for a variety of uses such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting while ensuring natural, cultural, and historic resources are maintained for present and future use.”

Of the three land agencies, the BLM is known for being the most hands-off when it comes to recreational management. On the surface, this may seem like a detriment to campers, but that’s not necessarily the case. Why, you ask? Well, let’s talk about dispersed camping.

Rvs parked in a large open meadow with mountains in the background.
Shavano Wildlife Management Area | Salida, CO – Photo by: Lucky Charm RV’ing

The BLM and Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping, also sometimes called “boondocking,” is off-the-grid camping outside of a developed campground. When you see a picture of an RV parked on a patch of land with no other campers in sight, their solar panels deployed, with an expansive view of mountains, desert, or forest, you’re likely looking at someone dispersed camping.

With dispersed camping, there are no amenities, no campground hosts, no services…and no fees. Dispersed camping is free, which is one reason that it appeals to full-time and seasonal travelers who have outfitted their campers specifically to take advantage of this no-frills experience.

When it comes to dispersed camping, the BLM really shines. The BLM allows dispersed camping on most of their lands, as long as it “does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted ‘closed to camping,’ or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.” Unless otherwise posted, dispersed camping is allowed on BLM land for 14 consecutive days out of a 28 day period.

Because the BLM manages for multi-use, you may share that dispersed camping area with a herd of cows and a group of ATVers or mountain bikers in certain areas. For many, camping for free, with their own self-supported rig, for up to two weeks at a time, makes the experience worth it.

BLM map overlay

The Member Perk: BLM Map Overlays

Where do you find these BLM camping areas? Start by searching for the state or region you’d like to camp and then click More Filters > Categories > BLM. This will limit your search to developed campgrounds and dispersed camping areas on BLM land.

Members can take this one step further by turning on the BLM Map Overlay. Do this by clicking the Map Overlays button on the right side of the map and ticking on “BLM.” The resulting yellow overlay shows the exact location of all the United States’ BLM-managed public lands. Zoom in to get a more detailed map view, and turn on other overlays, like Reported Cell Coverage, to fine-tune even further. The overlay works on both the website and the app, making navigation a breeze when you’re on the road.

Check out These BLM Camping Areas

Some of the Campendium community’s most beloved camping areas are on BLM land. Here are just a few. For a full list of favorites, check out the 2020 Campers Choice Awards, Best BLM Camping.

RV parked amongst rocks and white cap mountains.
Alabama Hills Recreation Area Dispersed Camping | Lone Pine, CA – Photo by: Lostrivets

Alabama Hills, California: With 70 reviews and an average of five stars, Alabama Hills is a well-loved boondocking destination. Filled with amazing rock formations and excellent mountain views, this spot has temperate weather through most of the year.

RV parked in front of red rock towers.
Valley of the Gods Dispersed Camping | Mexican Hat, UT – Photo by: Chris

Valley of the Gods, Utah: If red-rock desert is what you’re after, look no further than the dispersed camping at Valley of the Gods in the Four Corners. Well-spaced campsites, a warm winter climate, and plenty of trails for exploring make this a perennial favorite.

Van parked in a desert surrounded by cacti.
Plomosa Road Camping Area | Quartzsite, AZ – Photo by: Lin

Plomosa Road, Arizona: Quartzsite is a haven for snowbirds, but campers of any age will love this area’s level campsites, wide-open desert views, and fast cell service.

Truck camper with person walking dog and mountains in the background.
Angel Peak Campground | Bloomfield, NM – Photo by: Dave’n’Kim

Angel Peak Campground, New Mexico: We cheated here a bit, as Angel Peak is a BLM campground, not dispersed camping. Still, it’s free, and the views are hard to beat.

Several RVs parked next to a river.
Shorts Bar Recreation Site | Riggins, ID – Photo by: Mali Mish

Shorts Bar, Idaho: Park your camper right along the Salmon River at Shorts Bar, a free BLM camping area in Riggins. Enjoy sandy beaches, a nearby boat ramp, and starry nights.

Interested in becoming a Campendium Member and unlocking perks like the BLM map overlay? Check it out!