Renegade Camping, Dispersed Camping, & Boondocking

Dispersed Camping, sometimes referred to as Renegade Camping, Primitive or Backcountry camping and boondocking is basically,

  • Camping OUTSIDE of designated campground areas.
  • Camping with no power, no services, and no modern luxuries.
  • Camping with No Crowds. It’s just you, and the great outdoors.

As a general rule, this type of camping is usually done on public lands well away from any established roads. Scattered throughout the United States there are millions of acres of public land where you can setup and camp, most of which won’t cost you a single cent.

Boondocking in the Desert by a Lake

Where to Camp for Free: Boondocking and Backcountry Camping

Most people who camp off the grid will pick a road in the National Forest or some other piece of public land, and then keep on driving. When the road ends, the real adventurers won’t stop until they find the perfect spot.

Free Campsites – While this might be a little less adventurous than finding a secluded spot in the backcountry, it still beats paying for a campsite or having to deal with a bunch of degenerates at the local KOA. Free Campsites are usually very primitive, but there are some that have basic services.

For those adventurous souls who just want to get away from it all, I recommend choosing a road that’s not often traveled. Roads with signs usually mean there will be too many people, and might not be the best spots to set up camp. Old dirt roads and old abandoned rail lines are some of the best places to look. I’ve found some great spots by just wandering around in the backcountry.

  • BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and other public lands are almost always free to camp at unless otherwise posted.
  • All National Forest land is open to camping unless otherwise posted, but some areas do have limits on how long you can stay in one spot so make sure to check with the rangers.
  • Some private land owners will allow people to camp on their land, so it never hurts to ask.
  • USFS – USDA Forest Service and the BLM – Bureau of Land Management websites are a good start when looking for areas to camp. The USFS offers free travel management maps called MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map) that show exactly where dispersed camping is restricted and which roads are open for travel.

A Few Things To Be Aware Of

If you’re new to camping, then you might want to start off slow. Dispersed camping means you need to be fully self-sufficient.

  • Don’t forget to find out if you need a fire permit or if you need to pay fees to camp in the area.
  • Unless you’re boondocking in an RV, then you need to remember that there are no bathrooms.
  • Anything that you’re going to need at your campsite needs to be brought in. Make sure to pack extra water, food and emergency supplies.

Always practice Leave No Trace! When you leave your campsite, there should be no trace that you were ever there. Things like fire rings, trash or anything else that you had needs to be taken with you; and the land that you camp on needs to be returned to the original condition that you found the land in. A good motto to live by when doing this type of camping is, “Take only photographs; leave only footprints!”

Jeep in the Backcountry
photo by desert-dweller@Flickr

The Best Kind of Road to look for…..
dirt road
photo by toughkidcst@Flickr

Driving to camp

Camping in the Backcountry
Top 2 photos by indigoprime@Flickr

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. Hello my family own the historic camp bison prison farm we offet camping . This is off grid there is an outhouse. We will boat you in and you can fish on the whanipitae river. Hunting is possible in fall MUST have firearms cert. For ontario and valid tag.there are rooms inside prison but fee is more of the hotel type fee.

  2. I’m 57 yrs young. My children are grown and I’m now alone on my own. My husband passed away years ago. I’m receiving social security and going to sell my home. I grew up doing lots of camping and wilderness activities. I also have survivalist training, know herbs, how to my own food, and well rounded with being on the road. Even though I’m disabled I’m strong and adventurous. Next spring I want to sell my nice mobile home and hit the road, live full time in an RV or travel trailer off the grid yet I have no clue where to start. All ideas will be helpful. Thxs Shelley

  3. I’m looking for someone with a little land I could live off grid on. It’s my dream. I am willing to work to earn my keep around your homestead I’ve been a carpenter for 25 years as well as plumbing electrical and I’m also a very good mechanic. I’m a widow raised my two children who are now of to college. I’m 42 years old and just tired of the rat race. I’m very good in the woods and go boondock camping for days even weeks sometimes. Please if you have land and are interested email me back. I’m not a bum or anything I have a great job just want to live my dream. Thanks for reading hope to hear from someone.

  4. looking for someone interested in taking an off road trip.Ilive in southern oregon. Christian 50 year old male.

  5. I’ll be heading out after Labor Day on an extended “(tent) camping” trip throughout the desert Southwest. National forests and BLM land, all mapped out. I used to rely on for info on dispersed campsites, but the website has nothing but text and blog entries now. All the maps are gone.

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