Peak camping season is winding down and maybe you haven’t been able to get out as much as you wished because everything from National Parks to your local campground have been booked solid for the last 3 to 4 months. Labor Day weekend is coming up fast and you still want to take one last camping trip before Summer is over. You’re probably not going to get a site at a traditional campground at this point, so what do you do now?
All across the United States there are sites available outside of the normal park setup. These are referred to commonly as Dispersed Sites. All over Federal Public lands such as United States Forest Service Land and Bureau of Land Management and State-owned public lands are a plethora of dispersed camping options. Not all are accessible with a vehicle, but a good amount will be. It is important to note that these sites will not have any hookups so be prepared ahead of time with a full water tank and a generator if you will need electricity. Most of these sites are probably not great for huge Class A or C motorhome or Fifth Wheel depending on where you go, but for an average size camper travel trailer or Class B Motorhome or Campervan there should be a wide variety of options.
Why stay at one of these dispersed campsites? For starters, the price is often right. Most of the time they are free. Sites like this usually have no reservation fees. Often, they don’t require a permit even. A standard practice though should be to check with the National Parks Service or State Department of Natural Resources that oversees the land you want to camp on to make sure there are no fees or permits needed and that the sites you’re interested in are accessible to your vehicle. As with any traveling, it’s best to be prepared and plan ahead of time.
A second, and possibly more important reason, is that they are a more “natural” setting. These will give you the true surroundings of the area or at the very least make it easier to get into the true surroundings. You will be more secluded and freer from the normal settings of a summer campground with all the noise and crowdedness that comes along with that. You get to experience these beautiful places while in the comfort and security of your travel trailer without the headache of navigating a busy and noisy campground. There will also be easier access to the area for day hikes to further explore and enjoy the area you’re in. It’s provides the perfect setting to enjoy nature and still get to travel in your Trailer or RV. Generally, you can stay for 14 days at a time in one site and are required to move to another campsite at least 25 miles away if you want to stay longer. Everywhere is different so again, remember to check on the exact rules for the place you would like to go.
When dispersed camping, remember to always practice low impact camping. What does that mean?
- Stay in your campsite with all vehicles unless you are going on a designated road or trail for off road vehicles. Vehicles can be a big disturbance to a land scape and keeping them where they are supposed to be is the best way to keep that disturbance to a minimum.
- If there is a designated existing fire pit, use that and do not build a new one. As always, be safe with fire and make sure you are able to control your campfire and that it is properly extinguished before leaving it unattended.
- Do not cut down any trees or clear any foliage in your site and do not clear a new access way to your site.
- Pack it in, Pack it out. There are no dumpsters out in nature so please keep all your garbage inside your RV or vehicle and dispose of it appropriately in a trash can or dumpster when you return home or reach public dumpster at a Ranger Station or Park Office.
- Along with disposing of waste. Do not dump your sewer tank unless you are at a designated dump station. Some truck stops have dump stations available and if you are having trouble try calling campground in the area to see if you can use their dump station.
- Depending on where you are going you could be in Bear country. If you are, then make sure that all food is locked up in a vehicle or your RV. If that is not possible, hang it in a tree at least 15-20 feet in the air and at least 200 feet away from your site.
This might seem like a lot of stuff to figure out for a Labor Day trip. There is more planning to do for a dispersed camping trip than if you were to take a trip to a traditional campground, but it’s worth it! Labor Day is the last long weekend of summer and fall before the holidays. There is still time to get a trip figured out before then. Or if you don’t have time, no problem! Start planning a dispersed camping trip for later this fall and enjoy the color change of the season, or even get an early start on a trip for next summer.We at ITC hope this gave you some ideas for new places to go in the Travel Trailer or RV. See you out there!