Your Guide to BLM Camping and Recreation

BLM Camping offers Undeveloped Federal Land for Public Recreation

King Range National Conservation Area camping
••• Camping in California's King Range National Conservation Area. Bureau of Land Management / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Fantastic camping opportunities can be found on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undeveloped public lands.  BLM camping is a highlight for any recreation enthusiast who wants open space and solitude to pitch a tent and enjoy the great outdoors.  In addition to developed campgrounds, national conservation areas, and outdoor recreation, the BLM offers dispersed camping for those who want to truly get away from it all.

 

The BLM is responsible for land, mineral, and wildlife management on millions of acres of U.S. land. With over one-eighth of the US land mass under the agency's control, the BLM also has plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities to offer for campers and outdoors enthusiasts. on public land.

BLM Goal: "to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations."

About BLM Recreation and Visitor Services

The Bureau of Land Management areas include 34 National Wild and Scenic Rivers, 136 National Wilderness Areas, 9 National Historic Trails, 43 National Landmarks, 23 National Recreation Trails, and more. The  National Conservation Lands, also known as the National Landscape Conservation System, include the West’s most stunning and sensitive landscapes. They include 873 federally recognized areas and approximately 32 million acres.

The conservation lands are diverse and wild, and protect some unique habitats for conservation and recreation.

Visit the BLM Interactive online map to find public lands in the  state-by-state map. You'll find specific information by region and get directed to each state's BLM recreation website, and find specific recreation opportunities on BLM Public Lands.

BLM Camping Information 

 What does that mean for campers? Well, you can enjoy these natural wonders from 17 thousand campsites at over 400 different campgrounds, mostly in the western states.Most campgrounds managed by the BLM are primitive, although you won't have to hike into the backcountry to get to them. The campsites will typically be a small clearing with a picnic table, fire ring, and may or may not offer some type of restroom or potable water source, so be sure to bring your own water.

BLM campgrounds are usually small with not many campsites and are available on a first come, first serve basis. You may not find a campground attendant, but rather an iron ranger, which is a collection box where you can deposit your camping fees, usually only $5-10 per night. Many of the campgrounds charge no fees.

Reserve a BLM Campsite Online

The easiest and most efficient way to find BLM campgrounds across the country is at Recreation.Gov, which allows you to search for outdoor activities on public lands, including the national parks, national forests, and army corps of engineer projects. From the results page, BLM campgrounds are listed with a link to area descriptions and campground details.

You can check the available campsites by interactive map, find an open campsite with the online calendar, and reserve your campsite with an online payment and reservations system. 

The following websites have everything you need to plan a camping trip at Bureau of Land Management campgrounds:

  • Bureau of Land Management - home page.
  • Recreation.gov - public land campground search.
  • Recreation Opportunities - on BLM public lands.

About the BLM's History

The Bureau of Land Management was created in 1946 through a merger of the General Land Office (GLO) and the U.S. Grazing Service. The agency has history going back to the creation of the GLO in 1812.  In addition to the development of the GLO, the Homestead Act of 1862 gave individuals the opportunity to freely claim rights to government land. During the homesteading era tens-of-thousands of people claimed and settled more than 270 million acres across America.

In celebration of 200 years of the General land Office and 150 years of the Homestead Act, the BLM created a website and interactive timeline to commemorate the history. 

Updated and Edited by Camping Expert Monica Prelle