Free Camping in the US National Forests. The What, Why & Where to dispersed roadside camping

Free Camping in the US National Forests. The What, Why & Where to dispersed roadside camping


HI EVERYONE. TOMMY SIERRA HERE AND TODAY IM
GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW YOU CAN DO WHICH IS GO
CAMPING FOR FREE IN THE U.S. NATIONAL FORESTS. I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW I PREPARE AND THEN
I’M GOING TO TAKE YOU WITH ME ON A HUNT FOR A FREE CAMPSITE IN THE FOREST SO YOU CAN SEE
HOW I DO IT. FREE CAMPING OR WHAT THE FOREST SERVICE CALLS
DISPERSED CAMPING OR ROADSIDE CAMPING OR WHAT RVERS REFER TO BOONDOCKING ISN’T AS CONVENIENT
AS BOOKING A CAMPSITE AT A CAMPGROUND BUT YOU CAN’T BEAT THE PRICE AND YOU ALSO CAN’T
BEAT THE SERENITY AND IN MANY CASES, THE VIEWS AND PROXIMITY TO OTHER ACTIVITIES.
OF COURSE BACKPACKERS ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS BUT FOR CASUAL CAR CAMPING THE FORESTS ARE
THE BEST KEPT SECRET IF YOU’RE NOT FOND OF CAMPGROUNDS AND DON’T MIND DOING WITHOUT FACILITIES
THAT MANY WOULD CONSIDER TO BE NECESSITIES SUCH AS BATHROOMS AND ELECTRICAL HOOKUPS AND
A CAMP STORE. NOW I’M NOT RAGGING ON CAMPGROUNDS BUT CAMPGROUNDS
HAVE REALLY FALLEN OUT OF FAVOR WITH ME PERSONALLY FOR A FEW REASONS.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON BEING INCONSIDERATE PEOPLE.
RECENTLY I WAS TRAVELING THROUGH OHIO AND THERE WERE NO FORESTS TO STAY AT IN OHIO,
AT LEAST NOT WHERE I WAS AND I STAYED AT AN OHIO STATE PARKS CAMPGROUND. AND AFTER A LONG
DAY ON THE ROAD I WAS TIRED, I WAS EATING SOME DINNER AROUND 8 O’CLOCK OR 9 O’CLOCK
AT NIGHT AND SOME PEOPLE SHOWED UP AT THE CAMPSITES ACROSS FROM MINE. THEY WERE PLANNING
ON HAVING A BIG PARTY. ONE OF THE PEOPLE CAME OVER TO ME AND TOLD ME IN ADVANCE THAT THEY
WERE CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY AND APOLOGIZED IN ADVANCE FOR- THEY WERE PROBABLY GOING TO
BE A LITTLE NOISY OR ROUDY LATER THAT NIGHT AND SHE TOLD ME TO TELL HER TO QUIET DOWN
IF THEY WERE BEING TOO LOUD. I SAID I DON’T REALLY CARE AS LONG AS YOU
DON’T DISTURB ME WHEN I’M TRYING TO SLEEP. I MEAN THE CAMPGROUND HAS QUIET HOURS AFTER
10 O’CLOCK AND SHE GOES… WE’RE GOING TO BE UP LATER
THAN THAT, MORE LIKE 3 AM. AND THEY HAD A BUNCH OF YOUNG CHILDREN THERE AND I WAS LIKE
YEAH SURE, 3AM, THAT’S FUNNY. I THOUGHT SHE WAS KIDDING. I SAID I’M TIRED, I HAD A LONG
DAY I DON’T WANT TO BE DISTURBED WHEN I’M TRYING TO SLEEP BUT SHE SAID BUT WE’RE IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS! AND I SAID.. YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CAMPGROUND.
SO CAN YOU GUESS HOW THIS ENDS? THEY GOT SO DRUNK AND UNBELIEVABLY NOISY THAT I CALLED
THE POLICE ON THEM THREE TIMES. THREE! THREE TIMES! AND THE POLICE KEPT COMING OUT AND
TELLING THEM TO QUIET DOWN AND THE SECOND THEY WOULD LEAVE- LITERALLY THE SECOND THE
POLICE CAR PULLED AWAY, THEY WOULD GO RIGHT BACK AT IT AGAIN. SO THE NEXT MORNING, I COMPLAINED
TO THE PARK MANAGER AND HE HAD THEM KICKED OUT. HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM TOMMY!
ANYWAY, THIS ISN’T AN ISOLATED INCIDENT. THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND I’VE HAD PEOPLE SHOOTING
OFF FIREWORKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. CAMPGROUNDS CAN HAVE A LOT OF TRASH AND I
DON’T MEAN JUST THE LITTER. I’VE SEEN RVs DUMP THEIR SEWAGE ON THE GROUND, CAMPGROUNDS
ARE ALSO BEAR MAGNETS PEOPLE LEAVE SO MUCH FOOD OUT AND THE TRASH IS ALWAYS OVERFLOWING-
NOT ALWAYS- BUT IN SOME PLACES IT IS AND THAT JUST ATTRACTS BEARS LIKE A MAGNET. SOME OF
THESE IDIOTS FEED THE BEARS WHICH GUARANTEES THE BEARS WILL BE BACK.. IT GUARANTEES THE
BEARS WILL BE KILLED BECAUSE THEY BECOME A NUISANCE. SO I HATE TO SAY IT– THIS… THIS
ISN’T JUST FOR THE OTHER CAMPERS EITHER, THE RANGERS AND THE PEOPLE THAT WORK IN THE CAMPGROUND
CAN ALSO BE A PRONOUNCE ANNOYANCE. I’LL GIVE YOU SOME EXAMPLES. BEFORE I HAD MY OZTENT,
I HAD A ROOFTOP TENT BUT BEFORE THAT, I HAD A TRUCK CAMPER THAT I BUILT MYSELF. IT LOOKED
LIKE A SEAFOOD TRUCK. FUNNY STORY- ONE TIME I WAS VISITING DC AND I PARKED A COUPLE BLOCKS
FROM THE WHITEHOUSE. AND WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE CLOSEST PUBLIC METERED PARKING SPACES
TO THE WHITE HOUSE THAT YOU CAN GET. SO AFTER ABOUT 90 MINUTES OR SO THERE WAS SIRENS AND
POLICE EVERYWHERE – THIS WAS RIGHT AFTER OBAMA TOOK OFFICE SO EVERYBODY THOUGHT IT WAS SOMETHING
REALLY, REALLY BAD AFTER 30-45 MINUTES THEY FINALLY LET US GO AND WE FOUND OUT IT WAS
OVER A SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE AND I THOUGHT… OH NO! I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO GO BACK AND
FIND MY CAMPER TRUCK IN A MILLION PIECES. BUT IT WASN’T. AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE SOME
LITTLE SEDAN. AFTER THINKING THIS OVER IN MY HEAD, IT’S MIND BLOWING TO THINK THAT SOME
STRANGE LOOKING SEAFOOD TRUCK WITH A BIG WHITE BOX IN THE BACK PARKED IN LITERALLY THE CLOSEST
PARKING SPACE YOU CAN GET TO THE WHITE HOUSE CAN REMAIN THERE FOR HOURS WITHOUT RAISING
ANY SUSPICIONS MEANWHILE SOME NONDESCRIPT CHEVY SEDAN WOULD HAVE THE WHOLE CITY ON LOCKDOWN.
SO MY TRUCK HAS EARNED SOME NICKNAMES OF ITS OWN BUT — ANYWAY UM — ALSO I WAS IN ANOTHER
CITY ONE TIME WORKING TEMPORARILY AND I HAD TO FIND A CAMPGROUND AND I PULLED UP INTO
THE CAMP STORE — I DIDN’T HAVE A RESERVATION BUT I PULLED UP TO SEE IF THEY HAD ANY SITES
AND THE WOMAN BEHIND THE COUNTER GOES– IN THAT? AND I SAID YES AND SHE GOES, WELL WE
WON’T ALLOW THAT IN HERE. I MEAN– IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE A LUXURY LINER BUT IT DIDN’T LOOK
BAD I MEAN ITS VERY UTILITARIAN BUT IT LOOKED A LOT BETTER THAN A LOT OF OLD CLUNKY RVs
THAT I SEE. SO FAST FORWARD A COUPLE YEARS I WAS IN ANOTHER CAMPGROUND AND AROUND 1 OCLOCK
IN THE MORNING I WAS SLEEPING SOUNDLY IN THE CAMPER AND SOMEONE COMES POUNDING ON THE DOOR
WITH A FLASHLIGHT. AND THE DOGS WHO WERE WITH ME START BARKING AND I STARTED YELLING NOT
KNOWING WHO IT WAS AND BEFORE WE KNOW IT, THE WHOLE CAMPGROUND WAS AWAKENED BY ALL THIS
NOISE AND THE MAN IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS THE RANGER WHICH I CONFIRMED HE WAS AND HE SAYS-
NO SLEEPING IN VEHICLES! AND I EXPLAINED THAT IT’S A CAMPER, NOT UNLIKE ALL THE OTHER RV
CAMPERS AROUND ME AND I TOLD HIM IN SO MANY NOT SO NICE WORDS TO TAKE A HIKE. THE MOST
RECENT TIME WAS AT A STATE PARK CAMPGROUND IN ANOTHER STATE AND THE PARK RANGERS WERE
PULLING PEOPLE OVER IN THE CAMPGROUND FOR TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. AND I WAS STOPPED FOR
NOT WEARING MY SEATBELT. IN A CAMPGROUND! RIGHT NEAR MY CAMPSITE. RIGHT- IN A CAMPGROUND!
NOT WEARING MY SEATBELT! TALK ABOUT A DIGRESSION– ANYWAY STORY TIME IS OVER YOU GET THE POINT
ANNOYING PEOPLE EVERYWHERE IN CAMPGROUNDS. THE OTHER PROBLEM WITH CAMPGROUNDS IS WHILE
YOU CAN OFTEN MAKE RESERVATIONS REAL EASILY, THEY TEND TO GET FILLED UP DURING THE HOLIDAYS.
SO MAKING IT EASY CAN BE A BLESSING AND A CURSE. ANYWAY ITS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO GET
A CAMPSITE AND THOSE ARE THE PRIMARY THINGS THAT HAVE LED ME TO SAY DISPERSED CAMPING
IS FOR ME. IT’S REALLY THE WAY I ROLL BECAUSE IT’S SIMPLY MORE ENJOYABLE. i NEVER USED THE
AMENITIES AT CAMPGROUNDS ANYWAY INCLUDING THE BATHROOMS- I BRING MY OWN- AND I DON’T
NEED A PERFECTLY LEVEL TENT PAD OR ELECTRICAL HOOKUPS OR ANY OF THAT STUFF. BRINGING ALL
THAT STUFF IS JUST PART OF THE FUN FOR ME. ONE THING THAT WOULD BE A CONVENIENCE ARE
TRASH CANS BUT MORE AND MORE CAMPGROUNDS ARE TAKING OUT THE TRASH CANS EXPECTING PEOPLE
TO PACK IT OUT. PACK OUT THEIR TRASH AND DISPOSE OF IT ELSEWHERE. FINDING FREE DISPERSED CAMPING
IN THE FOREST, STARTS WITH FINDING A FOREST. THEN CHECKING TO SEE IF THEY EVEN ALLOW DISPERSED
CAMPING – MOST DO – BUT SOME DON’T AND SOME HAVE CERTAIN CONDITIONS – THEY ONLY ALLOW
IT IN CERTAIN PLACES AND THERE’S ALWAYS RULES AND CERTAIN CONDITIONS TO BEGIN WITH FOR DISPERSED
CAMPING SO LETS TAKE A LOOK. I PULLED UP THIS WEBSITE HERE FOR JUST A RANDOM FOREST ON THE
NATIONAL FOREST SERVICE WEBSITE . THIS IS KIND OF REPRESENTATIVE OF A FAIRLY RESTRICTIVE
ONE IT HAS QUITE A FEW RULES THAT ARE TYPICAL BUT THIS ONE IS A LITTLE MORE RESTRICTIVE
SO I THOUGHT WE’D GO OVER THIS ONE REAL QUICK JUST TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT FOR AN EXAMPLE.
SO HERE’S THEIR RULES. THERE’S A 14 DAY PER LIMIT ON HOW LONG YOU CAN STAY. THAT’S PRETTY
TYPICAL. THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO MOVE IN. NO CAMPING OR CAMPFIRES WITHIN CITY LIMITS. THAT
ONE I HAVEN’T SEEN BEFORE BUT THIS IS IN CALIFORNIA, THIS PARTICULAR FOREST HERE. DO NOT CMAP ON
PRIVATE PROPERTY UNLESS YOU HAVE THE OWNERS PERMISSION. THAT’S PRETTY STANDARD. JUST BECAUSE
IT’S A NATIONAL FOREST DOESN’T MEAN IT’S ALL PUBLIC LAND, IT’S NOT. PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT
OR THEY FORGET THERE IS PRIVATE PROPERTY IN THE NATIONAL FOREST AND YOU HAVE TO RESPECT
IT. NO CAMPING WITHIN A QUARTER MILE OF A WILDLIFE WATERING TANK OR HOLE. THIS IS IN
ARIZONA, NOT CALIFORNIA. THAT’S ONE I HAVEN’T SEEN HERE IN THE SOUTHEAST. THAT MAY OR MAY
NOT BE A PROBLEM. THAT’S JUST ONE EXAMPLE. CAMP AT LEAST ONE MILE FROM MILE FROM PAY
CAMPGROUNDS AND I WOULDN’T SAY THAT’S TYPICAL – I MEAN SOMETIMES THEY THERE ARE SIGNS POSTED
NEAR THOSE DEVELOPED CAMPGROUNDS THAT SAY DON’T PARK HERE OR NO CAMPING HERE – THEY
DON’T WANT YOU TO DO IT RIGHT OUTSIDE THE CAMPGROUND BUT A MILE- THAT’S KIND OF CRAZY.
PLEASE DON’T DRIVE THROUGH AN OPEN MEADOWLAND DUE TO THE SCARRING. THAT’S ONE I HAVEN’T
SEEN BUT THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. DOWN AND DEAD FIREWOOD MAY BE GATHERED AROUND YOUR
CAMPSITE BUT IS ILLEGAL TO TAKE OUT WITHOUT A PERMIT. HERE– FOR MOST OF THE COUNTRY NOW
IT’S COMMON KNOWLEDGE YOU DON’T TRANSPORT FIREWOOD. I NEVER SEE MANY RULES NOT TO TAKE
IT OUT OF THE FOREST BUT IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING, YOU’RE POTENTIALLY TRANSPORTING PESTS IN THE
FIREWOOD SO SELECT YOUR FIREWOOD RIGHT WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO USE IT. CAMPFIRES CAN CAUSE
A LOT OF DAMAGE TO THE BACKCOUNTRY USE A LIGHTWEIGHT STOVE– BLAH BLAH BLAH, THESE ARE MAYBE SOUTHWEST
SPECIFIC DUE TO THE FIRE DANGER THERE. BUT THESE ARE PRETTY COMMON SENSE, KEEP FIRES
SMALL, PUT THE FIRES OUT COMPLETELY . THIS IS SOMETHING THAT I DEFINITELY DO AND RECOMMEND
MAKING SURE- YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE- THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE SOMEONE TO SEE IT
IF IT GETS OUT OF CONTROL . PUT IT OUT, MAKE SURE, DUMP WATER ON IT. WHEN CAR CAMPING IN
THE NATIONAL FOREST, DON’T DRIVE MORE THAN 30-FEET FROM THE SIDE OF THE ROAD TO CAMP
EXCEPT IN DESIGNATED CAMPING CORRIDORS. IN DESIGNATED CAMPING CORRIDORS, ONE CAN DRIVE
UP TO 300 FEET FROM THE ROAD TO CAR CAMP. THESE RULES ONLY AFFECT MOTOR VEHICLE USE.
FOREST VISITORS CAN ALWAYS HIKE TO CAMPSITES AT FARTHER DISTANCES FROM THE ROADS. NOW I
HAVE NOT SEEN THAT SPELLED OUT LIKE THAT BEFORE BUT THAT MAKES SENSE. THAT’S A GOOD RULE TO
HAVE I NEVER VENTURE MORE THAN 30 FEET OFF THE SIDE OF THE ROADS ANYWAY – MAYBE A LITTLE
BIT, BUT I DON’T BLAZE A NEW TRAIL THROUGH THERE. THAT’S PERFECTLY REASONABLE. IT’S A
GOOD BEST PRACTICE EVEN IF IT’S NOT A RULE. AND I WOULD DEFINITELY FOLLOW THAT REGARDLESS.
ALWAYS USE A PACK IN AND PACK OUT METHOD FOR THE DISPOSAL OF LITTER- YOU KNOW IF YOU DON’T
DO THAT– YOU NEED TO START. PLEASE USE A HOLE TO BURY ALL HUMAN AND PET WASTE AT LEAST
6 TO 7 INCHES DEEP. THIS IS ANOTHER RULE THAT JUST MAKES PERFECT SENSE. IT MAY NOT BE SPELLED
OUT FOR YOU EVERYWHERE BUT THIS IS PERFECTLY GOOD SENSE . PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE OUTDOOR
ETHICS. DISPOSE OF ALL GARBAGE, BLAH BLAH BLAH YOU GET THE IDEA. SOMETIMES WHAT YOU
SEE, ONE PARTICULAR FOREST THAT COMES TO MIND, IS THE PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST AROUND ASHEVILLE.
THEY ONLY LET YOU DO WHAT THEY CALL ROADSIDE CAMPING IN DESIGNATED AREAS WHERE THERE IS
A SIGN POSTED WHERE YOU CAN CAMP. SO I THINK THAT’S A LITTLE STRICT . I DON’T LIKE BEING
TOLD WHERE TO CAMP BUT THAT’S JUST ONE OUT OF MANY SO CHECK TO SEE AHEAD OF TIME WHAT
THE RULES ARE. THE NEXT THING YOU’RE GOING TO NEED TO DO AFTER MAKING SURE THE FOREST
EVEN ALLOWS DISPERSED CAMPING IS TO GET A MOTOR VEHICLE USE MAP. THE FOREST SERVICE
HAS DESIGNATED CERTAIN ROADS BEING OPEN TO PUBLIC USE AND THEY MAKE MAPS AVAILABLE SHOWING
YOU WHAT THESE ROADS ARE ALONG WITH ANY RESTRICTIONS FOR USING THEM LIKE ATVS ONLY THERE ALSO MAY
BE SEASONAL CLOSURES AND I HAVE ANOTHER VIDEO THAT GOES INTO MORE DETAIL ABOUT EXPLORING
THE FOREST SERVICE ROADS AND THERE IS A LINK DOWN BELOW IN THE DESCRIPTION OR ON TOMMYSIERRA.COM.
NOW LETS TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT WHAT ONE OF THOSE LOOKS LIKE OFF TO THE SIDE HERE WE HAVE
WHAT LOOKS LIKE A MOTOR VEHICLE USE MAP. THEY’RE USUALLY NUMBERED- ALMOST ALWAYS NUMBERED.
SOMETIMES IF YOU HAVE A SPUR OFF THE MAIN ROAD, YOU’LL HAVE 535-A, 535-B, C, D AND SO
ON AND SO FORTH THIS HAS A LEGEND HERE AND YOU CAN SEE HOW THERE’S DIFFERENT SHADINGS
ON THESE ROADS WHICH WOULD REFER TO SEASONAL CLOSURES AND WHO CAN USE THE ROADS AND STUFF
LIKE THAT. BUT HERE YOU CAN SEE THEY HAVE DESIGNATED FOUR CAMPSITES IN CERTAIN AREAS
ALONG THIS PARTICULAR ROAD. NOW SOMETIMES YOU’LL HAVE THIS ON CERTAIN FOREST ROADS.
PARTICULARLY WHERE THERE’S WATER INVOLVED AND THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE OR TRAFFIC BECAUSE
THE ROADS MAY BE VERY NARROW AND THERE MAY NOT REALLY BE ROOM FOR PEOPLE TO — PEOPLE
MAY TRY TO EEK OUT A CAMPSITE WHERE ITS JUST NOT REALLY SAFE TO DO IT SO IN SOME PLACES
THEY’LL DESIGNATE CERTAIN AREAS WHERE – AND THESE AREN’T PAY AREAS, BUT THESE ARE JUST
SOME UNDEVELOPED AREAS THEY WILL LET YOU CAMP DISPERSED FOR FREE WHERE YOU’RE SAFE AND OUT
OF THE WAY. SO DEFINITELY GET A MOTOR VEHICLE USE MAP AND LOOK FOR ANY SUCH RESTRICTIONS.
YOU CAN LOOK FOR — MOTOR VEHICLE USE MAPS ARE NOT THE SAME AS THE MAPS THAT SHOW ALL
THE AMENITIES OF THE FOREST SUCH AS RECREATION AND DEVELOPED CAMPGROUNDS AND PICNIC AREAS
AND STUFF LIKE THAT. THESE LITTLE ICONS ARE NOT NORMALLY ON A MOTOR VEHICLE USE MAP. BUT
YOU GET A VISITORS GUIDE FOR THAT STUFF. DEFINITELY. SOMETIMES THESE FOREST SERVICE ROADS ARE ON
ONLINE MAPS LIKE GOOGLE MAPS BUT USUALLY NOT. WHETHER IT IS OR ISN’T, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS
TAKE A PAPER MAP JUST IN CASE. I CAN NOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH. I CAN BE A PRINTOUT, IT CAN BE
A BIG FOLD OUT MAP, IT CAN BE A HAND DRAWN MAP THAT YOU DO WITH A SHARPIE, JUST HAVE
SOMETHING ON PAPER. OTHER THINGS I WOULD SUGGEST DOING WHILE YOU’RE IN THE PLANNING STAGES
IS FIND OUT IF THERE’S ANY WARNINGS ABOUT THE AREA ON THE FOREST SERVICE WEBSITE ALSO
CHECK THE WEATHER. THINGS LIKE FLASH FLOODS ARE A VERY REAL HAZARD AND YOU NEED TO BE
AWARE OF ANY RISKS FOR THAT STUFF. FIND OUT WHERE ANY OF THE NEAREST STORES ARE WHERE
YOU CAN FIND SUPPLIES IF YOU FORGET SOMETHING. REMEMBER THERE’S NO CAMP STORE IN THE FOREST
SO IF YOU FORGET SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO MAKE DO WITHOUT IT. AND IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT
WHERE OTHER RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES ARE, NOW IS THE TIME TO FIND IT AND PLAN IT BEFORE
YOU GET OUT TO THE FOREST. ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR MAPS AND YOUR CAMPING SUPPLIES AND PACKED
UP AND READY TO GO THE NEXT STEP IS TO EXPLORE THE FOREST ROADS YOU HAVE FOUND. AND IT’S
TIME THAT YOU AND I WENT ON A FIELD TRIP AND YOU CAN SEE HOW I DO THIS…
(MUSIC PLAYS) SO I JUST WANT TO POINT SOMETHING OUT. WE’RE
ON THIS FOREST SERVICE ROAD AND WE’RE LOOKING FOR FREE CAMPING AND I FIND THIS LITTLE CUTOFF
HERE , THIS LITTLE SPUR THAT DOESN’T GO ANYWHERE. YOU CAN SEE IT JUST DEAD ENDS THERE ON THIS
RIDGETOP. THIS IS KIND OF A HIGH SPOT, IT’S HARD TO SEE IT THROUGH THE TREES. SOMEBODY
HAS MADE THIS A CAMPSITE BEFORE. I’M NOT ADVOCATING CLEARING ANYTHING OF COURSE, IT’S ALREADY
CLEAR, BUT IF YOU WANT TO BACK IN THERE, THERE’S A CAMPSITE FOR YOU. JUST WAITING FOR YOU.
WELL I KNOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO BE NEAR THE WATER AND BE DOWN BY A CREEK OR RIVER BUT
I LIKE A ROOM WITH A VIEW AND THAT MEANS TAKING IT TO THE RIDGE TOPS, MOUNTAIN TOPS, THE KNOBS,
THE BALDS AND THIS IS MORE MY SPEED RIGHT HERE. YOU GET THESE NICE BREEZES. PROBABLY
CAN’T SEE IT THROUGH THE TREES BUT THERE’S A NICE VIEW THERE TO BE HAD. IT’S NICE AND
LEVEL, GRASS, LIKE SOMEONE MOWED IT. THERE’S ALREADY A FIRE RING WAITING FOR YOU AND SOME
FIREWOOD. IT’S NOT BAD FOR THE PRICE OF ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS. CAN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT
THIS ONE. I WILL PUT THIS ONE ON MY SHORT LIST AND SEE WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE.
ALRIGHT SO HERE’S ANOTHER NICE, DECENT ONE FOR THE SHORT LIST. WE’RE ON THE RIDGE TOP
HERE AND WE GOT A NICE CROSS BREEZE, A REALLY FLAT LEVEL AREA HERE AND EASY ACCESS FROM
THE ROAD, SO IT’S NOT A VERY BIG SITE BUT I WOULD TAKE IT. SO THIS WHOLE ROAD IS JUST
DOTTED WITH REALLY NICE LITTLE CAMPSITES. ALRIGHT LETS SEE WHAT ELSE WE GOT.
WELL IF I DIDN’T KNOW BETTER, I’D SAY THIS WAS A CAMPSITE IN A CAMPGROUND. A BACK IN
SITE AND EVERYTHING. FLAT AND FREE OF TRASH, VEGETATION, BUT NO VIEW. NICE BREEZE BUT NOT
REALLY A VIEW. SO I’M GONNA KEEP LOOKING. IT’S NICE AND PRIVATE AND SECLUDED RELATIVE
TO THE OTHER SITES- NOT THAT THEY WEREN’T PRIVATE EITHER BUT THIS IS REALLY BACKED UP
OFF THE ROAD QUITE A BIT. SOME CAMPGROUNDS WOULD CHARGE YOU FIFTY DOLLARS A NIGHT FOR
SOMETHING LIKE THIS. THIS IS FREE. WELL HERE’S A LITTLE CLEARING HERE THAT I
COULD WORK WITH BUT THERE’S NOWHERE TO PARK. OH, NO PARKING. BUT THIS IS NORMALLY WHAT
I LOOK FOR RIGHT HERE. WE HAVE A VIEW, IT’S PROBABLY HARD TO SEE IT ON THE VIDEO ESPECIALLY
THROUGH THE TREES BUT THERE IS A VIEW AND WE’RE ON A RIDGE TOP SO WE ACTUALLY HAVE A
VIEW ON TWO SIDES AND A BREEZE FROM TWO SIDES. AND IN THE SUMMER TIME THAT IS JUST MARVELOUS.
IT’S PRICELESS REALLY THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT. THIS TOPOGRAPHY IS PRETTY STEEP BUT THERE’S
PLENTY OF ROOM HERE FOR A TENT. THAT’S FOR SURE. THIS TIME OF YEAR IT’S A LITTLE CHILLY
FOR NORTHWESTERN EXPOSURE BUT IN THE SUMMER TIME I WOULD DEFINITELY CONSIDER THIS SPOT
IF THERE WAS ANYWHERE AT ALL TO PARK. AND THERE ISN’T. WE’RE GOING TO KEEP HUNTING FOR
THE PERFECT CAMP SITE. AS YOU CAN SEE, PART OF THE FUN IS FINDING THE CAMPSITE. SO, IF
YOU COULD JUST MAKE A RESERVATION FOR IT, DOESN’T THAT TAKE OUT ALL THE CHALLENGE AND
FUN OUT OF IT? I THINK SO. WELL IT LOOKS LIKE OUR CAMPSITE SEARCH CAME
TO AN ABRUPT END. THERE’S A GATE AND UM, SO I GUESS I’M GOING TO GO BACK TO ONE OF THE
CAMPSITES THAT ARE ON MY SHORT LIST AND SET UP THERE. THERE’S BEEN SOME PRETTY NICE ONES.
IM REALLY CURIOUS TO SEE WHAT’S BEYOND THIS POINT BUT IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE THIS ROAD HAS
BEEN OPEN IN A LONG TIME. AND SO WE’LL JUST HAVE TO MAKE DO. THERE’S PLENTY OF OTHER FOREST
ROADS IF I WANTED TO SPEND ALL DAY DOING THIS, I COULD.
WELL FOLKS, I FOUND IT. THIS CAMPSITE HAS IT ALL. AMPLE PARKING DAY OR NIGHT, IT’S BIG,
IT HAS A VIEW, IT’S GOT A FIRE RING ALREADY, AND… IT HAS LTE. REALLY, WHAT MORE CAN YOU
ASK FOR? THIS IS PERFECT. SHADE PLUS SUN, IT’S GRASSY. YOU HAVE A CROSS VENTILATION
BREEZE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THIS RIDGE. I MEAN, IT IS PERFECT. WELL MAYBE NOT PERFECT BUT
IT’S PRETTY DARN GOOD IT’S GOT MOST OF THE STUFF I LOOK FOR SO HERE’S WHERE WE’RE SETTING
UP. HERE WE ARE, ALL SET UP IN CAMP AND NICE BIG,
FREE CAMPSITE WITH OUR 360 DEGREE VIEWS AND OUR 360 DEGREE CROSS BREEZE AND NOBODY AROUND
TO DISTURB US. IT’S JUST WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR.
SO THAT BRINGS US TO THE END OF TODAY’S VIDEO. THIS IS HOW WE DO IT HERE IN TOMMY SIERRA
LAND. LIKE TO CAMP FOR FREE IN THE WOODS AWAY FROM DISTURBANCES AND INCONSIDERATE PEOPLE
AND OTHER NOISE AND STUFF, JUST TO BE HERE IN NATURE. IN THE QUIET. WITHOUT ANY DISTURBANCES.
IT’S JUST GREAT. IT’S THE WAY MOTHER NATURE INTENDED FOR IT. (SKYPE BUBBLE ON PHONE) YOU
HEARD THAT SKYPE BUBBLE, WE’RE NOT COMPLETELY REMOVED FROM DISTURBANCES HERE I GUESS. BUT
ANYWAY, I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS VIDEO HELPFUL AND GAVE YOU SOME POINTERS AND TIPS ON HOW
TO FIND THE FREE CAMPING IT’S OUT THERE FOR YOU IF YOU WANT TO FIND IT. IT’S THERE. IT’S
A LOT OF FUN. FINDING THE CAMPSITE IS REALLY THE MOST FUN PART IF YOU ASK ME BECAUSE YOU
NEVER REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO GET. IT’S LIKE A GRAB BAG OF CAMPING SO ESPECIALLY
WHEN YOU DISCOVER A NEW FOREST ROAD TO EXPLORE . IF YOU FOUND THIS VIDEO HELPFUL- MY FIRE
HAS GONE OUT AGAIN- IF YOU FOUND THIS VIDEO HELPFUL PLEASE GIVE IT A THUMBS UP AND COMMENT
DOWN BELOW AND SUBSCRIBE THAT WAY YOU’LL BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN A NEW VIDEO IS POSTED.
THAT ABOUT DOES IT FOR THIS VIDEO. TIL NEXT TIME, I WANT YOU… TO GET OUT THERE… AND
HAVE… AN ADVENTURE. [Captions by Tommy Sierra]

Posts created 39977

100 thoughts on “Free Camping in the US National Forests. The What, Why & Where to dispersed roadside camping

  1. I spent five years full timing in my 36 foot fifth wheel out west and stayed on many national forest and BLM land it's funny the example you gave south of Sedona Arizona is the national forest spot I picked that would fit my big fifth wheel the campground in downtown Sedona was $135 a night

  2. I just found your channel… you really remind me of Collin from This Does Not Compute.
    Thanks for the info!

  3. Hello,Where were you on the roadside camping adventure? Looks like a nice area to camp in.Thanks,Steve

  4. Can you leave your things there and go to town? And come back and still have your site and stuff?

  5. Tattle telling is un cool. Rats are unwanted pests.Dude some people go camping to cut loose in the woods campsite its not in the city in cement world.There not passing thru hiking and crash early from a long day on the trail.They camevto eat and kick it while relaxing rageing party down like no tomorrow.Seriously tattleing is deep seeded bully envy…UNCOOL TRY TO BE COOLER THAN YOUR ANAL LONELY SELF..
    Keepn it Real
    ♡ truth movement. 🙂

  6. I understand your frustrations, but some people are night owls and prefer a drunken night for their rare weekend away…to me 10pm is like noon….what I'd say stinks is me being forced to abide by boring people's schedules…

  7. A suggestion….
    Please stop whipping your camera back and forth.
    All it does is make me and I’m sure there are others,
    Motion sick…!

  8. I'm retired from the U.S. Forest Service with 4 years in fire management and the remainder in recreation and lands (special use permit administration, land exchanges and purchases). This on 4 national forests in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California. I enjoyed watching this video and is very informative. I have a few comments:

    1st and foremost, always extinguish any fire you start until you can put your hand in it. That means mixing and stirring dirt in it for about 20 minutes and possibly less if you are efficient and practiced. A quick douse of water, even 5 gallons worth is not enough, throwing dirt on top of it is not good enough, it must be completely cool to the touch throughout. Most people do not know when their fire has caused a multi acre wildfire because they are long gone and assume they did a adequate job taking care of their fire.

    In California a public and private land campfire permit is required outside developed recreation sites (campgrounds for camping and fires only in the grille provided in picnic sites) year round. We sometimes call camping outside a campground dispersed camping, but have been using the term "primitive camping" more often as it seems to confuse people less. This is true even if you are using a propane or white gas camping stove. This permits are not valid when fires are prohibited outside developed sites. In extreme years some national forests prohibit both wood and charcoal fires in campgrounds as well. In the southwest the next stage of restrictions is to close national forests to entry off of major roads and highways. You can drive through on a state highway or some county maintained roads, but you can't stop to recreate. That is true of the national forests in northern Arizona as of this writing in June, 2018.

    2nd. The more a national forest is visited the more restrictions are needed. I have visited the Pisgah National Forest, this during a month long course at Clemson University. You indicated you thought that their restrictions on dispersed camping went too far. When a forest is heavily used the resource effects from dispersed camping can cause a lot of damage. On the Inyo and Toiyabe National Forests in the eastern Sierra where I spent 18 years of my career, every major canyon, especially with paved roads, are closed to both camping and fires outside developed campgrounds, except for fires in grilles at developed picnic areas. We close these areas to camping as they need to be available for day users traveling from campgrounds to access fishing spots and other attractions. We close those areas to camping because heavy camping needs hardened roads, sites and constructed fire rings to prevent damage, soil compaction, improperly constructed campfires, spreading vegetation damage as more cars are squeezed into limited parking. We also have to look at the total use of an area, such as a canyon with a watercourse/lake and not put more people into the area than it can handle. We can't just keep building parking areas, more campgrounds, allow people to camp outside campgrounds and end up with thousands of people at a lake or along a river, when the area can only handle just a few hundred people recreating at the same time. It does little good to cram thousands of people at a lake, when at just a few hundred the lake shore is so crowded that there is no room left for someone to cast a fishing line into that lake. When the theater is full you just can't see the movie. So there is a lot more going on than meets the eye immediately. In the eastern Sierra for a distance of about 225 miles every major canyon with a paved road located west of the major access route of U.S. 395 is closed to camping and fires outside a developed site year round. If the campgrounds are closed for the season, then you can't camp or have a fire in that canyon during the off season. There are a few areas off dirt roads in the same vicinity where these restrictions apply as well.

    The trailheads in this area are heavily used as well, even though nearly every trail has an overnight permit quota and in the case of the Mt. Whitney trail and day hiking use limit as well. Camping in trailheads is prohibited and enforced. If we didn't do this the trailheads would get a lot of camping and would take spaces away for those parking at the trailhead and heading out into the backcountry. Many trailheads are full to capacity with hikers vehicles from mid June to late September. On the Inyo National Forest we had an area that was so popular that we had to require day users to take a shuttle bus as their wasn't enough parking to accommodate the demand and building more would have destroyed the reason people were coming. We would have had to build parking lots in sensitive areas such as meadows or cut acres of trees down to build more lots. The areas attractions were already running at capacity anyway.

    We never institute a restriction until there is no alternative. Often the public can't understand or see the affects of some activities until it is too late to solve the problem. Sometimes we see water quality problems, soil erosion, a large number of fires left improperly extinguished or unattended, wildlife disturbance to breeding and/or migration, reductions in bird nesting of sensitive species, some of which are vital to insect and pest control for trees, vegetation stripping, soil compaction, destruction of riparian areas, conflicts between users (e.g. people camping in trailhead parking leaving no space for hikers), lack of space to construct parking, noise, road maintenance problems, decreases in aquatic species and a few more I can't think of right now, that are measured by people educated, trained and experienced in natural resource management. The effort is undertaken and measures and restrictions instituted before large, nearly irreversible and very long term effects are experienced. Congressional law directs the agency from allowing that to happen, whether or not the public can immediately observe or understand it.

  9. thanks this was a really helpful and informative video for someone who has never boondocked before. I'm so sick of campgrounds and I wasn't sure how to find legal camping elsewhere.

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  11. You had every opportunity to move your camp site. You are ignorant. So you put your wants and needs above everyone else there. I guess not everyone got the memo about how special you are.

  12. Talk to much bout nothing..
    Free camp sites..not cry Baby
    From others campers camping..you never make it on the beaches in So Cal.. OMG..🤣🤣✌️

  13. No offence but your video makes you seem like a serious douchebag. Couldn't make it thru 5 mins. But a tiny amount of good info about national forests being a free place to camp

  14. I really don't like forest rangers! never like their lives so they try to make everyone else miserable…lmfao

  15. I agree on all your campground comments. They suck for the most part. I live in Pisgah Forest, NC. Lots of off the grid camping here 🙂 When you were out in your vehicle showing those sites you liked, was that NC?

  16. Two reasons why I like wilderness camping. One… I don't have to worry about noise from other campers. Two… I can make all the noise I want without anyone bitching. <I am always pretty quiet. That's the way I like it. But I like options.> Bottom line…no drama.

  17. We have a 17 foot tow behind camper that we pull with our Ford F1 50. Do these maps show whether or not you can get a camper in them?

  18. Your not a good enough reader to read on your videos. Try verbally summarizing or other form of imparting selected information. Otherwise information tends to get lost in translation…….just say’en

  19. a f** boy shut up nobody cares about your opinion ,you only showed up on YouTube long enough for me to get you off ,no matter where you camp with your boyfriend no one's probably going to want to be around you and she did warn you!

  20. Yes, this was very helpful, never knew there was free camping in the national forest. But I should’ve known since the Appalachian trail begins right up the street.

  21. Thanks for the info son, l like your truck camper you built and you always deal with ignorant people sometimes. I just subscribed to your Channel. Love and God Bless! Uncle Jeff!

  22. Great stuff! I used to camp a lot, however I got caught in the trap of modern day living. I'm planning on working and camping full time across the country asap. I too like peace and quiet when camping. Can you tell me if you're allowed to have a bottle of hooch when camping in your vehicle at a free camp site?

  23. Hello my outdoors friend, thank you for sharing your very informative video. I hope to do some winter camping next month in the El Dorado County national forest in Ca. Take care out there and be safe. 🤗

  24. I HATE camp grounds. Just trying to mind my business and smoke a little weed and I get ticketed every time. Definitely national forest are where it at.

  25. Lot of people go camping to have fun not crawl in there tent at 10 pm and you called the police 3 times what a cry baby you are complain complain complain

  26. I hate campgrounds. You have to reserve a spot a year in advance., plus the people. I sleep in my SUV. I have had people camp next to me and behind me. Going through my campsite to get to the other one. I even was nice and asked if they would like to switch, so they could be side by side. They said no. So stay in your campsite. Their kids were running all over the place. Music, bum bum bum all day, in to the late night.

  27. i just LOVE your pre-video warning about what a national forest is. i swear if you don't hold some people's hand they will walk right in front of a speeding tractor trailer,…..just like the movie pet sematary–looool!!!!

  28. There are so many white trash, (well all color trash actually) people out there! And unfortunately it appears to be growing.
    We once stayed at a private campground where the idiots decided to play catch football till 3:00 in the morning! Screaming and shouting and you could hear the occasional football bouncing off of someones RV in the middle of the night!

  29. Thanks for the very formative video. Btw, what kind of tent is that and where can I buy one? Thanks

  30. When I go camping, I want to be far from the sound of man. I had the same problem with campgrounds. I don't understand why people have to bring their 21st C products- like tvs, radios and other loud products. If you are camping, that means you want to be in the wild. AKA you should respect your surroundings. Humans are guests in the wild. We should treat it with respect and LNT-leave no trace- at all times. I live in a town that is surrounded by twenty miles in every direction of National Forest. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, I bring trash bags with me when I walk on trails; picking up trash. It's strange, but the usual pile of trash I find, always has a plastic bag or two with it. People are so lazy, they don't use their bags to take their garbage with them. Sigh

  31. For those who seek free campgrounds there are some near Mount Charleston north of Las Vegas Nevada. It is really nice especially in the Summer and Fall and some in the winter months. Yes free where you do not have to pay. I believe it should be free to camp especially for those of us who pay taxes. 🙂

  32. Dude you should have moved out of respect for idiots that have to party next to each other,there from cities,it's all they no….its there false security blanket

  33. How about check the latest disappearances that the national park doesn't 're u about because there in on it at some branch where they have your inormation

  34. Very inspiring! This is why I sold my motorhome and am converting a van so I can fit in places like this thanks!

  35. colorado has good free camping we camped in a campground one time but we wound up leaving before breakfast the next morning. i do appreciate drive up and park by a fire pit camping. i prefer out side to a outhouse any day, they are always filthy and smell horrible. being far from other camp sites is great too.

  36. it is really great if you have a main road that goes back in the woods but then it has tributary 2 track roads mostly traveled by a normal car that head every which way with fire pits everywhere on them. it is slowly getting crowded in there at labor day and 4th of july etc. i hope they never close it down because it is too crowded.

  37. You say blah blah blah a lot not to be insulting but you will start to read the beginning of the rule and then trail off and literally mumble and cut off the rest of the rule to put in your opinion. I do like to hear your opinion but you have me putting your video on pause to read the whole rule so I can understand what you're talking about

  38. I travel the US by motorcycle. My least favorite part is when the RV sites are dead level (even though they can be leveled) but the camp sites are on a 15 degree slope so I keep sliding off my Therm-a-rest all night.

    This is followed by campgrounds without electrical hook-ups. Seeing that means I'll be listening to generators all night long.

    Dispersed is the way to go but getting a campground with working showers every few days is nice…sometimes.

  39. Honey – we're buckeyes & we party hard. But they should've known better about the time and had respect for everyone around them. Especially with little ones around them! Which area were you in? Southern Ohio is a huge hunting area. Center – Amish, hunting, a mixture of all sorts. Northern – well – we're just all nuts 🤪
    I am sorry you had to deal with that though. Birthday or anything they should've had some manners and respect

  40. The Wyane National Forest in the southern region of Washington and Noble county's , there are Free Camping….In Ohio, : Off Rt. 26 near The Covered Bridge , then also , Lamping Homestead, just to name a couple spots I've stayed at…

  41. So I live basically in the middle of the Rocky Mountain national Park and it’s amazing but you got a pay 20 bucks plus to get a campsite and you need to do it like a year in advance camping should never cost money as far as a place to camp so I have to do the dispersed camping but they don’t make that known very well

  42. I was in a state campground, worse experience. Neighbors riding horses through the campground. One of the fell off and broke her back.

  43. I wish you would have titled this “I’m going to complain about everything and ramble most of the time!” Then I would have known what to expect.

  44. I live in Ohio but only for the last 3 years. I have been in every state in the US and I assure you there are more ill mannered people in Ohio than any other state in the US. The only reason I live here and continue to do so is because my kids and grand kids live here.

  45. Please do a video about leave no trace and proper campfire regulations for building and extinguishing, maybe even a demo. Or I would be more than happy to make a video and share it with you. As a fire prevention specialist, my biggest hurdle is abandoned campfires in campgrounds. Dispersed camping is even worse. California requires fire permits whereas others do not.

  46. Skip to 7:18 to get to the subject matter of the title. Prior to that point he just talks about why he doesn't like camping in campgrounds…..just a bunch of blah, blah, blah.

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