How would you like to wake up to birds singing and squirrels playing the next time you go camping? Maybe you’d like to get away from developed campgrounds for a change or save some money on camping. Dispersed camping in national forests offers all that and so much more.

Dispersed Camping in National Forests

This video explains dispersed camping in detail and it was filmed at one of our favorite spots in the Coconino National Forest.

What is Dispersed Camping?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, dispersed camping is “camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground.” These primitive camping spots offer no amenities, except for the occasional fire pit.

Ways to Find Dispersed Camping

The best method for finding a dispersed camping spot is to visit the local forest office where you plan to camp. When you go in, ask the ranger for dispersed camping guidelines and a motor vehicle use map. The map will help you locate places to camp in that national forest.

Alternatively, you can visit the U.S. Forest Service website to search for the national forest you want to camp in, then locate the camping guidelines and maps for that area.

Allstays Camp & RV App is a great resource for all types of camping. To find dispersed camping in a speicfic area, turn on the filter for “Public Lands.”

Campendium – this website has a specific National Forests section. Turn on the “free” filter to narrow down search results. – a community driven website where users share free camping spots they’ve discovered including dispersed camping.

Pack It In and Pack It Out – Leave No Trace

Be a responsible camper and leave the area better than you found it. Pack out all trash and follow the guidelines for proper human waste disposal. Check out the U.S. Forest Service guideline on Responsible Recreation.

Favorite Dispersed Camping Spots

Free camping outside Grand Canyon National Park

Dispersed camping spots near Flagstaff, Arizona

Free camping outside Yosemite National Park, California

If you enjoyed this post, check out more Free Camping posts.