Whether you can’t find a spot in one of the regular campgrounds during the heavy traffic of summer vacationers or your favorite spot closes during the winter season, you can still camp on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.
BLM manages and maintains approximately 256 million acres of land, which is about one-eighth of the land in the United States. BLM effectively supports more land than any other Federal agency. The land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is mostly located in the 12 Western states, including Alaska and is represented by extensive grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts.
All BLM land is available for camping unless specifically marked with no camping signs and maps that designate BLM land are available on the BLM website.
There are two types of stays on BLM land: free stay and LTVA stay.
Anyone may camp or stay on BLM land for free for a period of 14 days in any 28-day time period in one spot. After 14 days campers must move to a new site, not less than a 25 miles radius distance from their original campsite.
Most of the BLM land is mostly primitive with no services available, so you would need to bring your own shelter, water, power, and food.
Boondocking (dispersed or dry camping), is allowed as long as it does not occur in areas posted closed to camping or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.
LTVA stands for Long-Term Visitor Area and it’s available to those who’d like to stay on BLM land for longer than a 2-week period.
However, a long-term pass is necessary and can be purchased for $180 at any of the LTVA centers/stations. The pass is effective for one “winter season” (mid-Sept. to mid-April) and can be used during the one season between as many LTVA sites as needed. These sites vary in what they provide and offer – sometimes not much at all and other times they may include the use of dump sites, fresh water, showers and places to get rid of trash.
LTVA sites make staying on developed BLM land easier while still cost- effective.
Many RVers come down from the northern states or Canada for the winter months to escape the cold and stay on the many acres of BLM land in California or Arizona, so plan on a larger number of people staying at the LTVA sites here. You can also check with the main centers in El Centro, Palm Springs and Yuma on any conditions in these areas ahead of the time.
So if you’re looking for “snowbirding” (getting away from the snow during winter) or just for a simple stay at unusual locations away from people, BLM is for you- all year long. Check out BLM’s website for maps and locations, also BLM’s history and progression and plan your next trip!