One of the great joys of camping is getting away from it all and spending some quality time with your family. That’s hard to do, though, when the guy in the next campsite is running a generator all night, or having the equivalent of a frat party next door.
When you really want to ensure a peaceful and serene camping experience, dispersed camping is the way to go. The US Forest Service and BLM generally allow camping anywhere on undeveloped public lands, with a few provisions:
- Camping at any one site is limited to 14 days per visit
- Pack out what you pack in
- Avoid camping within 200 feet of any water source
- Do not leave campfires unattended
The downside of dispersed camping, of course, is that there are no signs to tell you where to go to find those great camping spots. You are on your own, when it comes to discovering camping spots on undeveloped public lands. If you are unfamiliar with the area, try camping in a designated campground first, so that you can scout the area for future dispersed camping spots.
For a little bit of extra trouble, however, dispersed camping offers some huge advantages over camping in a campground. Noise pollution is nowhere to be found and you will likely have and entire area to yourselves.
There are few extra considerations if you plan to try dispersed camping. No designated campground means no campground facilities such as toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, and fire rings.
Practice good leave no trace principles by camping on a durable surface, keeping your campfire small (or avoid a campfire altogether), use biodegradable soap, and pack out all trash and leftover food.
If you are looking for a little peace and quiet on your next family camping adventure, give dispersed camping a try. It will probably ruin you for ever camping in a managed campground again, but that is a small price to pay for the enjoyment and serenity of having an entire forest to yourself.