Is there 'Free Dispersed Camping' in Northern CA.

davekro

Super Active Member
Aug 30, 2019
767
SF Bay Area, CA
Does anyone know of, and better yet experience camping at 'Free Dispersed Camping' (FDC) locations in Northern California? Are these just 'usually in' National Forests, or does Free Dispersed Camping, by definition mean they are in a National Forest?

Does BLM have camping areas that are similar NF Free Dispersed Camping'? If so, any info on any of those sites in Northern Ca would be helpful as well.

Aside from our long term desire to find FDC sites within a 3-4 hours drive, right now, we are trying to find any place worthy of a one-week stay between April 3rd to 11th. Although our Kia Sorento is AWD, we'd prefer to camp below the snow line. ;o)

We had a GREAT time camping with Mogimus last 4th of July week So. Cal. PUP Rally at an FDC location in Sequoia NF. That is a 6 hour drive, though.
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,788
Jackson Wyoming
Not sure about N Cali but FS and BLM boondocking is all we do. I’m sure each NF has different regs but we basically drive out into the area and find an existing site. Always free
 

Arruba

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 28, 2014
864
Central Oregon
I’ve done enough work in and have camped in N. Cal to say yes there is. To answer your question, Dispersed Camping is not exclusively limited to USFS lands. It can be found on USFS and BLM lands obviously. In addition, state forests and wildlife and recreation areas, Bureau of Reclamation, (BOR) and Army Core of Engineers, (ACOE) areas are also possibilities. In my neck of the woods, even the Fish and Wildlife Service has a piece or two that are open to dispersed camping.

As mentioned, each agency has their own regulations, the best approach is to check with each one that manages an area may be of interest to you. After that, to find a specific place you probably need to do a little research and exploration. As you mention the Bay Area, I’d guess parts of the northeastern forests, Tahoe, Plumas, maybe the Lassen would meet your timeline as well the Mendocino and maybe the Shasta Trinity. In my travels, the BLM is less thought of outside of the southern deserts. Nearer you is the Central and Northern California Districts. I think the Mother Lode and Ukiah Field Offices are closest to you, the Central Coast and Redding Field Offices May also be possible. Again it’s going to take some outreach, research, and exploration. In closing, as with everything anymore, there are some websites and apps dedicated to free camping. I don’t use any, so can’t comment further.

Good Luck in your exploration.

https://www.blm.gov/california
https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping
https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/home
https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/recreation

These will get you to The overarching websites. I’d suggest visiting/contacting the specific Ranger Districts and Field Office that may interest you.
 

davekro

Super Active Member
Aug 30, 2019
767
SF Bay Area, CA
I’ve done enough work in and have camped in N. Cal to say yes there is. To answer your question, Dispersed Camping is not exclusively limited to USFS lands. It can be found on USFS and BLM lands obviously. In addition, state forests and wildlife and recreation areas, Bureau of Reclamation, (BOR) and Army Core of Engineers, (ACOE) areas are also possibilities. In my neck of the woods, even the Fish and Wildlife Service has a piece or two that are open to dispersed camping.

As mentioned, each agency has their own regulations, the best approach is to check with each one that manages an area may be of interest to you. After that, to find a specific place you probably need to do a little research and exploration. As you mention the Bay Area, I’d guess parts of the northeastern forests, Tahoe, Plumas, maybe the Lassen would meet your timeline as well the Mendocino and maybe the Shasta Trinity. In my travels, the BLM is less thought of outside of the southern deserts. Nearer you is the Central and Northern California Districts. I think the Mother Lode and Ukiah Field Offices are closest to you, the Central Coast and Redding Field Offices May also be possible. Again it’s going to take some outreach, research, and exploration. In closing, as with everything anymore, there are some websites and apps dedicated to free camping. I don’t use any, so can’t comment further.

Good Luck in your exploration.

https://www.blm.gov/california
https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping
https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/home
https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/recreation

These will get you to The overarching websites. I’d suggest visiting/contacting the specific Ranger Districts and Field Office that may interest you.
Aruba,
Big thanks for all the info and links. Good idea to actually call different rangers and jurisdictions for specific knowledge they have for their areas. BTW, Aruba is my favorite Caribbean island! Fond memories of it. Just stopped for one day there on a cruise ship hopping to various islands.

Dave
 

Plumas

Member
Jul 16, 2020
20
Oregon/Great Basin
In our experience, which is pretty extensive, you can camp just about anywhere on pretty much any public land that looks good. Its your land after all. 2 week limit. Millions of acres. California and Oregon are full of BLM lands BTW, mainly from the O&C rail projects. Rangers and BLM folks are trained to be very nice to you (so they don't get shot by the nuts out there), if you're breaking some obscure rule by camping there it will be ok. But be very aware of the fire rules. In fact no fires. Not this year. Temperature hit 80 last week at 6500 feet in Plumas.
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,946
Oakland, California
In our experience, which is pretty extensive, you can camp just about anywhere on pretty much any public land that looks good. Its your land after all. 2 week limit. Millions of acres. California and Oregon are full of BLM lands BTW, mainly from the O&C rail projects. Rangers and BLM folks are trained to be very nice to you (so they don't get shot by the nuts out there), if you're breaking some obscure rule by camping there it will be ok. But be very aware of the fire rules. In fact no fires. Not this year. Temperature hit 80 last week at 6500 feet in Plumas.
has anyone got a clear understanding about camping on BLM land that has a permitted rancher on it with grazing livestock. My sense is that its fenced and that you had better keep off it.
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,788
Jackson Wyoming
has anyone got a clear understanding about camping on BLM land that has a permitted rancher on it with grazing livestock. My sense is that its fenced and that you had better keep off it.
It’s still public land. There are cattle almost everywhere we camp on NF and BLM land. If there’s a gate and it’s not marked private you can access. Always leave gates as you find them.
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,788
Jackson Wyoming
Most of the fences that we see on supposedly public BLM land are posted "No Trespassing"
The problem with BLM land is that much of it is a checkerboard pattern mixed with private. There was just a court case here in Wyoming regarding hunters jumping the corner to access public land. Very controversial around here. If you think no trespassing signs are placed illegally complain to the local BLM field office
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,788
Jackson Wyoming
The problem with BLM land is that much of it is a checkerboard pattern mixed with private. There was just a court case here in Wyoming regarding hunters jumping the corner to access public land. Very controversial around here. If you think no trespassing signs are placed illegally complain to the local BLM field office
Update. The hunters in wyoming were acquitted on the trespassing charge for
“corner jumping “ to access public land. A big deal in the West
 




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