What is WA state laws on Dry Camping?

Discussion in 'Washington' started by jack64, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. jack64

    jack64 Camping in God's country!

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    What is WA state laws on Dry Camping? Can we camp where we want as long as we don't have campfire outside?
    Sometimes like on holidays, you can't get a campground anywhere...
     
  2. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    In the places we camp, such as the 4 Corners states, "at-large" camping or boondocking is allowed according to the entity in charge of the land where you want to do that. (Most of us use the term "dry" camping to refer to camping in a campground that does not have hook-ups.) Campfires may or may not be allowed.
    You need to look at a map of the area where you'd like to camp and figure out who is in charge of the area. In some places it is state land, in others it may be US Forest Service, BLM or the like.
    It looks like there are several national forests in Washington state - just do a search here: www.fs.usda.gov

    There are generalities for boondocking, but you need to know the specifics for the area you want to camp in. For instance, we were just at Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim). Camping in the park is only allowed in the campground itself. There are a couple of USFS campgrounds on the road between the park and Jacob Lake. However, there is a maze of USFS roads in the National Forest (pretty much both sides of that 40+ miles stretch of road). The information center will hand out a map of the roads, and camping is allowed along them, within a certain distance from the road, and from buildings, etc.
    Some areas have specified camping area, such as on the road out to Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands NP (Utah). IIRC, in those areas, you are required to be self-contained - having water, toilet facilities.

    You may also want to look through this section:
    http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?board=255.0
     
  3. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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  4. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    Actually, hwy 313 to Canyonlands NP and/or Deadhorse Point state park does not allow camping off the road by about a half mile (if memory serves me), except at designated campgrounds. North of 313, east side of Dubinky Well Road, you can only camp in designated spots for free and you must carry out your solid waste. West of Dubinky there are many places to disperse camp, but they are NOT designated. But you have to be careful, many of those spots might be in state school district owned land; however, they may or may not allow camping.

    My suggestion for boondocking is to find out who manages the land (FS/BLM/State, etc., forget about the NPS, I do not believe they allow boondocking in any National park). Then contact the state office or look at the state office for the agency online, and for BLM find the local field office that handles that area; for NF find the local ranger district office for that part of the forest. Many have their maps and requirements online, so don't.
    You want to make sure you are legal and if toilets are required, you have one. Fines can be quite large.

    Personally, no one should boondock without some type of toilet. It can even be a five gallon bucket with a bag. There was one area of Kane Creek outside of Moab that had more cat holes than there were liars in Washington DC and you could smell it when first pulling in the area. Then the state started doing land swaps with the BLM, BLM took over, and put in actual campgrounds and restricted boondocking in the area.
     
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We went to Island in the Sky last week, there are designated camping places, as I stated before. I would hope that people are required to have toilets. The regs I saw a while back for the Maze District and other such areas had that requirement.
    The regs change with some regularity, so it behooves anyone wanting to boondock to do their research, and check for the latest info. People should also know how to camp with low impact and safety. On another primitive road we were on last week, where there were lots of people boondocking (it was less crowded in the Arches NP CG than one area we saw), we witnessed someone camped in a stream bed.
     
  6. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    Camping off Highway 313 from 191 to either Island in the sky or Deadhorse point on BLM lands does NOT allow any camping unless in a designated campgrounds. This map is up to date as of this AM; something I just verified with the Canyon Country District office in Moab.

    Note the blue hashes along 313 up to NP and State Lands. The key states that blue dashes mean no camping except in designated campgrounds. And in the NP there is NO dispersed camping allowed, and pretty sure the state park does not allow dispersed camping, but since I have never worked for the state of UT's state parks, I have no idea.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We didn't drive off of the road to look at the campgrounds on 313 last week - looks like at least the one is far larger than we suspected:
    http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/recreation/campgrounds/highway_313/horsethief.html

    I was not implying that there is boondocking allowed in that area by the way, just pointing out that one should check for current regs, as we've seen many changes - whether regs, signage, availability of campgrounds, type of campgrounds - over the 25+ years we've been camping in the SW. What we've seen over the years is that people just head out on roads of any type, and assume they can park or camp just anywhere. That can sometimes be scary and/or amazing - we've sometimes wondered how people have gotten RVs and other not-very-capable vehicles to some locations, and how they were going to get back to town. In places where boondocking is permitted, we have seen absolutely trashed areas, so not everyone is caring enough to keep it as nice as possible for the next user.
     

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