The 11 Best States for Dispersed Camping

I’ve been dispersed camping and boondocking for over a decade.

During this time, I’ve camped all over the United States, often for months at a time. 99% of the time I camp for free and the majority of that time is spent at dispersed campsites. 

I’ve found that the best states for dispersed camping are all located in the Western United States – which makes sense as this is where the vast majority of public land National Forests and BLM land) is located. 

Today, I’m going to share my personal list of my favorite states for dispersed camping based on three main factors: availability of campsites, natural beauty, and privacy.

Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.

Quick List of the Best States for Dispersed Camping

Skip down to the state you want to learn more about:

Or, continue reading for my full list of my favorite states (in order) for dispersed camping and boondocking.

Related Post: How to Find Free Campsites Near You

My Favorite States for Dispersed Camping

Let’s start with my top 5 very favorite states for dispersed camping. Beautiful, private campsites are super easy to find in almost every corner of these states.


Utah just barely edges out Arizona for my number one favorite state for dispersed camping.

It’s not quite as good for four-season camping (although winter camping certainly is possible), but I just love how many options are available with such a diversity of terrain.

Dispersed campsites are close at hand to all five national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion – as well as near most state parks and other popular destinations like Salt Lake City and Moab.

Utah is certainly a popular destination for dispersed camping (especially near the national parks), but 4WD and high-clearance can take you away from crowds to a private little slice of heaven all your own.

My Favorite Free Campsite:

My favorite dispersed campsite in Utah is a toss up between Muley Point and Valley of the Gods, both located just north east of Monument Valley near Mexican Hat.

GPS: 37.235861, -109.991583

Related Post: 11 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Utah


Arizona sits just behind Utah as my second favorite state for dispersed camping.

The terrain isn’t quite as varied as Utah (in my opinion), but there are still a ton of different landscapes to explore with dispersed campsites with amazing views galore. 

Although it’s not my choice for the overall best state for dispersed camping, it’s hard to deny that Arizona is a mecca for winter camping. Much of the state stays “warm” through the winter, especially the southern reaches around Phoenix and Tucson.

Better yet, several Long Term Visitor Areas (managed by the Bureau of Land Management), most notably La Posa LTVA near Quartzsite, offer boondocking snowbirds an affordable way to dry camp long-term (up to 7 months for just $180) during the winter months.

Other highlights of dispersed camping in Arizona include Coconino National Forest near Sedona and Flagstaff, Kaibab National Forest near both the north and south rims of Grand Canyon National Park, and the Mogollon Rim in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to name just a few.

My Favorite Free Campsite:

The Mogollon Rim near Payson is hard to beat. There’s plenty of room to spread out with great views all around. The high elevation also means it stays a little cooler in the summer. Start your search along Forest Road 9350.

GPS: 34.340194, -110.971861

Related Post: 11 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Arizona


Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful dispersed campsites in the United States – but they come with a few downsides. 

The most scenic and conveniently located of these campsites are incredibly busy, especially during the summer months (although you should expect crowds in late spring and early fall as well).

Not only has this influx of dispersed campers led to less privacy, but it’s also led to greater dispersed camping restrictions, including “designated dispersed camping” at the most popular locations, including throughout most of Crested Butte Valley.

With that in mind, dispersed camping in Colorado is still totally possible. I’ve never not found a campsite for the night, although I often have more neighbors than I’d prefer. 

If you want to avoid crowds, steer clear of the busiest summertime destinations like Colorado’s national parks (Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Great Sand Dunes) and super popular towns like Crested Butte, Telluride, and Aspen.

There are a ton of awesome private dispersed camping opportunities in the less mountainous corners of the state such as Eastern Colorado as well as the northwest corner near Dinosaur National Monument.

4×4 and high-clearance can also net you a more private dispersed camping experience – even in Colorado’s most popular locations, although more and more people are taking to the backroad and 4×4 trails each year.

My Favorite Free Campsite:

True dispersed camping is no longer allowed – but I’ll forever be a fan of Washington Gulch near Crested Butte. Although you’re now restricted to about 40 designated dispersed campsites, it’s still one of the best places to dispersed camp in Colorado.

GPS: 38.933972, -107.018361

Related Post: 15+ Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Colorado


I might be slightly biased since it’s my home stomping grounds – but Washington holds a special place in my heart for dispersed camping.

Awesome dispersed camping opportunities abound near all the most popular destinations such as the Olympic Peninsula (including free campsites very close to Olympic National Park) as well as near Mount Rainier.

While these campsites are great if you plan to visit the national parks (free camping is also possible near North Cascades National Park), I encourage everyone to head east for a truly remote dispersed camping experience.

The northeast corner of the state around Republic and Colville is much less visited which makes it so much easier to find a private dispersed campsite without neighbors (my favorite way to camp).

My Favorite Free Campsite:

You just can’t beat the Salmon La Sac area for dispersed camping in Washington. It’s less than two hours from Seattle, tucked deep in the Cascade Mountains, and has a ton of room to spread out to find a somewhat private campsite. 

GPS: 47.440417, -121.059917

Related Post: 9+ Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Washington


“The Golden State” rounds out my top 5 favorite states for dispersed camping. 

As the third largest state in the United States, California has an absolute ton of different places to look for dispersed campsites and a heck of a lot of natural variety.

Of course, most campers flock to the biggest draws like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley as well as Big Sur, but don’t be afraid to visit lesser explored sections of the state like the Lost Coast, Lava Beds National Monument, and Carrizo Plain.

With 19 national forests and thousands of square miles of BLM land, public lands aren’t difficult to find in California. And, although it might take a little wandering around to find something private thanks to crowds and summer wildfire closures, solitude is definitely still out there. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

Even though dispersed camping is now restricted to designated areas only and a free dispersed camping permit is also required, Alabama Hills remains my favorite spot for free camping in California thanks to the incredible views of the Sierra Nevada and the stunning desert scenery. 

GPS: 36.612417, -118.117667

Related Post: 11 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in California

Other Great States for Dispersed Camping

Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, and Colorado are my absolute favorite states for dispersed camping, but I also can’t spend enough time dispersed camping in the following 6 states.


Idaho just might be the most underrated state for dispersed camping.

Roughly 62% of the state is covered by public lands, including seven expansive national forests and nearly 12 million acres of BLM land.

What I love most about camping in Idaho is just how easy it is to get away from crowds. It’s home to some of the most remote dispersed campsites in the United States. 

Of course, high-clearance and 4WD are helpful, especially in the more mountainous regions like the Sawtooth Mountains, but there are countless opportunities for boondocking in RVs and trailers as well. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

The St. Joe River Scenic Byway is my favorite place to dispersed camp in Idaho. Countless forest service splinter off from this winding two-lane highway, almost all with excellent free campsites to choose from.

GPS: 47.137806, -115.407972

Related Post: 9 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Idaho


Dispersed camping opportunities are abundant all throughout Oregon.

Although my favorite dispersed campsites are located in Eastern Oregon, there are great free campsites in every corner of the Beaver State, including on the Oregon Coast

Other than the Oregon Coast, the state’s second biggest hotspot for dispersed camping is undoubtedly the national forests surrounding Crater Lake National Park, especially Umpqua National Forest.

No matter where you plan to set up camp, Oregon offers a good mix of 4×4-only campsites as well as campsites suitable for boondocking in RVs and trailers of all sizes. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

Spring Creek Road (Forest Road 21) in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near La Grande is my favorite place for dispersed camping in Oregon.

GPS: 45.424222, -121.547222

Related Post: 9+ Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Oregon


Just like Idaho, Nevada is a super overlooked dispersed camping destination.

The scenery might not be as majestic as in nearby states like Utah, Arizona, and California, but the Silver State boasts impressive landscapes of its very own if you know where to look.

In addition to beautiful views, another highlight of dispersed camping in Nevada is unquestionably the sheer amount of room to spread out. Almost 67% of the state is BLM land (most open for dispersed camping) and that’s not to mention almost the 6 million acres that is Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Although the most popular spots for dispersed camping are just outside Las Vegas and near Reno, I strongly encourage you to look in the lesser-visited corners of the state, including near Great Basin National Park near Ely. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

Illipah Reservoir, near Ely, is home to a free BLM campground plus countless nearby dispersed campsites (many tucked away in the hills and extremely private).

GPS: 39.335922, -115.389555

Related Post: 9 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Nevada


Montana is another fantastic state for both dispersed camping and boondocking.

Aptly nicknamed “The Treasure State,” it’s perhaps most notable for its stunning natural beauty and its incredible diversity of wildlife. 

Major attractions like Yellowstone and Glacier national parks are both surrounded by stellar dispersed campsites, although these get extremely busy, especially during the summer months.

For a little more privacy and solitude, look for a campsite off the beaten path. I personally love camping in the far flung corners of the state, including Eastern Montana.

My Favorite Free Campsite:

My favorite dispersed campsites in Montana are located along Rock Creek Road in Custer Gallatin National Forest just outside Red Lodge and on the way to the gorgeous Beartooth Highway (one of the most beautiful roadways in America).

GPS: 45.059361, -109.411722

Related Post: 11 Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Montana


I absolutely love dispersed camping in Wyoming despite its place low on this list. 

This is the state to come to if you want dispersed camping without the crowds – especially if you stay away from tourist hotspots like Grand Teton National Park and Devils Tower National Monument. 

Of course, there are some awesome (designated) dispersed campsites near Grand Teton (Spread Creek and Shadow Mountain are just two examples) and Devils Tower, but the state’s best free campsites are those that take a little effort to reach. 

In addition to some of the best dispersed camping in the country, Wyoming also offers incredible boondocking opportunities for RVs and trailers of all sizes. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

Not only are there a lot of campsites to choose from along Vedauwoo Glen Road, but the views are beautiful and the high elevation (8,500 feet above sea levels) means its stays fairly cool, even in the summer.

GPS: 41.154167, -105.356944

Related Post: 9+ Best Free Dispersed Campsites in Wyoming

New Mexico 

Last but certainly not least on our list of the best states for dispersed camping is none other than New Mexico. 

The “Land of Enchantment” is certainly, well, enchanting. Diverse landscapes and pristine scenery abound plus there are countless cultural and historic sites to explore.

Dispersed camping opportunities are numerous thanks to ample public land (both BLM land and national forests), including options near Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands national parks as well as near Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and other popular towns.

Like other Southwestern states, including Arizona, New Mexico is a great place for boondocking in the winter, especially the closer to the southern border you get. 

My Favorite Free Campsite:

Cosmic Campground is one of only fourteen International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world and boasts some of the best stargazing in the United States, period.

GPS: 33.479601, -108.922339

Related Post: 9+ Best Free Dispersed Campsites in New Mexico

Have Any Questions? 

You can’t go wrong dispersed camping in any of the above states.

Not only are there literally thousands of different campsites to choose from across them all, but you’re in for some of the most beautiful views and private camping experiences possible in the United States.

If you still have questions about dispersed camping in any of my favorite states (or even in any state that didn’t make my list), please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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