7 Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Moab

Looking for free camping in Moab?

Then you’re in luck – thousands of square miles of public lands surround the city. They’re home to some of the best dispersed camping in Utah, period.

Here’s exactly where to go dispersed camping in Moab on your next trip.

Related: Best Free Campsites in Utah

Best Dispersed Campsites Near Moab

Jump straight to the dispersed campsite you want to know more about:

Or, use our handy-dandy Moab dispersed camping map to find the perfect free campsite.

My Favorite Dispersed Campsites Near Moab

Although it can get crowded, Moab is home to some of the best dispersed camping and boondocking I’ve ever experienced. Here are a few of my favorite Moab campsites. 

La Sal Loop Road (Manti-La Sal National Forest)

The La Sal Loop is a 60-mile paved road that winds and climbs its way through the beautiful La Sal Mountains.

Start either six miles south of Moab just off US 191 or near Castle Valley along SR 128 (Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway). Wait until you enter Manti-La Sal National Forest before looking for campsites. The first several miles from either direction are private land (and, usually, well-marked as such).

Once in the national forest, you’ll notice countless dirt roads. Venture down these to find a free campsite for the night. Convenient campsites are located just a few dozen feet from the road while much more private campsites can be found further in.

My favorite La Sal Loop campsites are located near La Sal Lookout Point. Turn north of the main road to access a network of rocky gravel pull-outs and dirt roads leading to countless amazing campsites overlooking Porcupine Rim and Castle Valley below.

In fact, the incredible views are the real highlight of camping here. Even the best view campsites are much less crowded than other Moab dispersed camping areas. For the most privacy, turn the opposite direction off the main road near the lookout point and drive deeper into the La Sal Mountains on one of many forest service roads.

Pro Tips:

La Sal Mountain Loop Road is very steep with tight hairpin turns when arriving from Castle Valley. All but the largest RVs and trailers will manage it, but the very biggest of rigs should seek access from Old Airport Road south of Moab in Spanish Valley for a much mellower, less winding drive. Watch out for free-range cattle and other large wildlife (deer, elk, bear) on your drive.

What I Like:

  • Lots of Campsites
  • Incredible Views Near Rim
  • Less Crowded Than Other Moab Campsites
  • World-Class Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails
  • Lots of Room to Spread Out

 What I Dislike:

  • Lots of Cow Poop on the Ground
  • Road Can Be Sketchy in RV or Trailer

Who La Sal Loop is Best for:

Dispersed camping in Manti-La Sal National Forest, off of La Sal Loop Road, is ideal for those that want a little privacy and don’t mind driving an hour or more from Moab to reach it. Although access to some campsites is quite rough (suitable for only high-clearance), there are plenty of sites suitable for all vehicles, including large RVs and trailers.  

How Long Can You Stay:

You can dispersed camp in Manti-La Sal National Forest for up to 14 days at a time (28 days maximum in any 60-day period).

For More Info:

La Sal Loop is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Call the Moab Ranger District for more information: 435-259-7155.

Castleton Tower Campground (Utah Open Lands)

The small campground set beneath Castleton Tower isn’t a dispersed campsite – but it’s still completely FREE!

Sometimes called Castleton Climber’s Camp, it serves as a popular basecamp for climbing Castleton Tower, although non-climbers are also welcome.

That said, the atmosphere can get a little rowdy. With just a handful of actual campsites, it’s still not uncommon for a dozen or more parties to cram in. In addition to nighttime revelry, many climbers wake up around dawn, so you’ll likely hear the early-morning jangle of climbing gear as they get ready to head out.

Castleton Tower is located about a half hour from Moab. Just drive on US 191 along the beautiful Colorado River and take a right at Castle Valley. The campground is located underneath the soaring tower, just off the side of La Sal Loop Road, so it’s nearly impossible to miss.

Even though Castleton Climber’s Camp does have a vault toilet, it’s best to treat camping here like dispersed camping. The toilet is horrendous so it’s best to take care of business before arriving, camp in a self-contained vehicle like an RV, or pack out your own waste with a portable toilet like my go-to Luggable Loo.

Pro Tips:

Camp during the week. This campsite bustles with climbers on the weekends. Don’t camp near the vault toilet (it reeks).

Make the 2.7-mile hike along Castleton Tower Trail – but know it’s quite strenuous. Most of the hike is on very loose gravel and rock, so sturdy footwear is a must. A few sections require climbing/scrambling up steep rock faces, dry waterfalls, and rock jumbles. There’s not much shade on the trail, so hike early in the morning and bring plenty of water!

Castleton Climber’s Camp too full for your liking? Since it’s at the start of the La Sal Loop Road, just keep driving for 15 to 20 minutes to reach the Manti-La Sal National Forest for free dispersed camping!

What I Like:

  • FREE!
  • Close to Moab
  • Nearby Climbing, Hiking, Biking Opportunities
  • Friendly Campers (Great for Socializing)
  • Limited Sites but Decent Space to Spread Out
  • Easy Access (High-Clearance & 4X4 Not Required)

What I Don’t Like:

  • Busy & Noisy
  • Vault Toilet Smells Atrocious

Who Castleton Tower Campground is Best for:

Camping at Castleton Tower is best for two groups: those climbing Castleton Tower and those that want to camp for free in an actual campground (versus a dispersed campsite). It’s best for tents and vans, although smaller RVs and trailers will fit. Don’t stay here if you want privacy – it’s a popular free campsite with lots of activity and friendly campers eager to say hello. 

How Long Can You Stay:

I’m not sure how long you can camp here. I’ve only camped for here for two nights at a time, but it seems like many campers stay for a full week or even longer.

For More Info:

Learn more about the world-famous Castleton Tower.

The campsite itself is managed by the Utah Open Lands Conservation Group.

Although the campground is completely free, consider donating to Utah Open Lands (you can donate on-site at Castleton Climber’s Camp). 

Willow Springs Road (BLM 378)

Willow Springs Road is an excellent place for free camping near Moab, especially if you plan to explore Arches National Park.

This expansive dispersed camping area is located on BLM land off US 191 north of Moab. Look for BLM 378 (Willow Spring Road). Campsites start almost immediately down the dirt road.

Most campsites are out in the open with little shade. But you can find more private (and slightly more shaded) spots by driving further in. Most RVs as well as the rowdiest crowds seem to camp in the large pullouts closer to the highway.

Camping at Willow Springs Road is very popular. It’s easy to access off US 191 and is very close to Arches National Park. Because it’s so popular, it gets very busy and very noisy. In fact, it’s something of a party hotspot with loud voices, lots of generators, unleashed dogs, and heavy road traffic from ATVs as well as vehicles.

Personally, Willow Springs Road isn’t my favorite for camping (I’d rather go to Manti-La Sal National Forest for privacy), but it’s an awesome place to sleep for a night. If you hope to visit Arches early in the morning or are just passing through the area, this free campsite is an excellent place to crash out, especially in an RV or van. 

Pro Tips:

Remember, Willow Springs Road is almost always very busy. Although the dirt road can be a bit rough after the initial stretch, it’s worth it to tough out the bumps (mostly washboard) to drive in and find a more private (and quiet!) campsite.

What I Like:

  • Close to Arches
  • Easy to Access
  • Lots of Room to Spread Out
  • Beautiful Views in All Directions
  • Suitable for Even the Biggest Rigs

What I Don’t Like:

  • Very Popular
  • Lots of Noise
  • So Much Trash!

Many of the best free campsites in Moab have huge problems with left-behind trash, including human waste. Please, please, please pack out all of your trash and properly dispose of your human waste (this includes toilet paper!).

Who Willow Springs Road is Best for:

BLM camping along Willow Springs Road is perfect for those planning to visit Arches National Park. It’s also a quick drive into Moab itself. Better yet, it’s an excellent free camping location for big rigs as well as large groups of campers that want to share a campsite.

How Long Can You Stay:

I believe you can camp at Willow Springs Road for up to 14 days.

For More Info:

Willow Springs Road (BLM Road 378) is part of the Utah Bureau of Land Management.

Call the BLM Moab field office for more information: (435) 259-2100.

More Great Places for Dispersed Camping Near Moab

La Sal Loop Road and Castleton Climber’s Camp are my go-to places for dispersed camping near Moab while Willow Springs Road is arguably one of the most convenient (especially for visiting Arches National Park).

Here are a few additional Moab dispersed campsites to consider:

Yellow Circle Road

Yellow Circle Road is located on BLM land about 11 miles south of Moab just off of US 191.

No camping is allowed for the first 0.6 miles. It’s quite obvious where the camping starts – you’ll see a large wide-open expanse with several cleared campsites with rock fire pits. The first spots are perfect for RVs and trailers, although they’re usually busy.

Continue in for more private spots (most of these are not suitable for big rigs). Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ATV activity in this area, so even the more private campsites will likely have ATVs speeding by during the day.  

Camping at Yellow Circle Road is a great mix between easy access (just off US 191 and a short drive to Moab) and a secluded feel. It’s easy to find a relatively private spot if you continue in down the dirt/gravel road a little way. There are beautiful views in all directions.

Learn more about camping at Yellow Circle Road.

Gemini Bridges Road

Gemini Bridges Road is a primitive BLM campground with six campsites located just west of Moab.  

It’s home to some absolutely amazing free camping – but the road in is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s full of ruts, bumps, and large embedded boulders with very few places to turn around. It requires high-clearance and 4X4. It’s not passable with a RV or trailer. It’s extremely difficult in a 2WD vehicle (even with high-clearance).

Despite the treacherous road, camping at Gemini Bridges Road is well worth it if you have the proper vehicle. This free campsite is situated in beautiful Bride’s Canyon with awe-inspiring views of red rock canyons and towers. Camping is only allowed in designated campsites (although free and on BLM land, no dispersed camping is allowed here).

Let me reiterate – this campground is very remote with an extremely rough road. Don’t attempt the drive without extra fuel, water, and food. A vehicle emergency kit (with spare tire) is also a must. Check and double check the weather forecast before visiting. The road is all but impassible after heavy rain.

Learn more about camping at Gemini Bridges Road.

Klondike Bluffs Road

Dispersed camping along Klondike Bluffs Road is just off BLM 142 near the popular Klondike Bluffs Trail System (making this free campsite great for mountain bikers!).

This free dispersed camping area is located north of Moab and Arches National Park near Canyonlands Field Airport. It’s just east of US 191. Boondocking in RVs is popular here thanks to relatively smooth roads (still be on the lookout for rocks) and larger campsites.

Klondike Bluffs Road isn’t as popular as other Moab boondocking campsites, even though it’s just a half hour from town, so you can expect relatively quiet nights and smaller crowds.

Even if the first section of campsites is taken, the road goes on seemingly forever. Private campsites can be found if you look deep enough, no matter the time of the year.  

Learn more about camping at Klondike Bluffs Road.

Long Canyon Road

It’s a bit of a trek – but making the drive to Long Canyon Road is well worth it.

Reach these BLM dispersed campsites by driving west on Potash Road (Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway SR 279) before turning onto Long Canyon Road near Jughandle Arch. Continue along this road until you’re at the top of the mesa (camping isn’t allowed in the canyon).

A variety of dispersed campsites greet weary travelers. Most have incredible views of Long Canyon and the La Sal Mountains in the distance. Camping at Long Canyon Road gives you easy access to not only Arches and Moab, but also to Canyonlands National Park.

In fact, you can also reach this dispersed camping area from Canyonlands. Turn west onto Long Canyon Road from Utah SR 313 which leads into the national park as well as into Dead Horse State Park. I’ve only visited via SR 279 (which can be quite rough), but many insist that the road from the opposite direction (via SR 313) is much mellower and even suitable for small RVs.

Learn more about camping at Long Canyon Road.

Moab Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations

road to gemini bridges near moab utah

Most dispersed camping in Moab is located on BLM land or in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Make sure to follow all the rules associated with the public land you’re camping on, including fire restrictions and maximum length of stay limits (usually up to 14 days).

Perhaps most important, always follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Chiefly, pack out all of your trash. Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. This includes properly disposing of human waste.

Because dispersed camping in Moab (and, honestly, all of Utah) is so popular (even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic), I strongly recommend packing out human waste rather than burying it in a cat hole.

It’s up to all of us – me, you, and all other dispersed campers – to keep our public lands open and available to us all by treating them with respect.

Here are the rules for dispersed camping in Manti-La Sal National Forest and Moab BLM land.

Have Fun Dispersed Camping in Moab!

There are a thousand reasons to visit Moab – from visiting Arches and Canyonlands to rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and climbing to just chilling out in town.

And, although the many developed campgrounds around Moab are top-notch (seriously, the paid campgrounds along the Colorado River are some of the most scenic in the country), nothing quite beats wild camping off the beaten path.

Check out my favorite free campsites in Utah for even more dispersed camping recommendations. My guide to finding free campsites near you is also super helpful.

Related Post: The Best Apps to Find Free Dispersed Campsites