Looking for free camping near Moab?
Then you’re in luck – thousands of square miles of public lands surround the city, 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 Post: The Best Free Campsites in Utah
Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.
Best Free Campsites Near Moab
Jump to the free campsite you want to learn more about:
Or, use our Moab dispersed camping map to browse the area’s best free campsites.
Call the nearest USFS ranger station or BLM field office for the latest information on closures and dispersed camping restrictions before your trip.
My Favorite Dispersed Camping Near Moab
Dispersed camping near Moab is rapidly changing. It’s no longer allowed in many once popular locations while others now charge a nightly fee – yes, even for primitive camping with no amenities.
In a time where new dispersed camping restrictions seem to emerge yearly (at a minimum), one location near Moab continues to offer mostly unimpeded free dispersed camping.
La Sal Loop Road (Manti-La Sal National Forest)
Manti-La Sal National Forest remains the best place for free dispersed camping near Moab.
Although stellar dispersed campsites can be found throughout the national forest, the best for those visiting Moab are just off the famous La Sal Loop Road.
The 60-mile paved road loops between US 191 six miles south of Moab and SR 128 (Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway) near Castle Valley. Although it’s very steep with tight hairpin turns, all but the largest RVs and trailers will manage just fine.
It’s important to wait until you enter the Manti-La Sal National Forest before setting up camp. The first several miles on each end of La Sal Loop cross private property (and are, usually, well-marked as such).
Once in the national forest, you’ll notice countless dirt side roads. Venture down these to find a free campsite for the night. RV-friendly campsites are located just a few dozen feet off of La Sal Loop Road, but much more private campsites can be found by driving further in.
My favorite campsites here are those located near La Sal Lookout Point. Turn north off La Sal Loop Road to access a network of rocky gravel pull-outs and dirt roads leading to countless amazing free campsites overlooking Porcupine Rim and Castle Valley far below.
Because of the absolutely stunning views, these particular campsites are quite crowded. For a little more privacy, look on the opposite side of La Sal Loop Road as well as along South Mesa Road (FR 4657), Sand Flats Road (FR 0067), and Warner Lake Road (0063).
Other Free Campsites Near Moab
La Sal Loop in Manti-La Sal National Forest is hands down my favorite place for free camping near Moab, although a handful of other free campsites still exist.
Gemini Bridges Road (BLM Land)
Gemini Bridges Road is a primitive BLM campground with six campsites located just west of Moab.
It’s home to some of the best free camping near Moab – but is an adventure to reach. The access road (BLM 215) is full of ruts, bumps, and large embedded boulders with few places to turn around. High-clearance and 4WD are all but a must. I don’t recommend boondocking in RVs and trailers here.
Despite the treacherous road, making the trek into Gemini Bridges Road is well worth it if you have a well-equipped vehicle. The campsites are set in beautiful Bride’s Canyon with awe-inspiring views of red rock canyons and towers.
Camping is only allowed in the six designated campsites (so this isn’t technically dispersed camping, although it’s free, primitive, and very remote).
Castleton Tower Campground (Utah Open Lands)
This small free campground set beneath Castleton Tower is super convenient for getting into Moab or to nearby Arches National Park.
Commonly known as “Castleton’s Climber’s Camp,” it serves as a popular basecamp for climbing Castleton Tower, although non-climbers are also welcome to camp here. It’s best for tents and vans, although small RVs and trailers will fit.
Because this is such a popular place to camp, it’s extremely important to practice good stewardship, including the Leave No Trace principles, to ensure that the campground isn’t closed permanently.
Never bury human waste here – use the pit toilet or pack out your waste, please. Nearly as important is sticking to previously-used campsites. If all the campsites are full (and they often are), continue up La Sal Loop Road and dispersed camp in Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The atmosphere at Castleton Climber’s Camp is quite rowdy. Expect both nighttime revelry and the early-morning jangle of climbing gear. Don’t camp here if you want privacy.
Yellow Circle Road (BLM Land)
Yellow Circle Road is located on BLM land about 11 miles south of Moab just east of Highway 191.
No camping is allowed for the first 0.6 miles. It’s quite obvious where the dispersed camping starts – you’ll see a large wide-open expanse with several previously-used campsites marked by rock fire pits.
The first several spots are ideal for RVs and trailers, although they’re usually full. Continue in for more privacy, although the road gets rougher the further in you travel. Most passenger vehicles will make the drive just fine, although high-clearance is certainly helpful.
I like dispersed camping at Yellow Circle Road because of the easy access from the highway, proximity to Moab, and relatively secluded feel. There are beautiful views in every direction. It does get busy here but there’s a lot of room to spread out.
Yellow Circle Road is sometimes called “Black Ridge Area Dispersed Camping Area.”
Lone Mesa Area
Lone Mesa is another popular spot for dispersed camping near Moab.
Located just past Lone Mesa Group Campground, these campsites are large and flat with plenty of room to turn around, making them ideal for boondockers in RVs and trailers of all sizes.
Get to Lone Mesa via Dubinky Wells Road, an unpaved gravel road that’s usually fairly well-maintained, although you should always expect moderate washboarding.
All of the campsites here boast awesome 360° views of the surrounding desert scenery. There are lots of nearby trails to explore. Both Arches and Canyonlands National Park are just a short drive away as is Dead Horse Point State Park.
Where Is Dispersed Camping No Longer Allowed?
Like we mentioned above, dispersed camping is restricted to fewer and fewer areas near Moab. In particular, large swaths of BLM land that once allowed free dispersed camping no longer do.
- Klondike Bluffs Road – These once popular dispersed campsites off of BLM 142 are now part of the newly established Utahraptor State Park. It now costs $15 per night to camp here.
- Willow Springs Road – Like Klondike Bluffs, Willow Springs Road is now part of Utahraptor State Park and currently costs $15 per night for camping.
- Dalton Wells Road – The new Utahraptor State Park also contains the once popular dispersed camping area along Dalton Wash Road. Camping now costs $15 per night.
- Long Canyon Road – The Bureau of Land Management no longer allows dispersed camping in Long Canyon due to extreme flooding and to protect sensitive bighorn sheep habitat.
I believe paid dispersed camping is currently still allowed at Klondike Bluffs, Willow Springs, and Dalton Wells, but this will likely change as Utahraptor State Park develops the area.
Moab Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations
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 obeying fire restrictions and maximum length of stay limits (usually up to 14 days). In short, follow the Leave No Trace principles.
Most importantly, 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, I strongly recommend packing out human waste rather than burying it in a cat hole (burying human waste actually isn’t allowed in a lot of areas).
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.
Related Post: Best Apps to Find Dispersed Camping
Have Fun Dispersed Camping in Moab!
There are thousands of 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 BLM campgrounds along the Colorado River are some of the most scenic in the country), nothing quite beats primitive camping off the beaten path.
Remember, our suggestions above are our favorite free campsites in Moab – but they’re far from the only options, especially if you have high-clearance, 4WD, and a desire to explore!
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