9 Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Nevada

Nevada is hands down one of the best states for free dispersed camping.

Not only is it filled with beautiful wide-open spaces, but it has over 48 million acres of BLM land (covering 67% percent of the state) and almost 6 million acres of national forest (the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the largest national forest in the contiguous United States).

Here are 9 of the best free dispersed campsites in Nevada for your next trip.

Related Post: My Favorite Free Campsites in California

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

Best Free Campsites in Nevada

Jump to the free campsite you want to know more about:

Or, use our Nevada dispersed camping map to find free campsites near you.

My Favorite Dispersed Campsites in Nevada

To help you find the perfect free campsite in Nevada, I’ve narrowed down the options to just 9 of my personal favorites.

Mack’s Canyon (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest)

Near Las Vegas

Mack’s Canyon is one of the best places for free dispersed camping near Las Vegas.

Located within Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (known locally as Mount Charleston), the best campsites here are just over an hour’s drive into Sin City.

Although small RVs and trailers can make the drive, be advised that the access road is usually quite rough with low hanging branches for much of the drive up. I recommend high-clearance no matter what type of vehicle you bring.

The campsites themselves – which are numerous – are quite spacious and private which makes for a secluded, remote feel at camp. There’s a good mix of shade and open space (for stargazing and solar charging).

I don’t necessarily recommend boondocking here in an RV or trailer, but Mack’s Canyon is definitely a great place for dispersed camping in a tent, van, or passenger vehicle.

* I believe campfires are always banned while dispersed camping here due to wildfire risk.

What I Like:

Just an hour from Las Vegas. Private campsites and surprisingly quiet (despite some OHV activity). Higher elevation means its slightly cooler than surrounding Nevada. Beautiful scenery…depending on how far you drive up, you’re in for mountain views.

What I Don’t Like:

The road in is bumpy but not terrible. Expect a lot of dust throughout the year. Trash can be a problem. It’s usually pretty quiet, but does get busy on holiday weekends.

More Info:

Mack’s Canyon is part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call Spring Mountain National Recreation Area: (707) 872-5486

GPS: 36.351259, -115.679670

Sacramento Pass (BLM Land)

Near Great Basin National Park

It’s not dispersed camping – but Sacramento Pass still deserves a spot on this list.

This completely free BLM campground has 10 first-come, first-served campsites and is less than a half hour to Great Basin National Park.

Sacramento Pass Campground is very clean and well-maintained. It consists of a lower loop and an upper loop. Although the campsites are spaced apart, there’s nothing to block the line of sight between them, so don’t expect much privacy.

Most of the campsites here are large and level. In fact, this is basically a glorified gravel parking lot with picnic tables, fire rings, and sun shelters marking each site. Several of the campsites can accommodate RVs and trailers of all sizes, making this an ideal boondocking location.

What I Like:

Sacramento Pass Campground is just a half hour from Great Basin National Park. It’s located just off Highway 50. The campsites are clean, well-maintained, and large enough for the biggest RVs and trailers. Several hiking trails are close at hand as well as a fishing pond.

What I Don’t Like:

The trade-off to the convenient location is some highway noise. However, the upper loop is a bit quieter than the lower loop as its further from the highway. Other than that, the only downside here is a lack of privacy. You’ll be able to see/hear what your neighbors are doing (and vice versa).

More Info:

Sacramento Pass Campground is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Free camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Ely District Office: (775) 289-1800

GPS: 39.121428, -114.304737

Jarbidge Wilderness (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest)

Northeastern Nevada

The Jarbidge Wilderness is hands down my favorite spot for dispersed camping in Nevada.

In fact, it’s my favorite place to visit in the entire state thanks to the unexpectedly lush forests, tall mountains, sprawling basins, and deep river gorges.

Plus, dispersed camping is abundant and easy to find. You’re allowed to set up camp pretty much anywhere in the wilderness (but do try to stick to previously used campsites when possible).

Be prepared though – the trek into Jarbidge isn’t for the faint of heart. Although the roads are never too rough, it’s an extremely long, unpaved, and dusty drive after turning onto Three Creek Road from Highway 93.

And, don’t forget to spend some time in the town of Jarbidge – a small “living ghost town” – located deep within the Jarbidge Wilderness. Grab a drink at the local saloon and visit the historic jail (which once housed Ben Kohl, the last stagecoach robber in the Old West).

The most easily accessible sites are those along the main road into town (Forest Road 062) with campsites both before and after the town, although there are also countless side roads to explore.

What I Like:

Jarbidge is extremely remote – which I personally love. The terrain is beautiful and much different from the rest of Nevada. There are countless dispersed campsites to choose from.

What I Don’t Like:

It’s not necessarily a negative, but the Jarbidge Wilderness is best left for tent and vehicle camping. The last 20 miles into the town (from the north) are unpaved and certainly drivable in RVs and trailers, but dispersed camping opportunities for big rigs are limited.

Traveling further past the town, especially past Pine Creek Campground, is best left for 4×4 rigs – and, since this part of Nevada is so remote, bringing a spare tire and other emergency gear is a really good idea.

Other than that, the only downside to camping here is an abundance of OHV traffic. But, you can certainly find some peace and quiet the farther you venture off the main roads.

More Info:

Jarbidge Wilderness is part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Mountain City-Ruby Mountains-Jarbidge Ranger District: (775) 738-5171

GPS: 41.863000, -115.429000

Fish Lake Valley Hot Springs (Esmeralda County)

Near Tonopah

Nevada has more natural hot springs than any other state.

Better yet, many of them are located on public lands with dispersed camping nearby – Fish Lake Valley Hot Springs is one of these.

Also known as Fish Lake Valley Hot Well, this small cluster of natural springs is surrounded by BLM land with plenty of dispersed camping and boondocking options nearby (although I believe the springs themselves are maintained by Esmeralda County).

Like many popular natural hot springs, it gets very busy here. Try to soak on a weekday, ideally in the morning, for some peace and quiet. And look for a campsite well away from the springs to escape the crowds.

The access road from the north is moderately washboarded and would probably be somewhat of a hassle in an RV or trailer. The access road from the west is quite a bit smoother. There are plenty of spots for boondocking in rigs of all sizes here.

* Remember to always test the water before entering a natural hot spring as the temperatures can fluctuate wildly and randomly.

What I Like:

Beautiful scenery, especially in spring or fall when the distant mountains are snowcapped. Lots of room to spread out and find a peaceful campsite. Lots of wildlife and great stargazing. Of course, the main reason to camp here is to soak in the hot springs. The surrounding ponds are also good for swimming.

What I Don’t Like:

It gets very busy here. And it often attracts a rowdy, irresponsible crowd. Noise and trash can both be issues. It’s also very exposed to the elements and is extremely hot in the summer with no natural shade. Strong winds are common.

More Info:

Fish Lake Valley Hot Springs is managed by Esmeralda County.

I’m not 100% certain how long dispersed camping is allowed here.

Call Esmeralda County Public Works: (775) 485-3483

GPS: 37.859496, -117.981831

Spencer Hot Springs (BLM Land)

Near Austin

Spencer Hot Springs is another natural hot springs that also has free dispersed camping nearby.

Although you’ll likely see others camping right by the springs themselves, it’s important to camp away from them (at least 200 feet, if not much farther), to protect the water, preserve the surrounding area, and let others enjoy the refreshing waters in peace.

The access road has moderate washboarding, but the area is accessible by all vehicles, including large RVs and trailers. In fact, there are plenty of campsites suitable for big rigs throughout the area.  

Want even more peace and quiet? Continue past the hot springs into Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest for even more dispersed camping opportunities. There’s also a free USFS campground, Toquima Caves Campground, nearby.

* Remember to always test the water before entering a natural hot spring as the temperatures can fluctuate wildly and randomly.

What I Like:

It doesn’t get much better than dispersed camping near hot springs. This area is beautiful and remote. Although it gets busy, there’s plenty of space to spread out to find some peace and quiet.

What I Don’t Like:

It gets crowded here and other campers/soakers aren’t always respectful. It’s common for people to camp pretty much on top of the hot springs, sort of claiming them for themselves and making it awkward for others to take a dip. Luckily, there are several pools (four total, I think) that are well spaced apart, so you should find something suitable.

More Info:

Spencer Hot Springs is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Battle Mountain District Office: (775) 635-4000

GPS: 39.328400, -116.864708

Government Wash (Lake Mead National Recreation Area)

Near Lake Mead

* Lake Mead National Recreation Area now has a $25 entrance fee (good for 7 days).

Government Wash is a quiet, scenic spot for boondocking in Nevada near Lake Mead.

Because it’s part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area which requires a $25 fee to enter (good for up to 7 days), dispersed camping here isn’t technically free – although you won’t have to pay any additional fees on top of this entrance fee.

What I love most about camping here is the peace and quiet as well as the abundance of dispersed campsites. Even if you don’t stay in a site with a view of the lake itself, you can expect gorgeous views of the surrounding desert landscape, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Government Wash is wide open with spaces large enough for the biggest RVs and trailers. Although the access road is quite bumpy, it’s normally doable in any vehicle – granted you’re okay slowly navigating moderate washboarding, some larger potholes, and medium-sized rocks.

What I Like:

Great location just an hour from Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam. Beautiful landscape, especially if your site has a view of the lake. It does get busy here, but there’s plenty of room to spread out. The roads can be rough, but by scouting ahead on foot, you should find a smooth route into a campsite suitable for any sized RV or trailer.

What I Don’t Like:

Government Wash and other Lake Mead dispersed campsites have a major problem with left-behind trash – including human waste and broken glass. There are sometimes issues with campers overstaying the 15-day stay limit and lack of proper enforcement on the issue.

It also gets extremely windy here, so it’s not always the best place for tent camping. Oh, and there’s absolutely no shade, so make sure to bring your own, especially in summer.

More Info:

Government Wash is part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Dispersed camping (with a $25 entrance fee) is allowed for up to 7 days at a time.

Call the Lake Mead Info Desk: (702) 293-8906

GPS: 36.121526, -114.827207

Illipah Reservoir (BLM Land)

Near Ely

Illipah Reservoir Recreation Area is another fantastic free BLM campground in Nevada.

Located roughly 45 minutes west of Ely, just off of Highway 50, this spacious free campground is the ideal spot for boondocking in trailers and RVs. All of the campsites are large, level, and will fit even the biggest rigs.

The downside to this is a lack of privacy. Illipah Campground is little more than an open gravel lot. Each campsite has a picnic table, sun shade, and fire ring. 

The trade-off to the lack of privacy is the fantastic location on Illipah Reservoir. Not only are the views beautiful, but this is a great spot for fishing, including ice fishing in the winter.

Prefer actual dispersed camping over staying at a free campground? An extensive network of dirt roads spans the surrounding BLM land as well as parts of Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest (such as the Shellback Wilderness) with countless private dispersed campsites to choose from.

What I Like:

Super convenient location just off Highway 50 (not far from Ely). Even the biggest RVs and trailers will fit here. Lots of nearby dispersed campsites if you’re willing to brave rough roads. A lot of old mining ruins and ghost towns (such as Hamilton Ghost Town) to explore. Great fishing in the reservoir.

What I Don’t Like:

There’s little to no privacy at Illipah Reservoir. The campground is basically an open gravel lot with little space between each campsite. It also gets very windy here, making this a better spot to sleep in an RV, trailer, or van rather than a tent.

More Info:

Illipah Reservoir Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Free camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Ely Field Office: (775) 289-1800

GPS: 39.335922, -115.389555

Wilson Canyon (BLM Land)

Near Yerington

Nevada’s terrain is remarkably varied – and Wilson Canyon is a remarkable example of a landscape you might not expect from the state.

Located just an hour from Carson City, this dispersed camping area has several pullouts to camp in. Many accommodate RVs and trailers, including even the biggest rigs.

Perhaps the best spot to set up camp, especially if you’re boondocking, is in the Wilson Canyon Rest Area located just off Highway 208. It has a surprising amount of room to spread out and is never too busy at night (aside from holiday weekends).

Best of all, the West Walker River runs just behind this camping area. It’s a decent spot to swim or fish. And, those that get riverside campsites are in for a peaceful view.

For more private camping, head to the nearby dispersed campsites along Copperbelt Drive (just make sure that you’re not on private property before setting up camp).

What I Like:

Convenient overnight location, especially if you’re heading to or from Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park. Peaceful riverside location with plenty of recreational opportunities. Lots of room to spread out to find some peace and quiet.

What I Don’t Like:

The actual rest area campsites have either a 16-hour or 18-hour stay limit (I don’t remember exactly). These sites also have some road noise from the highway. Eliminate both problems by dispersed camping along nearby Copperbelt Drive.

More Info:

Wilson Canyon Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Dispersed camping is allowed for just 16 to 18 hours at the rest area and up to 14 days on the surrounding BLM land.

Call the Carson City District Office: (775) 885-6000

GPS: 38.808025, -119.229276

Water Canyon (BLM Land)

Near Winnemucca

Water Canyon Recreation Area is my favorite place for free camping near Winnemucca.

Just 15 minutes south of town along Water Canyon Road, this is a small BLM campground with, I think, 8 campsites with covered picnic tables and fire rings. Most of these are suitable for RVs and trailers, although finding a level spot can be tricky.

A stream runs through the camping area and the canyon scenery here is beautiful, especially at sunset and sunrise. If you have time, make the trek up the nearby hiking trail or a 4×4 trail for a stunning view of Winnemucca far below.

Although I’ve never seen them on either of my two visits (both in colder weather in late September), Water Canyon is known for an abundance of Mormon crickets – worth keeping in mind if large insects frighten you.

* Because of issues with overstaying and long-term campers, I believe camping is now limited to just three nights rather than the BLM’s typical two weeks.

What I Like:

This is a really pretty area and so close to Winnemucca. There’s a good amount of space to spread out and it doesn’t get too busy, aside from summer weekends. This is a great place for boondocking in an RV or trailer.

What I Don’t Like:

There’s a decent amount of daytime traffic here. It’s also something of a local party spot and can be noisy on the weekends. I’ve never seen them here, but tales from other campers of Mormon crickets do sound pretty gross.

More Info:

Water Canyon Recreation Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Free camping is allowed for up to 3 days at a time.

Call the Winnemucca District Office: (775) 623-1500

GPS: 40.931583, -117.677639

How to Find Even More Free Camping in Nevada

Scrubby desert landscape with mountains in the background near Tonopah, Nevada.

Remember that the 9 free campsites above are simply my personal favorites – there are thousands of others to choose from in Nevada.

While the best way to find great free campsites is by exploring on your own (and through word-of-mouth), here are some additional tips to help you expand your search:

  • Online Maps – Satellite view on Google Maps and especially Gaia GPS are very useful tools to find potential free campsites. Gaia even allows you to turn on BLM and USFS boundaries to ensure you’re not on private land.
  • MVUM Maps – Motor vehicle use maps are very detailed, regularly updated maps of the roads on USFS and BLM land, including back roads. Both online versions (see the Avenza app) and paper versions are available. You can pick up print copies for a small fee (or, sometimes, for free) at a local ranger station or order ahead of time from the United States Geological Survey store.
  • Ranger Station – I personally always stop by the nearest ranger station before looking for a dispersed campsite. Here you can pick up MVUM maps as well as get the most up-to-date info on road conditions and even recommended campsites from the rangers.

Still can’t find a good free campsite near you?

If you’re not set on dispersed camping, I recommend looking into parking lot camping, casino camping, and even stealth camping as additional options.

I personally only use these methods as backups (I much prefer dispersed camping), but there are parking lots (think Walmart) and casinos that make a decent place for an overnight.

Related Post: How to Find Free Campsites Anywhere in the US

Nevada Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations

Straight open highway disappearing into the desert in the distance somewhere in Nevada.

Please, please, please treat Nevada’s public lands with respect.

It’s vital we minimize our human impact when dispersed camping on BLM land and in national forests by following the 7 Leave No Trace principles.

Although all seven are important, perhaps the most critical is to pack out all your trash. Dispersed campsites almost never have trash cans – so you need to plan ahead to pack out all of your trash, including food waste and human waste.

Left-behind trash – and improperly disposed human waste – is one of the major problems our public lands face.

If you’ve been dispersed camping anywhere in the past few years, you’ve no doubt encountered trash, toilet paper, and maybe even human waste in once pristine campsites.

Using a cat hole is one method of using the bathroom in the woods – although I strongly recommend packing out your waste with a WAG bag or a portable toilet.

It’s up to us to keep our public lands clean and open for all to enjoy. Cleaning up after yourself and otherwise treating these lands with respect is key to keeping them open and available to all.

Related Post: Where to Go Dispersed Camping Near Lake Tahoe

Enjoy Your Nevada Camping Trip!

Nevada is an incredible state – and dispersed camping is one of the best ways to enjoy its natural beauty.

My favorite free campsites above offer a little something for everyone, whether you camp in a tent, van, RV, or trailer…and whether you prefer a free developed campground or the true dispersed camping experience.

Still have questions about free camping in Nevada? Don’t hesitate to send me an email. I’m here to help!

More Help: jake@campnado.com

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Post written by Jake Heller, the founder of Campnado. Read all Jake's posts. Or reach out to him directly: jake@campnado.com

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