What Is BLM Land for Camping?

BLM land is public land in America managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a government agency that’s part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Most BLM campgrounds require a fee to use them, and the fee goes toward maintaining the facilities which can include restrooms, potable water, and electrical hookups. If you don’t need any amenities at all, there are also some options for free camping, aka “dispersed camping,” on BLM land, and there is more info on this option below.

Most BLM land for camping is located in Western states including:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Free camping options on BLM land

Free camping or “dispersed camping” on BLM land is usually offered on undeveloped campsites. In other words, don’t expect much — if anything — with respect to amenities. There are usually no restrooms, showers, potable water, electrical hookups, picnic areas, or garbage cans. Of course, that means you’ll have to arrive prepared and bring absolutely everything you need.

BLM land is generally suitable for RVs and vans and usually — but not always — for tent campers. Our recommendation is to do your research ahead of time using the interactive maps and detailed campsite descriptions on the official BLM web site. Or you can contact a local BLM office for information.

Dispersed camping on BLM land near Joshua Tree

Here’s some good news for campers looking for free options around Joshua Tree National Park. The BLM offers free dispersed camping near the park’s South and North Entrances. These camp sites offer the bare minimum — no restrooms and no trash collection. And if you’re planning on having a campfire it’s essential to get a California Campfire Permit from a BLM office or online.

Other affordable camping options in and near Joshua Tree with more amenities

Camping at one of the nine official campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park is relatively inexpensive, ranging from $15-$20 per night and offering a few basic amenities including pit toilets, fire grates, and tables.

Additionally, Hipcamp also has hundreds of affordable camping, glamping and RV accommodation options in the area around Joshua Tree

7 low-cost Hipcamps near Joshua Tree

Here are some of the most affordable and best-reviewed camping options near Joshua Tree:

Platform 2 has a large 12-foot square platform for your tent along with tables, chairs, a toilet, and a solar shower.

1. Platform 2 ($25 per night) Nestled at the base of a rocky ridge, this 12-foot-by-12-foot tent platform campsite at Desert Daisy has absolutely stunning 360-degree views of the valley below. There are tons of amenities for a relatively inexpensive fee including tables, chairs, bbq grills, toilet, solar shower, potable water, and great cell service.

Majestic Mesa is only $35 per night, and you can camp underneath Joshua trees and yucca palms.

2. Majestic Mesa ($35 per night) The High Desert Coyote Crossing at is a 10-acre plot of wild desert just 15 miles from the West Entrance to Joshua Tree. You can camp underneath Joshua trees and yucca palms. Note: you must bring your own water.

Located near Joshua Tree National Park, Moonlight Ranch is a dog-friendly camp that is perfect for animal lovers.

3. Moonlight Ranch ($20 per night) Perfect for animal lovers, this dog-friendly campsite is located near Joshua Tree National Park on an animal sanctuary. Enjoy the vast starry skies, amazing trails, potable water, a toilet — and you can even meet the animals, including goats, chickens, ducks, horses, and a donkey! Fresh duck eggs are available for purchase as well.

4. Hike Bike Climb Joshua Tree NP ($11 per night) If it’s incredible views of starry skies and proximity to the park you’re after, this location can’t be beat. It’s just one mile from the West Entrance, and there’s even a paved bike lane to the park.

5. Copper Moon ($19 per night) Need some peace and quiet? This secluded site has stunning views of the wide open night sky as well as a fire pit and portable toilet and, of course, tons of room to pitch a tent. And it’s right across the highway from Joshua Tree.

6. Sky Valley Ranch Campsite ($25 per night) This rustic, desert ranch environment is close to hiking, spas, food, festivals and plenty of fun. Or you can just get some rest and relaxation while enjoying impressive views of the sunrise and sunset.

7. SAGE Camping Deck ($45 per night) This 8-foot-by-8-foot platform is one of four camping tent platforms at the Pink Cloud Ranch, a popular Hipcamp with swimming pool, trampoline, outdoor shower, outhouse, picnic tables, and fire pits, right outside the West Entrance to Joshua Tree.

Find out more about Joshua Tree

Book your next Joshua Tree camping, glamping, or RV trip now

Now’s a great time to find the perfect spot for your next Joshua Tree camping, glamping or RV adventure. #FindYourselfOutside (TIP: Get $10 off your first booking when you create a new account here and use the referral code JOURNAL)

Kim Conte is a writer, editor and content strategist who was born in the Midwest and now lives in Southern California. She's still getting used to seeing mountains when she wakes up and being outside in the winter and not hating it.

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