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How To Find Dispersed Camping In Utah

Dispersed camping is free, private, and does not require any permits. Utah is a great place to go dispersed camping because the National Forests cover millions of acres.

Utah has more National Recreation Areas than any other state managed by the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These are perfect places for camping. In this article, we’ll let you know exactly how to find dispersed camping in Utah and the rules to follow.

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There Are 7 National Forests In Utah:

You can find free, dispersed camping in each of these National Forests. They are also the best place to see wildlife, go for a hike, and enjoy the great outdoors.

camping in the dixie national forest near zion national park in utah
The Dixie National Forest offers dispersed camping in Utah

Rules For Dispersed Camping In Utah

The rules for dispersed camping are pretty similar for all National Forests in the US. This park system is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The most important rules for dispersed camping are:

  • Camp within 150 feet of roadways, if possible
  • Always use existing fire rings when available
  • No camping within 100 feet of a water source
  • No camping at developed trailheads or picnic areas
  • You must move your campsite every 14 days
  • Do not leave personal property unattended for more than 10 days
  • Minimize your environmental impact
  • Leave no trace

14 Day Stay Limits

All National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Areas have a 14-day stay limit. This is to prevent excess damage to the environment. In Utah, this means that you can’t camp in the same spot for more than 14 days within a 28 day timeframe.

That includes both consecutive and non-consecutive visits.

After you’ve reached the 14 day maximum, you must move your campsite outside of a 25 mile radius.

Dispersed Camping Areas

Following these rules, you can go camping for free in most areas of the Utah National Forest. Many places have site-specific rules to follow as well.

dispersed camping in the utah national forest
Road through Dixie National Forest

How To Find Exact Dispersed Camping Boundaries

The trickiest part about dispersed camping is finding out exactly where it’s legal to camp. National Forest boundaries are not clearly marked from the road.

Our #1 tip is to talk to a local park ranger. They can give you the best lay of the land, road conditions, and any special considerations that need to be taken into account.

Aside from that, the USDA offers this interactive map which accurately labels the National Forest boundaries in Utah.

interactive map of utah national forests
National Forest Map courtesy of USDA.gov

Finding Free Campsites With The Dyrt

One of our favorite tips if you’re on the move and don’t have reliable access to the internet is to download The Dyrt Pro App. The app makes it easy to find National Forest boundaries and download the maps for offline use.

You can toggle the layers to find the exact boundaries for:

  • Bureau of Land Management Areas
  • National Parks
  • National Forests

And you can also read reviews of campsites in the area.

FIND FREE CAMPSITES
The Dyrt Campground Finder

This is our favorite app for finding free campsites & public campgrounds.

Download offline maps with Public Lands, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management boundaries.

44,000+ public and private sites listed. Over 1 million campgrounds reviewed.

TRY 30 DAYS FREE

Dispersed Camping On Bureau Of Land Management Areas In Utah

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is run by the US Department of the Interior. Dispersed camping on Utah BLM land follows the same rules as that of the National Forest.

There are over 200 dispersed camping locations on BLM land in Utah.

Dispersed Camping on Utah Recreation Areas

Utah has 72 Recreation Areas and many of them allow dispersed camping. Before heading out on your trip, be sure to research each location or stop by a Forest Service office to speak to a ranger.

The park rangers will be able to guide you on the best locations to camp and activities to do nearby. Here are a few Utah Recreation Areas that allow dispersed camping:

driving to hole in the rock in grand staircase escalante national monument
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Boondocking In Utah National Parks

There are 5 mind-blowing National Parks in Utah, and they are all located nearby National Forests or Recreation Areas where you can go boondocking for free.

Dispersed Camping in Utah National Monuments

Utah has 7 National Monuments and it’s another great place to find free camping. For example, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument covers 1.7 million acres and has many opportunities for dispersed camping. All you need is a free permit.

Where to go dispersed camping near Salt Lake City

The closest National Forest to Salt Lake City is the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Kate is the lead content creator for ParkedInParadise.com and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.