Spring is just around the corner, the air is getting warmer, and the birds are beginning to sing once again. That means it’s time to move the adventure outdoors. There are several free events and activities to do when the weather is nice and camping is one of those. One may ask, “How can camping possibly be free?” That is a valid question. One of our best kept secrets is public land, lots and lots of public land which has been set aside by the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. They manage the public lands of the United States which total over 245 million surface acres and 700 million subsurface acres. All in all, that’s about 10% of the land in the United States. While many acres are dedicated to preserving natural wildlife, mining, logging, animal grazing and more, we are interested in the outdoor recreation these lands have to offer.
Park Locations and Amenities to Consider
The BLM operates campgrounds in western states, sorry eastern states. They have sites in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There are many parks and recreation areas within these states and are often free for the taking on a first come first serve basis. I would stick to areas close to home or contact the park of interest to discover if they have open spots, when’s the easiest time to find a spot, and any other pertinent information which may be needed. One can go the BLM website and access an information page detailing some of the amenities. Not all parks are created equal, so research is a must do if one wants to be prepared for the adventure. Some parks are primitive, with no water, electricity, or bathroom facilities. Some campsites may have a potable water source at a specified location but not available at each campsite. Others may have outhouses without running water while others may have fully loaded restrooms with showers, electricity, and outlets. These are important factors to know when preparing for a camping trip and determining how off grid one may want to be.
As diverse as the amenities are throughout the parks, so are the activities. If you have something in mind, go to the BLM website to see what each park has available. Some of the activities include: mountain biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, snow shoeing, and more. Depending on which activities and what season you’re looking to venture out, the information page of each park will be invaluable. There are also links to each parks social media accounts for up to the minute information along with phone numbers and directions. Which activities are available and during which season. For instance snowshoeing and dog sledding in winter and water sports in the summer, fall foliage hikes, and spring flower blooms.
If you’re a person who doesn’t want to be so far removed from modern amenities, the BLM also offers reservations, RV sites, cabins, and additional accoutrements. However, these are often not free of charge, so be prepared to come out of pocket for the niceties. Recreation.gov is a one stop site for recreational offerings the government has to offer and encompasses many more programs and agencies than the BLM. They offer tours, cabins, campsites, sites not part of the BLM, and so much more. I highly recommend choosing an area for free camping and utilizing recreation.gov to supplement any additional excursions you may want to participate in the area. The two complement each other and recreation.gov also carries information on the free campsites offered by the BLM.
That’s a Wrap
There are plenty of adventures to be had with a little research and a little time spent planning. Gone are the obstacles to free outdoor adventures and any reason to not enjoy some of the great adventures waiting to be had because you live on a dirt poor income. There are plenty of free and exciting opportunities waiting to be had for those willing to take the time and research a little. These moments create memories which cannot be replaced and that last a lifetime. Don’t allow a lack of money to stifle your hunger for adventure or your family’s.
“It’s never too late to have a genuine adventure” ~ Robert Kurson