The only thing better than camping—especially in a forested or coastal setting—is free camping. There is enough free camping in California, a state renowned for its natural beauty, to keep you traveling for months or perhaps years.
Even if the majority of national parks don’t allow free camping, you may find the ideal spot outside on Bureau of Territory Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land. The Dyrt PRO’s Offline Maps and Map Layers may be used to locate free campsites nearby for last-minute camping. No matter whether you have service or internet, these features will show you public areas where you may camp for free!
Look no farther if you’re seeking for a scattered camping location in California. A great approach to detach from electronics is to go dispersed camping. Find the best campsites by asking other campers or searching neighboring scattered campgrounds. All you have to do is to read this article on Best dispersed camping Southern California and plan your upcoming vacation accordingly.
1. Campground near Orr Lake in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Orr Lake Campground, located in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, has four free group campsites near the lake’s other end in addition to six free lakefront campsites. Although there are lots of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and fishing amid the lily pads, motorized boats are not permitted on the lake.
RVs are welcome to boondock in the isolated lakeside sites even though there are no hookups. While cooking freshly caught trout for supper, campers may enjoy breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta in the distance from the lake. There are vault toilets available to help you use less gray water while you’re off the grid.
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2. Campground near Black Rock in the Lassen National Forest
Lassen National Forest has many undeveloped campsites, but if you want to camp with some friends, Black Rock Campground has six sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis and come with grills and tables. Deer Creek and Mill Creek both provide fishing opportunities, and hikers may choose from a variety of low- or high-mileage hikes.
You don’t have to enjoy a fully rustic camping experience since vault toilets are accessible at Black Rock. Horseback riding, water sports on Lake Almanor, and mineral prospecting are all possible within the national forest limits.
Without WiFi, locate no-cost campsites in California. Without cell service, you may download maps and campsites with the Dyrt PRO. “Driving back out to mobile service would be my backup plan if I didn’t use pro.”
3. Dispersed camping in the Mendocino National Forest
The absence of any major highways or paved roads inside the Mendocino National Forest is among its most alluring features. So, Mendocino is the place to go if you’re seeking peace and quiet. Mendocino allows scattered rustic camping throughout the park, much as other national forests. In addition, Mendocino National Forest has three scattered campgrounds: Grizzly Flat, Lakeview, and Lower Nye.
Choose from a variety of activities after setting up your free tent, such as horseback riding, swimming in Stonyford Recreation Area (where there is also a campground for a fee called Letts Lake Campground), and hiking in the Chico Seed Orchard and Red Bluff Recreation Area.
4. Dispersed camping in the Modoc National Forest
Modoc National Forest is located quietly, away from the hubbub of California’s more well-known parks and forests, at the point where Oregon, California, and Nevada converge in the northeastern corner of the state. In each of the four ranger districts—Big Valley, Devil’s Garden, Doublehead, and Warner Mountain—you’ll discover pull-offs and spurs for scattered camping.
The variety of the scenery will keep you busy for weeks. You won’t want for natural variety, from the high-alpine landscape in the Warner Mountain Range to the middle lava flows. It’ll probably make you wish you had more time to travel. Central Californian campgrounds are free.
5. Glass creek campground
Glass Creek Campground, close to Mammoth Lakes, a tent, camping chair, and fire are built up on the forest floor. The Glass Creek Campground, located just outside of Mammoth Lakes, is the best place to go for free camping or boondocking in California. You can comfortably drive through a 45′ RV or trailer for a three-week vacation close to Mammoth and the June Lakes District thanks to the 66 roomy campsites.
Self-register at the kiosk when you get there, then settle in! Be mindful of the animals in the area while handling your food and other possessions. Since there is no water on site, you should bring adequate supplies to cut down on your treks into town. From the campsite, several trails converge for easy day hikes.
6. Inyo National Forest campground
The majority of the property in Inyo County, according to the USFS, is publicly owned, so you may set up camp just about everywhere. You can locate a place to camp with enough room to swing a hammock and take in the local flora and wildlife, however the Forest Service advises buying a map to identify public property from private.
In each of the four ranger districts of Inyo, campers are permitted to stay for 28 days every six months. Campsites are located beside the road in compacted pull-outs, several of which have built-in rudimentary fire rings. Always inquire about the fire hazard ratings at the ranger station before starting a fire.
7. Dispersed camping in the Plumas National Forest
For those on a budget, the Plumas National Forest is replete with scattered camping areas. Numerous California free campsites may be found in places like Feather Falls, Little North Fork, Bucks Lake Recreation Area, and Red Bridge in each of the four ranger districts.
At Plumas, there is almost something to do for everyone in terms of amusement. You may practice your favorite outdoor sport or perhaps pick up a new one, from rock climbing in the Mt. Hough Ranger area (where you’ll find a fee camping at Queen Lily) to wildlife observation of endangered species like the Pitcher Plant in Butterfly Valley.
8. Campground in Hermit Valley—Stanislaus National Forest
Hermit Valley Campground, which is found in the Stanislaus National Forest, has shady campsites under old-growth sequoia trees with pine needle floors. These areas of the national forest are much less frequented, however on summer weekends attempt to arrive before the hordes arrive.
There are many possibilities nearby to mountain bike, hike, fish, and, if you’re willing to go a little farther south, discover Yosemite National Park’s vastness. You should plan on having no facilities while you’re there, but the remoteness and tranquility you’ll experience are nearly always worth it.
9. Alabama Hills Recreation Area
Alabama Hills Recreation Area is one of the top-rated free camping locations in California on our list, and it receives hundreds to thousands of people annually. Alabama Hills offers some of Southern California’s most breathtaking vistas since it is sandwiched between the desert and the mountains. Each location is simple to locate, and the majority has a built-in fire pit.
At Alabama Hills, there are no facilities, thus campers must be completely self-sufficient. The closest town is Lone Pine, but it’s not close enough to feel like civilization is nearby if you need to stock up on supplies. If you want to sit around an open flame while gazing at the sky, get a fire permit. Otherwise, have pleasure in this area of public land.
10. The Sequoia National Forest’s Abbott Creek Camping Area
The Abbott Creek Camping Area attracts OHV riders who like exploring the neighborhood with gas-powered adventure. The OHV staging area is conveniently located three miles from each of the campsites. There are better places to camp close to Sequoia National Forest if you’re more interested in a tranquil escape, even if use at this campsite isn’t heavy.
11. Alder Creek Dispersed Camping in the Sequoia National Forest
Alder Brook Dispersed Camping is a thickly forested campsite with vault toilets and a creek nearby if you want to remain in Sequoia National Forest but aren’t interested in the OHV region. Although campground use is limited and first come, first served, be aware that tight fire regulations are in place during the summer when the temperature soars and the environment gets dry. Before you travel, determine your chances of toasting marshmallows by visiting the USFS website.
12. Blair Valley Campground near Joshua Tree National Park
Blair Valley Campground is a great place to stop while seeing Joshua Tree National Park since it’s remote, rustic, and offers stunning nighttime views. Given the size of the region, you won’t have to worry about setting up camp next to another person. However, if you have a big vehicle or low clearance, you shouldn’t go too far since the roads may become impassably sand-covered.
Sandstone routes for climbers are close by, and the abundance of paths will thrill hikers and mountain bikers. Because there isn’t much shade, bring a canopy or tarp with you so you can make some for yourself. Bring enough water to last the duration of your stay, then pack everything out.
Resources for Locating the Best Free Camping Location in California
The Dyrt makes finding free camping in California simple (or anywhere else). This is how: After entering the state, click enter. Under the search field, click “type,” then “dispersed.” Each listing has a rating, reviews, a thorough explanation, a feature list, pictures, a weather report, and geographical information.
Visit the California map page of the U.S. Forest Service. Click on the map or the links below to see specific national forests and other federally protected sites in California.
Sort the “visit” page on the Bureau of Land Management website by activity and location (California) (camping). Search the results to locate the ideal free camping location in California.
Check out The Wayward Home’s list of free camping locations in California.
It’s a good idea to stop by the visitor center or ranger station and speak with a ranger if you already know where you’re going. They are the finest resource for information about local free, unorganized camping.
Free campsites are often located along service roads. U.S. Forest Service roads are labeled as NF-## on maps, and roads that pass through BLM property often offer free camping areas nearby.
Camping is one of the best activities that you can do with your loved ones in Best dispersed camping Southern California. However, you should be careful to pick the best camping location to end up with getting an outstanding camping experience. This article on how to find the Best dispersed camping Southern California will be able to provide all the help that you need with it.