RV Camping – BLM Campgrounds
BLM’s Sand Island Campground – Utah
The Bureau of Land Management has over 400 BLM campgrounds, almost all suitable for RV camping. BLM manages vast land areas that are often little used, but these vast lands also offer solitude and outdoor recreation opportunities to RVers willing to explore.
The USA RV Camping Map on our home page has links to each individual states BLM information page. BLM manages lands in the western USA and Alaska and does not have offices in all states.
Finding BLM RV Campgrounds
The BLM Website will get you to information about it's developed BLM campgrounds. The website will guide you by state to the various BLM Field Offices, and each Field Office has links to it's campgrounds. There are a few BLM campgrounds that allow reservations, and you might try searching for them at ReserveAmerica.com.
BLM RV Camping Locations
All the information about RV camping on BLM administered land is available on line. Links to each BLM Field Office are available through the BLM web site. You can purchase official travel maps for each BLM area you intend visiting through their websites. Good detailed maps can help you find BLM campgrounds that appeal to your type of RV camping. If you travel in the western US, the individual state Benchmark Recreation Atlas is our personal choice. Each state atlas is divided into two sections. A shaded relief road section, and a recreation section with roads and public land boundaries. What we like about the Benchmark maps is that roads shown into public lands are suitable for vehicle travel, and you can feel pretty safe heading up a mapped road that you do not end up at a dead end. The different land administrators show up in different colors so you can determine which government agency to contact for information if you need to.
You can get a great feel for the type of RV camping area to look for quickly by using the shaded relief section. You will soon find areas that look interesting to you, and getting campground information from the BLM website will get you to some great RV camping sites.
Another favorite is the state series of the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer. These map books are available for every state. They offer a higher degree of detail than the Benchmark maps but do not have the type of shaded relief that we feel makes determining desirable RV camping areas easy. Most experienced backcountry RVers rely on these maps, and the high level of detail makes backcountry navigation much easier. You need to be ready to explore ahead as some backcountry mapped roads may not be suitable for you or your RV. It's a good idea to remember to take elevation into account when selecting a campground. High mountain areas will mean very cool nights and warm days, so you need to pack accordingly. I can't tell you how many times we've helped RVers with kids that forgot to bring warm enough clothing on their camping trip. It's easy to forget if you are from a low elevation, that the mountains can be cold in July with snow. BLM campgrounds are usually quite primitive with only a picnic table and campfire ring. Often there is no trash bin so you may need to pack your trash home. Pit toilets are usually on site, but water is another item you need to be sure to take with you. The BLM has a very wide variety of locations to camp at. BLM has areas in the Colorado San Juan Mountains, and campgrounds in the Mojave Desert of California. BLM campgrounds offer you a wide selection of great RV camping options. Pick and use your research tools carefully, and you will find some great camping sites.
RV Camping at LTVA's (Long Term Visitor Areas)
The BLM has LTVA's – Long Term Visitor Area's that are a major destination for RV camping. These camping areas hold thousands of RVs each year, and the most popular are near Quartzsite, and Yuma Arizona. With warm days and cool nights, a party atmosphere, and all the needed supplies available, RVers camp in the desert for months at a time if they desire. The Bishop California BLM Field Office also offers a $300 Summer Season LTVA Permit that covers 4 developed campgrounds along the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Cost for these LTVA's is based on length of stay requested. A multi month permit good at any BLM LTVA is $180, and you can stay or move between LTVA's as you wish with this pass. A shorter 14 permit is also available for $40. Near the LTVA's are 14 day limit areas that allow you to camp for free on BLM public lands. These areas are plainly marked, and you can get information about specific locations of the LTVA's through the appropriate BLM Field Office. Permits can be purchased at the entrance station to each LTVA.
Some individual BLM Field Offices offer LTVA passes for campgrounds in their areas as well. For example, the Bishop California Field Office offers an LTVA permit that covers 4 campgrounds. LTVA permits will likely become more widespread throughout BLM managed campgrounds, so checking with the BLM field office for the area you are interested in extended duration RV camping.
The BLM LTVA's large areas offer some opportunities to get away from the crowd, but not many. Even though the LTVA's are very large, so many RVs utilize these areas that getting away from other folks can be a challenge. When you do get your little isolated spot, there is no guarantee that someone won't come up and set up camp right next to you. With so many people in close proximity, you will find all kinds of people to visit with and share experiences. Campfires erupt most evenings, and you will soon find that you fit right in with your neighbors
LTVA's don't come with a thing. You are camped right out in the desert on what is called desert pavement. This smooth, flat, rocky surface is perfect for setting up camp with your RV. Small washes separate folks somewhat so you don't get the feeling of being in a parking lot. Water, dump and trash are available.
Official BLM LTVA Rules For RV Camping
The following 35 LTVA Supplementary Rules are issued by the Bureau of Land Management.
1. Permit Requirements and Fees
You must have a permit to use a designated LTVA between September 15 and April 15. The permit authorizes you to camp within any designated LTVA using those camping or dwelling unit(s) indicated on the permit between the periods from September 15 to April 15. There are two types of permits: Long-Term and Short-Visit. The long-term permit is valid for the entire season or any part of the season. The short-visit permit is valid for 14 consecutive days, and may be renewed an unlimited number of times for the cost of the permit. LTVA users must pay the cost of the fee indicated on the LTVA permit, in U.S. funds only, before or upon arrival. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will not refund permit fees.
2. Displaying the Permit
To make it valid, at the time of purchase, you must affix your short-visit permit decal or long-term permit decal, using the adhesive backing, to the bottom right-hand corner of the windshield of all transportation vehicles and in a clearly visible location on all camping units. You may use no more than two secondary vehicles within the LTVA.
3. Permit Transfers
You may not reassign or transfer your permit.
4. Permit Revocation
An authorized BLM officer may revoke, without reimbursement, your LTVA permit if you violate any BLM rule or regulation, or if your conduct or that of your family, guest, or pets is inconsistent with the goal of BLM's LTVA Program. Failure to return any LTVA permit to an authorized BLM officer upon demand is a violation of these supplementary rules. If BLM revokes your permit, you must remove all of your property and leave the LTVA system within 12 hours of notice, and you may not enter any other LTVA in Arizona or California for the remainder of the LTVA season.
5. Unoccupied Camping Units
Do not leave your LTVA camping unit or campsite unoccupied for a period of greater than five days unless an authorized BLM officer approves in advance.
For your safety and privacy, you must maintain a minimum of 15 feet of space between dwelling units.
7. Removal of Wheels and Campers
Campers, trailers, and other dwelling units must remain mobile. Wheels must remain on all wheeled vehicles. You may set trailers and pickup campers on jacks manufactured for that purpose.
8. Quiet Hours
Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. under applicable state time zone standards, or as otherwise posted.
Do not operate audio devices or motorized equipment, including generators, in a manner that makes unreasonable noise as determined by the authorized BLM officer. Outdoor amplified music is allowed only within La Posa and Imperial Dam LTVAs and only in locations designated by BLM and when approved in advance by an authorized BLM officer.
Do not block roads or trails commonly in public use with your parked vehicles, stones, wooden barricades, or by any other means.
11. Structures and Landscaping
- a. Fixed fences, dog runs, storage units, windbreaks, and other such structures are prohibited. Temporary structures of these types must conform to posted policies.
- b. Do not alter the natural landscape by painting rocks or defacing or damaging any natural or archaeological feature.
Boarding or keeping livestock (horses, cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) within LTVA boundaries is prohibited.
Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. Keep an eye on your pets. Unattended and unwatched pets may fall prey to coyotes or other desert predators. You are responsible for clean-up and sanitary disposal of your pet's waste.
14. Cultural Resources
Do not disturb any archaeological or historical values including, but not limited to, petroglyphs, ruins, historic buildings, and artifacts that may occur on public lands.
You must place all trash in designated receptacles. Public trash facilities are shown in the LTVA brochure. Do not deposit trash or holding-tank sewage in vault toilets. An LTVA permit is required for trash disposal within all LTVA campgrounds. You may not change motor oil, vehicular fluids, or dispose of or possess these used substances within an LTVA.
Do not dump sewage, gray water, or garbage on the ground. This includes motor oil and any other waste products. Federal, State, and county sanitation laws and county ordinance specifically prohibit these practices. Sanitary dump station locations are shown in the LTVA brochure. You must have an LTVA permit for dumping within all LTVA campgrounds.
17. Self-Contained Vehicles
- a. In Pilot Knob, Midland, Tamarisk, and Hot Springs LTVAs, you may camp only in self-contained camping units. The La Posa, Imperial Dam, and Mule Mountain LTVAs are restricted to self-contained camping units, except within 500 feet of a vault or rest room.
- b. Self-contained camping units must have a permanent, affixed waste water holding tank of 10-gallon minimum capacity. BLM does not consider port-a-potty systems, systems that utilize portable holding tanks, or permanent holding tanks of less than 10-gallon capacity, to be self-contained.
You may have campfires in LTVAs, subject to all local, state, and Federal regulations. You must comply with posted rules.
19. Wood Collection
Do not collect wood within LTVAs. You may not possess native firewood (i.e., mesquite, ironwood, palo verde) within LTVAs. Please contact the nearest BLM office for current regulations concerning wood collection.
20. Speed Limit
The speed limit in LTVAs is 15 mph or as otherwise posted.
21. Off-Highway Vehicle Use
Motorized vehicles must remain on existing roads, trails, and washes.
22. Vehicle Use
Do not operate any vehicle in violation of state or local laws and regulations relating to use, standards, registration, operation, and inspection.
Do not discharge or otherwise use firearms or weapons inside or within 1/2 mile of LTVAs.
24. Vending Permits
You must have a vending permit to carry on any commercial activity. Please contact the nearest BLM office for information on vending or concession permits.
25. Aircraft Use
Do not land or take off in aircraft, including ultralights and hot air balloons, in LTVAs.
26. Perimeter Camping
Do not camp within 1 mile outside the boundaries of Hot Springs, Tamarisk, and Pilot Knob LTVAs and within 2 miles outside the boundary of Midland LTVA.
27. Hot Spring Spa and Day Use Area
Food, beverages, glass containers, soap, pets, and/or motorized vehicles are prohibited within the fenced-in area at the Hot Springs Spa. Day use hours are 5 a.m. to midnight.
28. Mule Mountain LTVA
You may camp only at designated sites within Wiley's Well and Coon Hollow campgrounds. You may have only one (1) camping or dwelling unit per site.
29. Imperial Dam and La Posa LTVAs
Do not camp overnight in desert washes in Imperial Dam and La Posa LTVAs.
30. La Posa LTVA
You may enter La Posa LTVA only by legal access roads along U.S. Highway 95. Do not create or use any other access points. Do not remove or modify barricades, such as fences, ditches, and berms.
31. Posted Rules
You must observe and obey all posted rules. Individual LTVAs may have additional specific rules in addition to these supplementary rules. If posted rules differ from these supplementary rules, the posted rules take precedence.
32. Other Laws
If you hold an LTVA permit, you must observe and obey all Federal, state, and local laws and regulations applicable to the LTVA.
33. Campsite Maintenance
You must keep the LTVA and, specifically, your campsite, in a neat, orderly, and sanitary condition.
34. Length of Stay
Between April 16 and September 14, you may stay in an LTVA only 14 days in any 28-day period. After your 14th day of occupation at an LTVA, you must move outside of a 25-mile radius of that LTVA.
Under 43 CFR 2932.56(b), if you knowingly and willfully violate or fail to comply with any of the supplementary rules provided in this notice, BLM will revoke your LTVA permit. You may also be subject to issuance of a citation and/or arrest with a fine under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. 3581, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1733(a)).
The purpose of the LTVA program is to provide areas for long-term winter camping use. The sites designated as LTVAs are, in most cases, the traditional use areas of long-term visitors. Designated sites were selected using criteria developed during the land management planning process, and environmental assessments were completed for each site location. The program was established to safely and properly accommodate the increasing demand for long-term winter visitation and to provide natural resource protection through improved management of this use. The designation of LTVAs assures that specific locations are available for long-term use year after year, and that inappropriate areas are not used for extended periods. Visitors may camp without an LTVA permit outside of LTVAS, on public lands not otherwise posted or closed to camping, for up to 14 days in any 28-day period. Authority for the designation of LTVAs is contained in Title 43, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 8372, Sections 0-3 and 0-5(g). Authority for the establishment of an LTVA program is contained in Title 43, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 8372, Section 1, and for the payment of fees in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 71. The authority for establishing supplementary rules is contained in Title 43, Subpart 8365, Section 1-6. The LTVA supplementary rules have been developed to meet the goals of individual resource management plans. These rules will be available in each local office having jurisdiction over the lands, sites, or facilities affected, and will be posted near and/or within the lands, sites, or facilities affected. Violations of supplementary rules are punishable by a fine not to exceed $100,000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months. The following are the supplemental rules for the designated LTVAs and are in addition to rules of conduct set forth in Title 43, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 8365, Section 0.1 through 1-7. The following supplemental rules apply year-long to all public land users who enter the LTVAS.
Great RV Camping Locations
If you intend to utilize these LTVA's or any other public lands that don't supply power and water hookups, check out RV Boondocking Basics. This book will help give you a good foundation for camping at BLM public campgrounds and LTVA's without RV hookups.
With a bit of research, you can find some of the best RV camping locations and campgrounds. BLM public lands offer every type of RV camping opportunity. The outdoor recreation possibilities you can discover will make your RV camping experience memorable for you and your family.
Federal Public Land
RV Camping Information
US Forest Service - USFS
Describes USFS policies and rules about RV camping. Information about dispersed camping, and tips on how to find great free RV camping sites.
National Park Service (NPS)
General information about RV camping in US National Parks. With campgrounds in the most historic and scenic places in the country, the NPS offers some of the best places for RV camping.
US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE/COE )
USACE (perhaps better know as COE) manages water recreation areas throughout the USA. Information about finding Corps managed lakes, RV camping rules and policies for use of these water based recreation areas is included.