Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as dispersed camping. Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted “closed to camping,” or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.
Dispersed camping is allowed on public land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. The 28 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14 day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28 day period. After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25 mile radius of the previous location until the 29th day since the initial occupation. The purpose of this special rule is to prevent damage to sensitive resources caused by continual use of any particular areas. In addition, campers must not leave any personal property unattended for more than 10 days (12 months in Alaska).
Dispersed camp sites are located along most secondary roads and may not be marked. Popular locations can be recognized by the telltale flat disturbed area that has been used as a camp site before. Not all flat spots are sites. If possible, please use existing sites to avoid creating new disturbances. To further protect your public lands, campers must not dispose of any refuse, hazardous materials, sewage, or in any manner pollute the surrounding area.
States may have additional requirements or restrictions for dispersed camping. Please see Regional Information before planning your trip.
Here is an example of Colorado’s State rules and may vary from State to State:
Camping and Occupancy Regulations
Tres Rios Field Office and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado
The Bureau of Land Management welcomes campers who recreate on their public lands. Public lands are not intended
for establishing and maintaining residency. Rules and regulations specifically prohibit residence on public lands.
BLM Camping and Occupancy Regulations include but are not limited to the following:
43 CFR 8365.1-6: Violation of supplementary rule (75 FR 32968):
• 14-day Camping Limit within a 30-day period.
• After 14 days, must move at least 30 air miles.
• Personal property or refuse must not be left behind when vacating the campsite, to include property to be used
by another user.
• Property must not be left unattended for more than 48 hours.
• You must not establish occupancy, take possession of, or otherwise use public lands for residential purposes.
(Camping is for recreational purposes only)
• If the area charges fees, fees must be paid within 30 minutes of entering the fee area.
• You must not violate any state or county laws or regulations relating to public health, safety, sanitation, building
or fire codes while camping, occupying, or using public lands.
Camping is defined as – Erecting of a tent or shelter of natural or synthetic material; preparing a sleeping bag or
other bedding material for use; parking of a motor vehicle, motor home or trailer; or mooring of a vessel for the
apparent purpose of overnight occupancy while engaged in recreational activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing,
bicycling, sightseeing, off-road vehicle activities, or other generally recognized forms of recreation.
Occupancy is defined as – Full or part-time residence on public lands for non-recreational purposes, such as
temporary residence in connection with, or while seeking, employment in the vicinity, or because another
permanent residence is not available. It also means activities that involve residence, such as the construction,
presence, or maintenance of temporary or permanent structures that may be used for such purposes, or the use of
a watchman or caretaker for the purpose of monitoring activities. Residence or structures include, but are not
limited to, barriers to access, fences, tents, motor homes, trailers, cabins, houses, buildings, and storage of
equipment or supplies.
43 CFR 4140.1(b)(6); 43 CFR 8365.1-1(b): Sanitation/Dumping/Littering:
• Camps must be kept clean and free of litter and trash.
43 CFR 9212: Fire Prevention:
• Fires must not be left unattended.
• Fires must be completely extinguished when leaving camp. Make sure fire is cold out, use water!
Day Use Areas
• Durango Special Recreation Management Area – Animas City Mountain, Skyline and Grandview Recreation
Management Zones. (Camping and Campfires Prohibited)
• Cortez Special Recreation Management Area – Phil’s World Recreation Management Zone to include the
Simon Draw Trailhead and Cash Canyon Trailhead.
• Canyons of the Ancients National Monument – Visitor Center and Museum, Lowry Pueblo, Painted Hand
Pueblo, Sand Canyon Pueblo, Upper and Lower Sand Canyon Trailheads, Sand Canyon-Rock Creek Special
Recreation Management Area.
Day use is defined as – Areas open for public access only during daylight hours, typically between sunrise and
sunset, or where specific hours of operation have been identified. Overnight use in these areas is specifically
For more information about BLM Public Lands, Contact the Tres Rios Field Office at 970-882-1120
BLM Tres Rios Field Office and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Law Enforcement Tip Line
833-660-5771 toll free – TRFOtipline@blm.gov
In case of an Emergency, Call 911