Camping outdoors in the BLM land of Southern Arizona was trip. This was our first major stretch (three days) of actually navigating campsites on BLM land and attempting to follow the Bureau of Land Management‘s guidelines. And, as luck would have it, we made this inaugural attempt miles away from the U.S-Mexican border.
Who needs a campsite, anyway? We here at Elevated Vibrations are all about “dispersed camping” and the use of BLM lands — it’s free, it’s rustic, it’s natural and organic! To me, BLM camping is camping at its finest.
So, fortuitously enough, the binoculars were on hand in the glove compartment for our first sighting. It all began with a man sprinting like a road-runner across the U.S.-Mexico border. We witnessed this man run across the highway, exciting nearby Mexico, and sprinting across four-lanes of traffic, finally jumping into a waiting SUV on the furthest shoulder. We kinda thought he deserved to get in after that.
This caused us to realize what we were up against camping out here in Arizona — getting “confused” for a misplaced person. And since at least one of us looks kind of native, and we’ve both been confused for dirty hippies, this was a mix-up we did not want to happen!!
So, for now, we decided to follow the most legit guidelines put out by the BLM. The ones that made sense and weren’t confusing as hell. What we did was out of respect for the land; In our entire year of camping, we never encountered a ranger or officer outside of highly trafficked national forests. Crazy budget cuts, huh?
Notable BLM dispersed camping guidelines:
- 14 day limit ~ you must move on, at least 25 miles from your spot after 14 days.
- Park the vehicle just off of an existing road, and be sure to camp at least 100 ft from the road.
- Camp, pee, & engage in your general activities at least 300 ft from waterways.
- Leave No Trace!
To camp, get out your GPS/iPhone and find the big green or grey areas that look desolate and uninhabited. This is generally BLM, National Forest/Park, Military, or Area 51. Compare and contrast your GPS Map with that State’s BLM website maps to confirm locations. Now, find the tiny highways and roads that you will drive out to, park, and walk 100 feet to a spot to camp for the night. Aim for isolation and secrecy.
As we settled in for our first Arizona night, the brilliant velvet night sky became illuminated with stars….and a
menagerie of random lights orbs, planes, jets and blinky things. This was no ordinary camping starscape, and soon enough, a pale amber orb grew larger than the rest. This domineering UFO hovered and quivered in the stratosphere, commanding our attention like a second moon. For about twenty minutes, we were mesmerized, and for the rest of the night, I was sleepless in wonder slash the heebie-jeebies.
Another romantic night in our Coleman, this time in the chilling Arizona desert. While the location isn’t prime, it is do-able. And this post aims to promote and inspire others to the modern marvel of BLM living. You CAN live in America for free. Excluding minor expenses for gas and some food, I did it for one year. When you find a beautiful spot, stay there and enjoy it! Then write about it and tell me, too. Many more free camping spot recommendations to come !