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Camp for FREE on Uncle Sam’s Property

Updated: Apr 22, 2016 12:59
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This and more can be found in my book Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply.

Paying rent can be super expensive, so I figure, if sleeping out in the wilderness was good enough for your ancestors, then it’s good enough for you. Get yourself a tent and some camping gear (both can be found for cheap or free on Craigslist) and go sleep under the stars anywhere your little heart desires. Renting a campground will cost you a little bit of dough, but then again not everyone necessarily uses campgrounds. Just go to downtown Los Angeles and see for yourself.

If you do decide that camping is the way for you, but don’t want to pay the campground fees, the more remote a place you find the better. While in some cities the cops don’t really do anything if you’re caught sleeping in the park (I’m looking at you San Francisco), police in other cities will either fine you, arrest you, or both. I’m willing to bet Salt Lake City falls into the “both” category.

Oh Joy! This could be you….better you than me

Another option is to sleep for free on Uncle Sam’s property (and by Uncle Sam I mean the government, not your father’s brother who was always a little too eager to help you take a bath when you were a kid). The Bureau of Land Management (BLU) has a ridiculously large amount of acreage spread throughout the United States that it considers “underdeveloped”. Since they aren’t doing jack shit with it otherwise you are allowed to camp there for free! Sweet right? Just be warned there are rules though:

– You can only camp at that spot for 14 days, then you must move at least 25 miles away
– Pack out what you pack in (this means don’t leave your trash asshole)
– Avoid camping within 200 ft. of any water source
– Don’t leave your campfire unattended
– Avoid putting non flammable things in the fire like soda cans and bottles
– No campfires during high fire danger periods
– In general, be respectful of your surroundings. Don’t be a fucktard

You’ll also need to bring your own supplies including a way to purify your water. I’m sure there are other rules, but those are the most important ones that I saw. Plus I’m too lazy to write the rest out.

Didn’t you read the rule about not camping within 200 ft. of the water? You’re gonna ruin it for everyone asshole!

So where do you find these wild and magical places where the government will actually let you stay for free? The middle of fucking nowhere. Seriously. At the very least Uncle Sam is a shrewd, calculating, unfeeling business man without a conscience, so don’t expect all this free land to be in Miami Beach. You know that if it’s gonna be free it’s gotta be in a place where no one really wants to live.

To be honest the best way to find your nearest free camping adventure is to google 'œdispersed camping' and the name of your state. Since, dispersed camping is what this kind of thing is called, and doesn’t make it easy to find the info (one big list would be nice), you googling it just makes this whole operation so much easier. I don’t have time to walk your through it on the phone. In fact, I’m currently trying to get that outsourced to India. “Hello this is Broke-Ass Rajiv, how may I assist you?”

pics from InkyMess.comAging Overlanders, and A Girl in Asia.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.