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Free and low-cost camping, courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Holter Lake BLM Campground in Montana
Holter Lake BLM Campground in Montana
Photo by Butte Office, Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees the land, mineral, and wildlife management of more than one-eighth of the land mass in the United States. They are responsible for millions of acres that contain rivers, wilderness areas, historic trails, national landmarks, and more than 400 campgrounds. The recreation opportunities are many on BLM land, and include hiking trails, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, river and snow sports, wildlife watching, wildflower gazing, rock hounding, and even panning for gold. The best part is, these campsites might cost $5 to $10 per night, and many of them are free. In today’s economic climate, that is smart entertainment.

BLM campgrounds are normally small, with few campsites, and even fewer amenities. The campsites are often primitive, but hiking into the back country is not required to locate them. The sites are often small clearings with a picnic table and fire ring, and sometimes may offer some type of restroom or potable water source. Then again, maybe not, so it is wise to bring water. Campsites are usually available on a first come, first served basis, and there may not be a park attendant. Instead, any camping fees will be collected by an “iron ranger” – a metal box in which fees are deposited.

BLM campgrounds can be found on, which allows searching by campsite type (RV, tent, etc.), state, city, and a number of other criteria. Information can also be found on the BLM website.


  • Nancy 4 years ago

    Wow - I had no idea about the Bureau of Land Management, let alone the camping sites they offer. Thanks so much for more great information, Heidi!