Interested in heading out for a BLM Camping trip? Start here with some overlooked essentials.
Bureau of Land Management is free to use, to enjoy and BLM Camping is a wonderful place to take the family for a true camping adventure your kids will never forget! If you are headed out on your first BLM camping trip, here are some good tips to ensure this first venture out is a successful one!
While these are the most basic of items, believe me, these are often overlooked. We all remember the food, yet water and first aid are often overlooked. When out on a BLM camping trip, there is generally no local gas station, no neighbor to assist and in most scenarios, you are on your own.
Having the basics like food, water, and first aid are an absolute must and should be packed first on all your excursions, especially those that will truly be remote. In terms of water, you have options, if you have an RV, ensure your tanks are full before heading into the BLM camping area.
If you’re not in an RV, make sure you have some 5-gallon water containers handy. When it comes to food, I like to bring the normal perishables like hot dogs/burgers and s’mores, however, I always have dehydrated food options and MRE’s just in case things end up weird!
First Aid kits range greatly and while you don’t need a $1200 Combat Medics kit, it won’t hurt to grab a good All-around Camping First Aid Kit, something that includes OTC pain meds like aspirin and ibuprofen, antiseptic for cuts/abrasions, instant ice packs for swelling, heavy gauze for light bleeding, a tourniquet for artery bleeding control and a splint for fractures.
While this isn’t going to treat it all, it will help with most scenarios while you’re on your way to the Doctor.
Pre Downloaded GPS Maps (back up paper map)
We love our phones, we love our internet connections and who needs a map, we have Google maps, right? Well, yes, and that may work. Here’s the deal, cell phone companies haven’t invested money in cell towers near the BLM camping area in most cases. These are areas not inhabited by people and for the most part, you won’t have cell service.
Before heading out. Find your routes, Satellite views, and local area maps, then download them digitally. Once you’re out in BLM land and camping with no service, your phone can still access GPS satellites and apply your location to the downloaded map, giving you the chance to get in and out of your area, regardless of data service.
As a good backup, most sporting goods or hunting stores will have paper BLM land maps that are awesome to have.
Pay attention to your surroundings when you enter BLM land. Look for turn around spots. If you’re in an RV or pulling a large 5th Wheel or Trailer, you will need a bigger turn around space. If you’re pulling a high clearance small off-road trailer, you can venture a bit further, and if you’re truck camping or tent camping with a 4WD vehicle, well you’re in the best position to go deep and find those spots that many can’t get to.
Four-wheel drive vehicles will give you the best possible chance of getting in and out without much of a headache.
Many BLM camping areas have good dirt roads that many 2WD sedans can cruise in and out on. But many have deeply rutted, muddy and uneven trails that require some ground clearance and articulation from your suspension.
When this happens, it helps to have power to all the wheels to make sure you can keep moving. Use sound judgment and you will be fine.
Be comfortable with the unknown (and cows)
BLM is beautiful, free, and fun to explore. However, there is no information center, no ranger to ask a question to, and no designated areas to separate people from wildlife or livestock.
The Federal government has allowed ranchers to keep beards of cattle on many BLM properties, so don’t be surprised if you are waiting for cows to clear a road in front of you or if you see cattle, wild horses (and all other wildlife) doing as they please.
I mean, hey, its public land, and it’s free. Be ready for it all, that’s what makes the difference between staying at a fancy campground and truly having an adventure your kids will love!
Extra Gas or Power Banks
Another overlooked necessity. Many BLM camping areas are already far from civilization. By the time you hit the gate entrance and start scouting for a spot, you’re moving at a very slow pace due to terrain and just looking around.
You can end up deep inland, with a lot of gas already used, and if you’re towing, that’s even more compounded. Don’t realize once you’re too far that you need gas, it sneaks up fast. Keep a reserve gas can handy and if need. Drop the trailer, go get the gas and take the reserve can as a backup.
Dropping the trailer will give your vehicle back the much-needed gas mileage. Don’t worry too much about the trailer, lock it up. Many trailers are left unattended without issue on BLM land as other campers are out exploring, hiking, and seeking out the land. It’s more important you don’t get stranded, and hey, you have insurance.
This is a bonus, but worth mentioning regarding generators or power banks. Depending on your goals, you may not want one at all. Or maybe you will need one because you can’t live without air conditioning in the RV, your phone is charged to take cow selfies, or just want that comfort of having electricity.
Power is an option that must be considered. From solar to gas and propane, there are lots of options out there. Keeping that extra gas can or fully charged up power bank can be a true lifesaver when out BLM camping.
While some of these seem basic, often we get so caught up in new cool gear, we forget the basics. We want you to enjoy your BLM camping trip and remembering these basics will definitely help.
If you don’t know where to go or how to locate BLM camping areas, check out our easy guide here. Or if you already know where you’re going on BLM but need to check the regulations out or latest advisories in that area, check the BLM main page, here.
Mike is a Colorado resident, a combat veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.
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