The Anarchist Campground

If you don’t mind digging your own latrine, the anarchist campground is your new, self-isolation, best friend! I recently found myself in a situation where my best option was driving halfway across the country. Airplanes? No thanks. Hotels? I was on the fence. But camping… now that’s something I can get behind. Multiple Covid experts give camping the ‘low risk’ stamp of approval. Unless, of course, you’re crammed in with tons of other people.

The only problem? Most campgrounds were closed. It turns out you can camp anywhere in any National Forest. This is called dispersed camping. There’s no camp host, no check in, no check out, no fees, no bathroom, no water, no reservations… but most importantly? No people. Just you and some forest somewhere. This is the anarchist campground.

How to dispersed camp

It takes more research ahead of time, and it’s not like there are zero rules. Every National Forest has their own rules and etiquette for dispersed camping, but they’re all quite easy to find on the Forest Service website. In order to keep in harmony with the forest, you should definitely know what few rules do exist. Once you learn what they are, the privacy and freedom of dispersed camping greatly outweighs the lack of questionable running water and stinky camp toilet.

On the Forest Service website you can find an interactive map where you can click on individual areas for all the pertinent info. As a Californian I’m well aware of the ever changing landscape of fire restrictions. The Forest Service website is kept completely up to date. Look for remote forest roads at least a mile away from developed campgrounds (this seems to be a common rule). Once you find a quaint looking forest road, head over to google earth to see if there are any existing clearings. Reusing existing spots keeps your impact on the forest low.

On the journey I camped in the Fishlake National Forest in Utah (Southern Paiute and Ute), and the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota made famous by Mt. Rushmore (Cheyenne, Sioux, and Crow). Both forests were serene and picturesque. They’re high on the list of places to revisit. I didn’t get any photos of dispersed camping in the Black Hills, but there are some photos below of my time at the lovely Hanna Campground.

Learning links

This Melanin Base Camp article encourages learning about the relationship between people of color and the outdoors: https://www.melaninbasecamp.com/trip-reports/2019/7/7/mbc-guide-to-outdoor-allyship

This Native Lands mobile app encourages you to know what native tribes inhabited the lands you’re standing on: https://native-land.ca/mobile-app/

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