What is Dispersed Camping?

What is Dispersed Camping?

Camping by nature encourages independence. It challenges explorers to take a step out of comfort zones and into more natural environments. Dispersed camping fulfills this concept on an even deeper level.

Dispersed camping describes overnight adventuring without a designated campsite. In other words, it includes everything from trailside camping on public land to overlanding in remote destinations. Traditional campsites undoubtedly have their place. However, dispersed camping offers a unique set of benefits.

Benefits of Dispersed Camping


Camping requires planning. To add to this burden, snagging a coveted campsite amidst a busy schedule can sometimes make us feel more like travel agents than explorers. Dispersed camping fixes the latter issue. Because it often doesn’t require reservations, this type of adventuring encourages campers to stop, go, and rest as they please.

Price Point

As an added bonus, it is often free. Some parks or private territories might still require an entrance fee. However, dispersed campers usually avoid the upcharge of campsite reservations.


In a world of neatly packaged tourism experiences, dispersed camping offers the challenge of discovering unique adventures. As a result, this demands improvisation and critical thinking. While potentially difficult, finding your own path often leads to great stories and even better memories.


Campgrounds can sometimes seem underwhelming and overcrowded. Finding the right environment is absolutely vital to an immersive outdoors experience. Consequently, dispersed camping allows adventurers the seclusion necessary to become one with the natural world.

Dispersed Camping among grassy hills

Dispersed Camping Steps

Location, Location, Location

Lots of natural environments allow for independent campsites. However, each destination has its own regulations. Due to these differences, double check in advance to ensure what’s possible. Some places might require wilderness permits. Others prohibit this practice entirely. For a list of potential sites, take advantage of the “dispersed” filter on The Dyrt.

Choose the Right Habitat

From there, select an appropriate mobile habitat. Obviously, account for weather, terrain, and local regulations. For example, some destinations will require hiking to potential campsites. Others provide access for vehicles via roads or trails. Generally speaking, the larger the vehicle, the fewer your options. With this in mind, be cognizant of size and off-road capability when making a selection.

Additional Research

In order to plan effectively, devise solutions specific to the selected environment. In effect, think on how you can master the domain while leaving minimal impact.

  • Research the terrain. Make sure you have a durable surface on which to camp.
  • Plan a bathroom strategy. Avoid any water pollution risks.
  • Get a paper map of the surrounding area.
  • Bring adequate food, water, storage and/or waste containers.
  • Know your local wildlife risks. Avoid interference with animal habitats at all costs.
  • Have a first aid plan. Consult with local emergency services on the best way to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Know your local laws. Follow all regulations regarding waste removal and fire starting.
  • Leave no trace.

For additional insight into off-grid camping, check out this article about getting off the grid.

Dispersed Camping in the mountains

Dispersed Camping Recap

Dispersed camping provides a unique opportunity for truly independent adventuring. Exploring the wild free of manmade interventions forces campers into a more fluid and immersive experience. With this in mind, dispersed camping also requires additional planning. It demands researching the environment thoroughly, choosing a suitable habitat, and taking necessary survival and preservation measures.

If carried out correctly though, dispersed camping rewards explorers with a truly authentic connection with the natural world.