Boondocking in Nevada

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 09:47 am. Originally published on April 11th, 2021

Nevada is one of the best places in the United States for boondockers. You can camp for free on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which makes up 63% of the state. Another 17% is managed by other federal agencies, so you’re never far from a great, free campsite. Las Vegas might get all the attention, but Nevada is so much more. Explore Gold-Rush ghost towns, park your RV in red-rock canyons, or wake up next to verdant lakes and valleys in the mountains near Reno. Near Elko, you can sleep deep in the mountains and discover cowboy culture. Head to Great Basin National Park to summit mountain peaks among the ancient bristlecone pines. With so much public land and natural beauty, boondocking in Nevada is an experience you’ll never forget.

Large, red rock formations and RV in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Boondocking Sites in Nevada

Snowbird Mesa (Poverty Flats)

If you’re interested in visiting Valley of Fire State Park, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, or Mesquite, the Snowbird Mesa dispersed camping area is a great spot. Affectionately called “Poverty Flats,” this area consists of a wide stretch of desert with gorgeous views of the mountains. There’s plenty of room for big rigs, most sites have fire rings, and you’ll usually find other campers in the area. A few restaurants and stores line nearby NV-169 in Moapa Valley and Moapa, so it’s easy to find supplies.

Berry Creek Dispersed Campground

Run by the Forest Service, the Berry Creek Dispersed Campground is a great spot for free camping in Nevada. It’s located about 32 miles from Ely, where you can find fuel, grocery stores, and other essentials. This is a great spot if you’re interested in hiking and boating; the High Schnells Wilderness Area, Cave Lake State Park, and Great Basin National Park are all close by. The campground is lovely, and the sites are tucked into the trees next to the creek, offering beautiful mountain views. Given its high elevation, Berry Creek is usually accessible from May to October.

Lower Bluster Campground

Get off the grid at Lower Bluster Campground. Hidden away in northern Nevada near the tiny community of Jarbidge, this campground is located in the spectacular and lightly trafficked Jarbidge Wilderness Area. Hike among red-rock hoodoos, explore canyons, and return to a campsite with stunning mountain and high-plains views. The campground is open from June to October and offers vault toilets for convenience. It’s best for RVs up to 25 feet long.

The Mugwumps

The Mugwumps camping area gets its name from the bizarre tufa limestone formations nearby. It sits in the now-dry bed of Winnemucca Lake; nearby, you’ll find the spectacular Pyramid Lake, ancient petroglyphs, Reno, and stunning mountain hikes. Most sites come with fire pits and occasional cell service. This area has a reputation for loose sand and silt, so it’s a good idea to scout it out before driving in your RV.

Dayton/Virginia City BLM

If you’re looking for a free campsite near Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Carson City, the Dayton/Virginia City BLM dispersed camping area is a great option. It’s located a few minutes from the community of Mound House, just off of US-50. Sites are located in an open field; they don’t offer beautiful views, but they’re easy to access. Keep in mind that this spot tends to attract partiers, so it can be loud on weekend evenings.

Where to Boondock in Nevada

When you’re planning your trip, there’s no need to worry about where to boondock in Nevada. The answer? Practically anywhere. You’ll find free campsites almost everywhere in the state. Near the major cities of Las Vegas and Reno, plan on driving about an hour out of town. Some of the most popular sites are located in the lush, green mountains north of Reno; these spots are cooler in the summer, making a great base camp for days at Lake Tahoe. 

If you want to escape the crowds, look for sites in the center and northeastern parts of the state. Population levels are low, and you’ll find stunning mountains and high deserts around every corner. If you’re not sure where to start narrowing down the options for boondocking in Nevada, contact the local BLM office for recommendations. BLM lands are open to camping as long as you don’t stay for more than 14 days in one spot. After that, you’ll need to move at least 25 miles away.

Free Camping in Nevada

When preparing for your boondocking trip, remember that Nevada is a vast, sparsely populated state. You can drive for hours in the remote areas without seeing a gas station or grocery store, so make sure to stock up in advance and plot out the local services. Cellphone service is also limited in many of the more mountainous areas.

Some dispersed camping areas in Nevada are well-populated, especially during the winter in the southern part of the state. If you’re heading to an isolated BLM area, be sure to tell someone where you’re going. Roads in these regions can be rough, so when in doubt, walk or drive ahead. This extra effort can help you avoid getting stuck or puncturing a tire, especially if you’re driving a bigger RV.

When you’re prepared, boondocking in Nevada is great fun. If you’re feeling social, you can meet an array of interesting people. Prefer outdoor activities and solitude? The mountains, canyons, lakes, and forests of Nevada offer all of the natural beauty and wild adventures you could ever want. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking.

With its vast stretches of public land, Nevada offers some of the best boondocking in the country. Ready to experience this wild landscape? An RV rental from RVshare makes it easy to find the perfect motorhome and start the adventure.

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