Dispersed Camping

What is dispersed camping?

People enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means no services (such as trash removal), and little or no facilities (such as tables and fire pits) are provided.

Rules for dispersed camping

  • Groups over 75 people are not allowed.
  • Dispersed camping is NOT allowed at trailheads, picnic sites, and fishing areas and within close proximity of campgrounds.
  • You need to be self-contained. No amenities are provided; such as water, restrooms or trash cans. Please pack out all your trash.
  • For information on occupancy and use, camping stay limits, weed free forage, visit Region 1 - Alerts & Notices (usda.gov). Travel to campsites must not create resource damage.
  • Travel to campsites must not create resource damage
  • Contact local district office for information on fire restrictions. It is your responsibility to know if fire restrictions are in effect before camping.
  • Be bear aware and know the food storage regulations before camping. These regulations are strictly enforced.

Where can I disperse camp?

Please refer to each district's Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). These maps will show which roadways allow disperse camping and it tells you the distance you are allowed to drive off the road to camp. Please note that some roads have more limitations and restrictions than others. Please consult the Motor Vehicle Use Map or call the district office for more details. 

Can I have a campfire?

Please use existing sites and fire rings. Firewood permits are not needed if wood is used on the forest. If wood is transported home for personal use, you will need to purchase a firewood permit at the closest district office. This permit should be obtained prior to you gathering or transporting any wood. 

Before you leave your campfire make sure is it completely out. You should be able to put your whole hand into the ashes without being burned; it should be cool to the touch. Stir the ashes to make sure all embers have cooled. This is very important! Many forest fires are caused by abandoned campfires that were not completely out.

The National Forest has wildfires each year. Many of these are human caused from escaped campfires in dispersed sites. Campfires are allowed unless there are fire restrictions in effect due to high fire danger conditions. It is your responsibility to know if fire restrictions are in effect before you go camping. You can learn about any fire restrictions by contacting the nearest Forest Service office.

Going to the Bathroom in the Woods

Dispersed camping means no bathrooms and no outhouses. That means extra care must be taken in disposing of human waste. If you have a self-contained unit such as an RV, use your own facilities. Other examples of self-contained toilet facilities include portable camp toilets and WAG bags.  If you do not have a self-contained toilet facility, please follow these waste disposal guidelines. For feces, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet away from any water source, designated campsites, or where people walk. When finished fill the hole with the dirt you dug up and take your toilet paper with you. Never defecate or leave toilet paper on top of the ground. Do not simply cover it with a rock; it can easily get into the local water sources and contaminate it.

Dispersed Camping Areas

  • Bozeman District
  • Gardiner District
  • Hebgen Lake District
  • Hebgen Lake Basin Area
  • Sioux RD
  • Chalk Buttes Land Unit
  • MacNab Pond
  • Yellowstone District
  • Main Boulder
  • Mill Creek
  • Shields River Dispersed Site

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities