Dispersed Camping

Camping on the Mendocino is not limited to developed campgrounds. Most of the forest is open to those who prefer the quiet and solitude of a completely undeveloped setting. This type of camping is called Dispersed Camping.


Anyone planning a dispersed camping trip should invest in a forest map. You not only have to locate a campsite; you will also have to find your way back. Be respectful and know where you are. Click Here for a link to maps. 

Length of Stay:

For dispersed recreation areas, visitors may camp in the same location outside a one-mile radius of a developed recreation site for 14 days within any 30-day period but no more than 28 cumulative days in any 12-month period. When you go home, leave the forest the way you found it, or better, for the enjoyment of the next visitor.

Locating a Dispersed Campsite:

Look for an area where you are not likely to damage any forest resources. Before settling on your spot, investigate the surroundings. Locations at the end of a spur road or a pullout that is clear of vegetation and has a hard, compacted surface are usually good spots. Stay on established roadways; do not drive off-road to camp. Never camp in meadows.

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs):

Dispersed camping is permissible where the Motor Vehicle Use Map allows travel. The MVUMs are located here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mendocino/maps-pubs/?cid=FSBDEV3_004435. Motor vehicles may be parked up to one vehicle length from the edge of the road surface when it is safe to do so without causing damage to National Forest resources or facilities, unless prohibited by state law, a traffic sign, or special order. Parking motor vehicles is not allowed where it will impede traffic, harm vegetation, or impact soils. 

A Clean Camp is Required:

Please choose a camping spot where you will leave a minimal impact. Always plan ahead for accumulation and storage of your garbage and take it with you when you leave. Never burn or bury garbage in the forest. Likewise, it is your responsibility to manage human waste.  There are many commercial products on the market to deal with human waste.  If you must bury it, be sure to dig a hole at least 6 inches or more down into soil and stay at least 100 feet away from any river, lake, stream, spring or trail. Never bury toilet paper or sanitary products. Animals will dig it up and scatter it around the area. Never damage trees or vegetation to create a campsite. Do not dig trenches or build tent platforms/ 

Campfire restrictions and fire permits:

No campfire restrictions are in effect. Check here for a campfire permit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prevent-wildfire/campfire-safety/

When campfires are allowed, follow these campfire guidelines:

  • Clear all flammable material away from the fire for a minimum of five feet in all directions.
  • Make a fire only if you have a shovel and sufficient water to put it out.
  • Have a responsible person in attendance at all times.
  • Never leave your campfire unattended.
  • Never build a campfire on a windy day.
  • To make sure your campfire is out, drown with water and stir with dirt, making sure all burned materials are extinguished. Feel with your hand to make sure it’s out cold.
  • Every campfire will be put DEAD OUT before leaving it.

Dispersed Camping Areas

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities