Dispersed Camping

Often referred to as "boondocking," dispersed camping is camping outside of developed campgrounds on the Rio Grande National Forest. There is no fee to dispersed camp. Sites are not maintained, tracked, or reservable.

Pick up or download a Motor Vehicle Use Map to learn where dispersed camping is allowed. Remember, just because camping is allowed along a road does not mean there will be sites available or suitable for camping. 

Dispersed camping is not allowed in the following areas:

  • Road 250, from Hwy 17 turnoff (Horca) north to Stunner Pass Except in two designated, signed, areas.
  • Signed areas in Trujillo Meadows Reservoir and campground areas.
  • Road 360 from Hwy 160 to Beaver Creek Reservoir.
  • Road 410 from Hwy 160 to Big Meadows Reservoir.
  • Big Spring & Poso picnic areas.
  • North Crestone Trailhead.
  • Within 300 feet of Machin Lake
  • Within Wheeler Geologic Area

There are a few things you need do to help:

Dispersed sites do not have many of the same rules of a traditional campground which places a greater responsibility on the users to protect our natural resources.

  • Camp at already used dispersed camping sites.
  • Camp at least 150 feet from water sources.
  • All vehicles must stay within 300 feet of the center line of a designated road.
  • Pack out all of your trash and dispose of it properly.
  • Dig a pit for your toilet needs at least 150 feet from water and cover the pit before you leave.
  • Always dump sewage from trailers and motor homes at designated dump stations.
  • Do not leave campfires unattended. Fires must be extinguished before you go to bed and before you leave. Drown, Stir, Feel! Check with the local Forest Service office for current fire restrictions.
  • Motorized travel is allowed only on authorized roads and trails. Obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map from any of the offices or online.
  • Camping is limited to 14 days in any 30 day period on the Rio Grande National Forest.
  • All hay must be certified weed free.

A Rio Grande National Forest visitor map can be useful for information regarding the main roads, private land, trails, landmarks, and other features. Maps may be purchased at sjma.org/shop or at district offices.

Follow links below for more detailed information.

Dispersed Camping Areas

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities