An entire book could be written about free camping in Nevada. Nearly 85 percent of the entire state is federally owned, the highest percentage of federal land out of every state in the U.S. With so much public land to take advantage of, anyone from tent campers to RV and trailer campers, backpackers to bike-packers, and everyone in between will find the perfect campground.
The Best Places to Find Free Camping in Nevada
As anyone who’s explored free camping in Nevada will tell you, the Battle Born state is far more than a barren desert. Mountains, lakes, canyons and yes, deserts, are calling. So grab your gear and head for Nevada camping on a budget.
1. 12 Mile Hot Springs
Northwest Nevada’s 12 Mile Hot Springs, also known as Bishop Creek Hot Springs, is a 40-foot long and 3-foot deep natural spring. The structure is human-made, but it’s primitive and secluded. The water temperature is about 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) on average, making this spot a cozy . The area around the springs can winter temperatures can drop into the teens, so it’s common to see snow. And, in case you’re wondering, clothing is optional. Making your way to 12 Mile Hot Springs is through an easy two mile hike. The road can be rough on low-clearance cars so don’t be afraid to pull over and set up camp or extend your hike.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owns and operates the land. According to The Dyrt campers Jason & Sara S., there are at least six sites along the dirt road to the parking lot. Part of the land in that area is private, so look out for signs. There are no amenities so bring plenty of water and supplies.
2. Whipple Cave
Whipple Cave is an excellent destination for spelunkers and cave enthusiasts. The cave only gets an average of 141 visitors a year, so you’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself. It has all the features of the caves at nearby Great Basin National Park, making this a great alternative to beat the national park crowds.
The BLM manages the land outside of Whipple Cave, so this counts as free camping in Nevada. The Dyrt camper Alex B. warns that it can get windy. Be sure to bring plenty of rope, a headlamp, water, and extra supplies. And remember that you’re dry camping, so there won’t be any modern toilets.
3. Mt. Charleston
Mt. Charleston is the perfect getaway from the bustling city of Las Vegas. In less than an hour, campers can trade the summer heat for cooler temps, seclusion, and some of the best views in Nevada. If you want even more privacy, opt for dispersed camping. Popular areas to disperse camp are Mack’s Canyon, Champion Road, and Lovell Canyon. But you can disperse camp anywhere that’s at least one mile from a developed campground and 100 feet from a water source.
Mt. Charleston is managed by the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, so this is free camping in Nevada. Since you’re dry camping, there won’t be any water or toilets, and there might be fire restrictions. The Dyrt camper Alex B. recommends checking the website before you go. Some areas have established sites with fire rings.
4. Sand Mountain
The Sand Mountain camping area is an open area where dune enthusiasts can gather. The Sand Mountain Recreational Area is home to almost 5,000 acres of dunes. There are also 23 miles of designated trails. The Stillwater Mountains border the dunes. Sand Mountain, at 3.5 miles long and 600 feet high, is the largest dune in the Great Basin.
It’s important to note that Sand Mountain is a fee area ($40 for 1-7 days). But The Dyrt camper Leah W. has the inside scoop on free entrance days—Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Since it’s an open area, you can camp in a tent or trailer. There are a few vault toilets, but no other amenities, so bring plenty of supplies.
5. Nelson’s Landing
Nelson’s Landing is a small beach on the Colorado River between Lake Mohave and Lake Mead, at the mouth of Eldorado Canyon. The area is rife with gripping history. Anglers love Nelson’s Landing because the river is abundant with fish. It’s a great place for relaxing water activities, as the canyon walls protect the area from high winds. The Dyrt camper Crystal C. calls it an “untouched paradise.”
Nelson’s Landing is managed by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, so this is also free camping in Nevada. It’s basically a hidden beach, so there are no amenities. As such, make sure you bring plenty of water and supplies. Be sure to set up camp at least 100-200 feet from the shore. Dip your toes in and enjoy the privacy.
Resources for Free Camping in Nevada
Finding free camping in Nevada can be an intimidating task. Whether you’re tent camping, on wheels, or on foot, these resources can help you find free camping near your destination.
- The Dyrt makes it easy to find dispersed camping in Nevada (or anywhere else). Put Nevada in the search bar. Under type, select “dispersed.” Each listing includes a rating and reviews, detailed description, list of features, images, weather report, and geographical data.
- Google Maps is a familiar tool for finding public lands in Nevada. The green areas often indicate public land, but be sure to do further research on the area you’re looking for.
- The National Geographic Road Atlas Adventure Edition has maps showing public lands. It’s a great physical resource to keep in your car, pack, or RV.
- If you’re traveling by RV, Boondockers Welcome lists free places to park on private property. For a small fee, you can find listings on Harvest Hosts, Overnight RV Parking, and rv-camping.org.