Leaving cones/“claiming a spot” boondocking NF/BLM

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
Is there NF/BLM-dweller consensus on the fairness/appropriateness of making a spot “your home base” (for 14 days of course) but not leave your vehicle there all the time? I don’t carry anything I want to risk leaving behind at the site and getting “permanently borrowed”. I live out of a minivan and I often drive places during the day. I want a place to come back to for a few nights in a row at least… If you were coming into a BLM or NF area and someone had left those orange traffic cones to mark a spot, would you be annoyed, disregard, think it was fine?? Maybe that’s not even legal/within land rules?
 

maki2

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
5,841
Reaction score
504
You cannot "reserve" a spot. The ranger might be the one who takes those cones if that is the only thing on the site . A lot of people buy a small, quick to setup, tent to reserve their spot. That seems to be the best way to go. Handy for a bit of extra storage to put chairs into it at night. Or you could put up a shower tent with a lidded, 5 gallon bucket in it. Handy place to keep the garbage even if you do not use it for toilet or showering. Not too many people are inclined to mess with a potty tent.
 

bullfrog

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
414
Certain areas state you cannot abandon a camp overnight or for more than 24 hours I believe. I usually recommend just using BLM land for sleeping and there are usually plenty of fairly level spots in the desert southwest. I sort of look it like parking at a shopping mall. It really doesn’t matter where you park as long as you get to shop at the places inside. You wouldn’t get away with putting up cones at a mall so don’t expect to do it on BLM. If you are not present and do not have a camp set up as described by maki2 you have no right to expect to use the site someone else may choose to use.
 

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
You cannot "reserve" a spot. The ranger might be the one who takes those cones if that is the only thing on the site . A lot of people buy a small, quick to setup, tent to reserve their spot. That seems to be the best way to go. Handy for a bit of extra storage to put chairs into it at night. Or you could put up a shower tent with a lidded, 5 gallon bucket in it. Handy place to keep the garbage even if you do not use it for toilet or showering. Not too many people are inclined to mess with a potty tent.
That’s funny because my cheapish pop up and 10 gallon bucket set-up was the one thing I was considering setting up and leaving behind for the day lol. Thanks for this
 

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
Certain areas state you cannot abandon a camp overnight or for more than 24 hours I believe. I usually recommend just using BLM land for sleeping and there are usually plenty of fairly level spots in the desert southwest. I sort of look it like parking at a shopping mall. It really doesn’t matter where you park as long as you get to shop at the places inside. You wouldn’t get away with putting up cones at a mall so don’t expect to do it on BLM. If you are not present and do not have a camp set up as described by maki2 you have no right to expect to use the site someone else may choose to use.
I like it. Thanks for this. That’s the thing- I just want to sleep there, relax for a few hours. I work using Verizon cell signal and have always ended up staying within about 30min of strong cell service. So I’m gone a lot during the day on weekdays and end up stressed about finding a new spot to sleep especially on Thursday/Friday/Saturday.
 

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
Let’s also be clear - if you’re paying $ for a site in an established campground (like a state park campground for instance), and the place is crowded or soon to be crowded, it can be good thing and help avoid confrontation if you leave something out. Without me asking, one time campground hosts put a traffic cone at my spot while I was gone so new arrivals wouldn’t mistake it for available… and that was because he didn’t want to deal with any awkward and possibly turbulent situations like the one another site had the night before! This post is strictly about sharing knowledge, rules, and general decency as a human when it comes to dispersed camping in natural spaces.
 

WanderingRose

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2018
Messages
1,864
Reaction score
416
Location
Upper Midwest
Many first come/first served campgrounds require that the site be occupied the first night, to avoid people holding sites they then do not use.

I think, personally, that if you aren’t going to use a site for 14 days you maybe should not hold it, preventing others from using it.
 

LoupGarou

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Messages
546
Reaction score
20
I wouldn't try to hold a site on public lands. There are advantages to camping in groups of near others who can keep an eye on things.
 

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
All- I meant only “reserving” a spot while I leave to go get supplies for a few hours. I do not mean reserving a spot and being gone-gone/not truly using it! To claim any land space for personal use and not occupy it… um that calls for purchasing the land
 

Bkwithlove

Active member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan
Many first come/first served campgrounds require that the site be occupied the first night, to avoid people holding sites they then do not use.

I think, personally, that if you aren’t going to use a site for 14 days you maybe should not hold it, preventing others from using it.
Would never do that. Only meant when I need to leave for supplies for a few hours, I am hoping to be able to return to the spot and not worry about finding a new one. I move around a lot and but sometimes am in the same area for a few days and it’s nice to be able to be out during the day and not stress at all about where I’ll head to sleep that night.
 

bullfrog

Well-known member
Joined
May 6, 2016
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
414
I never stress anymore. Home is with you and there is always someplace to park to get a few hours sleep then move on to a day use area for everything else. You just need to be flexible and get in the habit of only sleeping where you park over night for as short a time as necessary.
 

wayne49

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
1,589
Reaction score
14
Location
NV
It's fairly common to leave a BLM or USFS site during the day, deploying camp chair(s) to mark the spot as taken, returning to spend the night. A five gallon potty bucket with a luggable loo lid is optional.
 

frater secessus

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2016
Messages
1,992
Reaction score
236
Location
desert southwest
Is there NF/BLM-dweller consensus on the fairness/appropriateness of making a spot “your home base” (for 14 days of course) but not leave your vehicle there all the time?

As others have noted, leaving a minimal camp in place works well while one makes a run to town. A tarp or pup tent is cheap, effective, and can keep rain, sun, and prying eyes off anything left behind. If you are curious what happens while you're gone you can put up a $40 game camera. I've done this and have never seen anyone mess with the camp in my absence.

On the other end of the spectrum (the unacceptable end) was what I saw in a very crowded BLM area in Oregon. Someone put up police tape around a campsite perimeter midweek then showed up late Friday night to take down the tape and camp. Yay! You will be shocked (SHOCKED, I say) to learn they were ill-behaved, loud, entitled buttheads during their weekend stay.

Don't get me started on people who rope off / cone off access to other sites because they don't want anyone near them. Or locals who use public lands as free RV storage. <blood pressure rises>
 
Top