With the recent news of the outdoor industry’s valuation at a whopping $373.7 billion – that’s 2% of the United States’ GDP – it should come as no surprise that more and more people are getting outside and going camping. And while most people find plenty of joy in staying at designated campgrounds, there are those of us who like to take a bit of a more solitary approach.

Thankfully – when it comes to National Parks, Public Lands, State Forests, and more – there’s a much larger abundance of available camping spots than most people are probably aware of. And, at a lot of them, you can camp entirely for free (with some caveats) – which is pretty enticing when you take into account the cost of more traditional groomed campgrounds. While the dispersed camping grounds you can stay on vary from place to place, there are a few constants that can help you traverse the landscape appropriately, in safety, and without making too much of a human impact on the surrounding area. It’s for this reason that we’ve put together the following complete guide to dispersed camping. So go ahead and get out there.

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