Moab, Utah is near the top of many outdoor enthusiasts lists for incredible destinations. Mountain biking, off-roading, hiking, and several National Parks are just a few of the attractions the area has to offer. For the campers out there, you’ll be thrilled to learn that there are tons of opportunities for free dispersed camping near Moab.
We’ve put together this Moab dispersed camping guide to help you see your best options for camping, navigate the various rules, and find a great free campsite in the area.
Keep reading to learn about our nine favorite dispersed campsites near Moab, Utah!
Moab Dispersed Camping Guide
- The Basics
- The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Moab
Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite
Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the good spots taken!
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The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Moab. Everything from when to camp, what to bring, and how to get there.
This is the essential info before you head out!
Moab Dispersed Camping Essentials
Given how popular free dispersed camping in Moab can be we’ve provided an overview of the most important information to keep in mind when planning your trip:
- There is no dispersed camping permitted within 20 miles of Moab.
- Many areas limited campers to 14 consecutive nights or less. Always check restrictions for your chosen camping area.
- It is essential to practice Leave No Trace principles.
- Many dispersed sites are located in the sensitive desert ecosystem. That means you cannot dig/bury human waste. Please bring a portable toilet or pack out all of your waste.
When to Camp Near Moab
It is possible to camp in Moab year-round, although the most popular season will be the Spring and Fall. From March – May and September – October is when you’ll find the most pleasant weather with warm days, cool nights, and the best chance to settled weather. During the summer months Moab can get very hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees.
The winter sees freezing temperatures and even the occasional snow.
For those camping in a van, trailer, or RV, your Moab camping season will be a bit longer as you can use your heat of AC to extend your options.
What to Bring
The wilderness surrounding Moab is incredible rugged. From deep canyons to desolate deserts to the mighty La Sal mountains you’re going to need to come prepared to be self-sufficient.
- Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic Moab map pack.
- Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
- Portable water container – Water is scarce in the Moab area and none of the dispersed campsites in this guide have reliable access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
- Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
- Portable toilet – Many of the dispersed camping areas around Moab are located in sensitive desert environments. Bringing a portable toilet ensures you don’t pollute or damage this beautiful place.
Our dispersed camping checklist has everything you need.
Want to know the essentials for your next camping trip?
Our dispersed camping checklist has all the camping essentials plus specific items for dispersed camping.
Permits and Fees
One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near Moab is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.
However, be aware that regulations often change, campsites close, and the BLM/Forest Services makes changes to camping rules. As such, it is best to check with the Moab BLM office or Manti-La Sal Ranger District to confirm your plans.
Download Our FREE Dispersed Camping Cheat Sheet
Our free printable cheat sheet outlines how to find the perfect dispersed campsite for your next trip.
Fires in the delicate desert environment can leave a permanent scar on the landscape. As such, we do not recommend having a campfire at any of the dispersed camping areas in this guide. Although you’re likely to find fire rings, we can’t in good faith encourage you to use them based on the damage they can cause.
If you do opt to have a fire, please be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time and never create a new campfire ring!
- Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. There are camping areas for both low-clearance as well as high-clearance vehicles included in this guide, so be sure to choose one that meets your needs!
- All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on spring/fall weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.
Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite
Our online video course will teach you everything you need to know to find your next free, dispersed campsite.
Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the spots taken!
In this course, we’ll show you how to research free, public campsites, read USFS maps, locate public land, and plan your next dispersed camping trip.
- How to find areas that allow free, dispersed camping
- How to use public maps to narrow down your search
- How to use online apps to identify where camping is permitted and view the surrounding terrain
- How to view your exact location in relation to camping opportunities when you’re out looking for a site – even without cell phone service!
- Confidently plan your next camping trip
Dispersed Camping Near Moab
The following guide contains the 9 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Moab, Utah.
In addition, the map below gives an overview of each dispersed camping areas’ location with a full description included in the following section.
Planning a Utah road trip? Be sure to check out our other camping guides in the area:
- Canyonlands National Park Camping
- Capitol Reef National Park Camping
- Camping Near Bryce Canyon National Park
- Utah Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 14 miles
Gemini Bridges is a remote and difficult to access camping area near Moab. There are five designated sites that are all located on BLM land here, and no camping is permitted outside of these sites. The views are stunning, but the road to get here is very rough, so only those with a high-clearance 4WD vehicle should attempt to camp at Gemini Bridges.
The campsites are all tucked away and quite private, and you’ll be close to the Bride’s Canyon hiking area here. Although the road is very rough, for those with the right vehicle it is a straightforward drive to get here from Moab.
Given how remote this area is, there are no services or trash facilities nearby. It is essential to practice Leave No Trace camping at Gemini Bridges to ensure this area remains open to future campers. Please be sure to leave your campsite in better condition than you found it!
Willow Springs Road Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 13 miles
At just 15 minutes from town, Willow Springs Road offers some of the most convenient dispersed camping near Moab. These sites aren’t glamours, and can get quite busy and loud, but they do provide some easy to access campsites very close to Moab and Arches National Park.
Not much more than a dirt road with a few pull outs off the highway, camping at Willow Springs Road isn’t for those seeking solitude, seclusion, or stunning natural beauty. Instead, you’ll get very convenient camping that can be accessed by most vehicles.
Given how popular Willow Springs Road is, it is very important to practice Leave No Trace camping. Please be sure to pack out all of your trash and minimize your impact as much as possible.
With the creation of Utahraptor State Park, there is some speculation that dispersed camping will no longer be allowed here in the future, so be sure to check with the Moab BLM office before settling on a camping trip here.
La Sal Loop Road/Manti-La Sal National Forest
Distance to Moab: 17 miles
The La Sal mountains set a spectacular backdrop for the area and also are home to some of the best dispersed camping near Moab. Although you’re less than 20 miles from town here, you’ll feel a world apart as you enter these mountains, which are often at least 10 degrees cooler than Moab itself.
The La Sal Loop road is a popular dispersed camping destinations and features dozens of opportunities for camping on one of the many spur roads in the National Forest. You’ll also be able to explore some of the less visited highlights of the area, such as the La Sal lookout.
To get here from Moab your best bet is to head south along Highway 191 before taking a left on Old Airport Road. From here, keep an eye out for La Sal Loop Road signage and be sure you’re in the National Forest before setting up camp. There is no water or other facilities here, so please be sure to pack out your trash and come prepared.
Long Canyon Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 30 miles
Long Canyon Road offers some decent dispersed camping near Moab for those willing to drive a bit further. These sites aren’t much more than pullouts in some very sands areas adjacent to Long Canyon Road, but they’ll get the job done for those looking for a campsite.
You can get to Long Canyon two ways, either from Highway 313 en route to Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park which is suitable for most vehicles, or from the east by taking Highway 279 directly to Long Canyon Road. The latter is only for 4WD vehicles as the road gets quite rough.
Be sure to inquire with the Moab BLM office before camping here as there have been some recent reports that they are considering closing the area to camping.
Distance to Moab: 22.6 miles
Restrooms: Pit toilet.
A unique camping option in the Moab area is the free Castleton Tower Campground. Not officially a dispersed site, this free camping area is owned and maintained by Utah Open Lands. A favorite spot for climbers, this campground has room for 5 or 6 camping setups at a given time. Even if you’re not a climber, the hike to the base of Castleton Tower is highly recommended.
To get here from Moab take Highway 128 to the La Sal Loop Road. Continue on that for approximately 4.5 miles before reaching the camping area adjacent to the road.
Given how unique this campground is it is essential to pack out your trash, be respectful, and follow all of the regulations in place. This area has seen a dramatic increase in campers over the past few years, so minimizing your impact is the only way to ensure it remains open for free camping.
Yellow Circle Road Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 12.6 miles
Yellow Circle Road offers basic dispersed camping near Moab just off of Highway 191 south of town. Although not much more than a basic dirt road, this is a convenient spot for campers headed south to Canyonlands. Yellow Circle Road can get quite busy with tons of RVs, vans, ATVs, and more, so only come here if you don’t mind a bit of noise and activity.
This is BLM land so you can continue further along the road in hopes of finding a quieter or more secluded site. The road does get a bit rougher the further back you go, so those in a larger rig will want to camp closer to the highway.
As with most of the Moab dispersed camping options, Yellow Circle Road does not have a water source or any facilities. As such, you’ll need to come prepared with everything you need to be self-sufficient here.
Klondike Bluffs Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 18 miles
Klondike Bluffs offers a very convenient dispersed camping area just north of Moab, UT. This is the perfect location for visiting Arches National Park or exploring some the area’s popular mountain biking trails. As with most dispersed camping in the Moab area you won’t find much shade here, but the road is fairly easy to navigate and you can’t beat the location.
Also known as BLM Road 142, this camping area has several larger sites that can accommodate RVs and trailers. Tent campers should be aware that the dirt here is incredibly difficult to get stakes into, so plan accordingly!
To get here from Moab head north on Highway 191 for approximately 16.5 miles to BLM Road 142/Klondike Bluffs Rd. This is just before you get to the Canyonlands Field Airport, so if you get there you’ve gone too far. Once on BLM 142 you’ll start to see campsites appear almost immediately.
BLM 340/Mineral Road
Distance to Moab: 25 miles
Situated west of Moab and close to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands is the BLM 340 dispersed camping area. Located past the developed Horsethief Campground, this BLM dispersed camping area can accommodate most rigs and trailers. The further back you head the rougher the road gets, so keep that in mind if you have a low clearance vehicle.
The wind can really whip through this area, so if you’re tent camping you’ll want to be sure you’ve adequately secured your set-up. From here, we highly recommend a sunrise or sunset visit to Mesa Arch.
Getting here from Moab is straightforward. Simply take Highway 191 north to Highway 313 toward Canyonlands. From here look for BLM 340, signed for the Horsethief Campground. Once past the formal campground dispersed campsites begin to appear almost immediately.
Lone Mesa/BLM 137 Dispersed Camping
Distance to Moab: 25 miles
The Lone Mesa dispersed camping area is located west of Moab just past the developed Lone Mesa Group Campground. Although not an official campground, this dispersed camping area is well organized with several loops that can accommodate a variety of rigs.
You won’t get any privacy here as there aren’t any trees to speak of, but you will get convenient access to Moab, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park. This is a popular spot for RVs as the road is navigable by most vehicles.
To get to the Lone Mesa dispersed camping area head to Highway 313 from Moab and then turn off at BLM 137. Drive past the group campground and you’ll see this large camping area on your right. There are no facilities here and given the fragile desert environment it is essential to practice Leave No Trace camping principles.
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Have a great trip!
We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a Moab dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!
Looking for other great camping in Utah? Be sure to check out our other guides below: