Can You Camp for Free in Mojave National Preserve?

The Mojave National Preserve is a 1.6 million acre tract of land in the California desert, home to the largest Joshua Tree forest in the world, as well as a wide variety of cacti and wildflowers. It’s also home to a unique mix of cultural and historical sites, from ancient petroglyphs to abandoned mining operations. With so much to explore, it’s no wonder that camping in the Mojave is an increasingly popular activity.

For those looking to camp for free in the Mojave National Preserve, there are several options available. One option is dispersed camping, which allows visitors to set up camp anywhere on public lands outside of developed recreation sites. This type of camping is usually limited to 14 days or less at any one location and requires visitors to practice “leave no trace” principles, such as packing out all trash and disposing of human waste properly.

Another option for free camping in the Mojave National Preserve is backpacking. Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips into the backcountry and must be obtained from either a ranger station or visitor center prior to departure. There are no fees associated with backcountry permits, however there may be fees for access into certain areas.

Finally, visitors can also obtain free camping permits from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These permits allow visitors to camp on BLM lands within a certain distance from main roads or highways. Generally speaking, these types of campsites are more primitive than those found at recreational sites, but they provide a great way for visitors to enjoy the beauty of the area without breaking their budget.


In conclusion, yes it is possible to camp for free in Mojave National Preserve. Visitors who wish to do so have several options available including dispersed camping, backpacking and obtaining free BLM permits. Regardless of which type of camping one chooses, it’s important that they practice “leave no trace” principles in order to ensure that this beautiful area remains intact for future adventurers.

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Jennifer Watson