Squatting In National Forest and Wilderness Areas


I see a lot of threads on this site asking about squatting on BLM land and in National Forests and Wilderness areas. Having a bit of experience at this sort of thing I’d like to offer a little information and advice.

Firstly, yes, you can camp in one spot for a maximum of 14 days. But then you must move to a different BLM, National Forest, or Wilderness District and can’t return to the old district for a period of 30 days. So in practice you’re going to need a minimum of three different districts to migrate between in order to be in compliance with federal law.

This sounds easy but isn’t always. Districts are often separated by many miles and the BLM, National Forestry, and Parks Service have intentionally drawn district boundaries in such a way as to make it difficult to easily migrate between them. They are also not eager to share maps showing the different districts and boundaries. But you can find them on the Internet.

So. My advice to anyone wanting to squat on federal land for an extended period of time is to first (1) get a national district map (2) goto the website Wilderness.net and (3) Google Earth or Maps. These three sources of info will enable you to scout for an area within a National Forest or National Wilderness area that meets the following critical criteria:

Heavy tree growth
Relatively easy terrain
Free flowing WATER
Abundant small game
Abundant fish
Within 2-3 days hiking of town with hospital and outdoor supply stores
As far removed as possible from main hiking trails and Park Service dirt roads

Of all the aforementioned, finding suitable camps sites far removed from dirt roads and Rangers is the most difficult to attain. But it can be done.

I’ve spent extended periods of time (years) squatting in National Forests and National Wilderness Areas without migrating between districts and living in permanent lean-to shelters. It just requires some in-depth research on the front end before you go tramping off into the woods.

It also requires a highly experienced Bushcrafter and survivalist with the proper top drawer equipment. Because what we’re talking about is thriving in remote wilderness areas for extended periods of time. Not weekend camping or short range hiking. So if you lack the experience, skills and equipment DO NOT attempt becoming a mountain man or woman until you’ve invested the time, trouble and expense of mastering the proper skills. Otherwise you’ll just end up critter scat.


It is no secret that an important thing I want to talk about is sustainability, I bring it up in most posts and communication I make. Certainly there is common thinking for getting away from civilization and rewilding with living on the land, at a natural level. Going out camping is a way to go in that direction. And national forests, national parks, and BLM areas are useful for that. But we know civilization is unstable, ruining this world, and can’t last, with collapse ahead which those in it can’t see how close it is. It is not sustainable, how can we who would leave it not be living just as unsustainably? If we use such lands, what would we be subsisting on? Wildlife is rapidly decreasing and at the rate that it could be gone in just years. Would you still use wildlife? Would you be, or are you, using products from animal agriculture? It would not be good to value things from agriculture, and animal agriculture is the most unsustainable. It is for this that there are those starting fires in the Amazon rainforests, that they are rapidly burning away, that land will be made available for raising livestock, and growing feed for them. Animal agriculture grows with using more land, and from this wildlife is disappearing.

So what are you going to have? Would it be a way that is as unsustainable as the way of an individual in civilization?

I myself think that being where you can have things growing which would be enough, with simple living especially if primitive, for what is needed, is important for sustainable living that people should have.


That depends entirely on the individual. Short of starvation, a single person can’t justify killing large species such as deer, bear, moose, etc. However, rabbit, squirrel, snake, fish, and certain species of birds are far from endangered and in some areas overabundant. Then there’s native flora. Walking through a forest is akin to walking through a free supermarket if you know what you’re looking at. However, the modern luxury of eating three meals per day should be discarded unless you want to spend every waking moment searching for food. One meal per day of high density protein, carbs, and fats should do you nicely and isn’t difficult to procure. The point I’m trying to make is that everyone has an inherent responsibility to relearn the common skills of their ancestors with the ultimate goal of working back towards the neolithic. This isn’t encouraged in modern society and in many cases frowned upon, ridiculed or outright illegal. So be it. If the end comes in my lifetime I’ll be living comfortably in a national wilderness area while most are cutting each other’s throats for a cup of water and scrap of food.



And your advertisement contributes to the dialogue in what way?


RiverRatRandy, there was not anything I was trying to advertise. I meant for you to look at the site that was linked to, which you show you did not do, as you were saying that it is alright to be killing animals found among the wildlife. If you had you would see my point, that wildlife is rapidly decreasing. I saw better links further for showing that point after posting, it is however not an easy thing for me to go collect them for showing here, and why should I bother if even one for it won’t be looked at? It is certain that wildlife is rapidly decreasing, and we have responsibility to live differently without contributing to it, either directly with killing off wildlife still, or indirectly but still certainly contributing to it with our market demands, definitely including any demand for what we get from animal agriculture.


It is alright to kill certain species in the wild for food. As I previously stated, and you obviously didn’t read, some species of smaller game are not only not endangered but overpopulating. At any rate, Sunbather and I were discussing the better ways of acquiring survival and bushcrafter skills in this thread. Do you have anything along those lines of discussion to contribute? Because that’s what Sunbather was asking - where and how he could acquire survival and bushcrafter skills. And a portion of those skills involves acquiring food in the wild. We weren’t debating anything. We were discussing a particular topic. I suspect a great many of the people on this site have interpreted “rewilding” as exclusively meaning rolling back urban development. It does not. It also includes relearning how to survive in the wild.


Will it really matter that some small animals are growing in numbers when all wildlife will be gone? No, all wildlife will be gone, then. It is really happening, I have the information. Nature should be left intact, natural predators are a part of the systems they come from. Humans are the ones which should perish. The world would be better without out all of them.


All humans should perish? Jeez, you need to get out of your parent’s basement more often.


I would like to see this “information”. It’s hard to believe considering so much “wildlife” is more resilient than us humans - and will likely outlive us.

Furthermore, life isn’t that simplistic. Wildlife doesn’t sit around singing hippy chants - those animals are in competition, directly & indirectly. Sure, most humans aren’t helping, but overpopulated species are detrimental to the rest of wildlife. Hunting them is actually better for nature than not doing anything.

WWF also has a pretty lackluster reputation when it comes to protecting nature AND the people who are already living sustainably.


I’m definitely interested in this topic. Do you have a set of the minimum skills one should possess before giving it a go?

Friction fire & hunting are obviously non-negotiable. What else?