Summer Lake & Diablo Mountain WSA | Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Rogue River Rafting | Bureau of Land Management Oregon and WashingtonThe Bureau of Land Man­age­ment (BLM) is a gov­ern­ment agency that over­sees pub­lic land. This land is often leased out to pri­vate par­ties for graz­ing and min­ing. “The BLM man­ages one in every ten acres of land in the Unit­ed States, and approx­i­mate­ly 30% of the Nation’s min­er­als,” accord­ing to the BLM’s web­site. “These lands and min­er­als are found in every state in the coun­try and encom­pass forests, moun­tains, range­lands, arc­tic tun­dra, and deserts.”

Things you CAN do on BLM land

Recre­ation fees can be “col­lect­ed at areas which pro­vide a min­i­mum stan­dard of ser­vices and ameni­ties, called Stan­dard and Expand­ed Ameni­ties, as well as issu­ing per­mits autho­riz­ing a vari­ety of uses of pub­lic lands and waters.” Areas that do not offer ameni­ties often do not require a fee, though this can vary state to state. As there are no nation­wide reg­u­la­tions on what can be done on BLM land, you should check with your state before tak­ing a trip.

Dis­persed camp­ing, the tech­ni­cal term for camp­ing out­side of a camp­ground or des­ig­nat­ed area on pub­lic lands, is allowed with­out a per­mit on most BLM land for up to 14 days. After 14 days, you are required to move at least 25 miles from your orig­i­nal spot and can­not return with­in 28 days. The BLM also asks that you camp at least 200 feet away from water and use sites that are already estab­lished, if possible.

Oth­er things you can do on BLM land include hunt­ing (with a per­mit), hik­ing, off-high­way dri­ving, horse­back rid­ing, and swim­ming. In fact, most out­door recre­ation­al activ­i­ties are allowed on BLM land, with the stip­u­la­tion that you leave the land the way you found it. BLM land is a great place to go hik­ing with your pet; accord­ing to Go Pet Friend­ly, BLM man­aged lands allow “dogs on near­ly all trails, many times allow­ing them to be off-leash.” Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, dogs are allowed to be off-leash in unde­vel­oped areas. Near devel­op­ments and camp­grounds, the BLM gen­er­al­ly allows pets but requires them to be leashed.

Abert Rim & Lake Abert | Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Things you CAN’T do on BLM Land

While the wilder­ness may be beau­ti­ful, you may want to be care­ful when cap­tur­ing it on film. In most cas­es, casu­al pho­tog­ra­phy and videog­ra­phy is allowed with­out a per­mit on BLM land. How­ev­er, any pho­tog­ra­phy or videog­ra­phy that uses mod­els, sets, or props that are not part of the nat­ur­al land­scape, or takes place where mem­bers of the pub­lic gen­er­al­ly are not allowed, nor­mal­ly requires a permit.

Some­times pub­lic land can be dif­fi­cult to access. Some BLM land is com­plete­ly land-locked by pri­vate­ly owned prop­er­ty. If there are no pub­lic access roads, you will need to get per­mis­sion from pri­vate land own­ers to cross their land.

Accord­ing to the BLM’s web­site, it is also “ille­gal to cross pub­lic land at cor­ners. Some areas in the West are check­er-board­ed with pub­lic and pri­vate lands, or oth­er­wise have sec­tions of pub­lic land that are dif­fi­cult to reach. When the only place tracts of pub­lic land touch is at a cor­ner, it may seem like a log­i­cal thing to step over the cor­ner from one piece of pub­lic land to anoth­er. Every year hunters armed with GPS units and maps give it a try. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is ille­gal to cross at bound­ary corners.”

When in doubt, it’s always safest to check with your local BLM office. Some­times areas can be closed to the pub­lic because of fire restric­tions or road clo­sures. Rules change every year, so stay­ing up to date will help you avoid a pos­si­ble cita­tion or fine. By obey­ing the law and pro­tect­ing the land by leav­ing in the con­di­tion you found it in, every­one can enjoy access to pub­lic BLM land.

What­ev­er your pre­ferred method of recre­ation, there is an out­let for you on the thou­sands of acres of pub­lic land man­aged by the BLM. So call up your local office and jot down a list of things to pack. The great out­doors is waiting.

Summer Lake & Diablo Mountain WSA | Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Zion Canyon National Park

Yosemite park

Few issues in the West have been as divi­sive as pub­lic lands. Con­ser­va­tion, recre­ation, min­ing, log­ging, ranch­ing, fish­ing, camp­ing and wilder­ness are often at odds. The divides are usu­al­ly seen along urban-rur­al lines and left-right polit­i­cal lines. But, when nation­al pol­i­tics seem more divid­ed that ever, pub­lic lands offer some­thing rare indeed: some­thing most agree on.

A recent poll of the west’s inter­moun­tain states prove that love of pub­lic lands cross­es par­ty lines.

West­ern­ers Just Wan­na Have Fun
The poll revealed how deeply west­ern­ers val­ue access to pub­lic lands and out­door recre­ation. 82% want­ed greater access to pub­lic lands for fish­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, hik­ing and oth­er types of out­door recre­ation. The sup­port crossed par­ty lines and was equal­ly strong from peo­ple who lived in the sub­urbs, the cities, and small towns. By con­trast, only 22% want­ed more empha­sis on job cre­at­ing indus­tries on pub­lic lands.

Habi­tat Rocks
But west­ern­ers don’t just care about whether they can get a camp­site or ride their moun­tain bike. Both Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats rat­ed “pol­lu­tion of lakes, rivers, and streams” as of equal impor­tance to employ­ment. When asked which was more impor­tant: pro­tect­ing clean water, air, and recre­ation or pro­duc­ing ener­gy and jobs, West­ern­ers went for water, air, and pub­lic lands by a fac­tor of more than 3:1.

Clean Jobs
Jobs are also tak­ing on a green tinge. When asked what kinds of jobs they want­ed to bring to their state, the most pop­u­lar answer was solar, wind, and renew­able ener­gy. Out­door recre­ation was seen as a bet­ter source of jobs than oil and gas. 85% approve lim­it­ing oil and gas drilling and pro­tect­ing envi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive places even in oil, coal and gas depen­dent Wyoming.

Zion Canyon National ParkWe Like Our Land Managers
When small towns strug­gle, the fin­ger often gets point­ed at the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment which owns large por­tions of land that gen­er­ates tim­ber for local mills and range­land for cows. But sup­port for the agen­cies is strong. Approval rates for the Park Ser­vice, For­est Ser­vice and Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice ranged between 76% and 82%. Only 25% dis­agreed with the work of the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment, the least under­stood agency.

Keep It Public 
When asked if pub­lic lands should be giv­en to states, the answer was a resound­ing no. In Utah and Neva­da, where new pro­tec­tions of Bear’s Ears and Gold Butte was “con­tro­ver­sial,” the sur­vey revealed that these Nation­al Mon­u­ments aren’t that con­tro­ver­sial at all. Uta­hans and Nevadans sup­port them by dou­ble-dig­it margins.

In Feb­ru­ary, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jason Chaf­fetz of Utah intro­duced a bill to sell off more than 3 mil­lion acres of pub­lic lands to pri­vate inter­ests. He was hit by an imme­di­ate back­lash from across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Hunters, fish­ers, out­door gear com­pa­nies, hik­ers, and campers flood­ed his inbox and Insta­gram feed. He with­drew the bill a week later.

We All Agree
Chaf­fetz shouldn’t have been sur­prised; love of pub­lic lands is built into the cul­ture of the West. We flock here for the wide-open spaces, not to make a fast buck. The peo­ple sur­veyed were more Repub­li­can than Demo­c­rat, more con­ser­v­a­tive than lib­er­al or mod­er­ate. But the val­ue of pub­lic lands and out­door recre­ation rings out loud­ly across the board. When he start­ed the Nation­al Park Ser­vice, Stephen Math­er saw pub­lic lands as a meet­ing ground where Amer­i­cans from all back­grounds and walks of life could enjoy their nation­al her­itage togeth­er on the trails and around the camp­fire. Here’s to that.

Chiricahua National Monument

America’s nation­al mon­u­ments have been under the spot­light late­ly due to efforts to both save and elim­i­nate a few of them. With over 100 Mon­u­ments spread across the coun­try you prob­a­bly haven’t heard of, we thought now would be a good time to high­light some of the least visited.

Chiricahua National MonumentChir­ic­ahua Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Arizona
The Chir­ic­ahua Nation­al Mon­u­ment in Ari­zona is a des­ig­nat­ed wilder­ness acces­si­ble by foot and horse­back. It con­tains rough­ly 17 miles of day-use trails for the intre­pid explor­er with var­i­ous forests, mead­ows and tow­er­ing rock pin­na­cles to wind through. Though ille­gal, we hear it’s also pop­u­lar with climbers; we don’t rec­om­mend tempt­ing fate or the author­i­ties with that one, though. Oth­er­wise, it’s a won­der­ful, unique mon­u­ment with fas­ci­nat­ing rock for­ma­tions and great hikes like the Echo Canyon Trailhead.

Aniakchak National MonumentAni­akchak Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Alaska
Ani­akchak Nation­al Mon­u­ment sees few­er vis­i­tors than even Cape Krusen­stern, aver­ag­ing less than 300 a year. Access to the park is not easy, requir­ing a com­bi­na­tion of fly­ing, boat­ing and back­coun­try hik­ing very few can com­plete. That, com­bined with a large num­ber of wolves and griz­zlies in the region make most poten­tial vis­i­tors weary of mak­ing an attempt. If you can hack it, you’ll be reward­ed with an exten­sive array of hik­ing up Vent Moun­tain along with sport fish­ing and epic raft­ing in the Ani­akchak Riv­er. The region is also home to the 2,000-foot deep vol­canic caldera to explore.

Organ Pipe Cactus National MonumentOrgan Pipe Cac­tus Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Arizona
Organ Pipe Cac­tus was most­ly closed to the gen­er­al pub­lic for 11 years due to it being con­sid­ered the most dan­ger­ous nation­al mon­u­ment in the coun­try. Its loca­tion next to the bor­der of Mex­i­co made it a prime stomp­ing ground for the drug trade, so hik­ing here was pret­ty unsafe. Now that it’s reopened, it pro­vides some of the country’s most scenic hik­ing trails. The sur­round­ing Puer­to Blan­co Moun­tains and Alamo Canyon con­tain dozens of hik­ing trails as well as camp­ing spots where you can spend the night. Organ Pipe is in the heart of the Sono­ran Desert and con­tains unique wildlife you won’t find any­where else; it’s the only place on Earth you can find the cac­tus for which it’s named.

Cape Krusen­stern Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Alaska
Cape Krusen­stern is one of the most remote regions in the Unit­ed States and is locat­ed along 70 miles of the Chukchi Sea in Alas­ka. Get­ting there is no easy task and only the most expe­ri­enced back­coun­try explor­ers should even attempt it. Once there, how­ev­er, you’ll find the 540,000-acre mon­u­ment is loaded with Eski­mo arti­facts dat­ing back 5000 years and plen­ty of natives still liv­ing in the region. The wilder­ness is as rugged as it gets with blis­ter­ing win­ter colds pre­sent­ing the biggest threat, but dur­ing the sum­mer months, it’s a great place to explore the rolling lime­stone hills and coastal plains pep­pered with lagoons. Cape Krusen­stern is also kayak­ing heaven.

Buck Island Reef Nation­al Mon­u­ment, Vir­gin Islands
The U.S. Vir­gin Islands are vir­tu­al­ly teem­ing with adven­ture, though not a lot of peo­ple choose to wade into the Buck Island Reef Nation­al Mon­u­ment. The region is a spec­tac­u­lar spot for those who enjoy spend­ing time on the water. The coral grot­toes are per­fect for snor­kel­ing through­out the day, while fur­ther off­shore there’s plen­ty to dis­cov­er for scu­ba divers at the two des­ig­nat­ed moor­ings. If you pre­fer to stay above water you’ll find great oppor­tu­ni­ties for hik­ing and bird watch­ing through­out the area.