No, you cannot live on BLM land. At least, not at the same campsite. However, you can keep moving from one location to another and remain on BLM land in general for an indefinite period. It just involves being mobile and understanding the occupancy rules for that BLM Field Office.
Can You Live on BLM Land?
The BLM has occupancy rules that prohibit you from staying any longer than what is prescribed by the Field Office or State Office in charge of that area. Each Field Office or State Office defines this limit. The BLM does not have a limit that applies nationwide. Read our other article, “How Many Days Can You Camp on BLM Land?“
Enforcement of the Rules is Another Matter
BLM officers rarely seem to enforce occupancy rules. Instead, the BLM seems to focus more of its efforts at enforcing hunting, off-road vehicle use, mining, grazing, or other activities that threaten wildlife and destroy land. Campers who extend their stay seem to be the least of their concerns. It’s common for campers to remain in the same site for several months without getting approached by BLM officers.
But that still does not make it legal.
How to Live on BLM Land Forever
You simply keep moving to other BLM areas. As long as you don’t exceed the maximum time limit for camping at a particular area, and as long as you move far enough away, you can legally live on BLM land forever.
Most boondockers use their sewage tanks as the signal to relocate. Once it fills up, they pack up camp and head to a dump station. Then, they find some other BLM land to camp on. However, if you have reached the maximum time limit for camping, and your tanks still have room left, you could very well get away with just staying until they’re full.
We recommend finding at least four BLM areas where you enjoy camping, and make sure these areas are spaced 25 miles or more away from each other. You can then create a circuit of moving to each one and live indefinitely within that circuit.
What is the Maximum Time Limit for Camping on BLM Land?
Each BLM Field Office or State Office will define this limit. Most offices have set a 14-day limit. However, some offices have not set any limit. These limits also change periodically.
When it’s time to move, the BLM will usually want you to move a certain distance away. Usually it’s 25 miles from your last campsite, and they want you stay away for 28 days.
For more about maximum time limits, see, “How Long Can You Boondock on BLM Land?“
Your Best Bet is to Stay off the Radar
If you want to remain camped in the same site for an indefinite period, and don’t want BLM officials kicking you out, here’s our advice…
- Keep your campsite clean. Don’t put out a lot of stuff, like tables, storage tubs, hammocks, pet fencing, et al. The more stuff you have sitting outside, the more ugly it looks.
- Don’t erect structures. A tent is fine. But, don’t erect any fencing, radio antennas, junk sculptures, large canopies, storage sheds.
- Don’t plant any trees or shrubs. The BLM is very vigilant against people using lands to cultivate cannabis, and if it looks like you may be growing pot, they’ll pay a visit to you.
- Don’t make any loud noises. The BLM has a rule against making excessive noise and disturbing the peace.
- Don’t ride vehicles off-road. Even if it may be legal to do so, riding vehicles off-road will certainly attract attention. If you want to stay camped for as long as possible, it behooves you to remain quiet.
- Don’t shoot guns or light fireworks. The BLM is also vigilant against illegal hunting and preventing wildfires.
Contact the Local BLM Field Office
Find out which BLM Field Office has jurisdiction over where you are hoping to remain camped. (Directory of BLM field offices)
Contact them and ask what is the maximum length of stay you are allowed to remain camped in the same place. Also ask them how far away you have to move camp, and for how many days you must be away, before you can come back again.