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Locals Continue to Ruin Camping for Everybody

This title might feel like an attack on local campers, but hear us out.  Some local campers really are ruining camping for everybody. 

And if you’re a local camper reading this post, chances are it’s not you.

Parties, violence, crime, land misuse, littering, and more are causing everyone to lose camping privileges. 

Let’s take a closer look at the true cause of this huge camping problem. 

Campground Closures Largely Due to Locals

Campgrounds have been closing left and right around the US over the past few years. The closures are almost exclusively due to local campers, encampments, and partiers. 

Over the past year, campgrounds in several states have been closed for various reasons. Ultimately, every closure comes down to misuse of the land and strain on local law enforcement and land management resources. 

Campground closures affect much more than just local campers. Traveling RVers seeking a place to stay for the night or weekend now have an even harder time finding free camping in many areas. 

Read More: Campers Trash National Forest Campground, Now It’s Closed Indefinitely

Local Campground Partiers Are a Nuisance

Campground partiers are almost always locals, and local law enforcement struggles to keep up with noise violations, drunken fights, and more. 

In addition to the strain on local law enforcement, partying campers are a significant nuisance to neighboring campsites. From the sheer amount of noise, drunken revelers, and trash left behind, partiers cause big campground issues. 

When local law enforcement can’t keep up with the number of calls coming in due to parties and fights, they choose to shut down the area to camping. 

In April of 2021, local Forest Protection Officers in the Tonto National Forest stumbled upon a huge illegal party with over 5,000 reckless partiers. Citations were issued for DUIs, camps blocking roadways, unlawful use of fireworks and target shooting, and more. 

Permanent Encampments Threaten To Close Free Campsites

Another significant reason for campground closures is permanent encampments on public lands. Permanent encampments are set up by permanently or temporarily homeless individuals, but this also strains local resources. 

Free campsites have a stay limit, and the most common amount of time campers can stay in one place is 14 days. 

Permanent encampments don’t follow those rules, and often because they don’t have the resources necessary to move. 

Public lands outside of heavily populated areas with steep rent increases are attractive options for displaced individuals. 

When a camping area becomes full of permanent encampments, local officials are tasked with policing the areas and are responsible for thousands of dollars of cleanup that comes directly from taxpayers. 

With local land management resources sparse, free camping areas prone to permanent encampments often get closed down to ease the strain on local resources and allow the land to recover from litter and overuse. 

Learn More: Regional Nevada BLM Shuts Down Free Camping Indefinitely

Tips for Courteous Camping

The world will likely never be completely free of disrespectful campers, whether they are local or not. Here are some tips to be a courteous camper to prevent contributing to land misuse and strain on local agencies. 

Be Mindful Of Your Noise and Light Levels

Campers should be mindful of noise and light levels, even at free campsites with no posted rules. If you have neighbors within eye or earshot of you, be courteous! Follow general “quiet hours” to be respectful of your fellow camper. 

Not only is noise a nuisance, but bright porch and campsite lights can also disrupt sleep and a view of the night sky. 

Leave No Trace

Leave no trace camping means to leave nothing behind but footprints, or as an RV, tire prints. Always leave a campsite better than you found it! 

If you choose a campsite with trash left behind from previous campers, take it out with you when you leave. 

Every camper’s responsibility as a public land user is to clean up and care for the public lands that we have the privilege of camping on. 

Follow Posted and Suggested Stay Limits

Most free camping spots and campsites within national forests will have posted stay limits. Sometimes the stay limits are posted directly at the campground, but you will often find them on the governing agencies’ website. 

Obey posted stay limits; they exist for a reason! And most of the time, rangers are driving by and checking license plates at least once a day. They know how long you’ve been there, so it’s not a good idea to press your luck. 

Campground Closures Will Continue To Happen

Campground closures aren’t new, and we don’t imagine they’ll stop anytime soon. 

Whether it’s trashed land and strained law enforcement due to local partiers, we expect to see the trend continue. 

Most campers are respectful, but as the saying goes, one bad apple ruins the bunch. One large event can ruin camping for everybody. There aren’t many rules for boondocking, but the ones that do exist are for a reason. Let’s all do our best not to contribute to the problems of littering and land misuse.

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  1. Bob says:

    It’s a problem that’s never addressed. Displaced people who try to live permanently on public land when they know there is a 14 day limit aren’t going to willingly move because it’s been closed. Where are they going to move to? What are the local law enforcement agencies going to do? Arrest them all and then have to house and feed them in jsiks? Plus prisoners get free medical care too. You can’t get rid of the homeless by making it illegal lol!

  2. Mary Jean Gross says:

    In my county, (Presque Isle, MI) for years the locals have taken over our state forest campgrounds. Trash, party, drugs, even Lazy boy chairs and sofas living room set ups.

  3. Betty says:

    Darn homeless people keep running things for everyone! /s

  4. Dttve says:

    Used to be full time rver’s but due to minimal campgrounds and too many rver’s , we have up that life. It was getting more and more challenging just to reserve a spot.

  5. wolfstail says:

    Yep had a damned loud bunch of idiots in cottonwood campground near forks, wa. In fact in the past month we have had three such parties that kept us awake in three different locations.. it is always locals and many of our favorite campsites have been closed

  6. Jack Smith says:

    Thank you for the information of this article.
    Jack Smith, Campgrounds For Christ

  7. Tom says:

    Simple, arrests and not warnings take care of this. Laws that protect the implementation of order are effective and must be executed by law enforcement. The word eventually gets around not to F with the campgrounds and free land areas. If government gay squander millions on transporting and supporting immigrants then we already know there is enough money to enforce domestic responsibility. Raise bell with the local political arena, non stop!

  8. Jimmy says:

    Time for a moratorium to close all park.

  9. Wyatt Cheney says:

    I was a seasonal camper for 10 years and I total understand what you are saying. When I first started It was a very relaxing and fun time but the last say 3 to 4 years things started to get bad. The first thing I would like to say is a lot of things aren’t all the fault of the people with seasonal sites it’s more the weekenders that come in for 1 reason and 1 reason only to party. They have no respect for the people that stay all summer or the campgrounds them self. I also think the owner and the people that are in charge have a lot to do with the problems that come up. When you run a campground you have the responsible to see that the seasonal camper’s witch is buy the way their bread and butter are not inconvenienced to say the least. They should have a area for the site’s weekenders will use all to them self also this is a way to control how many sites they have so they can control them. One of the biggest problems that I would see is when they have some kind of event on weekend’s like a band or something. They should make them pay a small fee and also tell them no alcohol aloud were the event is being held. I know this is easier said then done but hay it’s a start you can’t sit back and do nothing or we will not have any campgrounds to go to.

  10. Dave says:

    Traveled from PA across country to OR, WY,WA, MT, may summers, 60’s,70’.s, 80’s,90’s. Was a great time to tent camp
    In State, local , national parks but no more camping or glamping ? Alcohol, drugs, partying, noisy, disrespectful persons of all ages have ruined the wonderful experiences our family was able to have!
    Sorry for many will never had what we had.

  11. Cynthia Zeitner says:

    Sometimes an easy solution to a problem like rowdy destructive campers in free camp sights is to not offer free sites. By charging a substantial fee you turn away anyone looking for a free place to party etc. Wouldn’t campers and RV ers rather pay to camp than to move on looking for free camping. Aren’t things that are free paid for somehow. In this case crazy disrespectful people who think nothing of spoiling a good thing for descent lovers of the out doors and some peace and tranquility.

  12. Jack corner says:

    It’s so sad..the dismantling of the American family by those looking to improve profitability over the years…the lack of concern from young women twords motherhood and abandoning the responsibilities of all of that entails. The fathers who abandone their wives and children
    And who have failed in their roles as mentors to teach their children how to prepare for adulthood.
    Leaving them to learn life’s lessons from media
    Idols and people from the block who do not care about the child.they have learned instead the lessons of the “screets”
    Which has taught them the
    Lessons of laziness, apathy,financial irresponsibility and no parenting or family values….most kids from this sad environment are raised by the neighborhood while momma
    Sits in her air conditioned room and pedals her problems to the next fool who is ready to be the next player to step in as mr.booty lover while seeing the offspring as an inconvenience .the future illiterate thugs and hoes of lesser America.

  13. Anonymous says:

    America is the McDonalds of countries. Pure trash.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The problem is not locals! The problem boils down to the fact that there is way too many people in this world! We’re a parasitic organism that kills its host! Nothing will get better unless we reduce the population and start respecting our environment.

  15. Mark says:


  16. Linda March says:

    We see this so often. One family will rent a campsite, then other friends and family come to stay or visit. At a recent stay in a Kentucky. State park, there were several overpopulated campsites including one with a large camper, 4 cabin type tents and 3 hammocks, which is bad enough, but at one point we counted 8 cars. Park personnel said they couldn’t do anything about it because only State Park Rangers had any enforcement authority. Last year at a city park near Dallas, a family rented one site for their daughter’s birthday party; we counted 23 people at their campsite, and cars were parked all along the campground roads, and we got cussed out when we asked the host to move a car so we could get back into our campsite. We never camp on weekends anymore if we can help it, and when on an extended trip, we spend weekends at a pricier KOA or private campground that can enforce rules-that environment and expense is not our preference, but because of the rowdiness and noise, we feel we have to.

  17. Brian says:

    Funny they say this is for people paying taxes, im sure the ones that are ruining it for the rest and are making it a more permanent home arent the ones paying there taxes. Time to make some changes if it is not going as planned. The concept is good but wasnt meant for this.

  18. Dale says:

    It’s to bad more humans especially the one’s that trash and take advantage of the beautiful campgrounds don’t take the time to read articles such as this one. Camping on free camp areas is a privilege and the more that understand that the better and nicer our camp areas will be.

  19. Wyocamp says:

    Maybe non residents should just stay in there own states. I have seen the exact opposite from wyoming. We had some idiots from Illinois move our elk camp while we were out hunting because “we wanted to camp here not down the road”. That’s quick way to get shot. Non residents in wyoming are rudest most entitled people especially the clearly liberals from cities. Wyoming needs to place an extra charge on nonresident campers.

  20. Boom boom says:

    They are only locals because that is where it all broke down and now they can’t leave. A bit of poor planning combined with reliance on other people with a dash of not a clue. I still don’t understand why they trash every place they go. We set up a system to take care of those who can’t take care of the system. The damage to that system is obvious. It can’t help everyone looking for free shit.

  21. Anonymous says:

    We are campers, we love to camp and like to see clean sites when we go, it’s a real shame that someone would not leave a site better than they found it, we have lived by that all our lives, thank you but we always leave a site better than we find it.

  22. Hans Norquest says:

    Went camping and found a bunch of people who were rude. I went over asked if I could join in. Even brought a bottle or two. Drugged the bottles, they all went down, pitched them in the tent,threw all the trash in with them. Left tent open so raccoons could enjoy. They woke up about 5pm the next day. Not sure why they left, lol.

  23. J Jennings says:

    This is an immature hit piece that is loaded with false reporting. I’ve lived within the vicinity of several national parks and forests. The people trashing campgrounds are mostly tourists from everywhere especially European tourists. Of course there are some full time RV dwellers that can do the same. So if we follow your logic then everybody should be banned from using the forest. But to say it’s mostly locals or homeless is ignorant. Thanks

  24. Chris says:

    I’m sorry but you don’t just “stumble” upon 5,000 people partying! Did they not notice all the cars coming in with mostly young adults or teenagers in the car? I can’t imagine having to deal with some loud mouth, totally drunk punk out on the trail! I mean your on your own!

  25. Mike Scott Reifel says:

    Ahh a dumpster and recycling center plus cans and mediums to enable partiers to be more humanly capable. Closing is wrong and too easy when it comes to problem solving.

  26. Bill says:

    You ever think or elders/Babyboomers had more respect for their fellow citizens than today’s do? Respect yourself and those around you, and these social issues will probably go away. My 2 to 10 cents however you add it up :⁠-⁠)

  27. Paul says:

    They cannot close the parks because the are owned by everyone.

  28. Paul says:

    Most of the people are homeless, they would have a home if you people would rent to them at reduced rates. You are charging way to much and the government needs to stop taking in refugees.

  29. Mary Everett says:

    If you need volunteers to help clean up the campsites. I’m in Windsor Vermont.Ive been homeless but I always cleaned up no matter where I slept. I have seen homeless camps that are so filthy. That is why they are told to leave. Bim talking about truck like ads of trash.

  30. Sherri says:

    This country is being taken over by redneck dumbasses!

  31. Robert Watson says:

    In my area, this is a bald-faced lie. Because locals aren’t allowed in these areas. Out of staters, Ohio particularly, are the only ones allowed, because they bring the money with them. Locals will be allowed to clean up the mess they leave behind. And spend the day around one you’ll see for yourself.

  32. Gina says:

    I think it would be great if the national guard Could patrol the forest on a regular basis? They go away for weekend trips. From what I understand for training and I would feel much safer if I knew they were out there babysitting us so to speak and also They could film everything that was going on and kick those people Out after imposing, like a $10031000. Fine, and have to to community service to pick up everything in the forest.

  33. Janice Guyer says:

    I don’t camp anymore because of my health issues. I did so enjoy it though, and want those who enjoy it still to be able to continue to have fun.
    Instead of closing places down, lower the limit of how long people can stay. 2 weeks is just too long, and encourages people to abuse the privilege of free camping. Too much trash accumulates in a long stay. Less than a week is certainly long enough for people to have rest between traveling to their destinations.
    Unfortunately, selfish people spoils things for the many who aren’t selfish & care about our country. Thank you for your time.

  34. Gary. Davis says:

    Was raised the od way of use camp sites clean up better than if u mother was watch over u leave it nicer than u found it

  35. J C says:

    Almost got annoyed with this, here in southern Utah ,California people coming up during the lockdown Almost had to close all spots down because of the trash and abuse,but to sit here and blame things on locals, sorry rest ofbthe world isn’t Cali, younger days we would go to the hills gor the weekend blew off steam and make noise we couldn’t make back in the city, now I have the sense that if I’m in an area that possibly be like that I’m not a Karen and call cops on locals blowing off steam. Lots of adult options, but for a class report on picking up garbage, just cause you can report on something doesn’t mean you should or your an expert,enough with the feelings and have a nice day

  36. Thomas Birchfield says:

    Agree With Some Of Article Not Part POLICE SHUTTING DOWN CAMPSITES NOT THE ANSWER, Fights Will Happen, Parties Will Occur an Should be within protocol for fun good times, not brawling trash every where, disregard for noise levels to others camping yes Guidelines needed so are Camping Spots, Shutting Down Campsites NOT THE ANSWER .”

  37. Wally Beaver says:

    Sign, sign.. everywhere a sign. I’m all for picking up after yourself, but many campgrounds make you sleep on rock beds, for fear you might flatten grass. Evolution clearly teaches that I am an animal. In my natural state, I occasionally flatten grass. If a beaver did it, it’d be protected by law. Let us, the human animal, have the same rights as the beavers.

  38. Ninja says:

    We love to camp but as said above one bad apple spoils it for everyone.

    STOP the parties, drinking, drugs, loud noise. Stop being slobs and clean up your campsite area, stop letting. Be Respectful of our beautiful land 🏞️ your neighbors.

    Stop putting more pressure on the Law they have enough to deal with.

    If your 5 years old we understand your a child who merely wants to play but if your 15 and older you know right from wrong so please act like it.

    Let’s all enjoy our camping and be respectful of each other and our land.

    Thank you..

  39. Donna Katherine Finley says:

    I just think it used be a real fun family thing , or boyfriend , girlfriend get away . What ever, the way we used to camp has basically turned into “another reason to party”, and , or be irresponsible . I think it’s sad that the enjoyment of most RVERS want to get away from that and take their families and others camping . A lot of people don’t want their children exposed to anything that could or would happen if someone was taking drugs or drinking or both. We need to look out for each other and our children. I hope this gets results that would allow to camp with a piece of mind
    Thank you

  40. Anonymous says:

    I just think it used be a real fun family thing , or boyfriend , girlfriend get away . What ever, the way we used to camp has basically turned into “another reason to party”, and , or be irresponsible . I think it’s sad that the enjoyment of most RVERS want to get away from that and take their families and others camping . A lot of people don’t want their children exposed to anything that could or would happen if someone was taking drugs or drinking or both. We need to look out for each other and our children. I hope this gets results that would allow to camp with a piece of mind
    Thank you

  41. Anonymous says:

    Last April my family and me were displaced when they condiming our apartment building for no reason our landlord and the city of Portland should be sued for this hogwash there was nothing wrong with our residence me and my family had to do something so we bought an rv were good people red blooded tax paying Americans everyone says throw campers in jail were stuck in an rv nowhere to go probably going to end up in jail most of you folks are only one paycheck away from Being in the same predicament what when it happens to you what will you say then???? You wanna be in jail ?????

  42. Anonymous says:

    This article is completely untrue, at least from what I’ve seen. Most of our issues are campers / bicyclists trashing our trails and back rds. Very few locals make it into woods anymore because of the amount of tourists leave no spots available. Let’s not even start on the amount of homeless that have taken up residence in our forest. This article is laughable, blaming locals for others actions. To add to the insult you throw out that camping is a privilege. I pay my taxes, probably more than most. Our woods are not a privilege that daddy Uncle Sam can just strip away. You people are clearly the same type that’s ruining our country.

  43. Papaw says:

    We have camped since about 1972 and really enjoyed it with our kids and now without them.but with the new campers they don’t care what a camp site cost and leave a mess,we have about 20 different camp areas but they are full also they tell us to book 3 months in advance,I am 76 and sure don’t know where I will be tomorrow,so we are just winter Texas now due to the camp site are staying full