Rated number one Best Mountain Biking Town from National Geographic, and number eight for Matador Networks 20 Coolest Towns for Outdoor Adventure makes Moab, Utah a really great place that over two million people visit every year. With so much traffic every year special precautions must be made in order to keep the beautiful serenity of the nature. One way Utah has coped with the large amounts of traffic is you will not find free camping within 20 miles of downtown Moab.
In fact, if you do camp within close proximity of Moab you must stay in a designated camping site. The Bureau of Land Management typically overlooks undeveloped federal lands which have few exceptions where there may be camp sites or picnic areas. The BLM oversees large amounts of land, and has a restriction for dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is defined as camping outside of a campground area on public lands. Some regulations that are largely recognized by most states is that you may only stay within a 25 mile radius for 14 nights in a 28 day period, and you must haul out any trash that you bring in. The BLM as a governing body is usually laid back about camping, and allows you to stay on almost any of their land as long as you follow the rules above.
Moab is not deprived of BLM land, in fact much of the area even 3 miles from downtown is BLM. It just so happens that the local government has banned dispersed camping anywhere within a 20 mile radius of downtown. This does not affect the number of people that make the pilgrimage to Moab and in many ways is good for Moab. Some people would rather spend the night in a hotel than in a tent if you have to pay for both, or some people travel further away in order to camp for free. As Moab uses tactics like this to slow the traffic and keep the sedimentary landscape as pristine as possible it only helps the local economy and permits the longevity of the landscape. The less human impact on the environment the longer it will be there and I for one want my grandkids to see some of the same natural beauties that I have seen.
Written by Colton Lowry, ESLLC 2015-2016