Ultimate Guide to Dispersed Camping in Wyoming

Disperse camping in Wyoming is the best way to explore the natural wonders of the Cowboyl state. Home to two of the biggest coal mines in the world (one appropriately called The Black Thunder, and the other not-so-appropriately North Antelope Rochelle), the world-renown Yellowstone National Park, and boasting an edible state flower called Indian paintbrush – Wyoming is a true gem in the cultural and natural landscape of United States.

In Wyoming, there are not many people, and its population of about 580,000 loves rodeo, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits, including camping. It doesn’t like escalators; there are only two in the entire state.

What Wyoming lacks in escalators, it makes up for it with fantastic rock-climbing and hiking opportunities. For example, the world-renowned Devil’s Tower attracts both tourists and impassioned hikers and climbers worldwide.

I’ll present the best-dispersed campgrounds in this sparsely populated but otherwise positively gorgeous US state in the passages below.

Overview of Wyoming Dispersed Camping

Orange tent next to a forest road in Wyoming

If you like to climb, trek, or hike over vast distances, passing by gorgeous terrain and tackling challenging trails, Wyoming is the place you want to visit.

On the other hand, if you fancy setting up a tent next to a scenic lake, where you can capture mesmerizing photos of the mountains in the back and the gorgeous tree line to the side – Wyoming’s got you covered, as well.

Woodland pullouts and secretive creeks with small private campgrounds hidden in the middle of a mystic forest, or wide-open clearings with fantastic views of the mountain hiking trails in the distance all represent an integral part of the rich landscape you can encounter only in the Cowboy State.

Wyoming is home to Yellowstone Dispersed Camping Area(the world’s first official national park) and Grand Teton National Park Dispersed Camping Area, both of which have fantastic camping opportunities in and around them. Other than these, there are multiple national forests, historic sites, and a couple of wildlife refuges.

The list of fantastic camping opportunities throughout the Big Wyoming state continues.

Best Dispersed Campgrounds in Wyoming

Given its immense natural beauty and rock-climbing and hiking potential, it’s no wonder that Wyoming is a true paradise for anyone with an outdoor bug.

Dispersed camping opens up terrain and allows you to experience it in a way that any other form of camping cannot match. The feeling of simply arriving at a campsite with everything you need packed in your backpack or onboard your trusty RV is unique and far outranks any developed campground experience or a glamping excursion.

In the passages below, I’m outlining my favorite dispersed campsites in Wyoming.

As you will see, there’s something for everyone in the entries below – whether you’re a fisherman, a camper with a knack for climbing rocks, or just a person looking to relax, crack open a cold beer amidst some gorgeous Western terrain.

Grayrocks Reservoir 

Fort Laramie National Historic Site near Grayrocks Reservoir
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: vault toilets
  • Visitor frequency: high
  • Map

Nestled near the iconic Fort Laramie National Historic Site in the heart of rural western Wyoming, Grayrocks Reservoir shines as a remarkable lakeside retreat. Its campsites, tantalizingly close to the water’s edge, promise a visual feast of natural beauty that will leave you spellbound.

Imagine sitting by the warmth of a fire ring, the flames dancing beneath the star-studded sky, or conveniently accessing restrooms dotted around the lake for your comfort. It’s a blend of raw nature and thoughtful amenities that creates the perfect camping environment.

Grayrocks Reservoir’s main allure? The unspoiled, panoramic views of the shimmering lake and the lush nature that surrounds it. From your campsite, you can drink in the scenery that has captivated the hearts of many before you. It’s a popular destination, so expect to share this little piece of paradise with other nature enthusiasts.

But the magic of Grayrocks doesn’t stop there. It offers a fishing haven that adds a thrilling dimension to your camping experience. Whether you roll in with your RV or carry your tent on your back, make sure to pack your fishing tackle. Every campsite graces the lake’s shoreline, inviting you to try your hand at angling.

Get ready to hook some of the most sought-after freshwater fish, including Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Freshwater Drum, Channel Catfish, and Black Crappie. Grayrocks Reservoir is waiting to serve up an unforgettable adventure that will keep you coming back for more!

A special note: Ice fishing is also a thing in Grayrocks Reservoir during the winter months, but you need to take special precautions, as ice is often thin and, at times, unsafe to walk on.

Spirit Mountain Road

Town of Cody near the Spirit Mountain Road, Wyoming
  • Water availability: no 
  • Toilets: no 
  • Visitor frequency: low
  • Map

Spirit Mountain Road is the best campground you can visit if you’re looking for a campground close to Yellowstone and would also like to fetch supplies relatively easily.

Known for its great wide-open prairies and beautiful nature that attracts millions of tourists annually, the broader Yellowstone area can be a great camping option for anyone who wants to see the side of Wyoming that others don’t generally see.

You can get everything you need and more in the nearby town of Cody. You can also find excellent lodging options here, camping, trekking, and hiking supplies such as maps, food, gear, and other necessities.

The road is relatively close to the highway, so expect some vehicle noises if you park or plant your tent near the campground entrance. Driving a bit farther down the road is all you must do if you want more privacy.

As you advance farther from the highway, the road gets progressively rougher, so for the most remote campgrounds, you’d need a high-clearance 4×4.

Hugh Otte Dispersed Camping Area

Hugh Otte within the Shoshone National Forest
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: vault toilets
  • Visitor frequency: medium 
  • Map

Within the beautiful Shoshone National Forest, you will find a substantial wide-open area carrying the name of Hugh Otte. This campground only has about eight sites, but they are all quite large, making this whole camping area a fantastic choice for RVs and vehicles dragging large trailers.

The town of Lander, known as the inhabited hub for great hiking and mountaineering opportunities, is a major attraction in the area.

This town represents a gateway to the broader Wind River Mountains region, one of the best rock-climbing destinations in the US. These mountains also feature Gannet Peak. At 13,804 feet, this peak towers over the surrounding mountaintops and hillocks, and represents the highest peak in Wyoming.

The campground features only vault toilets, and there is no source of potable water anywhere in the vicinity. Also, there is no trash collection service or facility at this campground, so packing your trash and carrying it away from the campground with you is essential.

As for hiking options, there are the Middle Fork trail and Popo Agie Falls trail – both of which are only a few minutes away from the main campground.  

Lily Lake Dispersed Camping Area

Beartooth Scenic Byway near Lily Lake Dispersed Camping Area
  • Water availability: no 
  • Toilets: vault toilets 
  • Visitor frequency: medium 
  • Map 

Following one of the gorgeous scenic drives in the whole of the US called the Beartooth Scenic Byway, Lily Lake dispersed campground is a place where you will be surrounded by winding roads, gorgeous mountain ranges in the distance, as well as beautiful clearings that make for perfect campsites, everywhere you look.

At Lily Lake, you will find eight designated campsites. Each site has access to a vault toilet, but no other services are available. On the other hand, you will find the dispersed sites along the road that leads to Lily Lake. All along this road and farther beyond into the forest, you will discover entirely free areas that offer views of the surrounding nature that are just as spectacular as the ones you can see from the developed campground.

If you are still looking for a free site at this campground, you might have better luck at one nearby campground. Namely, there’s a small campground with a fantastic vista that oversees the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, a scenic Yellowstone river tributary. 

Vedauwoo Dispersed Campground 

Vedauwoo Dispersed Campground in Wyoming
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: no (but vault toilets are available at Nautilus Rock)
  • Visitor frequency: high 
  • Map 

A major destination for climbers and hikers, Vedauwoo dispersed camping area is located just off Interstate 80, approximately halfway between the towns of Laramie and Cheyenne.

What makes Vedauwoo dispersed campground so unique is the fact that its vast territory spreads across a network of forest service roads. The campgrounds themselves represent pullouts on the side of these roads. There are 97 sites, with them all providing various camping options – from campground clearings where you can only place a couple of tents to large areas where you can easily park an RV or a similar vehicle.

The vital point is that there is no water source, but there are some vault toilets you can use along the forest service road 700D. There are some more toilets further ahead at the Nautilus Rock trailhead.

The Nautilus Rock represents a rock climber’s mecca, attracting only the most ambitious hiking and climbing enthusiasts worldwide. If you’d like to combine hiking with your camping experience, the Vedauwoo dispersed campground would be the perfect place to start your expedition. 

Before heading to this place, it’s important to remember that it’s relatively busy, so do expect a lot of potentially noisy neighbors. Also, practicing ‘Leave no Trace’ principles is desirable to keep the amount of litter minimal.

Twin Buttes Dispersed Campground

Rocky banks at the Twin Buttes Reservoir dispersed campground
  • Water availability: no 
  • Toilets: vault toilets
  • Visitor frequency: medium
  • Map

If you fancy camping next to a body of water with a backdrop of gorgeous mountains in the distance, Twin Buttes dispersed campgrounds can be a fantastic option. This campground got its rather cheeky name from the reservoir it sits next to – The Twin Buttes Reservoir.

This scenic, still, and evident reservoir doesn’t just represent a postcard-worthy photo-op for anyone willing to set a tent near it, it’s also a significant fishing destination, with rainbow and brown trout reaching trophy-level sizes in season. 

Regarding fishing-related facilities at the lake, there are two boat ramps. There are also some restrooms around the lake. Besides fishing, The Twin Buttes Reservoir is a popular windsurfer destination, representing a significant boating opportunity.

The lake is only one major part of the local scenery. The other would be the Sheep Mountain, located west of the campground. These two provide a breathtakingly beautiful contrast, giving the place a remarkable serenity and mystique.

The only downside to this campground (if you view it as such) would be the relatively strong winds that sweep over this area – partly because this is Wyoming and partly because the shade and cover trees are far between.

Tongue River Dispersed Campground 

Tongue River dispersed campground in Wyoming
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: vault toilets
  • Visitor frequency: low
  • Map

Sitting right on the edge of the Bighorn National Forest, Tongue River dispersed campground has some aspects of a developed campground, with limited amenities such as vault toilets.

This area has seven campgrounds, and most have relatively easy access to fishing opportunities in the local river. Getting to this campground is a piece of cake for most vehicles. That said, if you plan on arriving here onboard a large RV or in a car towing a large trailer, you will manage to navigate the roads, but only some of the sites are spacious enough to accommodate larger rigs.

When it comes to getting supplies around these parts, the good news is that if you decide to camp at Tongue River Campground, you’ll be close to Sheridan and Dayton. You can get ample supplies for whatever it is that you need at both of these destinations.

Tongue River Campground rarely sees big crowds. For this reason, this can be a fantastic option for anyone looking for a more private camping experience, away from the noise and the uproar of the campgrounds frequented by rock climbers, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts.

White Mountain Road

Green River near White Mountain Road, Wyoming
Photo by CAJC: in the PNW via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: no
  • Visitor frequency: low 
  • Map 

Located just north of Green River, White Mountain Road is on BLM land and offers a 101 Wyoming camping experience (By the way, the campsites are all along the road from the beginning). The camps themselves spread along the road, and the further back you go, the more secretive pullouts and hideouts you will find.

Depending on the vegetation surrounding the campsite you consider pitching your tent on or where you want to park your RV, you can have fantastic views of the surrounding nature. From a well-placed tent, you can see the iconic wide-open views of the American West – the kind of mountains, rivers, and lakes you see on US stamps and postcards – but in real life.

Before you head to this campground, however, there are some things that you should be aware of – Wyoming represents one of the windiest US states, and many of the sites feature no shelter in this regard (No cover means fantastic views but also whipping winds at times).

Taking the omnipresent, often bitingly sharp and cold wind into consideration is essential for having a good time in this scenic part of Wyoming. Also, White Mountain Road is a relatively remote area in rural Wyoming, so you’ll be miles away from the nearest town where you can find supplies. For this reason, complete self-sufficiency is a must.

Shadow Mountain Dispersed Campground

Grand Tetons near Shadow Mountain Dispersed Campground
  • Water availability: no
  • Toilets: no
  • Visitor frequency: high
  • Map

Representing a rather large dispersed campground, Shadow Mountain is a place you don’t want to miss out on – especially if you’re also interested in visiting the nearby Grand Teton National Park.

This campground sits within the majestic Bridger-Teton National Forest, containing approximately 45 individual sites. The woodland region setting for this campground is rather hilly, and most of the sites pepper over the foothills of this hillock.

Despite the rugged appearance of the forested areas you’re visiting, it’s also true that the local forest service insists that visitors should camp on the designated sites only, as setting up encampments anywhere else can disrupt the local ecosystems and create more pollution than already exists.

If you plan to visit this place onboard an RV or some other vehicle towing a trailer behind it, you probably might want to pick a site towards the lower foothills, as they’re flatter and considerably more approachable than the other parts of this forest. 

A downside to heading to this general area to camp is the sheer number of people with the same idea. (Also, from May 1st to Labor Day, there is a 5-day camping limit, so be sure to pay attention to that, too.)

For more awesome campgrounds in Wyoming, check out our guide to free camping in Spreak Creek as well.

Where Can You Camp in Wyoming?

Hammock and picnic area at a dispersed camping area in Wyoming

There are vast areas of forests, rivers, lakes, mountains, tall rocks where you can set up camp, and many other attractions.

Dispersed camping represents a great attraction around these parts, and there is no better way to experience Wyoming than by setting up a tent or parking your RV in one of the many great campgrounds this US state offers. When it comes to campground management, there are two central authorities – the BLM Wyoming and the United States Forest Service.

Both of these governing bodies are camper-friendly. That said, there are specific rules that you should follow, depending on whose territory you find yourself on at that particular moment.

Here are dispersed camping guidelines for both of these authority figures.

BLM Wyoming

BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is a well-known agency every avid camper in the United States should be familiar with.

Thanks to Wyoming’s excellent oil and natural gas findings, much of the BLM territory is already under lease to boring and digging companies that exploit these crucial resources. That said, many campgrounds and sites around this US state still exist where you can camp freely.

Since the situation on the ground tends to change quickly due to the weather, the best course for campers would be to check with the local BLM offices what you can and cannot do. Here are the three main offices for the state of Wyoming: 

You can find out more details about the camping rules on BLM land here.

USFS Wyoming

USFS territory in Wyoming

A fair chunk of Wyoming land is under the jurisdiction of the USFS.

Aside from the two famous national parks, Wyoming has eight national forests. Some of them cross into other neighboring states, but all of them have ample room for dispersed camping. The areas surrounding the forests are rich in fantastic campgrounds, too. 

While the rules around dispersed camping are uniform across different USFS regions, sometimes there may be temporary changes due to weather conditions, ongoing forest service projects, or other factors.

To always stay on top of the current conditions surrounding dispersed camping in Wyoming, make sure to check out the individual links to each of these national forests. 

A great way to find specific campgrounds deep within these scenic forests would be to consult a freshly-updated MVUM. An MVUM stands for Motor Vehicle Use Map, which has all the tiny forest service roads of every forest in Wyoming.

Typically, the best woodland dispersed camping are forest service road pullouts – spaces to park your car or RV and set up a tent. I will place the link for an MVUM of every national forest above, so you can easily find the perfect campsite for your needs.

Last but not least, in addition to setting up rules for camping on their territory, the officials of these national forests also advise campers to follow the ‘Leave no Trace’ camping principles.

Conclusion 

Overall, whether you’re an avid rock climber looking for your next vertical challenge or a camper searching for a scenic lakeside campsite where you can open a can of beer and do some trout fishing, Wyoming will certainly not disappoint.

The endless hiking trails and a gigantic labyrinth of forest service roads in some of the most beautiful forests in the world all make the Cowboy State one of the most attractive tourist and outdoor enthusiasts’ gems in the whole of the US.

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