Changes to Bighorn National Forest camping regulations

To adapt to changing demands from visitors, Bighorn National Forest officials have modified the dates that require the 14-day stay limit. The new dates are from June 1 through September 30.   

According to a Forest Service news release, due to public comments and concern with current dispersed camping regulations and management, the Big Horn Mountain Coalition, a multi-county Economic Development District, initiated a public discussion of dispersed camping in March of 2016. This discussion took the form of public meetings held in each of the four Coalition counties – Big Horn, Johnson, Sheridan and Washakie – as well as a short online survey.  

The BHMC initiated this process to promote broader public participation in forest planning activities, to serve as a voice for the public to Forest representatives, and to advocate for public interests. The BHMC Dispersed Camping Task Force, comprised of BHMC members and concerned citizens from all four counties, recently submitted recommendations to the Bighorn National Forest. The most obtainable recommendation, at this point, is to extend the dates that require a 14-day stay limit.

The change in dates would help reduce conflict between user groups.  In late-August, hunters are establishing hunting camps, while other groups are looking for a place to camp with their family before school starts or summer ends.  It will not be legal for visitors to leave their camp equipment for more than 14-days during the last few weeks of August and beginning of September.

The change in the camping length of stay is just the beginning; the Task Force had other recommendations for Bighorn National Forest officials.  More will come as Forest officials work through the recommendations with the Task Force. Ideas including changes such as zones with extended and shorter stay limits, fees and permits, and opening additional areas to dispersed camping are being considered.

For more information, contact Paul Schilke, Acting Forest Recreation Staff Officer, at 307-674-2600.


  1. The dispersed camping should be limited to only people with Wyoming plates. All other must use regulated campgrounds

    • Justin that makes no sense. It is a national forest, managed and owned by the federal government. Nothing to do with this state.

    • Agree 100%. Start charging out of state people to camp on the mountain. Every other state does this. That’s why they flock here. It’s free, they can tear up the mountain and then leave

  2. I think this is wrong to make bow hunters have to move there camper every 14 days while they are there hunting when schools start at the end of August there should be no conflicts as it is hunters can’t establish camps till the last weekend in August.

  3. So, what does that do to us who have a pack in camp for the archery season! That’s the entire month of September…

  4. I absolutely agree with this. School starting does not mean families quit camping. Obviously this was an issue. I dont think the Forrest Service was just looking for something to spend their time and money on and came up with this idea.

  5. Tried to call the guy from the Forest Service about this to get more info. He is out of town for the foreseeable future. Hmmm. Putting in a new rule at this point of the summer seems kinda like asking for trouble, it will lead to problems. Should have started next year, much wiser. There are always lots of sites available after Labor Day.

  6. I read through the summary of the BHMC results. Didn’t seem like extending the 14 day limit through September was even a concern. The biggest problem seems to be crowding which the Forest Service is responsible for because of how many road spurs they have closed and are continuing to close, forcing people to choose among fewer sites. Same is true about ATV roads and trails. In the just-approved vegetation project there are 20 road closures in the Tongue district alone

  7. I read the summary of comments on the BHMC site. Funny thing is that extending the 14 day limit to the end of September was hardly mentioned. The crowding was mentioned a lot. The Forest Service has caused the crowding by closing roads and road spurs, forcing the same number or more campers into fewer spots. They have done the same with atv trails available and people who don’t like them should blame the forest for crowding them into a smaller space. The Forest is closing 20 roads/spurs as part of a project in the Tongue district alone. They are causing the problem

    • Please remember that Forestry Service funds have been reduced and they are stretched to monitor and maintain the mountain access areas. Also, some users abuse the areas and this forces the Forestry service to close some areas. We constantly see people camping where not allowed, leaving trash, not being respectful of where they leave feces and not covering/burying the feces, etc. We are lucky to have the privilege to use these areas. Remind anyone you see abusing this privilege.

    • What the Forrest Service is doing is working to protect the natural resource that we all get to enjoy. They are not the cause of the problem. They are the team that is reacting and working to mitigate the problem. The problem is irresponsible and disrespectful people. And people not moving their camp in the appropriate time frame is forcing more congested camping which in turn damages habitat and forces closures.

      • Totally agree with you Dave and Pam. Until other campers and ATV owners are willing to turn in the Jerks who violate the rules. Until the USFS is properly funded again,these problems will continue to get worse. It is very sad there are SO many self-centered Jerks that are more than willing to destroy the resource and spoil the experience for all of us. Until we all are willing to turn the jerks in, to be part of the solution, the problem will simply get worse.

  8. Agree with Pam and Dave about some of the people up there. People cause all kinds of issues that they shouldn’t. To Dave I say my comments about the 14 day limit extension and crowding came from the summary of the BHMC survey respondents and workshop participants which is what the Sheridan media article said the extension of the 14 day period came from. So I read it. Maybe you should. It said “67% of respondents said stay limits should remain unchanged”. No mention of the extension to Sept. 30th that I saw. Looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist since most campers come off the mountain Labor Day weekend. It also said “survey respondents and workshop participants said that closures by the BHNF exacerbated the crowding problem”. I didn’t make it up but I do agree with it. I appreciate almost everything the forest does but not sure what the real reason why the 14 day limit got moved to the end of September using the BHMC recommendations when I didn’t see it in there and wanted to point it out. Please correct me if you find it in there.

  9. What I want to know is why do outfitters get special privilege’s and they don’t have to move. They can have permanent out house and camps like the one that’s off of Dayton Gultch road. I would like to have that privilege and I’m sure there are others that would also. Not right or fair. So not all people are treated equal.

  10. Ed,
    I’m assuming that is my camp you are talking about so lets answer your questions. I pay 3% of my gross to have an established camp site. This is done by the Forest Service to see to it that outfitters camps can and will be inspected to meet forest standards. That is something that is not done to the general camper. Secondly by choice I have two porta potties mounted on trailers and haul them to the valley after every trip to have them cleaned. Every cow camp on the mountain has a stationary outhouse as a way to not scatter feces and toilet paper all over the timber patches around their cow camps. Again the cow camps are inspected by the Forest Service and their are standards that have to be met. Thanks

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