This Land is Your Land…

 by Ezekiel O'Brien in Travel

When I embark on my May Deep Esalen™ Massage tour, I spend most nights camping
in the back of my 2014 Red Chevy Silverado. Keeping costs down gives me the
opportunity to hike, hot spring, and catch up with old friends and clients for an entire
I never pay for camping, which works just fine for me. I relish the solitude, time to catch
up on Netflix binges and star-filled nights. Someone unfamiliar with “boondocking,” (free
campsite-finding) might wonder, “How do you find free camping?”
Well, in my opinion, the thing that makes America exceptional is our vast network of
public lands. On public land, unless there is a prominently-posted exclusion, it is legal to
camp for 14 days in the same spot. The basic meaning of public land is it belongs to
you, the public. So, it is a vastly underutilized resource.
Which brings me to my favorite app on my iPhone: GaiaGPS. GaiaGPS is an extremely
powerful map program with hundreds of overlays that put maps on top of your location.
They have topographical (topo) maps from 1900, National Geographic topo’s, hunting
maps and my favorite – the public/private land overlay.
I have included a screenshot from GaiaGPS of my camping spot on May 4th, 2021, just
uphill from Bishop, California in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The turquoise area is L.A.
Water and Power, and the yellow is private land; both are decidedly a no-go. The green
is BLM land, which stands for Bureau of Land Management AKA public land. And, that
orange arrow is my trusty Silverado.
My wife and I often camp just behind Sierra Hot Springs, in Sierraville, CA, at a spot just
inside Forest Service public land. You access it by a county road that runs right through
the resort and then turns into a Forest Service road. One time when I had had enough
of the resort’s security asking me what I was doing, I put a call in to the District Ranger.
I got his voicemail, but he called me back within half an hour and by the end of our
conversation, in which I mentioned GaiaGPS, he said he was going to call them and
remind them that the public land was not theirs and they shouldn’t harass people
camping there.
Public land is your birthright as an American and a wonderful, cost-effective resource for
recreation and camping, which is easy to pin down with GaiaGPS.
Happy (free) Camping!

Ezekiel O'BrienThis Land is Your Land…