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I am new to tent camping. Camping at a designated site isn't that appealing to me. Are there locations where camping anywhere one chooses is allowed? I am not looking for specific sites, but ideas on where to look. For example state parks here in Ohio only allow camping in designated areas. Are there public lands in each state where camping outside of designated areas is allowed (for example - national parks). I am an avid hiker and I always thought it would be cool to hike deep in the woods and not worry about getting back to the trail head before dark. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

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Are you sure you want to do this? Love the romantic side of this, but what happens if you have an accident? No one will know or even where to look for you. Unlike here in the UK where mobile (or cell phone) coverage is everywhere, I do know after visiting the USA, that coverage is hit and miss at the best of times.
 

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I agree with MacGyver, checking your local Division of Forestry is the safest and easiest way to asses your available options and also respect the law. Just a quick call or a short visit to their bureau will prove very insightful.
 

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I, personally, would suggest looking for National Forests in the area that you are wanting to visit/camp... a short call to the Forest district office in that area will give you all the info you need (fire bans or restrictions etc.). I have also camped on open (unleased) BLM land (mostly in the Utah desert).
Google earth gives mostly fair aerial vies of many prospective areas.

I see little danger out there as long as you are; an intelligent, experienced, camper; well prepared for the terrain and climate. People who are afraid and worried about the need for rescue should probably stay in/near thier homes.
Although, there are an increased number of homeless living semi-permanently in some areas (and ruining/trashing some formerly good places).

I search for areas with no cell or wifi coverage; the look some people display when you tell them they might be able to get a cell connection on the other side of that mountain is...Priceless.

I actively avoid any areas with numbered, registerd or reserved sites and shudder at the thought of utility hook ups and disease ridden public restrooms and showers.

If the unmaintained Jeep trail in is too rough to allow trailers, cars, 2wd pickups and RVs; if it starts with warning signs and requires a, modified, high clearance, 4WD vehicle; you might find me camped, enjoying life, at/near the roughest, most unspoiled end of it.... When I leave there will be no trace ('though it will be cleaner).

Enjoy!
 
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