When visiting public lands your personal safety should be your first consideration. Different outdoor recreation activities have varying degrees of inherent risk, and it is always wise to keep risk of personal injury and sickness to a minimum. Whether traveling locally or far from home, a safe and fun travel experience requires careful preliminary planning and preparation. When recreating on public lands, visitors should follow all recommended safety guidelines and precautions.
Plan to be self-sufficient. When planning your visit you must be sure to carefully define your objectives. Do not attempt something beyond the skills and ability of any of your trip participants. Use common sense when encountering poor weather, badly maintained roads, difficult terrain, or other potentially dangerous circumstances. Prior to traveling, read up on the area you are planning to visit, including its topography, weather, available services, roads and other infrastructure, and wildlife, and any potential threats they pose. Current first aid training and information also is recommended. Pack the proper clothing, supplies, and equipment, and look into local availability of services. Please remember that, depending on your location, outside help may take a very long time to arrive. In addition, your visit may take you to areas without cell phone service.
Water – For backcountry travel it is extremely important to have a sufficient supply of safe drinking water, or know ahead of time that it will be available along your travel route. Be sure to bring equipment and supplies for filtering, boiling, or chemically-treating water, since untreated water from backcountry sources might pose a threat to your health.
Travel – Many recreation access points on the public lands are located on secondary roads, so be sure to have the right vehicle (properly maintained and in good condition) for the road or trail conditions, good tires, necessary travel accessories for a prolonged stay, and sufficient fuel. Carry current maps and know how to use them. Be sure you know where you are at all times. Electronic devices such as GPS units are only helpful to those with good maps and map reading skills.
Additional Information – The resources linked to below provide valuable in-depth information to prepare you for a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting BLM public lands. It is highly recommended to pursue additional research via the internet, maps, literature, and possibly a phone call or visit to a BLM visitor center or office near your planned public lands destination.
BLM Visitor Safety Brochure
– This brochure provides a good overview of what you need to know before setting out to visit BLM-managed lands and other backcountry areas. It includes specific recommendations for campers, hikers, hunters, fishing enthusiasts, and whitewater boaters. Other recreation activities have their own set of safety recommendations that should be carefully followed.
Activity Specific Resources – Activities such as off-road travel, boating, and caving require special training and preparation. Be sure you are well-informed on these specialized recreation activities. In addition, the following sites are resources for such information:
Regional & Site Specific Resources –
Excellent sources of regional-specific trip information are the BLM State Office recreation websites.
Select the state of your choice by clicking here to use an interactive map