A wanderer’s guide to Western public lands

Cow patties, extraterrestrials and binoculars can help you figure out where you are.


There are around 760 million acres of public land scattered across the 11 Western states and Alaska, managed by several different entities, each with its own set of rules and regulations. This can be a bit confusing, even for experienced wanderers, so we've put together these (general, playful, by no means set in stone) guidelines to help you figure out what kind of public land you're on, and exactly what you can do on it. All you have to do is look around.

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Cover photo: McKinney Butte and Tee-Maze Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in Idaho. Courtesy BLM.