If disaster strikes and you need to bug out, in order to survive without facing the less desirable elements of society you would need to have access to a large tract of roadless land. As you will see from this article, in our country, there are many potential bug-out locations that provide many thousands of acres of uninhabited wilderness.
When you plan for bugging-out, it will be helpful to look at the different kinds of uninhabited land available today in the United States. There are many categories of areas that we could consider as potential bug-out locations and you need to know how to find these lands and how to get there.
Potential bug-out locations – Federal Lands
If you love to go hiking, camping or hunting, you probably know by now that there is an abundance of federal lands available for such recreational purposes. We are one of the few countries in the world that has such a high acreage per capita of open lands that are free to all to use. It is estimated that U.S. federal government owns almost 30 percent of the entire nation’s land area. This means that almost 650 million acres of land are free for the taking if the world changes overnight and local laws no longer apply. During a long-term disaster, those living in cities and suburbs who do not own private lands in the country will be the first to look for federal lands. Even more, chances are that wherever you live, there is a federal land within reach in the form of national parks, national forests and others. Although many think that there would be a high competition for these lands, the nature of the disaster, the preparation plans and the knowledge of the people will dictate the survival outcome. Most of the people you know, probably don’t even know what bugging out means, let alone prepare for it. Those who manage to escape the cities will settle on the pieces of land they find and they will establish bug-out locations out of need, without prior prepping. They will become post-SHTF pioneers and just like the original forefathers, only the strong will survive.
Suggested reading: Choosing land for an Off-grid or Bug Out Location
Potential bug-out locations – National Park Service Lands
The parks managed by the National Park Service are not ideal bug-out locations because these are well-known and high profile locations established in areas of natural beauty or historical significance. Since these parks are set up as tourist destinations and sanctuaries for the plant and animal life found within their boundaries, many people will instinctively think of them as perfect bug-out locations. After all, when you have to face a crisis and you need to get away from it, you will think of places that seemed like a perfect heaven for you. Places where you went when you were younger, where things are kept in order and where you felt somehow safe. Many will go for the national parks because these places are well mapped and they will provide an abundance of wild game. Many of the remote wilderness areas of the national parks require ‘backcountry permits’ for camping and if you are not a resident, you will not able to legally carry a firearm on park lands. Due to the strict rules governing the national parks, many survivalists have made them a destination for teaching and practicing wilderness living or survival skills. If you decide to go to these parks when disaster hits, you won’t have to worry about patrolling rangers enforcing park service rules, but you will have to pay attention to those who got there first. Even so, since some national parks contain millions of acres, you may never encounter another human being if you set your camp in a remote, off-trail backcountry location. Most of the residents in every region will know about the major national parks from their area and how to use them to their advantage. However, those who head there, simply because they don’t know anywhere else to go will have a hard time surviving if they are unprepared.
Potential bug-out locations – Forest Service lands
Today, it is estimated that the U.S. Forest service manages almost nine percent of all the land in our country, with national forest totaling about 200 million acres. The mandate of the Forest Service is somehow different from the one of the National Park Service and you have more options when it comes to using these lands. Besides recreational use, you have also limited use of natural resources. Hunting and fishing, timber cutting, mining and prospecting are all activities that are allowed on National Forest Service lands. You have dirt roads for the vehicles of your choice, but there are also areas where motor vehicles aren’t allowed. These lands are a preferred destination for many because they provide a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else. You can camp for extended periods of time as long as you don’t stay in one site longer than fourteen days, you can carry firearms to hunt and you could drive for miles easily using an ATV or off-road motorcycle. There are also the designated wilderness areas that can be visited only on foot or horseback, with the sole purpose of preserving the land in a pristine state. The millions of acres of completely roadless land where little sign of human impact can be seen are favorite location for primitive survival enthusiasts. In a bug-out situation the national forest lands will become a safe haven for hunters and would-be survivalists and they will compete for the resources these lands provide. They will have their sights set on national forests because having no roads, trails or obvious drainages will make it easier to leave the unprepared crowds behind and evade pursuit of confrontation.
Potential bug-out locations – Bureau of Land Management Lands (BLM)
The Bureau of Land Management Lands is a government agency that currently manages almost 260 milion acres of federal lands in 12 western states, including Alaska. Everything from forests, grasslands to deserts is managed by the BLM and some of these large tracts of land are desolate wilderness areas that considered as ideal bug-out locations by many. However, some of these BLM tracts are extremely remote and they are little-known to outsiders. The locals are the main people who would know how to make the best use of these lands and most probably, they will use them as safe heavens and stand their grounds when interacting with outsiders. If you happen to live in the western states, it is a good idea to look into the BLM lands available near you.
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Potential bug-out locations – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands
Most of the navigable inland waterways and recreation areas along rivers and man-made lakes built for water supply reservoirs, hydroelectric power of flood control are supervised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The uninhabited land along the major rivers and lakes is available for hunting, camping and other recreational use. These forgotten lands are ideal for long-term camping or off-grid living enthusiasts. Setting up bug-out location on these lands will become an option for many of those who know how to live off the land and are not afraid to go off the grid. Having a water source in the vicinity is one of the main key points you need to be aware of when looking for off-grid land. Having a water source near your bug-out location has many advantages and you can use it for farming, for fishing and even for creating electricity.
Potential bug-out locations – National Wildlife Refugees
Some of the national wildlife refuges like the Cabeza Prieta wilderness in Arizona contain more acreage than national forest and parks. Some of these wildlife refugees are well-known while others receive little attention from the general public. The purpose of these lands is to preserve the wildlife habitat and most of the wildlife refuges do not allow camping or any other human activity that could have an impact on the land. Many people are not aware that some of the large tracts managed by the federal government under this system were purchased by private organizations. These type of lands will become private property when the government laws will no longer be in effect and there will be a lot of competition between those looking to start over. These lands are similar to the ones owned by the first pioneers and they provide the perfect conditions for the preservation of the main endangered species during SHTF, the humans.
Related article: Bugging-out without leaving a trail
Potential bug-out locations – State lands
Many states also maintain state parks and state forests although on a much smaller scale than national parks and national forests. Some states allow the recreational use, while others offer wildlife refuges or game management areas. Many consider state lands as ideal bug-out locations because some of the state owned preserves are extensive in size. Although the size and management of state lands vary widely, chances are you could find the perfect spot for a bug-out location. However, since many of the unprepared will go for the woods, you will need to find a secluded location and lay low until the competition diminishes.
Potential bug-out locations – Private lands
The state and federal governments own huge tracts of lands, but they are not the only ones. Some of the uninhabited land in the United States is privately owned and although not all this land is preserved in its natural state, there are those lands used for private hunting clubs or other recreation activities. Some of the private lands are abandoned or seldom visited by absentee owners. Some of these lands are inherited family lands and their owners live and work far away in other states or cities. Although these are private lands, it would be unwise to discount their potential as bug-out location in a world where the right to property is questionable. In a disaster scenario, trespassing on private property could get you in trouble and most landowners will probably shoot first and ask question later. However, some of the private lands are inaccessible and hard to patrol, and it would be impossible for the owners to keep track of every person passing through or even temporarily living there. If you identify a private land that has great potential as a bug out location, you have to options: check and map the property and claim it as your own during a SHTF scenario if the owner doesn’t show up or discuss with the owner and agree to both use it as a bug-out location. The owner will benefit from your survival knowledge and skills, and you will benefit from the land and its resources.
Now that you know the options you have for potential bug-out locations, it is time to do some research and identify the most convenient piece of land near you. If you wait until something happens and just head off into the unknown, even if you are prepared and have a state of the art bug-out bag, you will just be one of the many homeland refugees and you will have to fight off the competition. With today’s technology and the abundance of information you can find online, you can do quite a bit of research to identify the possible bug-out locations from your state.
Stay safe and God Bless!
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