BLM LTVA – Bureau of Land Management Long Term Visitors Area. LTVAs are places that have been set-aside for campers who would like to stay in one area for more than the normal 14 day allotted limit. A flat fee is paid for a permit. Once a permit is purchased, the holder can stay put or move to other BLM LTVAs during that season. The BLM in Arizona has created winter LTVAs. California BLM offers both summer LTVAs and winter LTVAs. There are also non-LTVA, BLM areas where you can purchase a season pass for that area.
There are 11 BLM LTVAs. They are located in either California or Arizona. LTVAs usually have facilities like restrooms, trash services, dump stations, and fresh water. Many of the LTVAs in California also have picnic tables and fire rings with BBQ grills. Some locations have special features like hot springs and stages where campers perform. Over the season, an LTVA can become quite the community. Many who stay at them have done so every season for years and have created lasting friendships.
Winter LTVAs are the more popular ones. Thousand of snowbirds and RVers flock to them every year. All but one are located south of Interstate 10, which makes for warm winter temps. Many of them are located in prime rock hounding locations. No tents. All RVs must be self-contained.
Although these campsites are open year-round, it is best to visit during fall and spring months. Temperature extremes are a well-known desert hazard. Always inform someone as to where you are going, your route of travel, and when you expect to return; and carry at least one gallon of water per person per day on your trip.
Do not collect wood, even downed wood, in the desert for your campfires or any other purposes; please leave it in place, as it provides necessary habitat for desert wildlife.
Long Term Permit
Valid for the entire season or any part of the season, which runs from September 15 to April 15. Is valid for all winter LTVAs in both California and Arizona.
Cost $180 (about $0.86 per night)
Short Term Permit
Valid for 14 consecutive days from the purchase date.
Cost $40 ($2.86)
Between April 16th and September 14, you may stay at an LTVA for up to 14 days. There is no fee to do so. Very HOT during this time frame.
California winter LTVAs
Hot Spring LTVA
Between El Centro, CA and Yuma, AZ. Just off I-8 (exit 131) near Holtville. A historic and still active hot spring attracts both local and winter visitors. Two pools. The larger one is near 105F.
Self-contained camping units only*. Vault toilets are located across the street from Hot Spring North. Onsite dumpster. Dump station and water facilities located in Holtville.
2.7 miles south of I-8 Exit 143, about halfway between El Centro and Yuma. Surrounded by Tamarisk trees this is a small LTVA taking up a mere 5 acres. This is real boondocking. Other than a dumpster and flat ground, nothing is provided.
Self-contained camping units only*. Onsite dumpster. Nearest facilities are located in Yuma, AZ or Holtville, CA.
Pilot Knob LTVA
Pilot Knob is just west of Yuma, AZ. It is near the Mexican dental and eyeglass wonderland known as Los Algodones. The availability of inexpensive prescriptions and medical care have turned the Mexican border town into a medical tourism destination for USA and Canadian citizens.
Self-contained camping units only *. Onsite dumpster. Nearest facilities are located in Yuma, AZ, seven miles east of Pilot Knob.
Located about 7 paved miles north of Blythe, CA. 135 acres. This LTVA is more quiet and laid back than the La Posa to the east. It’s almost more accessible than Mule Mountain to the south. About 20 miles north of Midland, you’ll find the abandoned ghost town of Midland at the end of the paved road. All that remains of gypsum mine/company town are slabs, roads and concrete ruins of the processing buildings.
Self-contained camping units only. Situated on flattened desert pavements. Amenities include a dump station and trash collection.
Mule Mountain LTVA
10 dirt road miles south of I-10. This area is a rock hounder’s paradise with geode fields and old mine tailings nearby. There are two campgrounds at Mule Mountain LTVA.
Coon Hollow 28 campsites with picnic tables, grills, shade ramadas and handicapped-accessible vault toilets. Potable water via a hand pump. A trailer sanitary station is located two miles north of the campground on Wiley’s Well Road.
Wiley’s Well 14 campsites, with picnic tables, grills, shade ramadas and handicapped-accessible vault toilets. Potable water via a hand pump. A trailer sanitary station is located two miles south of the campground on Wiley’s Well Road.
Arizona Winter LTVAs
The permit fees for Arizona Winter LTVAs are the same as the California. However, unlike CA LTVAs, AZ LTVAs are not free in the off season. A $10 per vehicle fee for day-use, $15 per vehicle for overnight use, or $75 annually per vehicle, for up to 5 people per vehicle is charged. $1 per additional person over the 5 person limit. The maximum stay is 14 days in a 28-day period.
La Posa LTVA
Located approximately 2 miles south of Quartzsite, this is the most popular of the LTVAs. Every winter, Quartzsite transforms from a sleepy little desert town to RV Central. The population normal population of a few thousand surges to 1.5 million people as people come for the rock shows, car shows, swap meets and the RV show.
10 vault toilets (handicap accessible), dry dump station, dump station with water, water station (eight faucets), trash services, some paved / improved roads, dance floor and ramada.
This is the largest of the LTVAs at 11,400 acres in size. It’s flat landscape is sparsely vegetated with plants such as Creosote bushes, Palo Verde trees, Ironwood trees, Mesquite trees and various species of cacti.
Cultural sites, rock hounding, watchable wildlife, unique desert scenery, solitude, hiking opportunities and security.
Imperial Dam LTVA
This LTVA is located a distant 22 miles from services in Yuma, but that hasn’t kept it down. It’s thriving. There is definitely a sense of community here. Volunteers set up organized activities available such as yoga, music performances, race car meets, hiking, aerobics classes, cookouts, model airplane groups and even a lending library dubbed “Liberry”.
Grey water dump sites, two restroom facilities with outdoor showers, black water dump site with water, trash removal, dance floor/music performance area.
The campground is approximately 3,500 acres in size, flat landscape, sparsely vegetated with plants such as Creosote bushes, Palo Verde trees, Ironwood trees, Mesquite trees and various species of cacti.
Cultural sites, rock hounding, watchable wildlife, unique desert scenery, hiking opportunities, security, fishing, boating, and swimming.
Summer LTVAs California only
All of the summer LTVAs are located in California on the eastern side of the Sierras. They are just off of the scenic Highway 395.
Long Term Permit
Valid for the entire or any part of the season -first Saturday in March through November 1st. Is valid for all summer LTVAs in California. Cost $300 (about $0.86 per night)
Short Term Permit
The summer LTVAs do not offer them. You must pay by the day.
Cost $5/day camping fee.
The BLM’s summer LTVAs are closed between November 2nd and the first Friday in march.
Crowley Lake LTVA
Mammoth Lakes is approximately 10 miles away. One thing that the summer LTVAs are not lacking in is outstanding views. This one has them in just about every direction. Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountains to the east. To the west is the Sierra Nevada mountains and McGee Mountain and Canyon.
47 RV/tent sites, pull through trailer spaces. Campfire rings (bring your own wood), tables, lantern holders. 4 Vault Toilets. RV Dump Station. Campground Host On-Site.
Popular activities include lake and stream fishing, boating, windsurfing, horseback riding, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Goodale Creek LTVA
Located between Lone Pine and Independence on highway 395. Campground is tucked into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range below a volcanic rock flow. Campground looks east, out to the Inyo Mountains Range and Owens Valley. The Goodale Creek runs through the campground but most of the campsites are away from it.
Campfire rings (bring your own wood), tables, lantern holders, 3 vault toilets, a campground host. Closest amenities (grocery, gas) are south in Independence (12 miles) or north, in Big Pine (15 miles).
Climate is high desert (Elevation 4,000 ft): Spring and fall are ideal times for camping. Summers can be very hot and dry. Some trees and willows are scattered throughout the sites. Aberdeen, nearby, has a convenience store and café.
Opportunities for Fishing, hiking, hunting, swimming, and wildlife Viewing
Tuttle Creek LTVA
4.5 miles from Lone Pine. This LTVA Campground is shadowed by some of the most impressive peaks in the Sierra Nevada Range: Mt. Whitney, Lone Pine Peak and Mt. Williamson rise to the west of the campground. To the east is the Alabama Hills with its famous movie history. Beyond the Alabama Hills is the Owens Valley and Inyo Mountains Range. Camping is good throughout the season. Elevation – 5,120 ft.
Campfire rings (bring your own wood), picnic tables, lantern holders, drinking water, vault toilets, dump station and a campground host. Closest amenities (groceries, gas) are in Lone Pine.
Plenty of opportunities for exploring, hiking, mountain biking, car touring, sightseeing, mountain climbing, and rock climbing.
Horton Creek LTVA
Twelve miles from Bishop on highway 395. This BLM LTVA Campground has sweeping views of Sierra Nevada Mountains and distant views of White Mountains (to the east) with an outstanding view of Mt. Tom and Wheeler Crest. It is located on an alluvial fan, next to Horton Creek Nearby is the Tungsten Hills. Wintering deer herds often graze in the early spring. Elevation – 4,975 ft
Picnic tables, fire rings and lantern holders at each campsite. One potable water spigot, rv sanitation dump station, and garbage dumpsters on site. Closest amenities are in Bishop (12 miles).
Plenty of opportunities for exploring, hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing.
Non-LTVA BLM Areas that offer season passes
California OHV Areas
Camping in these areas is limited to 14 days. They are off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas (OHV). The benefit is that you can save by buying the annual permit instead of paying for each day. Unlike free BLM dispersed camping, these locations provide some facilities.
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Season $150 – valid from October 1 through April 15 each year
Weekly $35 – valid for seven consecutive days. $50 if purchased offsite.
Permits are not required out of season, but the temps can exceed 100F.
Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area
$30/week; $90/season; $120/season with holidays
Camping is on a huge flat area. There are no facilities at Dumont other than pit toilet restrooms. No running water. The closest store, motels, gas stations, etc are in Baker, Ca (approx 30 miles).
El Mirage Dry Lake Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area
$15/day; $30/week; $90/season
Camping is allowed anywhere with the riding area that does not block travel on a road and within 100 feet from the edge of the El Mirage Dry Lake. Visitor Center, toilets.
Colorado River Recreation Pass
This pass is $75/year. Camping in the covered areas is limited to 14 in 28 days, after which you must move at least 25miles. The following areas use this pass.
Oxbow Recreation Area
Senator Wash North Shore
Senator Wash South Shore
Ehrenberg Sandbowl (day use only)Others
James Kipp Recreation Area
Season $60 – April through the end of November
Each campsite has a concrete picnic table and fire ring, and all are accessible. Eight vault toilets are located throughout the campground. The site also includes an RV dump station ($10 unless paying by the night), garbage dumpsters, public pay phone, and a fish-cleaning table. Potable water is available.