There are many free places to camp in the high desert, far from people. The best will be National Forest or BLM land. The gravel roads in National Forest are often better kept.
Finding places is one of the most fun things along the path to nature. There’s plenty of info online, below is my favorite site. And maps are necessary for logistics and planning. But the whim to check out a different road is how you find the amazing secret – there are awesome places EVERYWHERE!
My favorite site for reading about places to explore is http://www.americansouthwest.net/ (check out the slot canyons!)
The National Forest maps are very good! Regardless of your planning and research online, make sure that you have a map with some detail. Chances are your wireless service will drop out much of the time off grid. Maps are also good reading over coffee!
There’s NO SUBSTITUTE to finding cool places yourself. Really! Sometimes you’ll find what seems to be an adequate place to camp, maybe it’s getting dark. Then you wake up in the middle of shocking beauty. Therefore, I always mix my path with a few new, unexplored places. The places in this section are just solid easy to-get-to campsites that are free and require no special vehicle. There are great spots near these that are as good or better, so don’t forget to go a little farther down the road, you’ll always find something interesting, and maybe you can camp there!