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How Not To Go Camping Near An Illegal Marijuana Grow

Legalized pot in many U.S. states has dope lovers happy, but the U.S. Forest Service isn’t pleased. Lots of people want in on the action but they’re doing it by creating illegal pot grows on public lands. Not only do these grows create environmental catastrophes, but if you go camping near an illegal marijuana grow, your safety is at risk.

Camping near an illegal marijuana grow isn’t always so obvious.

camping near illegal marijuana grow

Every year thousands of impromptu marijuana farms are discovered on public lands, including national forests and popular natural attractions like Yosemite. Some grows are very remote but every year many campers and RVers inadvertently go camping near an illegal marijuana grow without even realizing it. Each year, more and more hikers and campers accidentally stumble upon these grows only to be met by armed guards hired by drug cartels.

When illegal grows are discovered, the environmental damage is huge. These growers:

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  • Destroy the landscape by cutting trees and vegetation
  • Use tons of toxic chemicals and fertilizers that pollute water, land and wildlife
  • Erode rivers and natural water sources by creating ditches and dams for watering
  • Leave behind heaps of toxic trash, garbage and human waste
  • Set land mines and other crude explosive devices to protect their crops

Illegally grown pot is not eco-friendly.

camping near illegal marijuana grow

If you enjoy taking your RV to remote places on any of the 193 million acres of US Forest Service land, be very aware of your surroundings when you camp and go hiking, especially if you’re alone.

What To Do If You Go Camping Near an Illegal Marijuana Grow

According to, these tell-tale signs of illegal marijuana grows on public lands will let you know if you need to turn the key and leave:

  • “Sometimes marijuana smells like a skunk on hot days.
  • Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
  • A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
  • People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears unusual.
  • Grow sites are usually found in isolated locations, in rough steep terrain.
  • Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer, weapons, garbage, rat poison, and/or dead animals.
  • Small propane bottles, used to avoid the detection of wood smoke.
  • Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.”

An illegal marijuana grow camp site.

camping near illegal marijuana grow

If you run into an area like this, quietly get out without looking back. Don’t talk to anyone you see in the area, and report as much detail as possible (notable landmarks and GPS coordinates are helpful) to the local Forest Service station or local police. Then go find a full-hookup RV campground and breathe!

2 thoughts on “How Not To Go Camping Near An Illegal Marijuana Grow”

  1. Point taken PJ, sorry to offend, it was purely unintentional. I’m originally from Humboldt County CA and have lived with the ramifications of illegal grows for a very long time. Running into them in the Lost Coast while hiking in the woods is my worst nightmare. Never meant to imply that these environmental catastrophes were tied to the legalization of weed. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Good, useful, article but your first paragraph is completely disingenuous. These illegal growing sites existed long before legalization and have nothing to do with legal operations. Legalizing marijuana in a few states did not suddenly create a market for illegal pot, in fact, it has seriously cut into the illegal market in states where it is legal.

    Legal pot operations have to meticulously document that the pot they sell is grown legally so these operations are in no way getting “in on the action” of legalized pot. They may be getting in on the action of the profits from pot but, as stated earlier, this existed long before pot was legalized in a few states.

    I guess I’m one of the “dope lovers” you mentioned because finally, at the age of 55, I was able to legally buy a substance I have needed for years to treat a chronic condition. The mother buying CBD oil to treat her child’s life-threatening seizures, the man buying edibles to treat the nausea from chemotherapy, even the 20-something who prefers smoking a legal joint to chugging beers, do not deserve to have their legal access to pot demeaned by tying it to completely irrelevant illegal activity.

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