The US Federal Governments owns nearly 650 million acres of land - almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States.
These are lands that are held for all Americans.
US Public Lands allows you to quickly retrieve the boundaries of these properties without carrying physical maps, books, or digging deep online.
Included in the app are on-device (fully works offline), individually selectable & beautifully colored map layers for most of the properties administered by the federal government:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- US Forest Service (FS)
- National Park Service (NPS)
- Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE)
- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Tennessee Valley Authority
- Department of Defense (military bases & installations)
- Other (National Laboratories, Test Sites, etc...)
Key Benefits & Features
- Know which US agency owns and operates the land you're on or are heading to. Use the "Layers" icon to select which agencies you want displayed to create your own custom map. (Hint, the toggles are color coded to the color each layer is displayed in.)
- Links are provided to each agency's website within the app, so that you can further your research as to what land use rules apply for each public land type - such as permits, fees, activities allowed, and limits of stay.
- Map layers are stored on device - no internet connection required.
- Be sure to turn on the 'Basic' base map to see the US Public Land labels for each land area. This base map layer is also stored entirely on your device, and can be utilized if you do not have an internet connection or would like to conserve bandwidth.
- If you have an internet connection (or have cached them before going out of signal), you can utilize the built in Apple Maps and satellite view maps as the base layer underneath the public land overlays.
- A boondocker's assistant - While US Public Lands is not specifically a camp site locator and does not have a database of specific sites, by turning on the satellite view map, you can better scout out trails, roads and signs of dispersed camping locations within the boundaries of the public land resources.
- Quickly toggle between 'Show' and 'Hide' via the "Map" icon to more clearly see satellite images below.
- If you have GPS access on your device, click the 'Locate Me' icon to show your present location - know what type of land you're on right now!
- Built in search tool locates anything on device maps supports (requires internet access) - including cities, states, zip codes, addresses and points of interest. A pin is dropped at the search location.
Thank you to the Protected Area Database (PAD-US) of the U.S. Geological Survey for providing the public domain raw map data that we’ve been able to utilize to create this interactive overlayable mapping & navigation tool. We will update our maps in the future to stay in sync with improvements to this data set.
Please note, the USGS PAD-US database contains the “most up-to-date aggregation of Federal lands and waters” available, but this database is still evolving and some locations may not be listed and others may not have precisely accurate boundaries. Resolution across the nation may vary. And always remember - there may be private unmapped inholdings within any public lands - so always pay attention to local signage, indications, and information.
The US Public Lands app should only be used as an overview, and you should always confirm more precise details by consulting local field offices, administration websites, and other resources. Do not solely rely on this app for determining if you are on public or private land.
This is the first update to US Public Lands in over four years, and the changes are huge!
+ Much more detailed & updated maps! (Read below for an explanation)
+ Full support for all the latest devices and screen sizes, including the iPhone X and iPad Pro.
+ Support for iPad split-screen multi-tasking. You can now use our app ‘Coverage?’ and US Public Lands to scout out remote boondocking spots and potential cellular coverage simultaneously!
The original version of US Public Lands was based on the National Atlas of the United States of America, but this public domain data set was shortly thereafter discontinued and was no longer being updated. The new app has migrated to instead rely on the completely new Protected Area Database (PAD-US 2.0) of the U.S. Geological Survey for the public domain raw map data that we’ve been able to convert to create this interactive overlayable mapping & navigation tool.
The PAD-US database is an active and evolving project - which means that we’ll be able to more frequently update this app with future enhancements and improvements.
Please note, the USGS PAD-US database contains the “most up-to-date aggregation of Federal lands and waters” available, but this database is still evolving and some locations may not be listed and others may not have precisely accurate boundaries. We’ve in particular noticed some military bases that were charted in the old National Atlas which have not yet been added to the new database, and there are a few other minor omissions too. But overall the detail available in the new maps is VASTLY improved over the old. So while the original data set could be counted on to be no more accurate than 1-square mile of resolution, the data in the new release will vary in resolution across the nation (often much higher, but not always).
But even with the more detailed maps: always remember, there may be private unmapped inholdings within any public lands - so always pay attention to local signage, indications, and information. Do not solely rely on this app for determining if you are on public or private land.
Ratings and Reviews
Good but could be better
I like the satellite map with the color-coded overlay. You can see streets and figure out how to get places. But there's no measurement bar to indicate how large you've made the map or how far a place is from the highway. And as others have noted, small campgrounds or BLM dispersed camping areas don't show up. I can find these on free camping apps but not on this map.
A tad more useful
I am upping my review to 2 stars mainly due to fact that if you are in the boonies, at least you would click the 'basic' map and 'locate' and you may know if you are trespassing or not.
- it keeps you 'legal' as much as possible; if in doubt, better backtrack thou
- low cost for doing above
- I think it uses Apple maps which is inferior to Google in showing all the tiny roads (off roads - even though I found many Google tiny roads that were gone when checking them on location but still showing on maps - not this app problem to fix).
- you need to download google offline maps, then toggle between this app and google maps to navigate the maze of off roads when off grid
- still misses large areas that are accessible to public but again, not big deal since there are so many public lands in western states
Ideally when in the boonies and no coverage, satellite view is critical if you want to change locations if one proves inaccessible. Being able to download ahead of time the sat view and terrain view from google then lay over the ownership map, would make this app worth a lot. I would pay easily 50$ for one stop shop. Other apps that do that are pricey and require subscription etc.
Again, great idea, I hope the developers improve it.
The info you get from the government sites on where exactly blm starts or even where blm land is located is very hard to pinpoint. This app allows you to search by name and while not accurate to exact boundaries is more accurate than the blm website. The maps there are very hard to read while this one is overlaid on actual maps so you can figure out directions and get where you want to go. I like that it also covers other government land for you to stay on. This app is a must have if you love camping off the beaten track.
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.