Backcountry Camping

A view of the dunes in Fire Island's wilderness

NPS Photo/J. Peters


Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is available by reservation for overnight stays in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area. This can be one of the best ways to experience the qualities of wilderness preserved in this area of Fire Island. Late fall through early spring are the best times to camp to avoid ticks and mosquitoes.

Reservations may be obtained at for wilderness/backcountry camping permits.


Reservations and Permits

There is a fee to reserve a wilderness/backcountry permit which can be paid by credit card when the reservation is made online.

Two backcountry camping zones are available within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, the eastern and western zones. Camping is restricted to no more than 12 people at a time in the eastern zone (with a maximum group size of 4 campers/site) and no more than 24 people the western zone (with a maximum group size of 8 campers/site). See Backcountry Camping Zones map.

From March 15 to Labor Day (when seasonal driving restrictions are implemented), backcountry campsites may be selected on the beach in front of the eastern zone or western zone, in areas where there are no restrictions or closures (e.g., for the protection of nesting shorebirds or other protected species, or where beach conditions are not suitable).

At least one member of each camping party must be 21 years of age or older in order to obtain a backcountry camping permit.

There is a 3-night limit of stay for wilderness camping.

Access to wilderness/backcountry camping is through Watch Hill on the western boundary, or the Wilderness Visitor Center on the eastern boundary.

Choosing a Campsite

Campsites are not assigned, but you must select a suitable site which will not disturb vegetation, dunes, or nesting shorebirds. Your site must also be no closer than 300 feet from other campers. Additional rules and regulations and safety information are posted on the web site.

Please be aware that you and your party will need to hike on soft sand 1 to 3 miles from Watch Hill to reach the western camping zone, and 4 to 5 miles from Watch Hill to reach the eastern camping zone. From the Wilderness Visitor Center, parties will need to hike approximately 2.25 miles to reach the eastern zone and 3.5 or more miles to reach the western zone. This is a carry-in, carry-out area. Be prepared for ticks and mosquitoes when the weather is warm!

Bring drinking water and all necessary supplies, and carry out all garbage.

Open fires are prohibited; use a backcountry stove for cooking.

If you have additional questions, please email

Know Before You Go

Between Labor Day and March 14, campsites should be north of the primary dune, in a sandy area with no vegetation, and at least one mile inside the wilderness boundary.

Water at Watch Hill is turned off on the last Thursday in October. Campers should plan according by packing in all water after this date.

There are limited dune crossings from the wilderness to the beach. No bicycles or other wheeled vehicles are allowed in the wilderness area.

No dogs/pets allowed March 15 - Labor Day (plover nesting season); at other times they are permitted but must be on a 6' leash at all times.

Take safety precautions for ticks and mosquitoes. Plan for quickly changing weather conditions.

Bury human waste in a hole 300 feet from water and 6" from land surface; no trenches allowed.

Leave no trace of your campsite: "Take only pictures, leave only footprints."

For More Information:

Last updated: January 25, 2024

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120 Laurel Street
Patchogue, NY 11772



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