This summer I want to camp in the same place for seven weeks. Wherever I do it must be fairly isolated and near a water source. I would be living in a tent. All US lands seem to prohibit staying in the same place for more than 30 days. The only option I've found so far is to rent a campsite on airbnb, but the choices are limited and most of them lack the sort of privacy I'm looking for. I would also be willing to camp in Canada if it's easier to satisfy the above requirements there for some reason. I just want to find a place where I can be in nature and undisturbed for a long period of time. Does anyone have suggestions?
I suspect you'll need to compromise a bit on one or more of your ideal campsite features, so it might be worth thinking about which things are flexible and which are essential.
You can probably find an established multi-site campground (the kind with a bathroom and multiple tent sites) that will let you stay for an extended period of time. There are RV campgrounds that explicitly allow and even encourage long-term stays. Some of them have tent sites, or you could probably rent an RV site for tent use, although that will be more expensive. The downside is that many campgrounds might not be as private and secluded as you want. I recommend looking at the campground on the aerial/satellite view (eg on Google Maps) to see what the tree cover looks like and how far apart the campsites are. Campsites with a good amount of distance between them, with dense tree cover, and set far back from the main road/driveway, can have a decently secluded feel to them.
I found a list of long-term RV campgrounds in North America (it's a pretty short list so it can't possibly be comprehensive). They do have a link to one campground that has tent sites as well, Becks Fish Camp and Wildlife Refuge near Pensacola, Florida. Based on their hand drawn trail map and looking at satellite view, it appears that one of their primitive camp sites is quite secluded, at the very end of a dead-end hiking trail. Here's a link to my best guess of the location of the camp bluff site on google maps satellite view.
To hit that sweet spot of overlap between "campgrounds that will let you stay for a long time" and "campsites that are genuinely secluded" you'll need to do a lot of sleuthing. Typically the more actually secluded a campsite is, the less of an online presence it has. You'll notice that the websites I linked to look like they were designed back in the 90s. That's a good sign. It's also a good sign if the campground doesn't have a way to make reservations online. A business with a sleek, well-designed website is probably one that has a lot of traffic, and won't be as interested in making special accommodations for a long-term stay, or they would charge you an arm and a leg for a long-term stay.
Sticking to public (federal) land in the US, I don't think it is allowed.
Usually, the land with the least restrictions is Bureau of Land Management. General guidance is found at BLM.gov (note that specific BLM areas may have more stringent restrictions). On that page it states:
Dispersed camping is allowed on public land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 28 consecutive day period. The 28 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14 day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 28 day period. After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25 mile radius of the previous location until the 29th day since the initial occupation.
Again, be careful, do not assume this covers all areas - some have limited to no camping allowed. Check locally at the BLM office.
Next up is National Forests. These have diverse regulations on both campgrounds and dispersed camping, and neighboring National Forest units can have different regulations. I have never been in one that allowed 7 weeks of static camping, although that is not definitive.
For example, Fishlake National Forest states:
You may camp in a dispersed area for up to 16 days. After 16 days, you must move at least 5 road miles for camping in another dispersed area. Campers may not spend more than 16 days of any 30 day period at the same dispersed area.
The Kaibab National Forest is similar yet slightly different:
Visitors may camp for a maximum of 14 days in any 30-day period on the Kaibab National Forest.
In any event, you need to check the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the particular Forest or Ranger District of Forest you are interested in.
Official Forest Service campgrounds usually have a 14-day limit, but some are shorter.
Bottom line - I don't see any legal way to camp 7 straight weeks on federal land in the US.
State forests have different regulations than Federal land. A campground I am familiar with that meets your requirement to not be disturbed is Stillwater Reservoir in the New York Adirondacks. All camp sites are hike-in (a half mile or more) or paddle in.
Regarding duration of stays that are allowed, here's what it says on the Dept of Environmental Conservation camping page (emphasis added):
- Camping permits will not be issued for more than 14 nights but may be renewed depending upon availability of sites.
- From July 1 through Labor Day only 14 cumulative nights of camping can be obtained at any campground. This is to ensure that new campers can enjoy their right to camp.
Stillwater is essentially primitive camping in designated sites, so the primitive camping rules apply:
Groups of 10 or more persons OR stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
Since it's a bit confusing and you'd need to contact the ranger anyway, I'd start with that. Stillwater is in Region 6 -- this link has the ranger information where you can call about a permit.
This is just one example, of course. If you know of an area you'd like to camp, look up information about state parks in that area, and the particular restrictions that may apply.