By Julie Chickery
RV sales are booming and you’ve surely heard that campgrounds are overcrowded. Now you might have heard that dispersed camping is a great way to avoid the throngs of new RV travelers. But is it true, or are boondocking locations getting crowded too?
How crowded is it out there?
Despite all the obstacles that 2020 threw at manufacturers, the recreational vehicle industry had a surprisingly great year. Now, just four months into 2021, industry data suggests this year could be the best on record. According to a recent study commissioned by RVIA, RV ownership has increased more than 62% in the last 20 years, and now a record 11.2 million American households own RVs. What that means for the nature-loving RV traveler is that there may be more competition for the best boondocking spots.
Is there any place left to boondock?
Don’t despair. If you know the tricks, you can find those hidden gems. First, use an app to help you find potential locations and read reviews. The Dyrt Pro App has trip planning functions that allow you to find places where dispersed camping is allowed and includes downloadable maps. Even better, you get a free, 90-day membership to The Dyrt Pro App. If you don’t like it, cancel before 90 days and you pay nothing! Learn more here.
When you use this tool, you see how plentiful dispersed camping locations are around the United States, especially in the West. In fact, did you know you can boondock near Las Vegas? In the video below, we went in search of the best spots and quickly learned what was crowded and what wasn’t in the spring. Here’s a hint: The waterfront on Lake Mead was packed. Desert sites 30 minutes away – not so much. However, we did find our sweet spot in the Spring Mountain Recreation Area.
Timing is everything
One tip for avoiding the masses is to time your travel right. The Southwest is in high demand in the winter, but late fall and spring still offer wonderful weather without as many people. Conversely, higher elevations are more crowded in the summer.
Even if you have to visit a popular area in high season, if you’re a little more adventurous you can still find some solitude. For example, when we went to the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area south of Tucson, we could see several RVs near the entrance. However, the farther back we drove beyond the main road, the more open spaces we saw. We ended up with only one other RV in sight, and it wasn’t even close enough to hear their generator.
It’s important that I add a quick word of caution here. Please, don’t scout out the location with your heavy RV. That’s a recipe for disaster. Find a safe space to leave it, and use your tow/towed vehicle to check conditions.
Embrace the new normal
Finally, accept the fact that things have changed. Even with fellow RVers boondocking more than ever, you can still enjoy it. You’ll be in a fabulous location with wonderful people who enjoy camping as much as you. Just remember to be a good neighbor by following basic etiquette when camping on public lands. Some highlights include not parking too close to others, packing your trash out with you, and refraining from running your generator too often or too late at night or early in the morning.