Friday, June 2, 2023


Tips to keep you out of trouble when boondocking on public lands

By Bob Difley
Most boondockers know about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) near popular snowbird locations in Southern California and Arizona. But boondocking is also permitted on most BLM land, even if it is not a designated camping or dispersed camping area.

The rule as it now exists allows you to camp/boondock anywhere on BLM land unless expressly prohibited by signs or fences.

But that doesn’t mean you can just go tearing off across the desert mowing down cacti and smashing wildlife burrows – not that too many RVers would do that in their expensive rigs. To keep the rangers off your back, and to set a good example for RVers and RVing in general, follow these common sense tips – not only to avoid trouble with authorities but also to keep yourself out of trouble.

Common sense tips to keep boondockers out of trouble

  • Drive only on established roads.
  • If a road looks like it is not maintained or well used, best to avoid it rather than to get stuck a mile or so in.
  • If in doubt, walk or bicycle or drive your tow or toad in to check the condition of the road and see if there are any suitable campsites.
  • Camp only in campsites that have been used before.
  • Before turning in to a campsite, walk it and check for a solid surface, like desert pavement or hard-packed dirt.
  • Be very wary of driving through dry washes where the sand could be very soft and deep. You don’t want to get stuck.
  • Try to find campsites as far off the access road as possible to avoid dust from others driving by. Close your windows on the road-side of the campsite to avoid dust blowing in.
  • Don’t crowd other boondockers even if the campsite is large enough for both of you. Most boondockers don’t want to be that close to others – unless you’re invited. There are plenty of other campsites.
  • Walk the campsite and pick up any trash, cigarette butts, etc., when you arrive and before you leave – even if you aren’t responsible for the trash. Always leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.
  • Do not dump your waste tanks on the ground.
  • Don’t burn unburnable items in your campfire, like soda cans, plastic, etc. Anything unburned should be carried out with the rest of your trash and disposed of properly.
  • Camping on BLM open desert land is free, but you may only stay a maximum of 14 days, then you have to move at least 25 miles away and you cannot return to that same area for another 14 days. If a ranger finds you have overstayed your time limit, you could get a ticket.


You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.



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Norm B
1 month ago

Try to find a used pair of the scissors type fireplace tongs at sales. Bend the tips so you can pick up small things like cig butts, paper, etc. Saves bending over and using your fingers on the nasty stuff.
Much easier to “police” the campsite.

1 month ago

Well, it’s just kinda scary to think that these suggestions aren’t already instinctive. Maybe I’m giving too much credit to the human intellect?

Lawrence Neely
1 month ago

by the way, your tires may not like going over cactus, they are a little pokey.

Seann Fox
1 month ago

Don’t blindly follow your GPS Garmin has some very questionable access points and many have gotten stuck following their suggestions.

Steven R Clapp
1 month ago
Reply to  Seann Fox


Lawrence Neely
1 month ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

GPS is not the problem. It is the underlaying maps. Most paper maps will have the same problem. I have been 4wheeling for years (before GPS was around) and paper maps had issues. GPS is just another tool using those same maps. As long as you have a good 4 wheel vehicle most “questionable” roads can be fun (it’s an adventure). (but not with my trailer)

Last edited 1 month ago by Lawrence Neely

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