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Boondocking gone wrong: One woman’s experience

We found this post by Suzanne Anthony on her blog “Take To The Highway.” What she wrote echoes what we are hearing so often these days about crowded conditions in RV parks and even boondocking areas.

Suzanne had recently learned about an “idyllic” boondocking spot near Cloudcroft, New Mexico, in the Lincoln National Forest. She was looking for a place to escape the brutal heat of central Texas. She found the coordinates, and then headed off. Here is part of what she wrote about the experience:

I have boondocked in just about every state west of the Mississippi, and I’ve never in my life seen anything like what manifests each Friday evening in the Lincoln National Forest. It’s bad. Really bad. Is this due to COVIDity? Or is this the norm? It’s like a train wreck, hard to look away. And they all have Texas plates when New Mexico has a quarantine mandate for out-of-state visitors.

I stopped by the ranger station to get a map and hiking info. The head ranger was there, so I asked him what was up. He said he had been stationed at this post for 25 years, and had never in his life seen anything like it. Certain areas (hike to the waterfall) had been closed off because they were being completely overrun by campers, and they don’t have the resources during COVID-19 to deal with it.

El Paso is only 108 miles away, he tells me, and they come to escape the heat. Would the last person leaving El Paso please turn out the lights? Oh, wait. No need to turn out the lights, because they brought the lights with them — a construction sized light pole!

Nearly every group has a generator. Why do you need a generator when camping in a tent? And there’s always a car among the group equipped with trunk speakers. . . I guess to drown out the generator noise. Nothing says “a weekend away in a quiet forest” like a giant sub-woofer.

So much for “Leave No Trace.” This bag was left 2 miles up the FS road from the highway.

And of course there are ATVs, UTVs, Polaris RZRs and dirt bikes, all buzzing up and down the forest road until long after dark. But never fear, they are equipped with roll-bar mounted spotlights, neon LED whip antennas and giant flags waving out the back.

WHILE I AM ENRAGED by the mess left behind, I can’t begrudge them for coming. They are all escaping the same triple digit misery I left behind. But what about social distancing? It’s a big forest, yet they congregate in tight-knit groups. I guess their idea of a “quarantine pod” is a little bigger than mine. So what about New Mexico’s quarantine mandate? There is a state law requiring anyone with out-of-state plates to quarantine upon crossing the state line for 14 days or the length of their visit, whichever is shorter. As long as they stay in the forest and don’t go into town, I suppose they consider it a legitimate quarantine.

So why on earth would I stay, one might wonder? Well, this “cloud” in Cloudcroft has a silver lining. Come Sunday afternoon, the place folds up and empties out. I have the place pretty much all to myself, save for two other “regulars.” During the week, there is an average of three rigs, tops, along the entire Forest Service road. I have kind neighbors who have my back, look after the rig while I am hiking, and always ask if I need anything from town.

So why stay with all that mayhem? Because come Sunday afternoon, the place empties out, and I have peace and serenity until the next Friday afternoon.

If you would like to read Suzanne’s blog, which continues beyond what we posted here, you can do so here.

##RVT967

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Suru
4 months ago

This article is a over a year old. I don’t think New Mexico makes out of state visitors quarantine anymore. This same kind of thing happened in my state, Utah, a year or so ago. Lots of great boondocking spots have now been closed because of misuse. I found it a little confusing that she is from Texas too and went to another state just like the people she is complaining about. Sounds a little like “I want mine but you can’t have yours.” Oh well, hopefully when all this pandemic craziness is over things will get better.

Richard
4 months ago

All the bigoted statements about people from this state or that state are missing the point entirely. The issue lies within the intentional dumbing down of our society by the demise of our education system. Plus the entitlement agenda of government, telling everyone they have a “Right to this and that”, without any responsibility for achievement.

Duane R
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Not the education system’s job to teach respect and decency. That is up to parents to instill good values in their kids. Not happening nearly as often now.

Montgomery D Bonner
4 months ago

Oh, forgot to mention, and it’s coming, what, the worst economic crash in the history of mankind. 30 Trillion + in debt, that is going to affect every single living person on this planet. RV’s will lose so much value, you can get one slightly used to 100 dollars, eating will be more important than RV. Get ready, it’s coming soon.

Montgomery D Bonner
4 months ago

I wonder how much trash and junk they left there. RV’ing is dead, the body just does not know it yet.

Michelle
4 months ago

14 day quarantine for out of state plates, just to cross the state line of New Mexico?! Are you kiddding? Is this still a thing there?

Vanessa
4 months ago
Reply to  Michelle

old news

Rosalie Magistro
4 months ago

We’ve been camphosts for 5 yrs.

this year has been such a horrible experience, were thinking about giving it up.

In the camphost community we call the new campers “covid campers”,they are rude,dirty,feel they are entitled to do as they please and not have to follow park rules. Especially the time to depart their site and generator hours.

We are in Arizona in a state park and the locals and Californian are the worst . Sorry I’m naming, but it has to be said,and I’m not say it all of them.

I’ve picked up more dog poop and cigarettes butts this year than in our 5 years of hosting,mind you we host 12 months a year,and the fire pits are used as their trash bag.

Richard Hughes
4 months ago

After living in Southern Colorado for nearly 40 years I am well acquainted with out of state campers and lack of respect with state regulations. Now, living in Arizona, there are no camping spots because of out of state campers. It happens everywhere, but it is a lack of decency that makes things difficult.

The Lazy Q
9 months ago

I’m confused. Author states they all have Texas plates even though New Mexico has a quarantine mandate, yet here she is from central Texas. Special much, she doesn’t know if the other campers have been in the state 2 days or 2 weeks, nor do they know that about her…frankly none of her business.

Juls
4 months ago
Reply to  The Lazy Q

That was my first thought too! Aside from the implication that every one of those presumed “Covid campers” was responsible for the trash she showed, it was clear that she placed herself outside that group, even though she was also there at the exact same time, with the same intent and same license plates.

Her righteousness doesn’t endear me to her blog. It just makes me sad. While I am not a fan of all the new crowd of careless RVers, they have just as much right to the places I and the rest of us like to camp.

We like camping in Red River. Maybe we will check out this place during the week sometime since it’s empty then.

Thomas D
1 year ago

Freedom docking? What the hell is that? Oh the article goes on to explain, formerly boondocking. Really? It needed a name change. I dont think so. It’s boondocking and i dont think too many people would disagree.

The Lazy Q
9 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I agree, everybody wants to make fake words to try and make a point…of what , whatever they are trying to influence, good thing I don’t follow people like that, unfortunately many people do, case in point “social influencer” is now a thing, really.

Skip
1 year ago

Having lived in New Mexico for several years I got to understand why New Mexicans were stand offish toward Texans. The Texans would come over and just take over like they owned all. But, I think it is in every state I’ve personally seen it growing up in NH verses MA or ME with their neighbors of MA or AZ and CA. Visiting another you are a visitor so visit with respect if you can’t stay home for the few dollars you spend aren’t worth the cost of cleaning up your mess. Maybe fined, enforced community service within the park they left a mess. Camp host with more authority and more funding to local law enforcement for camp host.

Richard Hughes
4 months ago
Reply to  Skip

I am glad you said what you did. Texans do take over, especially when they are in groups. If they are long term, they stay one day less than half a year then go back to Texas to beat the paying taxes. But as far as making a mess and leaving trash, it is the responsibility of everyone, but “entitlement” that seems to be the problem.

Lindsay
1 year ago

I used to live in southern Colorado, not far north of New Mexico. Considering that most people in Texas are decent, considerate and neighborly people, the majority of people who came to that area during hunting season were from Texas, and were disproportionately rude and inconsiderate. We used to encourage our Texas (considerate and neighborly ) friends who came to visit us to NOT tell people they were Texans. They got better service in our local businesses and a generally friendlier response from our neighbors and other friends.

Terry A.
1 year ago

“Over-run with Trash “
This is mostly caused by COVID-19. People cooped-up for months with no place to go. Then things start to open up again and Crazyness starts. What do you think happens when No airplane trips or cruses can be booked. The Parks are Free and need to start charging at least $10.00 dollars per car per visit. This will help pay for future trash and maintenance problems.

Point: The trash was located around the Dump container and not scatted around the Park. (according to the pictures)

Tom Horn
1 year ago

One of the answers to the over crowding is to have your rig set up for Freedom Docking at a moments notice. For example, If you make a reservation at a campground, get there and it totally sucks for any number of reasons then you need the option of telling the campground to take a hike. Don’t be a slave to the RV parks. RVing Is not going to get any better then it is right now. Spend the money and get the rig ready for Freedom Docking. Practice the art of Freedom Docking, your going to need the option to survive in the future Camping World Jungle. (Freedom Docking is formerly known as Boondocking) lol

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Horn
Duane Rice
1 year ago

Some years ago I went to a Park in Manitoba…..didnt even see a gum wrapper or cig butt on the grounds anywhere……no trash anywhere……

Robbie
1 year ago

We’ve been full time boondockers for 14 years. Seeing what is happening and experiencing the attitudes, we are hanging it up.

maine demesse
1 year ago

this is a great article.

Dayna
1 year ago

Why do people bag dog poop just to leave the bag !!!!

Chuck Burnett
4 months ago
Reply to  Dayna

They say that they will pick it up after they come back form their walk. NOT!

Sue Orr
1 year ago

I talked with some campground hosts this summer in Montana. They said it would be the last summer they would be camp hosts, and they’ve been doing it for 30 years. The campers were disrespectful and not well behaved this summer and they are not hosting anymore. So sad.

Scott
1 year ago

Such a crock of ****, You know why trash is left. The Govt and states toke all the garbage cans out I’ve been boondocking for 4 yrs straight now. There use to be garbage cans everywhere. Now Your lucky to find one at any park. Billions of dollars and Billions of dollars they waste and it’s the People’s fault.
Wake Up People.
These are Our Public lands.

Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott

And it is your trash. Take it with you!

Tom M
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Amen

Ron T
1 year ago

Regarding the trash, when was the last time you saw an Anti-Littering road sign? They used to be everywhere threatening a $500 fine. Every spring before the grass starts growing I clean the winter’s worth of litter out of the state highway ditch in front of our home. From the intersection to our north to the neighbors home to our south it’s about a quarter mile. The rest of the year I collect whatever the passing traffic leaves me. Sometimes it’s even useful – like 8′ landscape timbers or a 16qt oil drain container.

Ramon B
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron T

Texans stay in your great state.

Bob Weinfurt
1 year ago
Reply to  Ramon B

Like a good neighbor, stay over there.

Lindsay
1 year ago
Reply to  Ramon B

The problem is not Texans, it’s RUDE Texans. I used to live in southern Colorado. Polite and considerate folks from Texas were as welcome in the area as strangers from anywhere else, and a mainstay of the tourist economy. We did, however, seem to get a disproportionate number of very rude Texans there.

Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Ramon B

Also, Californian’s!

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