Monday, June 5, 2023


Brian asks: Help! How to find boondocking campsites


Here’s a question from a reader of about boondocking. 

Hi Bob,
I’m confused. How can I tell whether I can boondock on lands along my travel routes? There are no signs that indicate this. But I know boondocking is allowed in National Forests and on BLM land, but even then I can’t tell exactly where I can and where I can’t. And what about other public lands? Help! —Brian M.

Hi Brian,
One of the advantages of boondocking (not including overnighting at a Walmart, rest stop or truck stop) is that boondocking campsites are not often identifiable or easy to find, therefore you are not likely to find all boondocking campsites full nor will you find crowds vying for an open site – which is one of the primary reasons RVers boondock.

It will likely seem difficult in the beginning to find places, but once you figure out some basic tips applicable to specific designations of public lands, it becomes – maybe not easy – but understandable. The most important bit of knowledge is to know that there are no standard rules for boondocking on all public lands. Each agency that manages public lands has their own set of rules, and different locations and entities within the larger area have even more – and sometimes conflicting – rules.

So when you are planning a trip through new areas, the best plan is to research the public land websites for each specific area (not just generic “National Forests,” but the website for the specific forest you will travel through) and search for “dispersed camping,” the government’s term for boondocking.

Boondocking on the No. CA Coast

Create a Boondocking bookmarks folder by area or state on your computer and save every source of boondocking/dispersed camping information so you can find it when you need it. When entering a new area, sometimes it is best to choose an established campground as a base camp from which you can explore the area in your tow or toad for boondocking sites.

And search all public lands – there are so many designations to check out: Bureau of Reclamation, State Forests, Fish & Wildlife locations, National Monuments, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and on and on. Search for online maps for the states you will pass through that show these public lands. Talk to other boondocking RVers about places they have found. When you stumble upon a good boondocking site, even if someone is in it, document its location for the next time you pass through. Look at your search as a lifelong pursuit of collecting a list of fantastic camping locations that will enrich your RV lifestyle for years to come.

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) .




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5 years ago

On the NFS sites for the forests you want to boondock in, look for MVUM (Motorized Vehicle Use Map) maps that shows where dispersed camping is allowed. Some of them are formatted to use with Avenza mapping app, and can act as an actual GPS while in the mapped area. You will need mobile data, and not all MVUM maps are formatted to use as GPS; however, you can still open and view the maps with the Avenza app.

5 years ago

Benchmark maps which are available for several western states show which land is BLM, Federal and private…..great resource! Amazon has them.

Chris Potter
5 years ago

Boondocking on the California Coast, right by the ocean?? Without paying some sort of big fee? (Its probably better you don’t say where this picture is, or the spot will get over-run.) Most of the old (mostly Northern) California coastal areas that were free, like Orick or Black Sands; have been closed down for several years now. (Possibly due to elitist property owners?) I think there might still be something around Pismo Beach (?)

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