Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Is camping/boondocking permitted in National Recreation Areas?

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

Hi Bob,
I have seen some areas on maps called National Recreation Areas and wonder whether these are places where RVers can camp. I have seen that some have campgrounds, mostly primitive, but also wonder whether boondocking is permitted.  —Grant

Hi Grant,
Eighteen National Recreation Areas, or NRAs (not to be confused with the National Rifle Association), are managed by the National Park Service (NPS), with the Forest Service (FS) managing several more and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managing one.

Dispersed campsite: Sawtooth National Recreation Area

It depends on the NRA itself whether dispersed camping (boondocking) is allowed. Most have designated campgrounds, some with partial hookups, some without, but with amenities like dump stations and drinking water available. NRAs are often found within National Forests and on large reservoirs with lots of recreation opportunities.

One of my favorites, the Sawtooth NRA in central Idaho, has lots of dispersed campsites on the edge of the forests bordering the Salmon River that flows through the valley. East of the town of Stanley, the hub of the NRA, dispersed sites also lie along the Salmon River, several with hot springs bubbling and steaming into the cool river. Several dispersed camping areas lie adjacent to pristine wilderness areas with trail access only where no vehicles are allowed. 

National Recreation Areas by State provides a complete list, but for detailed information on each NRA visit the Empowering Parks website.

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) gmail.com .






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