Thursday, December 8, 2022


Coyote camping (boondocking) in the Southwestern deserts


By Bob (BoondockBob) Difley

Of all the styles of camping, from backpacking tents to fancy RV resorts accommodating 40 foot+ motorhomes, coyote camping (ultimate boondocking) in the Southwestern deserts may be the most challenging – but also the most rewarding for lovers of nature, open space, free campsites, and solitude. Coyote camping, by my unofficial definition, is camping away from visible signs of civilization, with no hookups or other services immediately available, with campsites often requiring a bit of exploration to locate.

Coyote Camping near Lake Havasu, Arizona
Coyote Camping near Lake Havasu, Arizona

Then there’s the good parts, the pluses: Dark nights with star-strewn skies, no generators disturbing the pristine stillness, no annoying drone from surrounding campers’ TVs, solitude, quiet, and big broad vistas. Coyote camping campsites offer endless places to explore on foot – dry washes, hidden canyons, and rocky knolls, spring wildflower extravaganzas, the challenge of cacti and desert plant identification, brilliant sunsets, and if you want, you can run naked through the desert without an audience other than jackrabbits and coyotes.

But of course there are minuses also: A water supply limited to what you can carry on board, miserly electrical usage required, and wise handling of waste as well, and no pizza delivery. Since you probably already eat too much pizza, let’s look at how to handle the other three limitations to your boondocking experience.

Limited water supply can be handled in two ways, carrying additional jerry jugs or plastic water jugs of water, and conscientious (conservative) usage. Simple habits like turning off shower water when soaping up and while scrubbing hands saves quite a bit of water.

If you find you like camping in the open desert, you may decide to add another house battery (or switch to higher capacity golf cart batteries), invest in solar panels (once paid for you can enjoy free electric power through a system with no moving parts with no repairs and little maintenance) or a wind generator.

But until then, turn off lights when not in use and limit use of AC appliances (that use ten times as much electricity as DC fixtures and appliances) to when you are running your generator. Try also to schedule showers when the generator is running since water pumps pull a lot of power.

Once you experience the uniqueness of the open desert, the coyote serenade, and starlit skies of desert nights, you may decide the inconveniences are worth the extra effort.

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

First published in April 2016.

##bd04-16; ##RVT877

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Susan Sharp
2 years ago

I just saw an add on facebook for a solar system you can build called Backyard Revolutions system. Does anyone know anything about it? It is a video for $89 – $39 today only. It is a freestanding stacked solar panel, 4 sq foot, that can be built for about $210. Looks very portable and easy to use. Would love to know if this is worth buying. n Thank you 

3 years ago

I really want to be a coyote camper some day. Gonna add solar panels to my rig this summer.

3 years ago

Definitely my preferred type of camping. Having a 19 foot Class B gets me into a lot of locations even a small Class C or B+ could not. NOT having 4×4 helps me stay out of trouble.

As the saying goes “a 4×4 gets you stuck in deeper snow/sand further away from home!”

Al & Sharon
3 years ago

Coyote camping is what I have always considered boondocking, as versus dry camping. This also the type of camping we prefer, out in the boondocks away from civilization.

3 years ago

I LOVe the term “coyote camping”, my preferred style.

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago

The more you do the “boondocking” thing the better you get at it, and the more little tricks you come up with. Innovation.

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

And the better you become at ‘finding’ boondock sites (that non-boondockers rarely even recognize!). It’s a skill.