Saturday, December 2, 2023


How to find boondocking spots on cross-country RV trip


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

Hi Bob,
My wife and I are planning a trip across the country with no planned agenda, going wherever something strikes our fancy. However, that prevents us from making campground reservations. We like to boondock and wonder whether we will be able to find dispersed camping options if we can’t find a campground with an open site. —Kevin

Hi Kevin, 
Yes, you will be able to find boondocking spots, but don’t expect to see a nice, organized guide to boondocking campsites across the country. It will take a bit of on-the-fly research when you’re in unfamiliar territory and it’s getting late in the day. But that shouldn’t discourage you. It’s part of the adventure of discovery and boondocking.

Boondocking along the Molasses River in Michigan

And always have Plan B in place, like locating all the Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, Pilot and Flying J truck stops, and roadside rest areas for a hundred miles ahead if you don’t find anything. You can find the locations of each of these online. Locate the national forests along your route with the National Forest Locator Map and search the forests you will pass through for “dispersed camping” and for a list of campsites.

West of the Mississippi also search the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices and The Army Corps of Engineers properties. Visit the Forest Camping website for a list of all the national forests along with a description and directions to campgrounds, and the RV-Camping website or Overnight RV Parking (watch the demo) for free and inexpensive campsites. 

Though national forests are scarce in some parts of the Midwest and East, many of those states have state forests that allow dispersed camping and sometimes primitive campgrounds. Search online for state forests in the state you are traveling.  It helps also for spousal comity to define how far off your travel route you will look and how long you will search for an acceptable campsite before reverting to Plan B. And don’t wait until it’s late in the day to start looking — allow time for a restorative walk and exploration.

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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Robbie (@guest_10931)
6 years ago

Do your homework before you leave, and after you get there, use your toad to find a better or different spot. We don’t disclose our boondocking spots anymore because we’ve seen the destruction caused by overuse and laziness.

Charlie (@guest_10692)
6 years ago

For my wife and I, we have found being a member of Harvest Hosts to be invaluable while traveling east of the Mississippi. You usually need to call at least the day before. If your on-line search does not come up with boondocking prospects, this is is a great alternative. We have found the hosts friendly and informative. They have led us to local gems to see as well as great eats and beer/wine/cheese tasting.

Just thought I would mention another alternative.

Ed (@guest_10372)
6 years ago

This site and others have alluded to the fact that new RV sales are booming while few, if any new RV parks or campsites are being built leading to a crisis in camping. Does the RV industry have any programs to address this situation?

JIm (@guest_10357)
6 years ago

Your link to the Forest Service Camping site is incorrect. This is the link.

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