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Make Welcome Centers your first stop when you cross state lines

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

By Bob Difley

Hi Bob,
We know where most of our state’s best attractions and boondocking spots are, but have a hard time finding them whenever we travel to a new state. Do you have any suggestions? —Jerry and Alicia

Hi Jerry and Alicia,
Whenever you enter a new state on your travels, make the State Welcome Center or Visitor Center your first stop. You will find one in nearly every state, usually at the first or second exit along main highways upon entering the state. They are well-signed and easy to find – and also have parking for big rigs. It will save you time and money if you intend to explore the new area you have entered.

These centers (also called visitor information centers and tourist information centers) are loaded with state and local maps, lists of campgrounds from primitive to RV resorts – even boondocking (dispersed camping) locations, discount coupons for events and attractions, promotional offerings, scenic drives and areas, schedule of state events and celebrations, wildlife viewing areas, local bird lists, and a restaurant guide – along with availability of senior and early diner discounts.

Overnighting at the Danbury, CT, Welcome Center

And don’t be afraid to ask for anything you think you might want to do – after all, the personnel and volunteers are there for one reason, to make your visit pleasant and to encourage you to stay longer. The longer you stay, the more money you will spend in their state – and if you had an enjoyable visit, you are likely to return. So you will find them very knowledgeable and helpful.

Some welcome centers even allow a free one-night stay – sometimes with a dump station and electrical hookup – giving you plenty of time to relax and plan an itinerary for your visit and route.

If you didn’t find enough information on boondocking, ask them for the location of the nearest U.S. Forest Service and BLM offices where you can pick up even more maps and directions to dispersed camping areas. Also search online for the locations of welcome centers by doing a Google search: “(type state name) Welcome Centers”.

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

##RVDT2042

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Spike
15 days ago

We always just go online to the particular state’s Dept of Tourism in advance and order their travel guides, or view them online/download.

If in a certain location, Google Maps can be used to show all kinds of local attractions, museums, restaurants, etc.

Jim Johnson
15 days ago

“main highways” very often means Interstate highways. We try to avoid them like the plague they often are to RV drivers. Let’s face it, we typically are unwanted traffic on crowded high-speed road by both professional truck drivers and certainly by non-commercial operators of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks.

While there are State Welcome Centers on lesser roads, they are few. However, don’t overlook tourist information centers in many, many small towns. While certainly such centers are biased toward local venues, they also often carry information about the State or at least regional opportunities. And their staff and volunteers are also good sources of information and just as willing to help visitors.

wanderer
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Yes, and they often have postage-stamp sized parking lots on narrow downtown streets, when they are even open. But very helpful, if you can find somewhere to park and walk over.

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