By Bob Difley
Most RVers have heard of boondocking and know what it is about, but a lot of RVers boondock for time periods more than an occasional night or two in a Walmart parking lot or a state park campground.
Let’s first consider the term “boondocking.” The difference between boondocking and dry-camping is where you do it. You are dry-camping in a Walmart parking lot, at a state park campground, or any other location or event where there are no hook-ups. You are boondocking when you are dry-camping out in the boonies, away from civilization, services, trash cans, a water supply, walk-to restaurants, and maybe cell phone service.
Practice boondocking by dry-camping first
So logically, to practice boondocking—to get your feet wet—try dry-camping first in a location where, if you have questions or problems, help is close by. As you gain confidence, move farther and farther away from services and help, into more remote, pristine, solitary and wonderfully isolated private campsites (called dispersed camping by the BLM and Forest Service). You can give your own name to your space, with no neighbors except for the nighttime coyote serenade and a sky full of the undiminished Milky Way stars.
These are some logical and progressive steps, from just feeling comfortable overnight without hook-ups, to boondocking in the wilds.
Places to practice boondocking
- Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and similar parking lots.
- Primitive campgrounds with designated campsites, dump and water fill stations, like the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, State Parks, and some National Parks and Monuments where there are no hookups.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA), designated camping areas with hosts, dump station, water fill, and trash containers, but with no designated campsites. You can stay up close to the entrance and help, or retreat further back where it is less crowded.
- Designated dispersed camping areas that are designated camping areas but have no services or host and you have to leave the area for dumping, filling water tank, or getting help. Find locations at BLM and Forest Service offices.
- Open land camping. The BLM and Forest Service permit camping (boondocking) anywhere unless expressly prohibited by signs or are fenced off. You can follow any dirt road or old logging road and camp anywhere where you can get off the road so as not to impede any traffic—even if there isn’t any. This is where you find those secret places you can call your own and is the most extreme—and arguably the most satisfying—form of boondocking.
Once you get comfortable spending a few days in the wilds, the next set of skills to develop is making the most efficient usage of your resources, electricity, fresh water and waste. We’ll cover that at a later date.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.