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Take steps to boondocking

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.

R and T De Maris

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.

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Gary Stone
3 months ago

And one can always practice dry camping in their own driveway, subject to city/HOA restrictions. Gives one a good idea of how all systems work, how long batteries will last, how long before black/gray tanks fill up, etc.

Bob Weinfurt
3 months ago

I occasionally take a trip and stay at an RV park or campground with full hook-ups but since my income is limited, boondock close to home works better for me. Fortunately, I have friends near-by that own a lot of property that let me camp there. The Adirondack Park area in upstate NY is real nice after the spring mud season. I love listening to the coyote serenade and the stars are awesome when there isn’t moonlight. Give your eyes time to adjust to the lack of light and the full moon makes it almost look like daytime. You’ll never experience that at a campground.

Andrea
3 months ago

We moved through tents, popups, and now a small TT over the past 30+ years, so dry camping is nothing new for us. It’s what we do most often. We don’t boondock, except for backpacking, for a number of reasons. For one, some of the common boondocking sites look like moonscapes, due to overuse. To us, it’s less impact on the environment to stay in an established campground which has at least some upkeep. Some of campgrounds we use are 45 minutes or so from the nearest town. I won’t say we won’t ever boondock in the travel trailer, hasn’t happened.
For me, it’s also somewhat about safety. At least in a campground, there’s a good chance of having someone who will call for help if necessary. In my upper 60s, I’m often solo while my husband backpacks, so a chance of someone responding if I need to yell for help is better than no one near.

Bob p
3 months ago

After “boondocking” over 7 years in the Marines I will continue to enjoy the finer things in life. I’ve heard all the wildlife I need in a lifetime, looked at many stars as well as lots of rain running through the tent. Enjoyed all the insects that feed on warm blooded animals, naw, y’all can boondock all ya want just more room for me in the comfort of a campground with hook ups. Lol

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

You sound a bit tainted, Bob. Ha. As good old Tony Robbins is famous for saying, “The past doesn’t equal the future”.

Duane R
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Bob, thanks for your service!

But, what is the point of your post? So you don’t like boondocking. Fine. I don’t feel the need to stay in an RV Resort, but I don’t post on resort reviews that they are not my cup of tea. To me, boondocking away from everyone is one of the finer things in life. To each their own. No need to post why you don’t like something, which implies belittlement of the content of an article.

Last edited 3 months ago by Duane R
Jesse James
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

I’m sure your boondocking in the Marines were always with a group and never just you and a loved one . Quite different. My 32 years military didn’t make me anti—whatever just because I didn’t like it. TO EACH HIS OWN. I still love boondocking

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