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Scout for the perfect boondocking site and claim it!

More and more RVers are boondocking to escape crowded campgrounds, have some breathing room, and cut costs. When looking for a boondocking or first-come, first-served site, we always unhook our tow car and I scout for the perfect spot while my husband waits somewhat impatiently in the motorhome. In particularly uneven or unknown terrain, it is a good idea to unhook a trailer and explore the area first.

Here are a few things I have learned along the [hard] way:

Mark and claim the site

  • When I find that perfect, wonderful site and want to get back to it, I put out a chair, folding table, and, in a pinch, my big blue floral umbrella so we can see where the site is instead of wandering through the desert or forest. If in a first-come, first-served campground, an item strategically placed says, “This site is taken.”

Get RV in and out

  • Think about how the RV is going to get there. Several times I have failed that advice and sent the motorhome down washes, through disastrous washboard roads and over rocks that could be considered boulders. The time every cabinet in the motorhome opened and spilled its contents on the floor and on my husband, I finally got the idea.
  • Figure out how the RV is going to get out of the site. It might be easy to pull into but a long and difficult journey to get out of. One time we didn’t have an exit route in a heavily cedar forested site on BLM land. It was beautiful, but getting out ended with a major four-foot scratch on our newly painted motorhome. Not good. Always have an exit strategy.

Find the boondocking site

  • Don’t park in a wash, no matter how sunny and dry the day appears. Rainstorms miles away can fill a wash with rushing water threatening not just the RV but life also.
  • Look where others have had fire rings. Those are usually tried and true sites.
  • Look up and check out the trees for dead wood in a heavily forested area.
  • Check if the site is relatively level.

Respect

  • Respect others’ space and don’t pull up right next to someone. Notice how people are spread out and follow suit.
  • Respect the site – pack it in and pack it out! Clean up the site even if others have left it a mess. I put on a pair of latex gloves – after a few choice words about the people who left the mess – and grumble to myself, “Do the right thing.” Many boondocking sites have been closed recently because people have trashed them.

Safety when boondocking

  • In an isolated area, it’s a good idea to lock bays and RV doors when leaving and sleeping.
  • Let someone know where you are, particularly if RVing solo.

For an article on finding the same boondocking spot again click here. For safety suggestions when boondocking solo read this helpful article. And here is a satellite messenger in case of emergency when boondocking remotely.

##RVDT1636

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Roger V
4 months ago

A two way satellite emergency notification device is a good idea when you’re way out beyond cell phone coverage. Two good ones are the Zoleo and the Garmin InReach mini.

Mike Hancock
4 months ago

We recently bought 2 ebikes. We plan to use one of the bikes to scout ahead for boondocking sites. I will strap a chair to the rack to mark the spot.

Thom R
4 months ago

The first time we boondocked in the new rig, I was so nervous about taking it off the road that I picked an opening in the brush, there were tire tracks but it was slightly too narrow. Got light scratches down both sides. I didn’t notice a place 50 yards away that was clear access!
Spent a couple hours on a stool with some rubbing compound fixing those scratches…

Tommy Molnar
4 months ago

We tow a 30′ Arctic Fox travel trailer. My rule for exploring roads and looking for boondocking sites is that I don’t drive any farther or around any curves that I know I can’t back out of. That could be a mile or more, but as long as I can back out, I’m good.