Saturday, April 1, 2023


Try this when you can’t find a campground with vacancies

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

Hi Bob,
I read one of your Ask BoondockBob columns recently where you said some parks and campgrounds allow staying for one night even when there are no campsites available. Where do they put these people and how do we find such campgrounds? —Jerry

Hi Jerry,
It’s not going to be easy, since every park is different and no one policy fits all. It depends primarily on the ranger, park manager or campground manager. Sometimes these officials find it just another headache to deal with, and they are often right.

Overflow parking in Salt Point State Park, Northern California

Campers, when this option is available, often complain that they shouldn’t have to pay the campground fee (or at least should only have to pay a reduced fee), try to run a long electric cable to the nearest electrical hookup, and don’t leave when they are required to.

But if you find a park manager or ranger that is willing, they would also have to have a day use area with parking to accommodate RVs, be willing to explain the rules, as well as explain why you will not likely be able to park at individual picnic sites with a table. Most will require that you not set up camp until after most day use people have left, and also leave early in the morning – by 8:00 or 9:00 – unless you are waiting for a campsite to open up. Usually, though, you will be at the head of the line before they allow new people in if you are waiting for a site.

And remember this: They are busy people and don’t have to let you stay in the day use or parking area if they don’t want to and you are a potential problem, so you should be polite and on your best behavior if you want a space. It wouldn’t even hurt if you offered to pick up trash around the campground as the price of a spot.

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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Sandy Frankus
4 years ago

Bob awhile back you had a boondocking satellite map article that showed aireal views that showed the roads, size ,turn around areas. Hubby said he already had it, now he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Any chance you know what I’m talking about and could send me the address?

Chuck Woodbury
4 years ago
Reply to  Sandy Frankus

Sandy, I recommend highly that you watch this video about using Google Earth to find boondocking locations. It’s brilliant. It will show you some great techniques.
— Chuck/editor

4 years ago

We had a RV Park let us park beside the office and hook up power for a discounted rate in Northern California (can’t remember the place). They were super nice and it was much appreciated. Just always be nice even if they can’t offer you that. They may have other suggestions but if you are rude then they won’t share.

Sherry Dawson
4 years ago

Also, those of us who are handicapped (and carry documented proof) can often get a same-day site. Some state and federal campgrounds keep a handicap site off the reservation system, so you need to call the park manager directly on the day you want to arrive.

Mike & Louise
4 years ago

We were fortunate to have been offered a similar short-term solution by a ranger while travelling in Washington state. We were very grateful to the young ranger and followed all his instructions as to where to park and to leave early the next morning. It’s imperative that people not take such offers for granted so as to not spoil the goodwill of those offering.

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