Monday, December 4, 2023


Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 3: Freedom and civility

Boondocking in the Pacific Northwest

By Dave Helgeson

Last week we celebrated Independence Day and the freedom we enjoy in the United States.

  • One of the freedoms we enjoy as RVers is the ability to go where we want, when we want.
  • Another is the freedom to form and share our own opinions along with making our own decisions.

However, with freedom comes responsibility, civility and understanding.


1. Many of you will take exception (you have the freedom to do so) to my statement that RVers have the ability to go where they want, when they want. I will agree that setting off on an extended RV trek without locking yourself into a rigid schedule via advanced overnight reservations is not what it once was when there were fewer RVs roaming the highways and byways competing for campsites, but note that I used the word “ability” (nounPossession of the means or skill to do something).

To possess a skill you must first learn it. In this case, it is the ability to find boondocking or other non-conventional campsites and how to comfortably stay there without services. With a little research and brushing up on your dry-camping skills, you too can possess these abilities. If a sufficient number of you show interest, maybe I will be able to help you sharpen these abilities through future entries (leave a comment if you’d like this!).

With boondocking comes responsibility like cleaning up after yourself and leaving the site better than you found it, along with complying with other rules. It also comes with civility and understanding such as not parking adjacent to a fellow boondocker without permission, even if there is no law or ordinance against doing so.

2. Some of you may also take exception to the COVID-19 rules posted by campgrounds, RV parks and the government, such as wearing facial coverings and social distancing. I read an article here a couple of weeks ago, from RV park owner Andy Zipser, about those that have formed their own opinion (they have the freedom to do so) on the subject and choose not to comply with those rules, which has resulted in angry, uncivil campers on both sides of the issue. Those that want to be free of the rules and those that feel mortally threatened by those not following the rules. The people we see exercising their freedom and incivility on the evening news and online is exhausting enough – it is uncalled for in a campground setting.

How do the two above examples relate to boondocking in a coronavirus world?

* While I pointed out in my first entry (Part 1) there would be a rise in RV use with the safety an RV provides against potential virus transfer (your own bedroom, bathroom, eating areas and food prep, etc.) and the resulting crowded/full campgrounds, I didn’t foresee the incivility and anger that coronavirus requirements would invoke. This is just one more valid point for boondocking during the outbreak.

* In the true boondocks (dispersed camping on public land) rarely will there be a need for facial coverings, social distancing or the incivility involved for those that don’t believe they need to follow the requirements as you are unlikely be in close contact with others.

* I hope to encourage everyone reading this that there are options to crowded campgrounds during the coronavirus outbreak and the likelihood of them closing due to a second wave. You are free to choose something different!

* Some of you have expressed an interest in escaping all this craziness and giving boondocking a try, but don’t know how to find a place to camp. That I can help you with in Part 2.

A number of years ago RVTravel recorded a three-part YouTube series on boondocking as follows:

Part One: What is RV boondocking and how to do it

Part Two: Where to RV boondock for free on public lands

Part Three: Using Google Earth to pinpoint RV boondocking locations

Note: In Part Two I mention the website They remodeled their website and the page views are different than what you see in the YouTube videos. Click here to go straight to their recreation map showing land agency overlays. Other websites and apps have been developed since the video was filmed too. A recent resource for viewing public land is FreeRoam.

When you read this I will be out enjoying the freedom of my RV without reservations. Happy summer and stay safe wherever your RV travels may take you, maybe even the freedom and civility of the boondocks!

Feel free to share your comments and opinions at the bottom of this page, but please remember to be civil! 

Click if you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of “Boondocking in a coronavirus world…”


Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.



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Don (@guest_86595)
3 years ago

I was pretty excited after watching the 3 videos. Went straight to and found much to my disappointment that they’ve dropped the land status details and suggest you buy a paper map… Sad. Meanwhile FreeRoam looks like it’s pretty usable. Will be bookmarking that one! Thanks much for the advice, Dave.

Dave Helgeson (@guest_86665)
3 years ago
Reply to  Don

Don, Last I checked was looking for “financing” to restore the public agency land overlays. FreeRoam is pretty good, it covers more states and is more detailed than was, but only lists BLM and USFS land. Glad I was able to help.

Paul S Goldberg (@guest_86389)
3 years ago

In May we traveled cross country from our place in Jojoba Hills SKP Resort (Southern California) to our younger son’s home on a 5 acre farm in a VA Hollow where we are presently on our FHU site next to the house. For that trip we used several open campgrounds – Passport America – Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome sites. None of these places required more than a call at about 2 PM on the day we wanted to stay. BDW did require and advance email, but we actually knew where we planned to be that night – last night on the road. We always travel prepared to stay up to 5 nights with no hookups, you never know what might occur.

Liz (@guest_86272)
3 years ago

We are “Accidental F/T RVers” in that our Plan A to sell our East Coast home and move to Arizona was rudely interrupted by COVID. We have been stranded here, living in a 24-foot travel trailer, up to Plan E, & eating through our nest egg that was supposed to last us more than a year and help with our renovations in Arizona. Unfortunately, we have had to pay high campground rent. I would nearly give my husband’s right arm to figure out a way to boondock instead. We have lived in this camper with our dog through 3 seasons so far, and even if we were shortly able to travel westward to make it to Arizona, I don’t think we’d be able to find public lands in every state along the way. We would also need tips on how to deal with weather extremes without hookups. Sign me up for any series you intend to write on this subject!! I’m heading over to Part 2 right now, as I missed it and jumped ahead to Part 3 inadvertently. Thank you for your newsletters, tips, ideas, and suggestions.

Traveler (@guest_86373)
3 years ago
Reply to  Liz

Work camping?

wanderer (@guest_86442)
3 years ago
Reply to  Liz

Agree with Traveler, there are probably some campground host positions going begging in the national forests, corps of engineers campgrounds, maybe the state systems. Do some research on those, perhaps you could grab the rest of the summer somewhere and then line up a fall spot in a milder weather state.

Meanwhile if you’ll specify what state you are in, maybe someone will have an idea for a better location.

Dave Helgeson (@guest_86443)
3 years ago
Reply to  Liz

Where are you currently located with your RV? While boondocking on the East Coast is more difficult than the West, there are options. Let me know and maybe I can provide some suggestions.

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