Monday, December 4, 2023


Boondocking in a coronavirus world. Part 5: Here’s a big variety of things to see and do

By Dave Helgeson
Due to the pandemic, more RVs are on the road this summer as families across the country have discovered RVing as a safer way to travel. While there are more RVs on the road, there are also fewer places to safely visit and activities to enjoy due to virus-related closures and social distancing requirements. RVers that traditionally enjoy visiting museums, visitor centers, theme parks, concerts, sporting events or other indoor or potentially crowded outdoor venues are now looking for lower risk activities and attractions.

While the previous parts of this series have focused on camping in the boondocks to minimize / eliminate virus transmission sources, there is another potential benefit that you might not have considered.

There is often a host of nearby activities and things to see when you are camped in the boondocks that, just like boondocking, are extremely low risk of contracting the virus.

Regardless of where you choose to camp, following is a list of activities / places to enjoy that provide plenty of social distancing giving you and your family an alternative to traditional higher-risk activities.

  • Consider boating or kayaking: Kayaks have become relatively inexpensive and can be easily carried on most RVs. They can be launched from just about anywhere allowing you to forgo the public boat launch making it easy to social distance yourself from others. If you are not sure a kayak is for you, consider a folding boat like a Porta-Bote, that breaks down flat and is designed to be carried on an RV.
  • Take up geocaching: Millions of geocaches are located across the world, assuring there is always one or more near your chosen campsite. Many are located in rural areas where you are unlikely to encounter others while hunting for them. Some are even placed in unique / lesser-known locations like gnome grottoes, hidden waterfalls, nearly forgotten historic sites and other places that you might have never known existed. If you have a smartphone, you have everything you need to get started.

    Many geocaches are social-distancing friendly

Foraging: Public land is full of opportunities to pick wild berries, mushrooms and other tasty treats in areas that are likely to be absent of others.

Wild huckleberries
  • Lesser-known attractions: If you still wish to experience a national park or other popular public lands during the pandemic, seek out a lesser-known “attraction” where you are less likely to encounter others. These can be found online with a little advanced research.
Author (right of center) socially distancing himself at little-known arch in Utah
  • Prospecting / rockhounding: Public lands are ripe with opportunity to pan for gold or collect rock specimens while easily socially distancing from others.
  • Rails-to-Trails: While the pandemic has driven tons of people outdoors onto narrow hiking trails where social distancing is not possible, Rails-to-Trails routes are wide enough to allow social distancing to safely pass others that you might encounter.

    Easy to stay 6 ft. From someone you might encounter
  • Ghost towns and mining camps: History buffs can still get their fix outside of a museum by searching out abandoned ghost towns and forgotten mining camps where the only people you are likely to meet are buried in the cemetery.

These are just a few of the potential places / activities you can enjoy this summer while safely socially distancing from others. Hopefully, these get the wheels in your head turning allowing you to come up with some additional items of your own.

Don’t get discouraged because your traditional activities / haunts aren’t available this summer – give one or more of the above a try. Who knows? You may have a new favorite on your list when the pandemic is over. Get out there, enjoy and stay safe.


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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C.Lee (@guest_92992)
3 years ago

My wife and I bought our travel trailer with boondocking in mind. Fortunately, this means our RV lifestyle hasn’t changed one bit. A couple of destinations may have changed, but no trips have been cancelled. We tow with a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and that’s 4×4 enough to give us plenty to do and see in the backcountry after we set up camp. Ghost towns and mining camps have always been our bag. We’re taking the travel trailer to a spot only about 50 miles from home tomorrow from where we can spend a few days exploring dozens of native ruins and homestead sites in the surrounding area, and there’s nothing better than a campsite where another traveler doesn’t pass your way for a week or more.

Dave Helgeson (@guest_93146)
3 years ago
Reply to  C.Lee

C.Lee, Like you my RV lifestyle hasn’t changed much during the pandemic. My wife and I just returned from spending a couple of weeks boondocking through the Blue Mountains of Oregon exploring abandoned mining camps, scenic mountain top views and alpine lakes. Some days we didn’t encounter any other people.

PennyPA (@guest_92471)
3 years ago

Unfortunately, too many people who boondock haven’t learned the meaning of “Leave no trace”, “Leave only your footprints”, or “Pack it in; pack it out” adages since at least one boondocking area has had to close due to too much trash being left behind by some campers. Check out the Drivin’ & Vibin’ website. Get past their musical stuff and go to the camping stuff.

Peggy Staver (@guest_92273)
3 years ago

We love our inflatable Sea Eagle kayak. We have a 3 person, just to give us plenty of room for photo equipment and a cooler. It folds up and is stored in the bed of our tow vehicle, an F150. Before going full-time, we had a couple of 12ft kayaks.

Lisa (@guest_92499)
3 years ago
Reply to  Peggy Staver

We bought the Sea Eagle canoe, we really enjoy it!

Ann (@guest_92159)
3 years ago

We love to kayak but our rig is too small to carry one. The good news, though, is that about every third body of water has someone renting kayaks, often for very reasonable prices. Our favorite so far…Little River State Park, in Vermont. Beautiful, easy to kayak lake, and the campground itself was renting good quality kayaks for some of the cheapest prices we’ve seen anywhere.

Michael Gardner (@guest_92126)
3 years ago

Good kayaks are harder to find than toilet paper…..

Les Layer (@guest_92175)
3 years ago

I have an inflatable works great

Debbie PJ (@guest_92259)
3 years ago
Reply to  Les Layer

We do too~ a Sea Eagle for 2

Tommy Molnar (@guest_92106)
3 years ago

Geocaching is a great way to get out and spend time in the ‘wild’. They’re everywhere! We’ve been “cachers” since 2003 and have seen stuff that we would have never seen were it not for hunting down Geocaches.

Peggy Staver (@guest_92274)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

We geocache too. It saved us from total boredom the summer we lived in Bryan Texas for work. We also hunt for Munzees wherever we travel. Another fun activity that gets us out and about.

PennyPA (@guest_92468)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Ditto on geocaching AND hunting for Munzees. Like you, we’ve seen beautiful places we never would have seen were it not for geocaching.

Tim Lowe (@guest_92098)
3 years ago

Great stuff. My wife, 2 dogs and a cat took off for 30 days from St Simons Island Ga for SD,MT, WY and ID. Only tied to power 3 time- to do laundry. Rarely had an issue with a place to park, except when we got close to Jackson Hole.

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