If you’re like us, you may be asking the question, what is boondocking camping?
You’re in luck because today, we’re taking a deep dive into all things boondocking camping or free camping.
In this complete guide, we’re covering what boondocking is, the different types of boondocking, where you can boondock, and some boondocking camping tips, along with a list of pros and cons of boondocking camping.
Let’s roll! 🙂
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What is Boondocking Camping?
The term Boondocking camping, also known as dry camping or primitive camping, is a form of camping where you camp in remote areas that are not designated campsites or do not have any amenities.
Boondocking camping involves camping without hookups for electricity, water hookups, or sewage and being self-sufficient for several days.
Typically, boondocking camping is done in areas such as national parks, Bureau of Land Management lands, public or federal lands where boondocking camping is allowed, or private land where you have permission to stay.
Essentially, boondock camping is free camping! 🙂
Visit the National Forest Service for more information
The Benefits of Boondocking Camping
Boondocking camping offers a range of fantastic benefits for adventurous souls seeking a unique outdoor experience.
Let’s dive into some of the reasons why boondocking might be the perfect camping style for you:
Escape the Crowds
Say goodbye to crowded campgrounds and noisy neighbors! Boondocking allows you to set up camp in secluded and untouched areas of nature, providing a serene and peaceful environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Immerse in Nature’s Beauty
Picture waking up to breathtaking sunrises over a pristine lake or falling asleep under a canopy of stars. Boondocking lets you fully immerse yourself in the raw beauty of nature without any distractions.
Freedom and Flexibility
Unlike traditional campgrounds with strict check-in and check-out times, boondocking allows you to come and go as you please. You can change your plans spontaneously and stay longer if you discover a hidden gem of a spot.
For budget-conscious travelers, boondocking is a fantastic option. Most boondocking sites are free, so you can allocate your camping budget to other exciting activities or gear upgrades.
No need to stress about booking a campsite months in advance. With boondocking, there’s no need for reservations; you simply find a suitable spot and set up camp.
Embrace Off-Grid Living
Boondocking encourages self-sufficiency and resourcefulness. You’ll learn to conserve water, manage waste responsibly, and rely on alternative power sources like solar panels.
Discover Hidden Gems
Boondocking takes you to lesser-known spots off the beaten path. You’ll stumble upon hidden gems and pristine landscapes that few others get to experience.
Privacy and Solitude
Have you ever dreamed of having a slice of nature all to yourself? Boondocking provides the privacy and solitude you crave for a more intimate connection with the great outdoors.
The sense of adventure and exploration that comes with boondocking creates memories that will stay with you forever. It’s a chance to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with yourself and nature.
Get up close and personal with wildlife in their natural habitat. Whether it’s observing a deer grazing nearby or hearing the hoot of an owl at night, boondocking brings you closer to the wonders of wildlife.
With minimal light pollution in remote areas, boondocking offers excellent stargazing opportunities. You’ll be amazed by the dazzling display of stars adorning the night sky.
Bonding with Fellow Campers
Despite the remote locations, you might come across fellow boondockers. Sharing stories and tips with like-minded adventurers can lead to new friendships and a sense of community.
Fresh Air and Outdoor Activities
Boondocking allows you to breathe in the fresh air and engage in various outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or birdwatching, ensuring a healthy and invigorating escape.
Personal Growth and Resilience
Dealing with the challenges that come with boondocking, such as limited resources or unexpected weather changes, fosters personal growth and resilience.
Connecting with the Earth
Boondocking reminds us of our connection to the Earth and the importance of preserving its beauty for future generations. It instills a sense of responsibility for nature conservation.
Different types of boondocking camping
Boondocking camping can generally be divided into four categories: primitive, dispersed, recreational vehicle (RV), and remote.
Primitive Boondocking Camping
Primitive boondocking camping involves an entirely natural setting without amenities or services.
This type of camping is often used by hikers and backpackers looking for solitude and wanting to be completely immersed in nature.
“mooch-docking” is a term used to describe a type of RVing where a person parks their RV at a friend’s or family member’s property for free.
The term “mooch” implies that the RVers are getting something for free, without paying for it.
“Docking” refers to the act of parking the RV at the friend’s property.
This type of RVing can be a great way to save money on accommodation while still enjoying the benefits of RV travel.
However, it’s important to get permission from a friend or family member beforehand and to be respectful of their property and privacy while mooch-docking.
And whatever you do, don’t overstay your welcome! 🙂
Dispersed Boondocking Camping
Dispersed camping is a type of boondocking that involves camping on public land away from any developed sites or facilities.
This can include places like national forests, grasslands, and deserts where people can camp without paying for a permit or reservation.
RV Boondocking Camping
RV boondocking is when people take their recreational vehicles, like campers and motorhomes, and set them up on public land for camping.
Many RV parks offer spaces specifically designated for this type of boondocking camping.
Remote Boondocking Camping
Remote boondocking is a term used to describe camping in very remote areas inaccessible by vehicle or foot.
This type of camping is usually done by experienced campers who are looking for a more primitive experience and have the skills necessary to navigate their way through these areas.
No matter what type of boondocking you’re interested in, Boondocking camping can be a fun and rewarding camping experience if you know the ends and outs.
How to Go Boondocking Camping
If you’re eager to venture off the beaten path and experience the freedom of boondocking, here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.
Tips for Boondocking Camping:
1. Location, location, location!
The first step is to find the perfect location for your boondocking adventure can use several resources to find remote areas for boondocking, such as freecampsites.net .
You can also use Google Maps to search for remote areas near you.
When choosing a location, make sure it’s legal to camp there and that you have permission from the landowner if necessary.
You can research potential boondocking sites in your desired area.
Look for public lands, national forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, or other places that allow dispersed camping.
Online forums and camping apps can be valuable resources for finding suitable spots.
You’ll also want to consider areas the terrain, weather, and will area.
Places that offer free overnight RV parking
Thankfully, several places in the United States allow free overnight parking or boondocking. These spots are great for quick stops and overnight stays that welcome boondocking for a night.
Cabela’s– Cabela’s s an outdoor retailer that provides designated RV parking for their customers at select stores.
Casinos- Many casinos provide free overnight RV parking to customers in their lot.
Cracker Barrel- Cracker Barrel Restaurant is a popular roadside eatery that provides overnight RV parking at select locations.
Rest Stops-in some states allow overnight parking.
Street Camping– Street camping is legal in certain cities and some will offer designated RV parking to encourage visitors. One example is Saint Marys, Georgia.
Truck Stops– Truck stops such as Flying J, Love’s, and Pilot, will allow overnight parking for RV Travelers. Space is very limited as truckers fill the spots quickly.
Visitors Centers -There are visitor centers throughout the USA that will allow overnight parking for free or a fee in their parking lot.
Examples of visitor centers that allow boondocking link
Costco, Sams Club, and Walmart parking lot
Several big box store chains allow overnight RV parking at select stores. These are Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart.
Great Resource: This is a wonderful article about places that allow free parking in the USA
Boondocker’s Welcome Club is a free online community that connects RVers looking for places to boondock (camping on public lands or private property without hookups) with hosts willing to offer a spot to park for a night or two.
Boondockers Welcome currently offers 3381+ incredible Hosts across the US and Canada, offering great places to stay wherever you go in North America!
Hosts who join the Welcome Boondockers’ Club can offer their property as a place for RVers to stay for a night or two.
RVers who join the club can search for available hosts and request to stay with them.
The club emphasizes the importance of respectful behavior and clear communication between hosts and RVers and encourages members to leave positive reviews after their stays.
The Welcome Boondockers’ Club is not affiliated with any RV club or organization, and membership is open to anyone who shares the values of respect, kindness, and community.
The Best Boondocking Camping Resources
There are several popular boondocking apps that can help RVers find great places to camp off-grid.
These apps can be a great resource for campers who are looking to boondock or camp off-grid:
Campendium: Campendium is a popular resource that offers a comprehensive directory of campsites, including many boondocking locations.
iOverlander: iOverlander is a community-driven app that includes a database of campsites, boondocking locations, and other helpful information for RVers. Users can submit reviews and updates, and the app also includes offline maps and GPS navigation.
FreeRoam: FreeRoam is an app focusing on free camping and boondocking sites. It includes a map-based interface that allows users to browse for sites in their area or search for specific amenities or features.
AllStays: AllStays is a popular app offering a comprehensive site directory, including many boondocking locations. The app allows users to filter their search by amenities, site type, and location and includes user reviews and photos.
RV Parky: RV Parky is an RV Park directory built by a full-time RV’er with the help of the RV community to help fellow RV’ers on the road.
You can find information for RV Parks and campgrounds in the United States and Canada.
2. Prepare for Self-Sufficiency
Boondocking camping is all about self-sufficiency.
When boondocking, you’ll need to be self-sufficient as you won’t have access to amenities such as electricity, water, or sewage hookups.
Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need when boondocking camping:
Since you will most likely not have a water source while boondocking, you’ll need enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
The amount of water you’ll need depends on the length of your trip and the number of people in your group.
A general rule of thumb is to bring at least one gallon of water per person per day.
Plan your meals in advance and bring non-perishable foods such as canned goods, dry goods, and snacks. Store food in air-tight containers.
When boondocking, you’ll need cooking supplies such as a portable stove, fuel, pots and pans, utensils, and plates and bowls.
You can also bring a grill or a Dutch oven for cooking over a campfire.
You’ll need a power source for your lights, fans, and other electrical devices. You can use a generator, solar panels, or battery power using lithium batteries to power your devices.
When boondocking, you will not have access to sewer hookups. You’ll need to bring a portable toilet, a composting toilet, or a plan to use public restrooms.
If you bring a portable toilet, you must also bring waste disposal bags and toilet chemicals.
First Aid Kit
You should always bring a first aid kit when camping. Your kit should include bandages, antiseptic, pain relievers, and any other medications you may need.
Maps and navigation tools
Always bring maps and navigation tools such as a compass or a GPS device to help you navigate to your campsite and explore the surrounding area.
Bedding and Clothing
Clothing and bedding: You’ll need to bring appropriate clothing for the weather and activities you plan to do, as well as bedding such as sleeping bags, blow-up mattresses and pillows.
Trash bags: You’ll need to pack out all trash and waste when boondocking, so make sure to bring enough trash bags to dispose of your trash properly.
Matches or a lighter: A reliable source of ignition is essential for starting a fire. Make sure to bring waterproof matches or a waterproof lighter in case of rain.
Firestarter: Kindling or other fire starters can help get the fire going. Dryer lint, newspaper, or firestarter sticks are all good options.
Fuel: You’ll need fuel to keep the fire burning, such as firewood, kindling, or charcoal. Check the regulations in the area you’ll be camping to make sure that gathering firewood is allowed, and only use designated fire rings or pits.
A tool like a firestarter or a magnesium stick can help you start a fire even in damp conditions.
Remember to always follow the Leave No Trace principles when making a fire while boondocking. Build fires in established fire rings or pits, and make sure to fully extinguish the fire before leaving the area.
Shop Boondocking Camping Essentials
3. Practice Leave No Trace
When boondocking camping, it’s essential to practice leave-no-trace principles.
This means leaving the campsite as you found it, packing out all trash and waste, and avoiding damaging the environment.
You’ll also want to avoid disturbing wildlife and leaving a minimal impact on the natural surroundings.
4. Stay Safe
Boondocking camping can be a safe and enjoyable experiment as you take the necessary precautions to bring a first aid kit, a map and compass, and a communication device such as a satellite phone or radio.
You should also be aware of the weather conditions and wildlife in the area.
The Pros and Cons of Boondocking Camping
Boondocking camping, also known as dry camping or primitive camping, has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of boondocking camping:
The Pros of Boondocking Camping:
Boondocking allows you to camp in remote areas away from crowded campgrounds and noisy neighbors. This gives you the privacy to relax and enjoy nature in peace.
Boondocking camping allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. You can enjoy the silence, the fresh air, and the natural beauty around you.
Boondocking camping is usually free or cheap, as you do not have to pay campground fees. This makes it an affordable option for those on a tight budget.
Boondocking camping allows you to be flexible with your travel plans, as you do not have to worry about making reservations in advance. You can drive to your desired location and set up camp.
The Cons of Boondocking Camping:
Lack of Amenities
Boondocking camping does not provide amenities such as electricity, water, or sewage hookups. This means you must be self-sufficient and bring supplies and equipment.
Boondocking camping is usually done in remote areas, which can be challenging to access.
You may need a 4WD vehicle or a truck with a camper to reach these areas.
Boondocking camping can be risky if you are unprepared or do not take the necessary precautions. You may be remote without cell phone coverage or emergency services nearby.
Boondocking camping can hurt the environment if you do not follow leave-no-trace principles.
You should pack out all trash and waste, avoid disturbing wildlife, and leave the campsite as you found it.
In conclusion, boondocking camping is a great way to experience nature in its raw form and escape the crowds and noise of the city.
However, it requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
FAQs: Boondocking Camping Tips
Q1: What is boondocking camping?
Boondocking, also known as dry camping or wild camping, refers to camping in remote and undeveloped areas without access to traditional amenities such as water, electricity, or designated campsites. It often involves self-sufficiency and a minimalistic approach to outdoor living.
Q: Where can I go boondocking?
Boondocking sites are typically found in national forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, and other public lands. Some private landowners may also permit boondocking.
Researching and following local regulations is crucial to ensure you’re camping legally.
Q: Do I need a special permit for boondocking?
A3: It depends on the location. While many public lands allow dispersed camping without a specific permit, some areas may have restrictions or require permits. Always check with the managing agency or landowner and obtain any necessary permits before camping.
Q: What equipment do I need for boondocking?
Essential equipment includes a reliable off-road vehicle or RV, sufficient water supply, a power source (e.g., solar panels, generator), a waste disposal plan, and navigation tools.
Adequate camping gear, including a sturdy tent or camper, is also necessary.
Q: How do I find boondocking sites?
Research online platforms, such as government websites, forums, and apps dedicated to camping. Many experienced boondockers share their favorite spots.
Additionally, maps and guidebooks specific to the area can be valuable resources.
Check out Boondockers Welcome for more information!
Q: Is it safe to boondock in remote areas?
While boondocking can be safe, it’s essential to take precautions. Choose well-traveled areas, inform someone of your plans, and be aware of wildlife and weather conditions. Trust your instincts, and if a location doesn’t feel safe, consider moving on.
Q: How long can I stay at a boondocking site?
Stay limits vary depending on the land management agency and location.
Some areas allow extended stays, while others have time restrictions. Always check the rules for the specific site you plan to visit.
Q: How do I handle waste while boondocking?
Practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, and dispose of waste properly. If you have an RV, use designated dump stations. For human waste, consider portable toilets and follow guidelines for digging cat holes where permitted.
Q: Can I bring my pets boondocking?
In most cases, yes. However, it’s essential to check the rules of the specific area you plan to visit. Keep your pets on a leash, clean up after them, and be mindful of wildlife interactions.
Q1: Are campfires allowed during boondocking?
Campfire regulations vary by location and season.
Some areas may prohibit fires due to fire risk. Always check for fire restrictions, use designated fire rings if available, and ensure your fire is fully extinguished before leaving.
Shop Boondocking Camping Supplies
Conclusion: What is Boondocking Camping?
Boondocking camping is a great way to escape the crowds and connect with nature while saving money at the same time.
By choosing the right vehicle, finding the perfect location, preparing for self-sufficiency, practicing leave no trace, and staying safe, you can have a memorable boondocking camping experience.
Are you ready to try boondocking camping? Let us know in the comments below!
Until Next time,
Jeff and Christine (AKA: The Two Happy Glampers)
We’ve been camping together since the 90s!
While we love roughing it (tent camping) and sleeping under the stars, as we approach retirement, we’ve decided that RV Camping, or Glamping as we like to call it is the best way to enjoy the great outdoors!
We love to share our camping adventures, our favorite camping essentials, and camping how-tos, and are so glad you stopped by!
We’re always down to chat and love collaborating with other creative camping lovers and brands alike!
Feel free to reach out anytime!