If you don’t already know, we are big fans of boondocking. RV parks tend have great amenities, full hookups, and bathhouses (with endless hot water), but sometimes even that isn’t enough to get me into one. In this blog post I am going to define boondocking, share why you should explore it, provide tips we learned along the way, and help you find boondocking locations.
This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission for purchases made via those links.
So first things first. What is Boondocking?
Boondocking = RV camping without full hookups (no water, electric, or sewer). It can also go by the name Dry Camping.
Some purist will add that it is a type of dispersed camping – free camping on public lands (not campgrounds) such as national forests, wildlife management areas, and bureau of land management.
Now that you know what it is, let me tell you how great it is!!
It is BEAUTIFUL!!
Ok, I know that you can find some amazing camping sites with “majestic” views and sought-after-locations.
But how many of you can actually say that that view was unobstructed by massive motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers?
I mean look at this amazing view from Crazy Family Adventure.
Have you ever gotten a view like that at a RV park?
Yeah, me neither…
This is our typical view…lake blocked by our RV neighbors…
Still need more convincing that boondocking is amazing?
Well…here’s another reason to get out of the campground…it’s CHEAP!!
You don’t have to be a budget RVer to enjoy a budget friendly alternative to expensive camping fees.
There are tons of boondocking locations that are absolutely free! That’s right FREE!!
Don’t believe me?
Well check out our posts about Free Camping in Tennessee and Free Camping in Florida!!
There are some places where you are never going to find free RV camping, like in Maine.
However, the dry camping campgrounds (like some of their state parks) will still be way cheaper than RV parks with full hookups and amenities. We found an amazing inexpensive camping spot in Aroostook State Park. Read about it here.
Beautiful and Cheap. What else?
Boondocking = RV adventures off the beaten path
You are not going to find crowds, ice cream stands, coffee shops, or souvenir shops.
It’s just going to be you, your RV, and whoever you invited. This is especially the case if you are staying on public lands.
If you are staying at a free campground, there will probably be other RVers around, but there aren’t going to be 100s of RVs packed together.
Exceptions to the rule:
Wintering in Quartzsite. The town has 3,500 residents…until winter. Then RVers from all over arrive in the winter. In January there is even a RV show that attracts THOUSANDS of RVers into the dusty little town.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This annual event attracts lots of people… None of the sites are free and they do have some with hookups, but the cheap sites are dry camping. Anyway, you get the point.
So we have Beautiful, Cheap, Off the Beaten Path…AND…what else Jess? What else?
Boondocking really gives you the opportunity to get away from it all.
How you might ask?
Well, aside from all the things that I already listed, you have minimal resources.
Fresh water tank capacity. Water bladders can expand your capacity some, but that water will need to go somewhere once you have used it.
Holding capacity of your waste tanks. Even a portable waste tank will only get you so far. Eventually you will have to empty it!
You might not have an endless supply of electricity either. Solar and a generator will keep you going for a bit, but you don’t want to run your generator for hours at a time to get AC going…and if you are in the shade…there goes that solar.
And that beautiful off the beaten path location is going to be calling you outside.
You will find yourselves hiking, swimming, kayaking, basking in the sun (or shade).
It is truly the best way to get disconnected from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I have found this to be the case, even as a digital nomad that has to get work done…
How to Find Boondocking Locations:
Now that I got you all excited about boondocking, how do you find these places? There are bunch of websites out there, but here is my short list.
This website is for RV owners, campground owners, and private land owners.
RV owners can add boondocking spots to the site with descriptions and reviews.
Private land owners can add their land for free or a fee.
Find out how to create a user profile, add boondocking locations, and find locations in the video below.
This is a member only website. It is a paid site, but it is very inexpensive (less than some RV parks charge for one night).
Private land owners list their property for RVers to use.
RVers search where they are traveling and find land owners in the area.
Want to know more about Boonodockers Welcome? Read our blog post “Boondockers Welcome – 4 Reasons to Join”
This is another website that can be used by RV owners and campground owners.
It lists free and paid sites.
It is another website where users create the content.
RVers can list various locations and add details and reviews.
This is a popular website, but I have never used it!!
It is also user generated content.
RVers list locations and add details and reviews.
Now that I have told you all the good things about Boondocking and how to find it…
I feel like I need to share some of the not so great things about it.
I know I already mentioned this, but I feel like I really need to mention it again.
Boondocking means zero access to water, sewer, or electricity.
If you have a tiny fresh water tank and tiny waste water tanks…this means a shorter stay for you.
Have a bunch of kids with you? That will probably limit the amount of time that you can stay in a particular boondocking spot.
Even if you have plenty of fresh water and plenty of waste tank capacity, you will eventually need to empty your tanks. So you will need to find a dump station.
It is totally doable, but it isn’t always easy to go from RV park full hookups to nothing, but what you have brought with you.
We share our experience and biggest tips for water, electricity, and waste tanks in the video series below.
If you are someone that has to jump in the pool at least once a day, while the laundry is being done in the campground laundry room and the kids play in the adjacent campground playground…
That first day or even that first boondocking trip is going to be an eye-opener.
The laundry will have to wait or you will have to run into town to get it done.
There’s no pool and certainly no playground.
There is just you and the great outdoors. Which for me is fantastic…but some folks still like city living…even when they are RVing.
Stays May be Limited and Vary Depending on Boondocking Location!!
If you are staying on someone’s private lands, the stay limits will vary depending on the land owner. Some urban areas limit it to 2 nights.
From the USDA Website: “You may camp in a dispersed area for up to 16 days. After 16 days, you must move at least 5 road miles for camping in another dispersed area. Campers may not return to the same campsite within the calendar year.”
From WMA Website at Escribano Point (our favorite Florida boondocking site): “14 consecutive days must pass before an individual may obtain a new permit in either campground and the campgrounds must be vacated upon expiration of the permit. The only exception is quota hunt permit holders may obtain a new camping permit anytime while their quota permit is valid.”
So…it varies by location and you need to do your research.
If you are the kind of RVer that wants to be in one place for 30 days or more…this may not be for you.