Boondocking is slang for parking and camping without hookups in a location that is not officially a campground. Those people you see parked in a Walmart parking lot… they are boondocking. Boondocking is most typically free of charge and takes place on BLM and forest service lands across the US (but mostly in the West).

The Pads Near Death Valley

Boondocking is an excellent way to save money and stay in areas away from people. For land managers boon docking is generally allowed in areas that are sparsely populated and sparsely visited. Depending upon the area boondocking rules vary but in general on public lands boondocking follows the following guidelines:

1. It is free of charge
2. Limited to a set maximum period of days in any 30 day period. 14 days typically in the forest service and 28 days on BLM lands
3. Tricky to find exactly where you can boondock.
4. You are required to leave no trace

When considering boondocking as an option you need to be prepared to be on your own. You will be camping miles from town, without any utilities and without any restrooms or services. Your RV or tenting gear must have all the provisions you will need for however long you will stay.

In addition it is important to be prepared for the area you will be staying. If in the desert have plenty of water, spare tires, and a good printed map. Be aware of your surroundings and of the risks inherent with staying in the desert (like not leaving your shoes out on the ground overnight or if you do making sure to knock out any critters that may have sought shelter in them!)

For forest service lands you will want to look at the agencies “dispersed camping” rules. The forest usually has a bit more requirements than BLM with specifications for camp loctions (at least 100 feet off the road, not within a set distance of water, etc). In the forest you want to have a vehicle capable of handling the roads you will be travelling. If in bear country have bear proof food boxes (and a way to store them away from your vehicle), bear spray, and awareness of any bear activity in the area.

A big question about boon-docking is personal safety. Many boon dockers who are pros will have proper certification and will be carrying along a firearm. Oftentimes this is part of the boondocking experience, shooting. If you are not a gun person and worry about other bad guys realize that when you are boon docking most everyone else will be wary of you! It is not uncommon for someone to find the perfect boon dock location out in the middle of nowhere only to have someone else come and setup camp right near-by.

Is boon docking right for you? The first time is usually the scariest but after that first night you may find yourself hooked. If you get the boon docking bug you will soon be looking for solar panels, battery banks and super sized tank and water storage. Enjoy your boondocking adventures and make sure to share the pictures and your review with us at CampgroundViews.com. We have a number of boondocking locations listed and you can easily find them by searching “boondocking” in the keyword search (or click here)

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