What is Boondocking? Everything First-Timers Need to Know

RV Lifestyle | Boondocking


For a variety of reasons, many RV road trippers these days are reconsidering how they travel in an RV. They are looking to save money whenever and wherever possible, but they also don't want to sacrifice their sense of adventure. Luckily for them — and you — there is a way to go camping in an RV that perfectly fits the bill(s): Boondocking.

What is boondocking? Otherwise known as "dispersed camping", boondocking is camping without any real amenities beyond those that you bring with you. No electrical hookups, no water or sewage connections, no fire rings or grills or campground showers — and in all likelihood, no Wi-Fi. Just you, your family, your RV, and nature.

Sounds like heaven, right? Well, to many people, it does!

Why You Should Join the Ranks of Boondocking Enthusiasts

Boondocking is fun but can also be a challenge. Above all, it is an opportunity to connect with your surroundings in a more profound way than you could at a crowded popular developed campground.

Here's what is boondocking and why you should go if you've never tried it.

Boondocking is Free! (Usually)

Some campgrounds charge exorbitant fees for campsites, but when you go boondocking, you avoid having to pay for your campsite. In some cases, like in National Parks or National Forests, you may need to pay an entrance fee - but if you can go boondocking, you'll still save lots of money on your campsite!

It's a Great Way to Embrace Your Independence

Where you park and set up camp is up to you; you're only limited by the available overall space. Plus, you rely only on what you've brought with you rather than others' facilities or comforts; you're fending for yourself!

It Gets You Back To The Fundamentals of Camping

Boondocking takes RVers back to camping's roots; there are no storm shelters or electric hookups. Just you, your RV, and nature! It can take more preparation before you leave, but the payoff is worth it.

Is Boondocking Right for You?

Of course, boondocking is not for everyone. You may try it, and find that you prefer the creature comforts — like comfort stations, shower and game rooms, and laundry facilities — available at developed campgrounds.

On the other hand, after learning what boondocking is and experiencing it for yourself, you may decide it is incredibly rewarding and your preferred way to camp. Either way, you won't know till you try it!

A Guide To Boondocking for First-Timers

It's actually quite easy to get started with boondocking. Anyone with an RV and travel plans can go boondocking. Here's how you can do it, too.

Where Will You Go Boondocking? Where Can You Go?

First up, you need to know where boondocking is legal and where it is prohibited.

Unless otherwise noted, National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Areas are usually available for boondocking; in fact, if you find a place out and about where overnight parking is available, you can usually boondock there (as long as it isn't in an urban area since most major cities have laws against overnight camping within their limits...aside from RV parks, developed campgrounds, and Walmarts).

No Reservations Needed

And, since you're "roughing it" (not relying on hookups or developed facilities), you don't need to worry about making a reservation. If you've found a place where boondocking is legal, you're free to choose wherever you want to park; you're really only limited by the presence of others doing the same thing who might have found a "better" spot.

Now, it's time to pack up your rig for your trip. You're going to be off the grid, so if you want power, you'll have to bring your own generator and batteries, and perhaps even some solar-powered device chargers; if you want a warm shower, make sure your propane tank is full.

As for fresh drinking water, you'll have to bring your own as well, preferably in both your RV's fresh water tank and bottled in the fridge (just in case).

Check the Weather Before You Leave

Before you leave, it'll be helpful to check the weather forecast for your destination. There's a good chance you won't have a good phone signal when boondocking, so do what you can to minimize the chance that Mother Nature will catch you unprepared for rain, snow, or freezing temperatures.

Arrive When It's Still Light Out

When actually setting out on your boondocking camping trip, a word of advice: Try to arrive at your boondocking spot while there's still daylight. This will help you better familiarize yourself with your surroundings and also aid in choosing the best possible parking spot.

Enjoy Every Moment!

Once you're set up at your boondocking campsite, make the most of it. Take in the sounds of nature in the morning, enjoy quiet days with no one else around, and then look up at the stars at night to your heart's content. When you go boondocking, you're being given a chance to simply revel in the moment...so make the most of those moments!

Go Boondocking For the First Time With Cruise America

Why go boondocking when there are perfectly good developed campgrounds to stay at instead? Because it's cheaper, more independent, and more adventurous — and that's just the start of "why"! Boondocking is a wonderful, character-building RV camping experience you and your family will never forget.

And even if you're giving up campground comforts for adventures in nature, that doesn't mean you can't arrive at your boondocking spot in style. If you want to give boondocking a try, Cruise America can help you get started with a fantastic RV rental. Get in touch with Cruise America now!