April 10, 2024
RV Full Time Living 750

RV Full Time Living 750

Boondocking, also known as dry camping or dispersed camping, is the practice of camping in remote, wilderness areas without hookups or amenities. In this guide, we'll take a look at the basics of boondocking, including how to find the perfect spot, what gear you'll need, and how to stay safe and comfortable while camping off the grid. With a little planning and preparation, anyone can enjoy the many rewards of boondocking.

Unplugged and Off the Grid – Boondocking for Newbies

Boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, is a unique and exciting way to experience the great outdoors. It involves camping in remote and beautiful locations without the need for developed campgrounds or RV parks. However, it does require planning, preparation, and a respect for the environment.

In this guide, we will cover the basics of boondocking, including the gear and equipment needed, strategies for conserving resources, tips for staying safe and comfortable, and ways to minimize your impact on the environment.

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The Basics of Boondocking for Newbies

Boondocking, also known as dry camping or dispersed camping, is the practice of camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) on public land without hookups for water, electricity, or sewage. In order to boondock, you’ll need an RV that is equipped to handle the demands of camping without these amenities.

The basic gear and equipment needed for boondocking includes:

  • Water storage: You’ll need to bring enough water to last for the duration of your trip, as well as a way to transport and dispense it. Many RVers use a combination of large water tanks and portable containers to store and dispense water.
  • Power source: Boondocking requires a reliable power source. Solar panels are a popular option for boondockers, as they allow you to generate power from the sun during the day and store it in a battery bank for use at night. A generator is also an option, but you should be mindful of generator noise and emissions.
  • Waste management: You’ll need a way to manage your waste when boondocking. This can includes having access to a nearby dump station to dispose of grey water (wastewater from sinks, showers, etc.) and black water (wastewater from toilets).
  • Lighting: Boondocking often means being far from civilization, so you’ll need a way to light your RV at night. LED lights and rechargeable lanterns are good options.
  • Cooking equipment: A propane stove or portable camping stove is a must-have for cooking while boondocking. A portable grill is also useful if you plan to cook outdoors.
  • Additional essentials: Other essential gear and equipment for boondocking includes a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, emergency communication device, and a sturdy set of leveling blocks.

It’s also important to have a good understanding of the regulations and guidelines for boondocking on public lands, and to be prepared for any weather conditions.

It is also good to have a detailed understanding of the off-grid systems, such as solar panels, batteries, inverters, and generators, that are used to power your RV.

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Finding and Researching Boondocking Locations

Finding and researching boondocking locations can be an important part of the boondocking experience. There are a few different resources you can use to find and research boondocking locations:

  • Apps and websites: There are several apps and websites that provide information about public lands, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, and National Forest Service (NFS) lands where boondocking is allowed. Some popular options include FreeCampsites.net, Campendium, and Boondocking.org. These resources provide information about the location, amenities, and user reviews of various boondocking sites.
  • Government websites: The official websites of the BLM and NFS provide information about the different lands they manage and the regulations for camping on those lands. You can also find information about specific boondocking locations on these websites.
  • Social media: Many RVers use social media to share information about their boondocking experiences and to ask for recommendations from other RVers. Joining a Facebook group or an online forum for RVers can be a great way to find information about boondocking locations.

When researching boondocking locations, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Accessibility: Some boondocking locations may be difficult to reach or may require a high-clearance vehicle. Make sure you have the right vehicle and equipment to reach the location you’re interested in.
  • Amenities: Some boondocking locations may have amenities such as pit toilets or fire rings, while others may be completely primitive. Consider what amenities you’re comfortable with and what you’ll need to bring with you.
  • Crowds: Some boondocking locations can get crowded, especially during peak season. Keep in mind that you may be sharing the location with other RVers, and plan accordingly.
  • Seasonal restrictions: Some boondocking locations may have seasonal restrictions, such as being closed to camping during hunting season or during the summer months due to extreme heat. Make sure to check for any seasonal restrictions before planning your trip.
  • Cell coverage: It’s good to check for cell coverage in the area, as you may need it for navigation and for emergency communication.

It’s also a good idea to visit a boondocking location before committing to a long stay, to ensure that it meets your needs and that you are comfortable with the surroundings.

Boondocking is a great way to experience the great outdoors in a more natural and secluded setting, but it’s important to be prepared and to understand the regulations and guidelines for boondocking on public lands. With the right planning and preparation, boondocking can be a safe, fun, and memorable experience.

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Strategies for Conserving Resources Such as Water and Power

Conserving resources such as water and power is an important aspect of boondocking. Here are some strategies for conserving these resources:

  • Water:
    • Limit shower time and use low-flow showerheads.
    • Collect and reuse grey water (wastewater from sinks, showers, etc.) for tasks such as flushing the toilet or watering plants.
    • Use a portable dishwashing pan instead of running water to wash dishes.
    • Use a broom instead of water to clean the RV’s exterior.
    • Use a hose nozzle to control the flow of water when filling tanks.
    • Keep an eye on your water levels and plan to refill tanks at a nearby source before they run low.
  • Power:
    • Use energy-efficient appliances and lights.
    • Use a power strip to turn off multiple devices at once.
    • Use a programmable thermostat to control the temperature of your RV.
    • Unplug devices when not in use.
    • Use a solar panel or a generator for power.
    • Use a battery monitor to keep an eye on your battery levels and to know when it’s time to recharge.
  • Other strategies:
    • Use a propane or portable camping stove for cooking instead of using the RV’s stove.
    • Avoid using the RV’s air conditioning or furnace as much as possible, and use natural ventilation instead.
    • Use a portable fan or a portable air conditioner instead of running the RV’s air conditioning.
    • Use a portable generator instead of running the RV’s generator.

By following these strategies, you can conserve resources and extend the time you can spend boondocking. It’s also important to be mindful of your impact on the environment and to practice Leave No Trace principles, such as minimizing your use of firewood and properly disposing of waste.

It’s also important to note that it is also essential to have a good understanding of the off-grid systems that are used to power your RV, as this will help you to conserve resources and to make the most of the resources that you do have.

Conserving resources is a critical part of boondocking, and with the right planning and preparation, you can extend your stay and enjoy the great outdoors for longer.

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Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable While Boondocking

Boondocking can be a great way to experience the great outdoors, but it’s important to be prepared and to take steps to stay safe and comfortable. Here are some tips for staying safe and comfortable while boondocking:

  • Plan ahead: Before you head out on your boondocking trip, make sure you have a plan for where you’re going to stay, how you’re going to get there, and what you’re going to do. It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather: Make sure you’re aware of the weather forecast for the area where you’ll be boondocking. This can help you to prepare for any potential weather-related challenges and to pack accordingly.
  • Be self-sufficient: Boondocking often means being far from civilization, so it’s important to be self-sufficient. This can include carrying in and carrying out all trash, having a reliable power source, and having enough water and food to last for the duration of your trip.
  • Be mindful of wildlife: Boondocking often means being in areas where there may be wildlife. It’s important to be aware of the animals that live in the area and to take steps to avoid conflicts with them. This can include properly storing food and trash, keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and being mindful of the time of day when you’re out and about.
  • Take safety precautions: It’s important to take safety precautions when boondocking. This can include having a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and emergency communication device. It’s also a good idea to have a plan in case of emergency.
  • Be respectful: Boondocking often means sharing the area with other people. It’s important to be respectful of other boondockers and to follow the regulations and guidelines for boondocking on public lands.
  • Stay comfortable: To stay comfortable while boondocking, be sure to have comfortable bedding and clothing, and to bring along things to keep you entertained, such as books, games, or music.

By following these tips, you can stay safe and comfortable while boondocking. It’s also important to be prepared for any contingencies and to have a plan in case of emergency. With the right planning and preparation, boondocking can be a safe, fun, and memorable experience.

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Ways to Minimize Your Impact on The Environment and Leave No Trace

Minimizing your impact on the environment and leaving no trace are important principles to follow when boondocking. Here are some ways to minimize your impact and leave no trace while boondocking:

  • Pack it in, pack it out: Carry in and carry out all trash, including food scraps and packaging.
  • Use a low-impact campfire: If fires are allowed in the area, use a fire pan or fire blanket, and burn only small, dry sticks and twigs. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving.
  • Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not feed or approach them. Keep a safe distance and do not interfere with their natural behaviors.
  • Respect plants: Do not damage or remove plants. Boondock in a place that has been camped in before to avoid trampling on vegetation.
  • Limit your impact on water: Keep water sources clean by washing dishes and yourself at least 200 feet away from streams, lakes, and other water sources. Use biodegradable soap, and strain dishwater through a small mesh strainer before disposing of it in a cathole or scatter it over a wide area.
  • Be mindful of noise: Keep noise levels down to minimize the impact on other people and wildlife.

By following these guidelines, you can minimize your impact on the environment and leave no trace while boondocking. By respecting the natural environment, you can help to preserve it for future generations to enjoy. Remember that the Leave No Trace principle is not just about cleaning up after yourself, but also about being mindful of your impact and making sure to preserve the natural resources that make boondocking such a unique and enjoyable experience.

An Overview of Different Boondocking Locations and What Makes Them Unique

Boondocking locations vary widely in terms of accessibility, amenities, and natural beauty. Here’s an overview of some different types of boondocking locations and what makes them unique:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands: BLM lands are managed by the federal government and are open to boondocking, also known as dispersed camping. These lands are often remote and rugged, and may be accessed by high-clearance vehicles. Amenities are minimal, but the natural beauty and solitude can be exceptional.
  • National Forest Service (NFS) lands: NFS lands are also managed by the federal government and are open to boondocking. These lands are often more developed than BLM lands, with amenities such as campfire rings and pit toilets. Some NFS lands may have designated boondocking areas, while others may allow dispersed camping throughout the forest.
  • National Parks: Some National Parks allow boondocking, also known as backcountry camping, but it is limited and typically requires a permit. Amenities are minimal and the natural beauty is usually exceptional.
  • State Parks: Some State Parks allow boondocking, but it’s usually limited and often requires a permit. Amenities vary from park to park, but may include pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings.
  • Private lands: Some private lands are open to boondocking, such as ranches, vineyards, and other working farms. Amenities are minimal, but the natural beauty and the opportunity to learn about different ways of life can be exceptional.

Each location has its own unique attributes, such as the type of landscape, natural resources, and wildlife, as well as the rules and regulations that are unique to each area. For example, some areas may have a 14-day stay limit, while others may allow longer stays, or have season specific rules.

It’s also important to note that boondocking locations can change over time, and it’s a good idea to check with the appropriate agency or land manager to ensure the location is still open to boondocking, and to learn about any new rules or restrictions that may have been put in place.

By understanding the different types of boondocking locations and what makes them unique, you can choose the location that best suits your needs and preferences, and ensure a safe and enjoyable boondocking experience.

BLM Links and Apps:

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Information on How to Access BLM, NFS and Other Public Lands Where Boondocking Is Allowed

Accessing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest Service (NFS) lands, as well as other public lands where boondocking is allowed, can be a bit of a challenge, but with the right information and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to access BLM, NFS, and other public lands where boondocking is allowed:

  • Research the area: Before heading out, research the specific area where you plan to boondock, including information about the land management agency, the rules and regulations, and any potential hazards. This will help you to plan your trip and to be prepared for any contingencies.
  • Get a map: Get a detailed map of the area where you plan to boondock, which will help you to find your way around and to locate potential boondocking spots.
  • Check for road access: Some public lands may be accessible only by high-clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles. Make sure your vehicle is capable of handling the roads, and be prepared for the possibility that you may need to walk to reach your boondocking spot.
  • Check for fire restrictions: Some public lands may have fire restrictions in place, which can limit your ability to have a campfire. Check with the land management agency or look for signs posted on the land for current restrictions.
  • Check for camping restrictions: Some public lands may have camping restrictions in place, such as seasonal closures or stay limits. Make sure to check for these restrictions before heading out, and be prepared to follow them.
  • Know the Leave No Trace principle: It’s important to be mindful of your impact on the environment, and to practice Leave No Trace principles when boondocking. This includes minimizing your use of firewood, properly disposing of waste, and respecting wildlife and other natural resources.
  • Check for services: Some public lands may have limited services such as pit toilets, or none at all, so be prepared to be self-sufficient. It’s important to bring enough water, food, and supplies for the duration of your trip.

Accessing BLM, NFS and other public lands where boondocking is allowed can be a bit challenging, but with the right information and preparation, it can be a safe and enjoyable experience. Remember to always check for the most up-to-date information and regulations before heading out, as they can change over time.

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Additional Information of The Rules and Regulations that Are Unique to Each Area

Each area where boondocking is allowed will have its own unique set of rules and regulations that must be followed. Here are a few examples of rules and regulations that may be unique to different boondocking locations:

  • BLM lands: BLM lands have different regulations depending on the specific area, but in general, dispersed camping is allowed on most BLM lands, but may be subject to restrictions such as seasonal closures or stay limits. Fires may be restricted during the dry season and in certain areas, and it’s usually required to camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and trails.
  • NFS lands: NFS lands have different regulations depending on the specific area, but in general, dispersed camping is allowed on most NFS lands, but may be subject to restrictions such as seasonal closures or stay limits. Fires may be restricted during the dry season and in certain areas, and it’s usually required to camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and trails.
  • National Parks: National Parks have different regulations depending on the specific area, but in general, dispersed camping is allowed in some backcountry areas, but it’s usually limited, and requires a permit. Fires may be restricted during the dry season and in certain areas, and it’s usually required to camp in designated areas, and follow the Leave No Trace principles.
  • State Parks: State Parks have different regulations depending on the specific area, but in general, dispersed camping is allowed in some areas, but it’s usually limited, and requires a permit. Fires may be restricted during the dry season and in certain areas, and it’s usually required to camp in designated areas, and follow the Leave No Trace principles.
  • Private lands: Private lands have different regulations depending on the specific area, but in general, boondocking is allowed with the permission of the landowner. It’s important to respect the landowner’s property and to follow any rules or guidelines they may have in place.

It’s important to note that the rules and regulations can change over time, so it’s a good idea to check with the appropriate agency or land manager for the most up-to-date information before heading out. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the regulations and to follow them while boondocking, as they are in place to protect the natural resources and to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

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Suggestions for Activities and Things to Do While Boondocking

Boondocking allows you to experience the great outdoors in a more natural and secluded setting, and there are many activities and things to do while boondocking. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hiking: Boondocking locations often offer access to hiking trails, where you can explore the natural surroundings and enjoy the beauty of the area.
  • Fishing: Many boondocking locations offer access to fishing spots, where you can catch a variety of fish, and enjoy the peacefulness of being by the water.
  • Photography: Boondocking locations offer a variety of landscapes and natural beauty that make great subjects for photography.
  • Stargazing: Boondocking locations often offer a clear view of the night sky, making it an ideal spot for stargazing.
  • Wildlife viewing: Many boondocking locations offer opportunities to see a variety of wildlife, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.
  • Rockhounding: Some boondocking locations offer opportunities to search for and collect different types of rocks, minerals, and fossils.
  • Off-roading: Some boondocking locations offer access to off-road trails, where you can explore the area by four-wheel drive.
  • Relaxation: Sometimes the best thing to do while boondocking is to simply relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.
  • Volunteer work: Many boondocking locations offer opportunities to volunteer and help maintain the area, such as picking up trash, or helping with trail maintenance.

It’s important to remember that the activities that are available to you depend on the location you choose, and it’s a good idea to research the area before you go and to be aware of the regulations and guidelines for the specific location.

By incorporating a mix of activities and relaxation, you can make the most of your boondocking experience, and create lasting memories of your time in the great outdoors.

Final Thoughts

BOONDOOCKING FOR NEWBIES: Boondocking is a unique and exciting way to experience the great outdoors, allowing you to camp in remote and beautiful locations without the need for developed campgrounds or RV parks. However, it does require planning, preparation, and a respect for the environment.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when boondocking is to be self-sufficient and to carry in and carry out all trash, including food scraps and packaging. This will help to minimize your impact on the environment and to preserve the natural beauty of the area for future generations to enjoy. It’s also important to practice good hygiene, such as using a portable toilet or burying human waste in a cathole at least 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from water sources.

  • When it comes to accessing boondocking locations, it’s important to research the specific area where you plan to boondock, including information about the land management agency, the rules and regulations, and any potential hazards. This will help you to plan your trip and to be prepared for any contingencies.
  • When it comes to staying safe and comfortable while boondocking, it’s important to plan ahead, be aware of the weather forecast, and to take safety precautions such as having a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and emergency communication device. It’s also important to be respectful of other boondockers and to follow the regulations and guidelines for boondocking on public lands.
  • When it comes to activities and things to do while boondocking, the options are endless. From hiking and fishing, to photography and stargazing, boondocking locations offer a wide range of activities to enjoy the great outdoors. And finally, it’s essential to be aware of the different rules and regulations that are unique to each area where boondocking is allowed, as they can change over time.

Boondocking can be a safe, fun, and memorable experience when approached with the right planning and preparation. By being mindful of your impact on the environment, respecting the natural resources, and following the rules and regulations, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable boondocking experience, and create lasting memories of your time in the great outdoors.

Happy Trails,

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Beginners BOONDOCKING GUIDE for RV Living

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