Boondocking America

To go boondocking America, Canada and Mexico, your RV needs to be self-sufficient or close to it. This page links you to useful info about where you can boondock plus resources that will make your off-grid camping better, safer and more effective.

In RV terms, boondock means to go camping (often for free) off the grid, away from hookups and serviced campgrounds. Once you are self-sufficient and can travel independent of hookups, you can camp for free or for very little in lots more places that are often close to nature.

Some people like to boondock in a Wal-Mart carpark. My preference for safety, security, a quiet sleep and a stunning location is just the opposite. For me, there are few places better than a treed spot next to the ocean, a creek or river, miles from civilization. The peace with the sound of water is very settling and allows most people to go straight to sleep.

Most campgrounds operated by the US Department of the Interior (National Park Service, National Wildlife Areas, Bureau of Land Management or BLM, National Monuments, National Forests) and many state and county campgrounds don't have full hookups for water, sewage and power.

Independent RVing isn't all seclusion and wide open spaces. In some areas, such as Quartzite, Arizona, up to several hundred thousand people spend part of the year boondocking. Quartzite is near the California border on Interstate 10, about 20 miles from the Colorado River. In some other areas, many people congregate during certain seasons.

For some people, this works: they are closer to civilization and in more of a community atmosphere, but with that comes the noise and other things that usually go with crowds of people.

So, as with anything else in life, it's up to you to choose what suits you.

Getting ready for boondocking America, Canada and Mexico

It's not hard to find boondocking spots in some parts such as the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain region and the central Appalachians, but it can be more difficult in other parts of the US.

The BLM has some Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs) in the desert Southwest. You can stay at some of these areas for very little for the entire season. Some areas have a time limit (often 14 days) but as with many rules, it is not always enforced. Alternatively, you can just stay 14 days in one place then move a few miles away and stay for another 14 days.

One man who retired in a large self-contained motorhome found the serviced space offered by commercial campground operators was usually too small, too difficult to maneuver in and was only needed on special occasions. So he went searching for other ways to live the lifestyle he enjoyed. As he did so, he kept a record and has turned that into a great boondocking America website that covers large chunks of North America.

Pat Waters lives in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada when he's not boondocking. He retired in 1993 and has traveled over a great deal of the United States and Canada, usually boondocking in the Arizona and California areas for a warmer winter than he would have at home.

Because Pat's motorhome had most of the luxuries offered at commercial camping sites, he spent much of the first couple of years looking for free or inexpensive sites to stay at for a few days. He's added advice and info from fellow boondockers and various government authorities to expand his excellent boondocking and free camping website.

Phred has an excellent page focused on Mexico on his boondocking website. The website has some really useful info, particularly about boondocking from a man who sounds like a no-nonsense RVer, Phred.

Johnny and Jenn (sometimes called the full-time truck camping pirates) have put up a website they intend will become the primary source for information on free campgrounds and boondocking America including Canada. The last time I checked, there were more than 1,000 campsites listed from Alabama to Wyoming. I'll let you decide whether they have achieved their goal of becoming the premier site for the boondocker.

They believe free camping sites are often the most beautiful and peaceful sites. They are enjoying a fulltime RV life boondocking America and actively searching out free RV camping areas while they travel. The site is community driven and while they add many free campsites, they hope that users who find the site useful will add their favorite free RV camping sites.

The main focus is public lands. They especially like camping in Forest Service land, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) areas, WMA's (Wildlife Management Areas) and county or city parks. They are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops and other parking lots and will not be adding many of them.

You can also read Johnny and Jenn's excellent blog, Hitek homeless had more than 2,000 campsites the last time I checked. They cover boondocking America and free camping Canada. Their campground search allows you to find campgrounds by specifying: State; Nearest city/town; Status - official or unofficial; Cost; Amenities; Whether the road is paved etc; Distance from paved road; Maximum days allowed; Number of campsites; Scenery rating; Noise level and finally the Campground name.

Elsewhere on this site you will find other resources to help you set your RV up for fulltime or short-term boondocking America away from shore power, see the menu items at left and above. The links above take you to excellent resources for boondocking.

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