If you’re new to the whole idea of boondocking, what it is, how to boondock, where to boondock and some things you will need when boondocking. This post will explain it all. A detailed guide to help you on your journey.

What is Boondocking


Boondocking is also referred to as ‘Dry Camping’ and basically, boondocking means being off the grid and being independent. No hookups to water or electric.

The definition of the word ‘boondocking’ may vary from person to person and from the definition above, camping at certain places may be considered boondocking by some people. Some of these places include:

  • Camping in a forest service campground could be considered as boondocking because there are no hookups.
  • If you belong to an RV club then you will most likely go to a Rally, even though most often you will get a hook up at an RV site, some people still refer to that as boondocking.
  • In many rest areas in the United States, you could stay overnight and there aren’t any hookups and some people may consider that as boondocking.
  • Retail establishments such as Flying J’s would allow you to spend a night at their parking lot with your RV for free, and some people may consider that as boondocking.

But What Exactly is Boondocking?

What is Boondocking

Camper Boondocking

What boondocking actually means is, dry camping at an undeveloped area, or a remote public land without electricity and water supply, hence you will need to supply your own water in your holding tank and you need to also contain the wastewater in your black and grey tank.

This meaning camping at Walmart isn’t boondocking.

Why Do People Boondock?

  • It is Economical

Some RVer’s prefer boondocking to save money, especially if they’re on a tight budget. As compared to a typical camping site, RVers pay about $30 to $50 for space at a typical public or private campground or RV park, when you boondock, you don’t pay a dime, hence you get to save money.

  • Preference

Another reason why people love to boondock is the quietness. You get to enjoy an area free from all man-made sound and also you don’t need to worry about you disturbing anyone. Also, you’re able to enjoy your campsite without looking at your neighbor’s slide out, you’re not looking at bathrooms or power lines in your camping ground; it’s all natural.

My favorite reason for boondocking is being able to stargaze with no light pollution also, there are unspoiled sunrises.

  • Exploration

Boondocking is a great way to explore several remote geographical locations such as mining camps, ghost towns, and other remote places. A popular site to boondock is the Bryce Canyon in Utah, if you haven’t been there, put this on your bucket list.

  • Convenience

When boondocking, there is no need to worry about check-ins, making reservations or even rushing to break camp before the checkout time as you would in a public or private campsite. Also, as compared to typical camping, there is no limit to the number of people or RVs you can bring along with you to a campsite.

What is Boondocking


Now You Know What Boondocking is, Where Do You Boondock?

Guess by now with the reasons why people boondock, you might also want to boondock, but where exactly can you find the perfect site to boondock?

Well, the answer to this question is; on public lands. On public lands, your primary focus should be on Federal lands and State lands.

Federal Lands

Boondocks are primarily found in the Western part of the United States. Even though there are areas where you can boondock in the country, the West has a lot of Public federal lands available for RVers to boondock.

Also, before you boondock on most federal lands, you will need to get a permit from a federal agency that offers boondocking opportunity.

Below are some of the federal land agencies that offer boondocking opportunities. These include:

  1. United State Fish and Wildlife
  2. BLM ( Bureau of Land Management)
  3. Bureau of Reclamation ( US Corps)
  4. TVA ( Tennessee Valley Authority)
  5. USFS ( United States Forest Service)

Where Exactly Can You Boondock on A Federal Land?

Most Western State lands have a lot of public lands that offer boondocking opportunities. Furthermore, you can boondock for 14 days almost anywhere in the United States Forest Service or BLM.

The keyword used by most government websites other than boondocking is either dispersed camping or primitive camping. Some national monuments and national parks allow RVers to boondock.

Before you boondock on any area, you might want to Google to the site of the land agency you might like to camp on to read the various rules they have for the various campgrounds. Each agency might have its own distinct rules for boondockers.

Travel Management Rule

Travel Management Rule Back in 2005, the Federal government passed a law saying each federal agency has to develop the Travel Management Rule. This rule explains and ensures that federal agencies provide a map that tells you what type of RV or vehicles can travel on what road in the forest. The rule tells you where you can and can’t boondock and if you have off-road vehicles, it also tells you where you can go.

Each agency has its own Travel Management rule on their website.

– State Lands

Above, we talked about the various federal agencies that offer boondocking opportunities and now, we will take a quick look at some state land agencies that offer boondocking opportunities.

State Land Agencies:

What is Boondocking


  1. State Parks
  2. Department of Fish and Wildlife

All these State agencies provide you with boondocking opportunities.

Apps for Boondocking:

If you have a smartphone, check out these Apps for Boondocking

  1. Allstays ($9.99)
  2. UC (Ultimate Public Camping) ($3.99)
  3. Campendium RV & Tent Camping (free)
  4. US Public Lands ($8.99 for Bundle)
  5. Boondocking (free)
  6. Walmart Overnight Parking (Allstays) ($2.99)
  7. Google Earth (free)

Websites for Boondocking

Some sites such as Publiclands.org provides you with the details where you can boondock in all the 11 Western States and also tells you who controls what land.

State Paper Copy, each state has some form of a gazetteer, which shows you where public lands are and have detailed road use, and also some national forest boundary. When boondocking, you should look out for signs that tell you where to camp and where not to camp.

Tips for staying safe while Boondocking 

Now you know where to boondock, staying safe in the middle of nowhere is important.

  • Some RVers carry Raid (wasp spray) mace or bear spray.
  • Have a Security camera installed.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • We have a German shepherd named Maggie, she looks scary but sweet as honey.
  • If you are boondocking solo, make sure someone knows your location and your schedule.
  • Know how to exit your site quickly, especially if it’s in the middle of the night.
  • If you have cell service, be sure your phone stays fully charged or at least have a charged battery pack for backup.
  • Install an outdoor motion detector.
  • Always have a full tank of gas in your motorhome or tow vehicle.
  • If your camping in a site that looks like previous people have been partying ( lots of trash left behind) maybe reconsider another site.
  • Know where your keys are.

Most Importantly – If it doesn’t feel right – MOVE! Trust your instincts.

Know what is right for you. We haven’t experienced any kind of threat or problems while boondocking. In general, whether your boondocking or camping at an RV Park, pay attention to your surroundings, keep your RV locked.

What is Boondocking


What you need for Boondocking:

  • Water

The number one thing you will need is water. Mainly it will be a great idea to fill your water tanks up before you head out to boondock.

In addition, personally, I carry a 5-gallon jug that I refill every time I drive off to town just to top up my tanks. I also carry 1-gallon jugs of water under my bed. I use that for drinking, cooking and things like that. They are inexpensive to refill around town. It cost 25 cents per gallon to refill these at the reverse osmosis stations at grocery stores or gas stations.

The next thing on my list would be disposable cups, bowls, and plates to reduce the usage of water whiles you’re out there.

When you meet new RVers, one thing they will talk about is poop and sewage. This is true for every single RV person. To avoid any issue concerning sewage, it highly recommendable that you use a composting toilet.

Haas Lake RV park

Haas RV Park in New Hudson Michigan

A composting toilet allows you to use your black tank to store grey water, which really helps you to conserve a lot of water. If you don’t have a compost toilet, you can usually find a dump station, Flying J’s a truck stop to drive to and dump your tanks. You will want to research that prior to boondocking.

  • Power

Another essential is power, it doesn’t matter whether the source is from the sun or gas, it is important you have some sort of power when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.A power source you might want to consider maybe solar, if not you will need a generator. When using a generator, I highly recommend you use an inverter type of generator. These are quieter than the regular generators we use.

Once your batteries are charged using either a solar panel or a generator, you can now run all your DC loads. However, you are going to need some other way to power up your AC loads.

To run your AC load using your batteries, you are going to need an inverter. These will help you to run your TV and charge your phones. Basically, the inverter allows you to power up your regular household outlets.

However, the best way to get power when you’re boondocking especially in areas where you have a clear sunny sky is to use solar panels.

Even though you might not be able to watch TV for a long time or even use high current appliances for a long time, you should be able to power your laptop and charge your electronics. On a good sunny day, you wouldn’t have to use a generator to power up your RV.

  • Garbage

Even though some people might not see it to be important, but I think is a good thing to keep in hand. Make sure to hold on to your grocery bags from the grocery store and use those for your trash.

This is because a lot of these boondocking campsites don’t have dumpsters, it’s great if they do but usually, they don’t. Hence if you put them in these grocery bags, you can toss them off gas stations or where ever you find a trash can.

  •  Food

Another thing that is essential to bring is food. I encourage that you come with a fully stocked pantry because most of these campsites have grocery stores miles away. It is advisable you research ahead of time about your campsite to find out if they have great shopping options around.

When carrying food make sure to carry easy-to-make meals, such as one-pot meals which do not require a lot of dishes whiles you’re boondocking. Also, prepare foods such as chili and soups that can be eaten multiple times, so you can only use one pot.

  • How to Keep Yourself Warm

Another essential is heat. During the summer this might not be important but during the cold seasons, you will definitely want to stay warm at the middle of the night.

There are a few ways to do this. One way is using a vented propane heater. These are boondocking friendly and they distribute heat perfectly and quickly. For outdoors, you could use a propane fire pits, they are easy to set up, convenient and you don’t end up with your clothes smelling like smoke.

Before purchasing firewood to build your own fire, make sure to check the regulations of your free campsite to ensure that building fire with firewood is permitted or not.

  • Something For Laundry and Filling Up Your Tanks

One of the simplest things to bring but also easy to forget sometimes is a roll of quarters. This is something that is great to have on you as an RVer because is good for laundry and also when you want to refill your water tanks at gas stations.

  • Entertainment

Another important thing to have is some sort of entertainment which doesn’t require that much energy. It may be a chair to sit to watch nature, a good book, radio or a Bluetooth speaker. This depends on you as the individual and what your hobbies are.

  • Cellular Service

One last thing to have is a cellular phone booster. This would help you get cellular service and boost your cellular signal to 4G in places where you can’t get strong cellular signals.

With the information above, you should be ready to go boondocking without having any worries.

So get ready to unplug, be surrounded by nature and enjoy the starry sky!

What is Boondocking


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Happy Camping!

RV Groovin Life