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Old 09-13-2009, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, Nebraska
137 posts, read 553,531 times
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This applies to tent campers as well as RVers...

Once you figure out how to find great places to camp, you'll learn the opportunities are more availailable than almost everyone thinks.

Boondocking opportunities in national parks are rare, but I know you can boondock in Canyonlands NP, but not with your typical RV. It gonna take some good off road ability and high clearance to follow the "Jeep" roads to some great dispersed camping areas. I'm thinking the only way would be with a towed popup, or a 4x4 pickup with a camper on... no guts, no glory... be prepared for an expensive tow bill if you go too far!
How about some state parks... sticking with Utah for a moment, Goosenecks state park allows dispersed camping right up to the rim. If I had a dog or kids, I'd be scared to death, but what a view...



Want more ideas? Just about every state has a state wildlife area. These are typically called wildlife management areas (WMA's), and most states allow FREE camping outside of hunting season. These areas are paid for with hunting and fishing license fees, and some states require you have a license to use these lands. Check out your states opportunities, but for an example, Colorado has over 200 WMA's you can boondock in.

Wait...there's more! US Fish & Wildlife service has National Wildlife Refuges, and though many don't allow boondocking, some do. For example, the KOFA NWR in Arizona allows 14 days in a year. A rather odd rule, but I'm sure it has to do with wildlife protection.
Want more? USACE/COE (US Army Corp of Engineers) has water projects, read lakes, all over the country. Some, but not all lakes allow boondocking along the shoreline. It takes some effort to find the free ones. You can start here... USACE/COE Campgrounds

Want some more? As mentioned above, the US Forest Service allows dispersed camping. Rules vary from state to state, and forest to forest, as well as camping area to camping area. For example, in California, a designated campground north of Mammoth Lakes allows 42 days of continous free boondocking, compared to the a designated dispersed camping area in the Bridger Teton National Forest in Jackson Hole that allows only stays of 2 days... here's the view!



To look in a state by state foremat for the posted locations, rules, and public land manager official web sites and contact information, go to RV Camping

Have a ball! Ask for recommendations for a "dispersed campsite". Here's the view we got from the last time we asked the US Forest Service the last time we were in the area...
Free RV Camping Near Wall, SD

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Old 09-13-2009, 04:01 PM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
3,040 posts, read 10,446,359 times
Reputation: 1927
Something to keep in mind is the "America the Beautiful" pass. It is an annual pass that allows you to enter and use many public areas operated by the federal government. It is good for USFS, BLM, NPS, NWS, and USACE facilities across the country. The annual pass is $80, but if you use it for admission to just three national parks each year, you've just about payed for it. Add in a couple of campsites (only some are free with the pass), or another national park or two, and it's more than payed for.

Lake Isabella in the Kern County mountains in California is one such lake that offers camping along the shore. While it isn't free, at $10 per night, it's reasonably affordable. With the America the Beautiful pass, the $10 per night fee does not apply, because it is managed by the USACE.

Many national forest campgrounds are also free with the pass, or a minimal fee without (~$5-7/night). The ones that are managed by a concessionaire generally don't accept the pass, though, so check before you go.

Off Pavement, those are some beautiful places you've pictured in your post. That is the beauty of this type of camping. You get to enjoy some of the nation's most picturesque locations at a very reasonable or minimal expense.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Talmadge, San Diego, CA
13,324 posts, read 25,288,295 times
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Boondocking is fun!
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Old 09-18-2009, 09:36 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
11,941 posts, read 12,831,039 times
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I would love to try it!
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,776 posts, read 14,948,688 times
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Maine has thousands of miles of old logging roads. Some large landowners allow low impact camping. That just means carry in / carry out. No dumping of your tanks. Lots of bear and moose hunters camp in gravel pits that were used to build those logging roads. There is no formal association or directory for this. Just contact locals for info on good sites.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:04 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,552 posts, read 39,934,465 times
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I use this info (RV camping $10 or less - over 1,900 in USA listed at the moment)
Free Campgrounds for RVs

Also hospital parking lots in an Emergency
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:13 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
4,085 posts, read 7,668,482 times
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What exactly is "boondocking"???
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
9,776 posts, read 14,948,688 times
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Boondocking is travel on dirt roads far beyond the end of utility poles, gas stations and stores. If you didn't bring it you don't have it. It's an old military term. Boondockers were rugged military boots made with the rough side out and the smooth side in. They were made for hard service and comfort. They were intentionally impossible to shine.

We have boondocks in Maine. In September we filled up in Millinocket and drove out into the woods 72 miles on dirt roads to go to lunch at the Pittston Farm. From there you can drive another 250 miles out into the woods to Escourt Station if you know how. Yes, I have been there.

http://www.pittstonfarm.com/content/...g_and_Hunting/

Last edited by Northern Maine Land Man; 10-27-2009 at 04:41 PM..
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:05 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
9,416 posts, read 17,388,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BergenCountyJohnny View Post
What exactly is "boondocking"???
I'm not disagreeing with Northern Maine Land Man, but there's a kinder, gentler type of camping that's usually referred to as boondocking, and that's simply camping outside campgrounds and off the grid. Here in Wyoming it usually means USFS camping outside of campgrounds. You might only be 300 feet from the highway or within a mile of a campground, but you've got no running water, toilets, AC electricity, etc.

I used to boondock all the time when I had a pickup camper on a 4x4, but now that we pull a 5th wheel it's hard to find good places. We normally camp in FS campgrounds with no hookups. I turned the magic 62 a couple years ago, so we can camp in most FS and many NP campgrounds for about $6/night, and most of those sites are fairly large/private.
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Old 10-28-2009, 12:50 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
4,085 posts, read 7,668,482 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WyoNewk View Post
I'm not disagreeing with Northern Maine Land Man, but there's a kinder, gentler type of camping that's usually referred to as boondocking, and that's simply camping outside campgrounds and off the grid. Here in Wyoming it usually means USFS camping outside of campgrounds. You might only be 300 feet from the highway or within a mile of a campground, but you've got no running water, toilets, AC electricity, etc.

I used to boondock all the time when I had a pickup camper on a 4x4, but now that we pull a 5th wheel it's hard to find good places. We normally camp in FS campgrounds with no hookups. I turned the magic 62 a couple years ago, so we can camp in most FS and many NP campgrounds for about $6/night, and most of those sites are fairly large/private.
COOL

I've thought about boondocking many times before, but never knew it had a name like that. Sounds like it's essentially like backpacking-camping, except instead of a backpack you bring an entire vehicle - car w/ tent or trailer, or RV. So, of course, you're more limited than backpack camping but it's much easier (my kind of thing!).

I got the idea when I went to Zion National Park a couple years ago and along the way saw some dirt trails leading down to the river. I drove my rental car down one of the trails and saw it split into several other trails, and down one trail saw a van with a tent set up next to it, where people obviously were camped out. It was so beautiful, and I knew it was not a formal "pay-for" campsite, and later I researched and found out it was open to anyone to camp in that area, free, whenever they want, but with no utilities of any kind. I've wanted to try it ever since then. I'm surprised I never came across the word "boondocking" as I researched it.

Still, thanks for the definition, this thread is awesome and I look forward to boondocking one day when I get the chance.

Also, this is what a friend of mine did in Utah with his girlfriend. The way he told me about it it sounded so awesome - they'd just drive into the desert (where he knew they were allowed to camp), set up camp, he'd go and fish in the stream and catch their dinner, they'd cook over an open fire, and go to sleep in the tent, then wake up to the most beautiful mornings ever!

Now THAT'S CAMPING!
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