Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (2023)

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Boondocking is more than a funny word: it's a totally unusual way of taking a trip! Basically, "boondocking" means camping for free, without any amenities or hookups. The term is most popular in the camper and RV community.

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For those looking to get away from camping, boondocking is a way to make camping cheap and easy. No merge, no seat assignment, probably no neighbors, no problem. You can use it for last minute campingBuy PROOffline maps and map layers forFind free campsites near you. These features will show you public areas where you can camp for free, whether you have service or wifi!

However, you can't just park somewhere and call it "boondocking." It takes some knowledge and practice before you can really get the most out of our Boondocking.

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere

Every day, campers and travelers choose to escape the hustle and bustle of campsites and go off-grid exploring. Under the term "boondocking" there is a large selection of campsites. It can vary from setting up a camp inland toPark at Walmart.

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (1)

So wait, what is boondocking?

In certain aspectsfutileis a simpler form of camping. You save yourself the reservation process and the surcharges, but lose the luxury of a fully developed camp.

Boondocking is also a convenient way to just park and sleep. If you're on a tight schedule and just need a place to sleep, overnight parking in the free lot is a convenient way to save time and money.

Depending on why and how you want to go to prison, there are different options for free and cheap camping.

"Boondocking" is a general term for camping, but is more common in RV, RV, and overland communities as that's where the supplies and storage space for proper "boondocking" are usually present. Anyone can go to jail, whether they are or notAutocampingout ofDescent into a class A caravan. If you plan to travel a lot, consider investing in external batteries, a composting toilet, a fresh water tank, and solar panels.

(Video) HOW TO FIND AMAZING CAMPSITES: Campgrounds vs Dispersed Camping (free camping!)

Safe and responsible boondocking

It's normal to be a little hesitant when going off-road, especially when you're just starting out. There are several factors to consider when determining whether a location is safe for boondocking.

Choose a place where you can park overnight

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (2)

There are many different places where you can legally stay overnight. When you're out in the wild, finding a safe hideout is as easy as choosing a secluded spot, like BLM Land. If you're in town and need to find an available campground quickly, here are some other popular options:

Walmart parking lots

If you want to go to boondocking, you can stay in the residence for up to 24 hoursWalmart parking lot. Stop by here to stock up on supplies while parking for free!

They are clearly visible and most parking spaces are insured. However, Walmarts are tightening their rules on "boondocking". So check with a specific site before assuming it's allowed. In fact there isApplicationIt will help you find a Walmart that allows booondocking!

Truck stops/rest areas

Many truck stops and rest areas are ideal for campers and RVs to stay overnight. Be sure to let someone know where you are as there is usually very little surveillance here. They are close to the toilet and close to the road. Traffic can be noisy, but some rest areas in more rural areas may resemble campsites!

visitor centers

Visitor centers often remain empty at night and sometimes even have access to running water and toilets. Always check with the visitor center where you plan to stay before going there.


(Video) Best States For Free Camping and Boondocking

Many trails are used for overnight backpacking. It is therefore not uncommon for cars to park on the tracks at night.


Getting stuck in a hotel/motel parking lot is always a gamble. Many large hotels are comfortable with assuming their parking lots are already pretty empty. However, if it's full, it might be best to keep looking as you don't want to risk being towed.

National Chief

Boondocking doesn't necessarily mean parking in a shaded lot. Parking along forest trails is an excellent way to enjoy the great outdoors. More on that below!

Additional parking spaces for Boondocking

It's not uncommon to see a few RVs parked at your local supermarket during the warmer months. Many of these big stores like Walmart, Cabela's and even Cracker Barrel offer free overnight RV parking. Depending on the state, you may be permitted to park overnight at rest stops and gallop visitors on freeways.

The availability and possibilities of accommodation depend largely on the management of the store. Here are some popular overnight parking spots:

  • Walmart
  • her
  • at Denny's
  • I JUMP
  • Holiday Inn
  • Marriott Herberg
  • Goal
  • Winco/Safeway/24 hour supermarkets
  • QFC

Prepare your boondocking essentials

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (3)

Dyrt David G camper van photo.

When you're stranded, ask yourself: Do I have what it takes to be comfortable at night? Do I have water, food and warmth?

Get ready for your endless journey by downloading the maps.Buy PROYou can download maps and campgrounds without cellular service. "My alternative to hiring a professional would be to go back to cellular service."PRO map layerslet youFind free camping in public areaslike the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management while offline!

(Video) Best Places to Camp for Free in Colorado

If you're hanging around in a parking lot with big tills, chances are you can buy whatever you're missing. However, if you park on a remote forest road, you'll need to take supplies with you. It's important to plan the length of the trip so you don't run out of supplies.

How to Find Boondocking in National Forests

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Many national forests andInstitute of Land Management(BLM) areas in the United States offer primitive campgrounds without any amenities. Normally this is possibleYou can camp anywhere in the National Forest, until there is evidence to the contrary. This makes boondocking a great option for campers who want to visit different national parks. Follow the access roads to the forest to find places where you can park and "camp" for free.

If you have a large RV, some access roads to the forest can be difficult to access. They are often narrow and unpaved. Check with your local forest station for overnight parking.

Out ofThe USDA provides guidelinesabout how and where to camp in National Forests and BLM areas.

Out ofApplication for US Public LandsIt's also a great resource for finding public areas with free campsites. Be sure to do your research BEFORE venturing deep into the woods or you will likely lose cellular coverage.

Find free camping inland

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (5)

Backcountry camping often refers to backpacking. You'll pack and unpack all your camping gear to make your way to a secluded campsite. If you're lucky you might have an outhouse.

Motorhome drivers can sometimes also camp inland. Many national parks and forests have primitive campgrounds with RV sites. Primitive campsites are best suited to small RVs and RVs, and lack hookups and/or landfills. It's always a good idea to check if you have oneSpecial permit for the hinterland.

Did you know there are free camps?

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (6)

Most free campsites are scattered campsites on public land. Many are managed by the State Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Forest Service and should be considered primitive.

(Video) Boondocking & Dry Camping Tips

Although it's usually free, "dry camping" is another way to save money.Dry campingrefers to a stay in a commercial campsite with no connectivity. You are dependent on your own tanks and generators. RV sites with full hookups often cost twice as much as an RV without hookups.

Get out there and start Boondocking today!

Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (7)

Photo by Escape Campervans ©

If you are new to RV orVanlife-Welt, no doubt you will be empty at some point. Maybe you already have it and aren't even aware of it! Now that you know what boondocking is, it's time to start planning your free camping trip! We recommend using this listThe best places to camp for free with your motorhome.

Either way, boondocking comes in many forms and you can find a style that suits you. It's a really efficient way to save money and spend more time camping and enjoying your favorite activities. Don't miss this great opportunity to find a free campsite near you.

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Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere (8)

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Want to learn more about Boondocking? ParticipateCampfire for caravansout ofcampfire van lifeHere you can exchange stories and tips about mobile living and camping.

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Boondocking: The Complete Guide to Free Camping (almost) Anywhere? ›

The State of California does not have any laws against boondocking in general. The question of whether boondocking is permitted or not is specific to each locality, state park, or federal agency in question.

What states is Boondocking illegal? ›

The State of California does not have any laws against boondocking in general. The question of whether boondocking is permitted or not is specific to each locality, state park, or federal agency in question.

What are the basics of Boondocking? ›

Living Off the Grid

But they also allow us to live off the grid and be self-sufficient in our RVs – to boondock. In a general sense, boondocking is simply camping without water, sewer and electrical hookups. It is also sometimes called dry camping.

What size RV is best for Boondocking? ›

If you're planning on primarily using your RV for boondocking, a smaller RV (a Class C or B motorhome, van, truck camper, teardrop, or small trailer) that's under 30 feet will allow you to access more remote places. This isn't to say that you can't boondock in a big rig, but it can be more difficult.

What is stealth camping? ›

Stealth camping is camping without being noticed. Some people do this in urban areas, while some venture into wild locations. Sometimes stealth camping is legal, while other times it's illegal (which we don't recommend!).

What state has most free campgrounds? ›

Montana, with 31.97 free campsites per 100,000 people. It has the most hiking trails in the nation (418 per 100,000) and access to beautiful Glacier National Park. And New Mexico's in third place, with 17.70 free campsites per 100,000 residents.

What is the difference between Boondocking and dispersed camping? ›

Dispersed camping is camping outside of a designated campground, on lands that are managed for this purpose.” For the van life and RV communities, boondocking means camping in an area without hookups.

What is the difference between boondocking and camping? ›

Boondocking is camping without any hookups outside developed campgrounds. Federal agencies refer to boondocking as dispersed camping. Other terms used to describe boondocking include dry camping and off-grid camping.

Why is it called Boondocking? ›

The boondocks is an American expression from the Tagalog (Filipino) word bundók ("mountain"). It originally referred to a remote rural area, but now, is often applied to an out-of-the-way area considered backward and unsophisticated by city-folk.

How do you use a bathroom when Boondocking? ›

Dig a cathole, use a wag bag, or bring along a portable toilet - these are the 3 primary methods for using the bathroom while wild camping or boondocking, at least when it comes to dealing with #2.

Can you shower while Boondocking? ›

When boondocking, you take a shower just like you would when camped at an RV Park with full hookups. Taking a shower while boondocking doesn't have to be any different. However, most full time boondockers prefer to shower more efficiently.

What is the best power for Boondocking? ›

Your best RV battery for Boondocking is going to be a lithium battery which is also known as a LiFePO4 battery. RVs do not use Lithium Ion batteries, but they use Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. These are safer and better for RV use.

Is it safe to leave your trailer when Boondocking? ›

The general answer to this question is 'yes'. It's usually safe to leave your trailer parked alone while boondocking.

Is it safe to leave your RV when Boondocking? ›

Since many of the locations you'll find yourself setting up camp don't often have someone regularly overseeing them, you may be wondering just how safe it is to boondock in an RV. Boondocking in your RV is just as safe as tent camping, if not more.

How much water needed for boondocking? ›

Try to keep at least one gallon of fresh, clean drinking water for each person, each day, while boondocking. Keep in mind that you can offset this recommendation by bringing other beverages like soda, juice, or even fresh fruit.

What is lazy camping? ›

Not quite “roughing it”, our lazy camping tents allow you to get the wilderness experience without having to sleep on the ground. Each tent is elevated on a concrete platform and is covered by a thatched roof. Our hand-crafted beds use raw local materials and are specially made in-house.

What is posh camping? ›

a type of camping that is more comfortable and luxurious than traditional camping. The word is a mixture of 'glamorous' and 'camping'. : Our glamping holidays provide all the fun and outdoor lifestyle of camping with just a little more luxury.

What is coyote camping? ›

Coyote Camping is what Fire Fighters do when they are at a remote location relative to a Fire Base Camp and want a place to eat and/or rest that is close to the Fire.

What are the best sites for Boondocking? ›

Start With Public Lands

The most common boondocking sites are on public lands, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Army Corps of Engineers, State Parks, National Forests, etc. However, it's important to note that there are often limitations to RV boondocking.

What are the prettiest states to camp? ›

With 100 being the best and 0 the worst, here are the top ten state rankings to camp in this summer:
  • Wyoming (72.12/100)
  • Montana (69.29/100)
  • New Mexico (65.94/100)
  • Idaho (63.62/100)
  • Vermont (61.23/100)
  • South Dakota (61.12/100)
  • Utah (60.15/100)
  • New Hampshire (59.93/100)
Apr 29, 2023

What are all the states that have BLM & free camping? ›

BLM Land

You can camp on most BLM land for up to 14 days, even if there are grazing or mining claims (just watch out for cow pies), unless otherwise posted. Most BLM lands are in these 12 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

What is Wally docking? ›

So, after just three nights in paid campgrounds, we decided to try our hand at 'Wallydocking' - boondocking or dry camping (staying overnight in your RV) in a Walmart parking lot without hookups and without setting up camp.

What is another name for Boondocking? ›

Because you're not connected to any services it's also called “dry camping.” Other terms you might see that all refer to boondocking are “free camping” and “wild camping.”

Can you Boondock at Land Between the Lakes? ›

Basic and Dispersed Permits:

You may camp almost anywhere in Land Between the Lakes. A Basic Camping Permit is required for each person 18 and over when camping in Basic Camping Facilities. A Dispersed Camping Permit is required when camping in non-designated areas of the recreation area.

How to make money while boondocking? ›

Many boondockers do online customer service, write documentation, and handle client accounts. Ask your employer if you can shift to remote work. Offer Repair Services – Set up in a popular boondocking location like Quartzsite or Slab City, and hand out business cards offering RV or vehicle repair work.

Is sleeping in an RV considered camping? ›

Whether you're roughing it on the ground in a tent or in a warm RV, camping is still camping. Tents and RVs serve the same purpose: they offer a chance to go outside and enjoy the outdoors. Some people prefer camping in tents, and some people prefer RVs for their own personal reasons.

What is camping without hookups called? ›

The terms “dry camping” and “boondocking” are often used interchangeably. They both refer to RV camping without access to electrical, water, and sewer hookups.

What is the Boondocking capital of the world? ›

Quartzsite, AZ- the RV boondocking capital of the world. Every year during the winter months retirees from around the US and Canada pack up their RVs and campers and head south. The small truck stop along I-10, normally a town of around 3,000 will swell to nearly 700,000 people.

Can I Boondock in Grand Canyon? ›

You can boondock just about anywhere in Grand Canyon National Park, as long as you have obtained a “backcountry camping permit”. Unfortunately, backcountry camping is largely restricted to hikers who carry their camping gear deep into the Park. It's not intended for campers with vehicles.

What is Boondocking at Walmart? ›

Boondocking simply means camping in your RV with water, electric, or sewer hookups.

Do I need to flush after every pee? ›

"Urine is normally sterile as a body fluid. Even if you have a urinary tract infection with bacteria in your urine it would be inactivated with the chlorine levels in the public water supply," he said. "So there's really no known disease transmission with urine left un-flushed in the toilet." Dr.

How do you deal with not showering while camping? ›

  1. Check Out These 6 Alternatives to Showering While Camping. #1 – Wet Wipes or Baby Wipes. #2 – Wet Washcloth (No Soap) #3 – Dry Shampoo. #4 – No-Rinse Body Bath. #5 – Hand Sanitizer. #6 – Hop in the Lake.
  2. How to Dispose of Grey Water Correctly. Related Posts.
Jul 2, 2020

Where do you put toilet paper when camping? ›

Toilet Paper

It should either be thoroughly buried in a cat hole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Natural toilet paper has been used by many campers for years. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems.

How long can you stay in a truck stop shower? ›

Most truck stop showers have time limits that are 30 to 45 minutes. This is plenty of time for you to use the restroom, shower, and do any shaving or grooming that may be necessary. You're paying for the shower time, so make sure you take the time you need to get the job done.

How do you fill water when Boondocking? ›

If you can connect to a spigot, just use your hose to put water into the fresh water tank using the gravity fill. If boondocking with no hose, you will need a funnel to pour water from the tanks into the gravity fill. Again, you will need to access your external water jugs.

How do you get water when Boondocking? ›

So, in summary, you can get water when boondocking at:
  1. Rest stops.
  2. RV parks and campgrounds.
  3. Public, city, county, and state parks.
  4. Some retail stores.
  5. RV dump stations.
  6. Guzzle H20.
  7. Watergen ONBoard.
May 15, 2022

How long will a battery last while Boondocking? ›

How long you can boondock will depend on the battery's capacity and charge. Most standard 12V batteries will last a day or two. It also greatly depends on how much battery power you use. If you're plugging in gadgets, kitchen appliances, and nightlights in every electrical outlet, you'll go through that battery faster.

How long should an RV battery last Boondocking? ›

Depending upon what you power and how much, you can generally boondock for 2-7 days. But a lot depends on what type of batteries you use. If your batteries aren't efficient, and don't hold much charge, your trip will be shortened substantially. So it's critical to choose the best battery for your needs.

How much propane does a Boondocking take? ›

A standard 20 pound propane tank (5 gallons, or 4.7 gallons actual) will last anywhere from three to seven days while boondocking in an RV. This is assuming you are using propane to run your furnace at night, power your refrigerator, keep your water heater running, and using your cook top.

Does Florida allow Boondocking? ›

Is There Boondocking in Florida? Yes, there is! But it is quite a bit different than boondocking out west. Many of these places are in the more natural parts of Florida, which many visitors probably can't say they've seen much of.

Can I boondock in Florida? ›

You will need to get a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to be able to camp for free, and you can't book a site, so be sure to get there early!

Is it legal to boondock in Florida? ›

Boondocking, or camping on public lands without amenities, is legal in Florida in certain areas. While Florida does not have any BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands, there are other options for boondocking, such as national forests, wildlife management areas, and water management districts.


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