Camping has soared in popularity recently, resulting in crowded campgrounds and more expensive camping reservations. Boondocking is one way to escape the crowds and avoid costly fees. Boondocking can initially feel intimidating, but we’re here to help you find some excellent boondocking spots.
Today, we’re sharing tips for finding the best boondocking spots. They’ve helped us land some incredible locations to camp during our adventures.
What Is Boondocking?
Boondocking is a term campers use to refer to camping “off the grid.” Off-grid camping involves camping without access to hookups like water or electricity.
Boondocking often happens on public lands. The National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, or the Bureau of Land Management usually manage these lands. When camping there, you’ll have no access to services or group facilities like bathrooms.
Some may claim they are boondocking when camping at established campgrounds. However, this type of RVing is “dry camping.” The site may be a primitive site without access to individual hookups, but resources are typically available.
Try it before it’s gone; some believe we’re seeing the death of boondocking.
What Are the Best Places to Boondock?
Defining what makes the best boondocking spots varies depending on your personality and goal. There are many boondocking places, ranging from hard-to-get areas that require 4-wheel drive to sites barely off the road with ample room for anyone who wants to join.
Some prefer solitude when boondocking. For those people, the best places to boondock are locations with scenic views, quiet, and not a person in sight. The best spot might be harder to reach.
Others travel in a caravan and use the opportunity to gather with friends and family. These travelers thrive in the community and tend to enjoy the group atmosphere.
Quiet isn’t the goal and having a good time with others is on their itinerary. They likely turn up the music, laugh around a campfire, and play yard games. The best places to boondock for these people have easy access and are generally not far from town so that they can gather more supplies.
Some people fall between the two extremes. These campers enjoy seeing others nearby, reminding them that they aren’t entirely alone, but they aren’t looking for a party. They might be traveling alone or with a handful of others. The best boondocking spots for them offer some privacy but aren’t entirely remote.
What Is the Best State for Boondocking?
Some states are better for boondocking than others. Most eastern states have little to no boondocking spots. It should be no surprise that eastern states don’t top the list as ideal boondocking states.
You’ll find great boondocking locations out west, as much of that portion of the country has an abundance of public lands.
People often mention Utah when discussing their most incredible boondocking finds. Utah appears to have everything avid outdoor adventurers could need.
Utah has hiking, boating, off-roading, fishing, and camping. Outdoor recreation seems deeply embedded in the state’s culture. Public lands are plentiful, and there’s everything from secret spots that require special equipment to access and drive-in locations that anyone can find.
Whatever you explore in Utah, there is likely a perfect boondocking place waiting for you.
How Do You Find Boondocking Locations?
If you are new to boondocking, you may feel overwhelmed trying to find spots. It can be intimidating when you start searching for that perfect camping location.
Like most, you may be worried you’ll accidentally be on private land, or somewhere you shouldn’t visit. Thorough research helps you avoid that awkward and sometimes scary knock on your camper door.
Let’s look at a few resources to help you find your next spot.
Campendium is one of the most familiar campground review sites. It’s also our favorite. It has numerous helpful reviews from other users. Many include pictures and tips for accessing various locations. If you’re looking for free boondocking spots, it is convenient to filter the results to find accessible sites.
We love that Campendium is available online in Apple’s App Store. Pulling up important information quickly without a computer is incredibly beneficial. The app and website are aesthetically pleasing and straightforward to use.
FreeCampsites.net might be a no-frills site, but it can provide excellent value for campers. You can see free and paid campsites on the map view.
Campers can leave reviews, giving others a look at what they can expect. Additionally, this site offers a trip planner feature. While there are paid campgrounds, it focuses more on free camping and other RVing services.
iOverlander is an ideal site for looking for details on individual campgrounds and camping areas, similar to Campendium. There are general camping descriptions and reviews from fellow campers. You can expect to find amenities and coordinates on an easy-to-navigate site.
Boondockers Welcome gives campers a different boondocking experience. This subscription-based website offers campers access to the private property of people who open their property to RVers.
No two Boondockers Welcomes sites are alike. Some hosts charge a fee to cover the guest’s water or power usage. However, these fees are typically much less than a standard campground, and we’ve seen several that have no cost.
Most properties have no amenities, while others offer water or electric hookups. You’ll want to do a bit of research and read reviews for each host when selecting a place to stay.
Free Roam is another option for those who want to use a map to narrow their boondocking search. Users can find their desired location and see possibilities in that area.
You can click on each camping spot to read reviews and see pictures. The website also has a social aspect for communicating with other travelers.
Google Maps is a necessity as a final step before officially deciding to head to your spot. Their satellite view can give you essential geological information, helping you make an informed decision.
This site is especially beneficial if you are towing an RV. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the area so you can discover if there are places to turn around safely and find out how wide the roads are. The picture will also let you know where tree coverage is.
Finding hidden gems can be a bit tricky. So how do you find these fantastic boondocking spots? First, when searching on review sites, skip anything with pages of reviews. If there are tons of reviews, that means there are many people. If a place has no reviews, it likely means few people are camping there, often for a good reason.
When looking at reviews for boondocking spots, you want to have enough reviews to give you an indication of the area but not so many that the site has been “outed” as a prime location. Look for a happy medium between them.
Is Boondocking Safe?
Boondocking is no less safe than any other camping experience. As long as you are aware of your surroundings and take standard safety precautions, there is no reason why you should be fearful of boondocking.
Lock up and be mindful of anyone nearby, like you would in a campground. If you feel uncomfortable, whether by other humans or wildlife, move to another location.
Is It Worth It to Boondock?
If you want to break free from regulated campgrounds and set up shop in the wild, boondocking is an excellent choice. You have fewer restrictions, more space, and more freedom to enjoy the adventure.
Because boondocking is often free, it also saves money, which can be especially helpful if you are driving an RV or pulling a trailer, as fuel costs quickly cut into your other expenses.
Have you experienced boondocking? Was it a repeatable adventure for you?
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