The Zen of Boondocking Part XIV – Camping along scenic byways
By Bob Difley
National Scenic Byways, a program administered in part by the National Forest Service (FS), describes routes through some of the most scenic lands in the country, many through national forests where you can find FS campgrounds and scattered boondocking campsites along your route. You can find the nation’s byways on the America’s Byways website and order a free brochure listing all the byways.
Some states also have scenic roads or byways that are not yet listed as “national” scenic byways. You can find these, and often more complete information on the state’s national scenic byways, at the individual state’s byways web page. Type the state name followed by scenic byways in the search box for your state.
What fun it is to dawdle along these scenic roadways with no need to travel the entire route between RV resortss on either end, or even further away. When you’ve perfected your boondocking skills, you can find multiple dry-camping/boondocking camping possibilities along the byway enabling you to slow down to fully appreciate the area and to spend a few extra days enjoying the beauty of the byway and the nesty campsites or campgrounds you find along the way. Watch for marked FS roads or obtain a list of dispersed camping possibilities and primitive campgrounds from the byway, FS office, or online at sites like Forest Service Camping.
National forests also surround many of our National Parks, where you can find FS campgrounds and boondocking sites outside the crowded national parks. You can often find a campsite in FS campgrounds on weekends when the NP campgrounds are full. As a base camp, they also make perfect sense. From here you can explore into the park during the day and return to a nice, quiet, un-crowded campsite after a day of exploration. And many of the scenic byways loop through or around national parks, adding to your enjoyment.
Once you become comfortable with finding FS campgrounds and with boondocking, you can make your RV travel schedule more open ended, taking advantage of opportunities as they unfold, staying longer in newly discovered campgrounds and campsites, and exploring scenic areas and hiking trails that you hadn’t known about before, confident that you can always find a campsite wherever you happen to be at the end of the day.
Check out my website for more RVing tips, destinations, and for my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.