Boondocking 101: Why would anyone want to boondock?
By Bob Difley
Though you’ve heard about boondocking from other RVers and on blogs but never tried it you might wonder why anyone would want to camp where there were no water, sewage, or electrical hookups. After all, camping in an RV in an RV resort or upscale campground is pretty comfortable, and living without those hookups would seem to make it less enjoyable.
But in reality, all modern RVs have been manufactured to be not only mobile, but also to be independent of appendages that hook them up to land-based resources. All RVs have a holding tank for fresh water, and most of the time two holding tanks for waste, one from the toilet and one from the shower and sinks. They also have a house battery or batteries to supply 12-volt electricity to the RV in lieu of plug-in 120-volt power, and a generator to produce 120-volt electricity directly to both the 12-volt and the 120-volt systems, and to recharge the battery/ies.
So when using your RV’s systems rather than a campground’s, it opens up many more camping possibilities. There are vast natural areas on public lands for enjoying your RV lifestyle, such as in our national forests (photo Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest) and on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The National Forest Service (FS) manages the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands–193 million acres.
The BLM manages approximately 253 million acres–one-eighth of the landmass of the country—most of it in the West. These massive areas, and more managed by other agencies of the Federal Government such as the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, plus National Wildlife Refuges are known collectively as federal public lands. In addition there are state forests, state game and fish land, fishing accesses, and Indian Reservations.
RVers are permitted to camp–boondock–on these public lands, sometimes in primitive campgrounds (those without hookups) and sometimes on open land (called “dispersed camping” by the FS and BLM). If you only go to campgrounds, think how much of this country’s wonderful natural and scenic land you are missing, not to mention the joy of solitude when you find a boondocking campsite by a tumbling mountain stream or on a broad desert plain under the shade of a mesquite tree–and there is no one else in sight.
First, though, you have to get comfortable with camping without hookups. You can start off with boondocking for just one or two nights which won’t burden your onboard systems(photo – an enroute boondocking campsite in Klamath NF off Highway 97 northeast of Weed, CA–and only about 200 yards off the road).
But to go longer than that you need to learn some conservation techniques and alter some resource wasting habits. And that is the subject of next Saturday’s blog, Boondocking 101: How do you camp without hookups?
Check out my website for more RVing tips, destinations, and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (now available in a Kindle version), Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.