Motor Home Boondocking for Beginners
What’s the fun in driving your motor home to a crowded campground on the edge of a city (exactly the kind of place we’d all like to escape!), plugging in and listening to your neighbors watch TV all night? We could have just stayed home for that.
If you have an RV, you really have to go out there and get away from it all. The great advantage of having one is that you can get far from civilization, but still have all the comforts of home. Instead of kids yelling outside, you can have the music of nature. Sounds like a good deal to me!
That’s why boondocking has become so popular among motor home owners. Boondocking means going out and camping in complete wilderness! You can drive your RV right out into the woods, mountains, or deserts (whichever you prefer) and stay there where your nearest neighbor is miles away. You can do this at most national parks, and there are also campgrounds and recreation areas designed specifically for this activity, where you can stay for as little as $ 3 a night or pay a small annual fee.
Is it leagal is always the first question that you might ask. The answer is yes or no, depending on where you decide to park your motor home. If you park where it’s not okay, well, that’s called “trespassing” I’m afraid and quite illegal.
Before you go on your trip, you should check to make sure that it’s okay to boondock where you’re headed. To give you an idea, there are yearly guides put out that you can pick up at bookstores and camping supply stores. You can also find up-to-date listings of areas online.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has designated wild areas all over the country where boondocking is permitted. This includes most national parks. There is one restriction, however, that you can only stay for up to 2 weeks. After that time, you just have to move, and exactly how far is far enough is open to debate.
There are lots of places for boondocking in the desert southwest. This is an area with lots of wild, natural places for the most part untouched by tourists. Most of the best locations are in Arizona and southern California.
Recently, some places have been set aside as boondocking campgrounds. Usually they have a small fee, something like a couple of dollars a night, or you can get a 6-month permit and stay there anytime. They still have the 2 week rule, but you can always “move” somewhere else and more or less stay in the same area. The 6 month permits cost as much as $ 150 in some places, but it’s still cheaper than camping for that long, or paying rent.
There are now communities that meet at certain times of the year. These turn into big motor home festivals, with boondockers and RV drivers from all over the country getting together when it’s too cold to camp up north or back east.
At some of these communities, they have activities, grocery stores and other businesses that open during the busy season. A few of these places include Quartzite, Arizona and Slab City, California, which is a ghost town when the boondockers aren’t there.
But, wait a minute… I thought this was your chance to get away from it all? Well, that’s true too. The best thing about boondocking is that you can set up anywhere and just let life crawl by. Nowhere to be, nothing to do, and no neighbors to listen to.