RV Boondocking AKA Dry Camping
RV parks are nice, cozy places to take a summer vacation, but many don’t feel this camping style really gets to the true essence of outdoor adventure. If you are share this mindset, and prefer an environment where you can get off the grid, unplug, and experience nature at its most raw, then boondocking is undoubtedly the type of trip for you. Also called “dry” or “dispersed” camping, boondocking is the only way to get absolute privacy, free campsites, and uninterrupted contact with nature. However, boondocking also has its challenges, so you’ll need to make sure you’re adequately prepared before setting out. If you have any more questions after reading this guide, come talk to one of our camping experts at Camp Site RV. Our dealership is in Cresco, Iowa near Cedar Falls, IA, ready to serve RV enthusiasts everywhere.
Choose your Location
When Boondocking, you obviously don’t have to deal with the difficulty of reserving a campsite, but that doesn’t mean you can just set up camp in any patch of land you find. There are state and federal regulations about where you can and can’t park. Please be sure to follow these rules so you can have fun camping, while still obeying the law.
Places that Don’t Allow Boondocking
There are two main types of places where you can never dry camp: National Parks and private land (without permission). Now we know national parks are some of the best places to hang out, but they would simply be too crowded if people were allowed to camp on them. Fortunately, there are usually National Forests near most National Parks, so you can park a few miles away and still enjoy one of these attractions in your RV. Private land is also obviously off limits unless you have permission from the owner. Many of us in Iowa have a friend we can ask who has large enough property for boondocking, and if not, there are still plenty of other places to go!
Good Places for Dry Camping
Aside from private land where you have the owner’s permission, you are also able to camp on any federal land that isn’t a National Park and doesn’t have a “No Overnight Camping” sign. There are huge tracts of land upheld by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and a few other agencies, and most of them allow campers to set up on the land they manage. As long as you can find a suitable campsite, you can camp there. However, a “suitable campsite” implies a at least one specific detail: find a site with a pre-existing campfire ring or a hole. Don’t stay somewhere that doesn’t have a ring, because the government prefers you don’t dig new holes.
A Few General Rules
When you select a campsite, keep in mind that many of the camping spots on federal land have the same rules and regulations. In general, be sure to not burn if there’s a fire ban in place at the time. Check before you go, because camping might not be very fun if you can’t even build a fire. Also make sure you bury all your black water under at least 6” of dirt, and take all your trash with you. The joys of nature are ruined if you litter a place with your trash and waste, so please be respectful of the territory and do some cleanup. Finally, be sure not to stay in one place longer than 14 days. If you want to stay out longer than that, you can move camp a couple miles away, but you’re limited to two weeks in one spot.
Is Boondocking Safe?
If you haven’t been boondocking before, but it sounds appealing, you might be thinking that it sounds a little rough. Sure you’ll be in an RV, but without an easy source of power, bathrooms, or certain amenities, can you camp safely out there? The answer is yes. Out in the middle of nowhere, you’re very unlikely to encounter any sort of crime, and as long as you prepare properly, you’ll have plenty of food, water, and emergency supplies. A good rule of thumb is to tell somebody you know where you’re going and about how long you’ll be gone. That way, if you say you’ll be gone a week but haven’t returned after 10 or so days, they can send someone out to look for you and help you out if you need it.
If you follow all the laws and regulations, prepare properly, and find a good spot, boondocking could be the most fun you’ve ever had on a camping trip. Just use common sense, be careful, and you’ll have fun out there. But you wouldn’t want to tackle the great outdoors without a properly functioning home-on-wheels, so if you need any services, repairs, or would like some new appliances to better brave your journey, we can help you out at Camp Site RV. Our dealership in Cresco, Iowa can serve vacationers from Rochester, MN or LA Crosse, WI.