Exploring the Great Outdoors: A Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking

Boondocking, also known as dry or dispersed camping, involves staying in a remote location without access to modern amenities like electricity, water, or sewage hookups. Despite the lack of conveniences, boondocking can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for those who love to get off the beaten path and immerse themselves in nature.

Exploring the Great Outdoors A Beginner's Guide to Boondocking

If you’re an adventurous traveler looking to escape the crowds and fully immerse yourself in the great outdoors, boondocking may be just the thing for you. Boondocking, also known as dry or dispersed camping, involves staying in a remote location without access to modern amenities like electricity, water, or sewage hookups. It’s a great way to get back to basics and impossibly connect with nature at a traditional campground. Whether in an RV, van, or tent, boondocking is a unique and exciting way to explore the world and discover new places.

Is Boondocking Legal?

Whether boondocking is legal depends on the location and the specific laws and regulations in that area.

In some cases, boondocking may be allowed on public lands, such as national forests or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. However, it is important to check with the relevant agency to determine whether boondocking is allowed and to follow any rules and guidelines that may be in place.

In other cases, boondocking may be allowed on private land with the owner’s permission. Obtaining permission before boondocking on private land is always a good idea.

In some areas, boondocking may be strictly prohibited on public or private land. It is important to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in the area where you plan to boondock and follow them to avoid legal issues.

What is the best state for Boondocking?

The best state for boondocking depends on your personal preferences and the type of activities you enjoy. Some states, such ‎ as ‘Arizona and Utah, have a wealth of public land with beautiful natural surroundings that are well-suited for boondocking. Other states, such as California and Oregon, offer a variety of boondocking locations along the coast or in the mountains.

Ultimately, the best state for boondocking is the one that offers the type of environment and amenities that you are looking for. ‎ Some factors to consider when choosing a boondocking location may include the following:

  • Access to natural beauty, such as mountains, forests, or beaches
  • Proximity to outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, fishing, or biking
  • Availability of amenities, such as dump stations or water filling stations
  • Regulations and policies regarding boondocking on public land

It’s a good idea to research the specific boondocking locations and regulations in the state or region you are considering to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.‎

Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking

1. Know your vehicle and its capabilities

Ensure a smooth boondocking experience by choosing a reliable vehicle that can handle rough terrain. This includes having a strong towing capacity for trailers or boats, and a sufficient clearance for navigating over ‎ rough terrain or obstacles. Four-wheel drive capabilities also come in handy for off-road driving, as they provide improved traction and stability. Consider these factors before ’embarking on a boondocking trip to ensure your vehicle is equipped to handle any challenging conditions that may arise.

2. Plan ahead

Plan and bring everything you need for your trip, including food, water, a first-aid kit, and other supplies, to ensure self-sufficiency ‎ and comfort. This is important for any trip.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in emergencies. This could include having a satellite phone or some other way to call for help in case you need assistance while in a remote location. Having a backup plan is important, as ‘boondocking usually means being in a more isolated area where it may be more difficult to get help in an emergency.

In addition to these practical considerations, it’s also a good idea to research the area you’ll be visiting and any potential hazards or challenges you may encounter. This could include checking the weather forecast, learning about `any local wildlife or plant life that may be hazardous, and familiarizing yourself with any regulations or laws that may apply to your trip. By planning and being prepared, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected challenges that may arise during your boondocking trip..

3. Choose a good campsite

To ensure a comfortable and safe boondocking experience, choose a good campsite by selecting a flat, dry spot for your tent or ‎ RV and considering other factors that may impact your comfort and safety.

One important factor is the distance from roads and other noise sources. Boondocking often means seeking out more remote, quiet locations, so it’s important to find a spot far enough away from any roads or other `noise sources that may disturb you or impact your enjoyment of the natural surroundings.

It’s also a good idea to consider the direction of the wind when setting up your campsite. This can help ensure that your tent or RV is not subjected to strong gusts of wind, making it more difficult to sleep or causing damage to your ‘equipment.

Finally, it’s important to be mindful of your impact on the environment and to follow any regulations or guidelines that may be in place in the area you’re visiting. `This could include respecting any designated campsites or other designated areas and following any rules or guidelines related to fires or other activities that could potentially impact the surrounding area. By choosing a good campsite and following these guidelines, you can help protect the natural environment and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip..

4. Manage Your Resources

it’s important to manage your resources carefully, as you won’t have access to the same amenities and utilities that you would at a ‎ traditional campsite. This includes managing your water and energy usage.

One important resource management aspect is bringing enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. It’s a good idea to bring more water than you think you’ll need, as you may not have access to additional water sources while `boondocking. You may also want to consider investing in a portable water filter or purification tablets, as these can help ensure your water is safe to drink.

Energy management is also important when boondocking. You’ll likely be relying on a generator or solar panels for power, so it’s important to be mindful of your energy use and to conserve as much as possible.. This could mean turning off lights and appliances when they’re not in use, using energy-efficient equipment, and minimizing the use of high-energy appliances like hair dryers or electric heaters. ‎ By being mindful of your water and energy usage, you can ensure that you have enough resources to last through your trip and that you’re being as environmentally friendly as possible.

5. Leave no trace

The “leave no trace” principle is an important aspect of boondocking and refers to enjoying nature while preserving it. There are several ways to follow this principle while boondocking:

  • Pack out all your trash: Taking it with you when you leave is important, as litter can harm the environment and wildlife. ‎ This includes food packaging, containers, and any other waste you generate.
  • Respect wildlife: Boondocking often means being in close proximity to wildlife, so it’s important to respect their space and not disturb them. This ‘could include not feeding animals, keeping a safe distance from them, and not leaving food or other attractants out that could harm them.
  • Be mindful of your environmental impact: This could include following fire regulations or guidelines, such as using established fire pits or ensuring fires are completely extinguished before leaving.. It could also include not driving off-road or damaging `vegetation and being mindful of other activities that could impact the natural surroundings.

By following the “leave no trace” principle, you can help preserve the natural environment and ensure that others can enjoy it in the future.

How to Boondock Safely and Responsibly?

Boondocking can be a fun and budget-friendly way to experience the great outdoors, but it’s important to do ‎ so safely and responsibly. Here are some tips for boondocking safely and responsibly:

  • Respect the land: Follow Leave No Trace principles by disposing of trash properly, respecting wildlife and vegetation, ‘and avoiding sensitive areas.
  • Know the laws and regulations: Research and follow the rules and regulations of the area where you plan to boondock. This may include obtaining necessary permits or staying within designated areas..
  • Plan ahead: Ensure you have all the necessary supplies, including water, food, and other essentials. It’s also a good idea to let ‎ someone know your plans and expected return date.
  • Practice good hygiene: Bring hand sanitizer and follow proper hand-washing techniques to prevent the spread `of illness.
  • Be mindful of your impact: Try to minimize your impact on the environment by using minimal resources and generating minimal waste.‎
  • Be considerate of others: ‎ Avoid loud noises or activities that may disturb other boondockers or nearby residents.

By following these tips, you can enjoy boondocking safely and responsibly while protecting the natural environment and respecting the rights of others.

How to Find Boondocking Spots?

There are a few different ways to find boondocking spots:

Research online: Many online resources can help you find boondocking spots, such as boondocking forums, websites dedicated to boondocking, and social media groups. You can also search for boondocking spots using a search engine like Google or Bing.‎

  • Ask locals: If you are traveling to a new area, you can try asking locals or the staff at local visitor centers for recommendations on good boondocking spots..
  • Use a GPS device or app: Some apps, such as RV Parky, Allstays, and Campendium, allow you to search for boondocking spots based on your location or a `specific destination.
  • Check out boondocking directories: Several list boondocking spots, such as Freecampsites.net, Public Lands, and Boondocking.org. These directories often include user reviews and ratings, which can help find ‎ a good spot.

It’s always a good idea to research and plan when looking for a boondocking spot, as they may not always be easy to find. Respect local laws and regulations, and be mindful of your environmental impact.

boondocking in a van

Boondocking in a van can be a great way to save money on camping fees and experience the freedom and adventure of camping in a more remote location.

If you’re planning to boondock in a van, there are a few things you’ll need to consider:

  1. Power: You’ll need a reliable power source for your vans, such as a generator or solar panels. Ensure you have enough power to run your essential electronics, such as your phone, laptop, and other devices, to stay connected.‎
  2. Water: You’ll need to bring your water or have a way to purify water from a natural source. Ensure you have enough water to last for your trip and a way to store it safely..
  3. Waste: You’ll need to dispose of your waste responsibly by using a portable toilet or properly disposing of your waste in an approved’ location.
  4. Safety: When boondocking in a van, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to take steps to ensure your safety. `This includes avoiding areas prone to flooding or other natural disasters and being prepared for emergencies.

By following these guidelines and being prepared, you can have a safe and enjoyable boondocking experience in your van.

boondocking in national forests

Experience the thrill of roughing it outdoors by boondocking in a national forest. Boondocking, or camping without hookups in a remote location, offers a budget-friendly way to explore the beauty of nature. National forests provide a range of stunning landscapes and secluded spots perfect for boondocking, and with careful planning and preparation, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.

benefits of boondocking in national forests

  1. Cost-effective: Boondocking in a national forest is a budget-friendly option because it’s typically free or low-cost compared to campsites with hookups or RV parks.
  2. Remote and peaceful: National forests offer a variety of remote locations, providing a peaceful and secluded setting for camping.
  3. Scenic beauty: National forests are known for their stunning landscapes, which provide a beautiful backdrop for your boondocking trip.
  4. Outdoor activities: National forests offer a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and birdwatching, which can be enjoyed during your boondocking trip.
  5. Good for the environment: By boondocking in a national forest, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and support the conservation efforts of the National Forest Service.
  6. Connect with nature: Boondocking in a national forest allows you to truly immerse yourself in nature and disconnect from the distractions of everyday life.

Drawbacks when boondocking in national forests:

  1. Limited amenities: Boondocking in a national forest typically means you won’t have access to amenities such as electricity, water, or sewage hookups. You’ll need to be self-sufficient and bring your supplies.
  2. Limited cell phone service: Depending on the location, you may not have reliable cell phone service while boondocking in a national forest. This can make it harder to communicate with others or access emergency services.
  3. Lack of privacy: National forests are public lands, so you may have to share the area with other campers. This can affect the level of privacy you have at your campsite.
  4. Potential for adverse weather: National forests can experience extreme weather conditions, such as high winds, heavy rain, and extreme heat or cold. You’ll need to be prepared for these conditions and have the proper gear and supplies.
  5. Risk of wildlife encounters: National forests are home to various wildlife, which can be both a blessing and a potential hazard. While wildlife encounters can be exciting, respecting the animals and following safety guidelines are important to prevent conflicts.

Despite these potential drawbacks, boondocking in national forests can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience with proper planning and preparation.

Rules for Boondocking on National Forest Land?

There are a few rules to follow when boondocking on national forest land:

Obtain a permit

Depending on the national forest and your specific campsite, you may need to obtain a permit before boondocking. Check with the National Forest Service or the individual national forest website for specific requirements.

– Follow Leave No Trace principles

Leave No Trace is a set of principles that aim to minimize the impact of outdoor activities on the environment. When boondocking in a national forest, you should follow these principles: respecting wildlife, properly disposing of waste, and leaving the campsite as you found it.

– Respect the land

National forests are public lands, and respecting the land, and its resources is important. This includes respecting the privacy of other campers and not disturbing wildlife or plants.

– Follow campfire regulations

National forests have specific rules regarding campfires, which may include restrictions on where you can build a fire and how to extinguish it properly. Be sure to follow these regulations to prevent fires and protect the environment.

– Follow wildlife safety guidelines

National forests are home to various wildlife, and it’s important to respect the animals and follow safety guidelines to prevent conflicts. This includes not feeding the wildlife and keeping a safe distance from animals.

– Park 200 Feet Away From Water Sources

Parking at least 200 feet away from water sources when boondocking in a national forest helps to preserve the delicate vegetation near these sources. Water sources are often located near sensitive ecosystems that the weight of vehicles and the impact of human activity can easily damage. By keeping a distance of 200 feet or more, you can help to protect these ecosystems and maintain their natural beauty.

– Be Responsible With Campfires

It’s important to remember to be responsible with campfires when boondocking in these areas.

First and foremost, always check to see if campfires are allowed in the area where you will be boondocking. Some National Forest land may have restrictions on campfires due to dry conditions or other factors. If campfires are allowed, follow all local regulations and guidelines.

When building a campfire, choose a safe location at least 15 feet from tents, trees, and other flammable objects. Clear away any leaves, twigs, and debris from the area, and use a fire ring or pit if one is available. If a fire ring or pit is unavailable, create a firebreak by digging a shallow trench and surrounding the area with rocks.

When starting a campfire, use only small sticks, twigs, and dry leaves to help it get going. Avoid using accelerants such as gasoline, as they can be dangerous and contribute to air pollution. Once the fire is going, make sure to keep it small and contained. Never leave a campfire unattended; be sure to extinguish it completely before leaving the area or going to bed.

To extinguish a campfire, drown the fire with water and stir the ashes until all embers are extinguished. Ensure the fire is completely out and the ashes are cool before leaving the area.

How to Find National Forest Land for Boondocking?

National forests are a good place to look for boondocking opportunities, as they are managed by the US Forest Service and often allow dispersed camping in designated areas. Here are some steps you can follow to find national forest land for boondocking:

  1. Determine which national forest you want to visit: The US Forest Service manages 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states and Puerto Rico. You can use the Forest Service website to find a national forest near you or search for a specific national forest by name.
  2. Check the national forest’s website for dispersed camping information: Each national forest has its website with information about camping, hiking, and other activities. Look for information about dispersed camping, often referred to as “backcountry” or “primitive” camping.
  3. Review the national forest’s dispersed camping rules and regulations: National forests may have different rules for dispersed camping, such as how long you can stay, whether you need a permit, and whether you need to follow Leave No Trace principles. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these rules before you go.
  4. Find a suitable campsite: National forests often have designated dispersed camping areas, but you may also be able to find a suitable campsite in a less developed area. Look for a flat, dry spot at least 200 feet from any water source, trail, or road. Avoid camping in meadows, near streams, or other sensitive areas.
  5. Plan for self-sufficiency: Dispersed camping means camping in remote areas without access to restrooms, water, or trash facilities. Make sure to bring all the necessary supplies, including water, food, a camping stove, and a way to dispose of waste.

boondocking with solar power

Solar power can be a good way to power your RV or another camping setup while boondocking, as it allows you to generate your electricity using the sun’s energy.‎

To use solar power for boondocking, you will need a solar panel system, a battery bank to store the electricity, and an inverter to convert the stored DC electricity from the battery bank into AC electricity that can be used to power your ‎ RV or other camping equipment.

The size and capacity of your solar panel system and battery bank will depend on your power needs and the amount of sun you expect to receive. It is important to carefully plan and size your system to ensure that it can meet your power needs and that you have enough stored energy to last through periods of low or no sun..

In addition to a solar panel system, you may consider other options for generating electricity while boondocking, such as a generator or portable power station. It is also a good idea to conserve energy as much as possible` by using energy-efficient appliances and limiting your power usage to essential items.

boondocking with a generator

Boondocking is a term used to describe camping or RVing without hookups for electricity, water, or sewage. It often involves staying in remote or wilderness areas, such as in national forests or on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. Using a generator can be a useful way to power your RV while boondocking, as it allows you to run appliances and systems that you might not be able to otherwise.

There are a few things to consider when using a generator for boondocking:

  • Noise: Generators can be quite loud, so you’ll want to be considerate of your surroundings and any other campers nearby. Some generators have “quiet” or “economy” modes that can help reduce noise.‎
  • Fuel: Make sure you have enough ‘fuel to run your generator for your trip. It’s a good idea to bring extra fuel just in case.‎
  • Safety: Follow all safety guidelines for operating your generator. This includes keeping it safe from your RV and any other structures and not running it in enclosed spaces.‎
  • Local regulations: `Be aware of any local regulations regarding generator use. Some areas may restrict when and where you can use a generator.‎

Following these guidelines, you can safely and responsibly use a generator while boondocking to power your RV.‎

boondocking water conservation

When boondocking, it’s important to conserve water since you won’t have a connection to a water source. Here are a few tips for conserving water while boondocking:

  1. Use a water filter or purification system to treat and reuse greywater (water from sinks, showers, and washing dishes).
  2. Only fill your freshwater tank when it is almost empty to minimize the amount of water you need to carry.
  3. Use a portable solar shower or take a bucket shower instead of a traditional shower.
  4. Use a low-flow or composting toilet to reduce the water used for waste disposal.
  5. Limit your use of water-intensive activities like laundry and dishes.
  6. Collect rainwater for non-potable purposes like watering plants or washing the exterior of your RV.

By following these tips, you can conserve water and extend the time you can spend boondocking.

boondocking in the desert

In the desert, boondocking can be a great way to experience the unique and rugged beauty of the landscape and get away from the crowds and noise of more developed campgrounds.‎

When boondocking in the desert, it’s important to be prepared and take extra precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip. `Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Ensure you have a reliable vehicle with high clearance and good traction. The terrain in the desert can be rough, and you’ll want a vehicle ‎ that can handle it.
  • Bring plenty of water. The desert can be hot and dry, and it’s important to stay hydrated. Plan to bring at least one gallon of water per person ‘per day.
  • Pack a first-aid kit and some basic tools. It’s a good idea to be prepared for any minor emergencies or mechanical issues that might come up.‎
  • Use a GPS or a map and a compass to navigate. It’s easy to get lost in the desert, especially if unfamiliar with the area. `Make sure you have a way to find your way back to your campsite.
  • Be mindful of the weather. The desert can have extreme temperature fluctuations, so it’s important to be prepared for both hot and cold weather.. Bring plenty of layers and sunscreen.

Leave no trace. When boondocking in the desert, leaving the area as you found it is important. Pack out all your trash, and follow Leave ‎ No Trace principles to minimize environmental impact.

boondocking with pets

Boondocking with pets can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time with your furry friends. However, keeping your pets safe and mindful of their needs while boondocking is important.. Here are a few tips to help you plan a successful boondocking trip with your pets:

  • Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations and have identification tags with your contact information. ‎ It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your pet’s medical records with you.
  • Bring plenty of food, water, and supplies for your pets. Pack enough food and water for the trip, and bring some extra in emergencies. Don’t ‘forget to pack leashes, collars, and other supplies your pets might need.
  • Keep your pets on a leash or in a fenced area. There are many potential hazards in the wilderness, including wild animals, snakes, and cacti, so it’s important to keep your pets under control.‎
  • Be mindful of the weather. The desert can have extreme temperature fluctuations, so it’s important to watch` your pets and ensure they have shelter from the sun and the wind.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles. When boondocking with pets, it’s important to clean up after them and to minimize your impact on the environment. Please bring a bag to pick up any waste and dispose of it ‎ properly.
  • Research the area beforehand. Some public lands and wilderness areas may have specific rules or regulations regarding pets, ‘so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. It’s always a good idea to bring a first-aid kit for your pets and a few basic supplies like a flashlight, a whistle, and‎ a spare leash.
  • Consider your pet’s comfort level. Some pets may be more comfortable in the wilderness than others. If your pet is timid or anxious, it may be better to start with shorter trips in more familiar areas before ‘venturing into more remote areas.
  • Keep an eye on your pets at all times. The wilderness can be dangerous for pets, ‎ so it’s important to keep a close eye on them and intervene if they’re in danger.

By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable boondocking trip with your pets in the desert. It’s important to be prepared and keep your pets safe, but with some planning and common sense, `you can have a great time exploring the wilderness together.


Boondocking is a great way to experience the great outdoors and get away from the crowds and amenities of traditional campsites. It allows you to set up camp in more remote and secluded locations, often with breathtaking views and a sense of adventure. To start boondocking, it’s important to research and plan, `bring the necessary gear and supplies, and respect the environment and other campers. With some preparation and common sense, boondocking can be a rewarding and enjoyable way to explore the outdoors.‎