By Bob Difley
As campgrounds and RV resorts become more crowded and more expensive, more RVers are starting to think seriously about boondocking, and whether it is something they want to tackle. The answers are not always the same for all RVers. Consider the two primary motivations why RVers boondock – and possibly a third reason.
One is financial. With campground fees reaching into the lower end of motel prices, staying every night in a private campground can take big chunks out of your budget month after month. While most boondocking is free, you may be charged fees – though much lower than private campgrounds and resorts – at primitive dry-camping campgrounds like some areas of the forest service or BLM. But even just a few nights spent boondocking can seriously reduce your total campground expense.
The second reason for boondocking is personal space. We RVers are a diverse bunch, with many of us preferring the camaraderie of campgrounds, with lots of RVing neighbors, a social clubhouse gathering place, planned activities, swimming pools, and all the other pleasurable amenities of RV resorts. I, too, enjoy this lifestyle from time to time (though very briefly).
Then there are others who prefer a more natural setting, away from the hubbub of campground activity, vehicular traffic, security lights and neighbors, preferring the wide-open spaces and long views as found in much of the southwestern deserts, or the nesty spaces carved out of pine forests beside a mountain stream.
The third, less important but practical and efficient reason to boondock, or dry-camp, is en route camping — pulling over in a convenient place to spend a night while on the road logging miles. Here you don’t want to take time to research campgrounds in the area, check in, hook up, etc. All you want is a place to sleep for the night and get going again in the morning — places like Walmart, Cracker Barrel restaurants, rest areas, truck stops, etc. No cost. Quick in and out. Efficient.
But the RVers that become the most fervent boondockers are the ones that take the time and expend the effort to find real boondocking campsites — those off the beaten path, on the road less traveled, in the boonies, away from civilization. The locations you find and collect on GPS devices and in Google Earth or campsite logs, become a major — and valuable — part of your RV lifestyle.
When you have perfected your boondocking skills so that you know just how long you can boondock without support services or hook-ups, you know how much extra water and supplies to carry, and you can spot secondary or dirt roads that are likely to have boondocking campsites, then you can relax on the technical parts of boondocking and concentrate on finding the perfect campsite.
And when you find it (them) and settle in, enjoy an expansive sunset, the brilliance of the Milky Way in a lightless night sky, and wake up to the sounds of birds chirping, views of lofty mountains, rushing water, towering trees, a herd of grazing elk, a flock of ducks, a covey of quail — and not another RV or neighbors’ conversations, arguments, TVs or barking dogs — then you realize the true value – and attraction – of boondocking.