Difference: boondocking, dry-camping, and pavement camping





Boondocking in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest


By Bob Difley

You’ve probably heard the term boondocking at RV potlucks, campfires, and at rallies. There are also similar terms like dry-camping, blacktop boondocking, coyote camping,  and others.

There don’t seem to be any widely accepted definitions separating those terms. Most of the differences are defined by what is most widely used and could vary by region. But I’ll take a shot at clarifying.

Dry-camping is the term used to describe what you are doing, which is camping without hookups. Technically that would mean no water, electrical or sewer connections. But if you had just one hookup, such as a connection to electricity, for example, that would be described as partial hookups.

Boondocking and blacktop boondocking refer to where you are dry-camping. Blacktop boondocking is self-descriptive, dry-camping on a paved surface, like at a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, truck stop, or highway rest area. Boondocking simply refers to dry-camping away from all conveniences, out in the boonies, such as on public BLM or Forest Service land with no on-site source of water or electricity and no dump station.

But what do you call camping at a Forest Service campground with a communal water supply and designated paved sites, or an undesignated site at a county fair or RV rally? I would call those just dry-camping. So … should the terms be officially (and by whom?) defined in order to clarify, or is it unimportant?