How to find RV boondocking sites?
Boondocking is a popular term among the Camper Van and RV community, referring to when campers use free camping without hookups or amenities. Although conventional campgrounds offer access to many different comforts like electricity, water, cable, and Wi-Fi, they cost money.
The expenses can add up quickly for long-term or frequent campers. Are you wondering how to find RV boondocking sites? Whether you are camping on a budget or traveling long-term, it is essential to know how to find them.
Although boondocking is a great way to keep camping easy and cheap, you cannot just park anywhere and refer to it as boondocking. It takes some practice and know-how to get the most out of your free camping. The following is a guide to some places where you can boondock and how to locate them.
Grasslands and national forests
Generally, RVers have access to free camping in U.S. national forests and grasslands, unless this is restricted for some reason. The rules in each national forest differ, and you should, therefore, check them ahead of time.
However, at most national parks, you can camp for free anywhere outside developed campgrounds and established recreation centers. It is easy to know the location of national forests by using Google maps.
Nonetheless, you can utilize the nationwide forest map locator or search by state to obtain information about the particular jurisdictions you plan to camp in. The National Geographic magazine also has maps for particular national forests.
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Bureau of land management (BLM)
These are publicly managed lands that are commonly located in the western part of the U.S.A. Typically, they allow boondocking outside of developed campgrounds. Nonetheless, the bureau of land management manages many activities like mining operations and grazing rights.
Therefore, you need to research more about them to determine which one is ideal for camping. It is challenging to locate BLM lands because they are not marked on Google maps. You can visit the official BLM.gov site and use the map to find BLM lands in the areas you want to camp.
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Walmart parking lots
Many Walmarts across the nation allow vans, trailers, RVs, and other self-contained vehicles to stay overnight at their parking lots. Although few RVers consider this as camping, spending the night at a Walmart parking lot comes in handy at times.
It is a great way to stock up on supplies before you sleep and get an early start to your destination the following day. Security officers monitor most of these parking lots and will be easily visible.
Nonetheless, Walmarts are tightening their policies towards free parking. Some do not allow overnight parking, while in other areas, local laws prohibit sleeping in a vehicle overnight.
Therefore, check with the specific Walmart you want to stay at before assuming that boondocking is allowed. There is an app that can help you find Walmarts that allow boondocking.
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A majority of casinos allow overnight parking for trailers, RVs, vans, and other self-contained vehicles. Spending the night at a casino parking lot is almost the same as staying at Walmart.
You need to keep a low profile. To find out which casinos allow overnight parking, you can look at the map locator on CasinoCamper.com.
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Truck stops are located in many places along major freeways. They mainly cater to long-haul truckers, but some also offer accommodation for trailers, vans, and RVs.
Most of them allow overnight parking in addition to providing travel amenities like food, fuel, and water, among others. You can call the truck stops along the highways you will use to confirm if you can stay there overnight.
Besides, do not forget to inform a loved one or friend where you are because there is usually minimal supervision at truck stops.
They are a little bit unconventional, but they often remain unoccupied overnight. Visitor Centers may also have access to bathrooms and running water. You should communicate with the staff at the visitor center you plan to camp at before you commit to boondocking in it.
Many people use trails for overnight backpacking trips. For that reason, it is common to see vehicles parked at trailheads overnight.
Hotel/motel parking lots
Boondocking in the parking lot of a hotel or motel is a gamble. Most major hotels will not mind having you camp there overnight if the parking lot is relatively empty. However, if the parking lot is full, it is better to look for another location.
This is a risky boondocking option because most apartment complexes have nighttime security or maintenance personnel who may ask you to leave. However, with some patience, you can find an apartment complex ideal for boondocking.
Boondocking takes various forms, and you can easily find the style that works for you. It is an effective way to spend more time camping because of the savings. Do not miss out on the opportunity to find a free place to park as you travel.
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