Finding good boondocking campsites on long road trips

Finding good boondocking campsites on long road trips

By Bob Difley

Boondocking campsite Klamath National Forest

Finding a nice boondocking spot in the National Forests or on BLM land is not always easy, especially if you are traveling in an unfamiliar area where you have not previously located several prospects. If you are in a rush or trying to cover a lot of territory in a few days it will probably be easier to just head for a campground along your way.

However, if you do have a more leisurely trip planned, you could change your way of thinking about finding boondocking spots. If you consider it as only “finding a campsite” it may sound like a tedious chore. But an alternate viewpoint, and the one my wife and I use, would be better described as allowing an hour or so for exploring and enjoying an area while keeping an eye out for camping spots. We enjoy the exploring and do not focus entirely on finding a campsite. We unhitch the toad and leave the motorhome by the side of the road or at the beginning of a forest road while we explore the back roads. I look not only for the perfect spot, but also look at the access road to make sure that I can get the motorhome in, that we will be able to level, and eventually turn around and get out again.

Sometimes we will spend an hour driving and considering numerous spots and take a short hike or two (this is what we would be doing anyway even if we had already chosen a campsite) before we decide on one. It’s hardest when we find one good spot after another and want to stay in all of them. Once we decide, we drive back and collect the motorhome and head for our new camp. And we might stay for a few days – or maybe not. We don’t like tight itineraries.

We never complain that it took an hour to find a camping spot, because that was all part of our lifestyle – exploring a forest, stretching our legs, seeing what was around us. Finding the campsite was incidental – but we always seemed to be able to find a spot.

Then once you are set up, grab your binoculars and take a walk, ride your bike, set out your feeders, arrange your camp, set up your barbecue, and place your chairs facing the best view. At night listen to the silence, unbroken by generators, traffic or conversations. Gaze out at the stars before falling asleep, and wake up to the chirping of birds and the rich smells of the forest. That’s what boondocking is all about.

##RVT839

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8 thoughts on “Finding good boondocking campsites on long road trips

  1. Mike and Linda

    Boondocking in remote area’s sound nice but you can be s eating your self up for trouble. And can be potentially dangerous. You might try Walmart’s or Truck stops they are alot safer. And easy to find.

  2. Al & Sharon

    There are many times we drop the RV and drive the other vehicle into the near by National Forest or BLM areas to check out the developed campgrounds to be sure our RV will fit and/or to determine if the campground is one we want to stay at.
    We may also spend a night in an RV park and then take a few hours to explore the area looking for a boondocking spot to spend several days or more.

  3. Cliff

    You can use freecampsites.net and you will get a website that caters to finding these neat little remote camp sites. You can look at where those sites are located on that site, including selecting satellite view so you can see the roads, vegetation, terrain, etc. All can be done via a smart phone or laptop.

  4. Billy Bob Thorton

    Sounds like a plan. I don’t pull a vehicle so I would have to be more cautious. But the solitude is a special thing.

    Your right on researching, that’s the best way to eliminate some of the problems.

    Thanks

  5. Rob

    My question is similar to Bill,s I don’t seem to be able to find places. Most of the directories give to little info on the property. I don’t want to head down a road only to not be able to turn around. I also have. Travel trailer so it’s more complicated to drop the trailer and head off exploring. And.. we live on the east coast and I find very few prospects for boon docking with our 25′ TT.
    Any suggestions ?

    1. Al & Sharon

      Having owned a travel trailer, a 5th wheel and a now motorhome, I haven’t found it any more difficult to disconnect the tow vehicle than it is to disconnect the vehicle we tow behind the motorhome in order to go exploring.

  6. Bill

    Hi Bob, this is great advise. One question though, how did you know where to stop and start exploring in the first place? Are there signs or did you do a general search of the area online or through other means before you got there?.
    Thanks.

    1. Al & Sharon

      In addition to using websites which list free and low cost camping areas we make extensive use of satellite views of the roads and potential boondocking sites. Google Earth is one computer based app. Also Google Maps and Bing Maps have satellite views. Also on all three there are many roads which you can click on the road or drag an icon to the road to provide a 360 degree photo of the road and surrounding area. On occasion even the road through a campground can be selected to view the 360 degree photo.

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