When we first left on our journey, we were so unprepared when it came to finding parking or knowing the different types of camping. I remember David and I sitting around a campfire in Ontario, Canada and just looking at each other and saying, “What the heck are we going to do about camping?”. No matter what you’re looking for when you embark on your roadlife journey, I’m sure you’ve thought about the assortment of different options for camping.
For the most part, we do most of our camping on BLM and National Forest land (aka Dispersed Camping). We can generally last for up to 3 weeks without having to hook up to water or electricity. However, everyone’s systems and journeys are different, and boondocking may look different for everyone else!
Check out 3 different types of camping what they mean, and where you can find them.
- Boondocking / Dispersed Camping
- Developed Campgrounds / RV Sites
- Undeveloped Campsite, No Hookups
Boondocking / Dispersed Camping
Boondocking is a common term that gets thrown around a lot when discussing types of camping and RV community. The term is generally used to explain a type of camping without having hookups to water, electricity, or sewage. Also known as “dispersed” or “dry” camping, boondocking allows you to have the luxury of camping without a neighbor in sight for miles. Additionally, gorgeous scenery will be right outside of your front door.
However, going off the grid requires a bit more research and system implementation in order to ensure safe, legal, and comfortable camping. In order for us to stay on some of the most remote locations in the county, we built our rig with off-grid capabilities in mind. Our bus conversion “Charlotte” has over 1,400watts of solar, 135 gallons of fresh water on board, a toilet, outdoor lighting, and plenty of heat and air conditioning sources.
How Much Does it Cost to Boondock?
Boondocking is usually FREE, making it our favorite camping method when we’re traveling on the road.
Where Can You Boondock?
I must have gotten you pretty interested in boondocking if you’ve made it this far. But, there are a few things to take into consideration to guarantee the camping location you picked are a safe and viable option, especially if you have an RV or other large rig.
A few common websites and locations to find boondocking locations throughout the country include:
- Bureau of Land Management
- National Forests and National Grasslands
- Fish and Wildlife Services
- iOverlander (this is our go-to app)
Sites like iOverlander offer an assortment of BLM, Forest Land, and other (sometimes less desirable) boondocking options including Walmarts and Cracker Barrels. I know – weird to consider a public parking lot “boondocking”…but, you’d be surprised at how many times we’ve stayed at Walmarts when there aren’t any other options around.
Just be aware that some BLM lands will require you to purchase a camping pass. Additionally, most locations like BLM and National Forest land have a maximum stay of up to 14 days.
Is it Actually Legal & Safe to Boondock?
Considering the restrictions around the country as to where you can pitch a tent or even park a larger rig like a skoolie, this is a perfectly valid question. Each county and state is different and may have their own restrictions. For example, most of Colorado does not allow overnight parking at Walmarts. Then you may come across other states like Arizona where the parking lot l0oks like a campsite!
Luckily, as long as you stay in places where dry camping is allowed and follow proper etiquette, boondocking is perfectly legal.
The concern of safety also comes up a lot. There is always a risk when you’re staying in the middle of nowhere. But, as long as you practice proper precautions and follow some of our personal tips, boondocking is generally safe!
Developed Campgrounds / RV Sites
Boondocking is certainly not for everyone, especially those without the proper setup or rig to handle off-grid living.
Developed campgrounds and RV sites are perfect options if you want most of the comforts of home including electricity, water, and a dump station. On top of those amenities, many developed sites even come with toilets, showers, and laundry.
If you don’t mind crowds and noise, staying for short or long periods at developed sites is an ideal solution. You won’t have to worry about having a large amount of water or solar in your rig. Furthermore, you’ll get the chance to link up with those in the road life community!
How Much Do Developed Campgrounds / RV Sites Cost?
Of course, developed campgrounds and RV sites will always charge some type of fee. RV sites are usually much more expensive, so this may not be a perfect fit for you if you’re looking to budget.
The price ranges between $20-$100 depending on the location, amenities, and season.
Undeveloped Campsite, No Hookups
Undeveloped campsites with no hookups are usually a go-to option for those looking for types of camping with amenities, but with less people. Chances are you won’t find a camp host, dumping station, or hook-ups.
For the most part, you’ll be able to find a water spigot and restrooms at these sites. It’s highly recommended that you have a fresh water tank, a decent-sized battery, and solar for these types of locations.
Undeveloped campgrounds can be found throughout the United States and Canada. They generally ask for a small fee, which can also vary by location, time of year, etc. They are a much more affordable option than a developed campground and offer fewer crowds. But, staying for long periods of time here will take time and ample preparations.