Boondocking, or dry camping, is camping on public land without the use of any amenities like electricity, water, or sewage. Almost 99% of the time, it is free and 100% legal if you follow the local guidelines set by the National Forest Service. Boondocking sites range from the wild backcountry of national parks to your local Wal-Mart parking lot.
Where can I boondock?
The options for boondocking campsites are limitless. Across all 50 states, you will find amazing free campsites for your next adventure. Resources to find these fantastic campsites include:
The Allstays app shows which Wal-marts allow overnight parking.
Truck stops and rest areas are great options for making cross-country treks.
is a collaboration site where users post information on free campgrounds across the country.
Boondockers Welcome is a website that shows available hosts and allows you to become a host for weary travelers.
What are the boondocking guidelines?
The US Forest Service has general guidelines that apply to all other public lands, such as:
Use approved and established roads.
Parked vehicles cannot block the road in any way.
No loud noises that may disrupt others. This includes the use of generators at night.
If there are no posted signs about dispersed camping, it is allowed.
A 14-day limit is standard for boondocking.
If you leave your RV for more than ten days, it can be towed and seized by the Forest Service.
You cannot dump your black or grey water tank on Forest Service or public land.
The guidelines and rules are much stricter if you want to boondock within a national park. BoondockersBible.com created a helpful resource that you can refer to for national park boondocking.
Above everything else, be respectful of others and nature. Leave no trace so the next traveler can enjoy the same beauty you did.
to make boondocking easier
Living off the grid comes with its fair share of challenges, but you will be ready for a fun adventure by being prepared with helpful gear.
Solar Panels: Whether on the RV’s roof or placed on the ground, solar panels are the quiet alternative solution to a generator to run your fridge and cabin lights. Most solar power systems don’t store enough juice to run the A/C system, so you will need to use a generator.
Battery Banks: High-capacity battery banks go a long way in charging your basic electronics such as cell phones and laptops. Many of these power storage units can be solar-charged, making them the ideal solution for long-term boondocking.
Water Purifiers and Containers: If you plan to boondock the full 14 allowed days, your freshwater might run dry before the end of your trip. Having a reliable water filter that you can pump into gallon containers is an easy, short-term fix to water issues.
Solar Shower Bag: Instead of relying on a propane water heater for a warm shower, just let the sun do it. Solar shower bags range from 3 to 5 gallons and will heat the water to scorching temperatures in a couple of hours.
For more inspiration on what you need for your off-grid escapade, here are a few resources that might help.