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RV Park Owners Lobby to Abolish Boondocking

RV Park Owners Lobby to Abolish Boondocking

RV Park Owners Lobby to Abolish Boondocking

It’s a tale as old as time. Business owners lobby governments to help increase their bottom line. This time RV park owners are trying to abolish free camping.

It’s happening in New Zealand. And it may be on it’s way to the USA.

American RV park owners have taken note. These business owners draw inspiration from across the globe, and now they’re lobbying local agencies to restrict free camping.

In this article, we’ll give you the details on boondocking, what’s happening in New Zealand, and how it will affect us in America.

Let’s dive in.

What is Boondocking?

If boondocking is a new term to you, here’s the basic definition.

Boondocking is free-camping that takes place on public lands. These areas usually have no amenities. This means campers must be responsible for their water, power, and waste management.

It’s important to note that these public lands are funded by tax-payers money. If you’re an American citizen, federal land is your land to enjoy (within the boundaries of the law). You’re, in fact, paying for it.

So, What’s Happening With New Zealand Boondocking?

In an article recently written by Nina Hindmarsh, RV park owners say boondocking is destroying their business.

The article quotes the owners:

“No matter how much we charge, we can’t compete with ‘free’,” said Karl Adams, the owner of Takaka Camping and Cabins.

In response, the local governing body closed the two nearby free campsites.

While the RV park owners are indeed delighted with this result, local restaurants and cafes think the restriction will seriously hinder their businesses.

Our hot take: if this precedent is adopted in American, we’re in big trouble as RVers.

What USA RV Park Owners Are Saying

This story was recently posted in a forum for RV park owners, and their response was frightening.

One of the forum members implored all the owners to speak up to local authorities to put an end to boondocking. Surprisingly, many RV park owners didn’t even know boondocking was a thing.

This exemplifies how out of touch many RV park operators are when it comes to the ever-evolving camping industry.

It’s surprising that any tax-paying American (RV park owner or not) would encourage the government to restrict access to public lands.

As an RVer, I’d rather boondock 6 days a week than camp in a crowded RV park.

Here’s the sad thing, RV park owners have already had limited success in restricting some forms of free camping already.

RV Park Owners Help End Overnight Parking

Over the last five years, many RV park owners have successfully lobbied the city-level government to forbid overnight parking at Walmart.

As a result, 1000s of Walmarts no longer offer overnight parking. Most of these restrictions are directly correlated to newly-written city government laws.

It seems that most RV parks would rather force RVers to pay for a few hours of sleep on a long travel day, than let them catch zzz’s in the Walmart parking lot.

Pro Tip: here are The Don’ts of Walmart Camping.

What Can You Do As An RVer?

There are a few things you can do as an RVer to help preserve the right to boondock.

First and foremost, join the Escapees RV Club. This club is one of the only organizations that lobbies for the rights of RVers in Washington D.C. and beyond.

The membership is about $50 a year and well worth it.

The Escapees have helped preserve voting rights for full-time RVers and advocated for more money for the National Park maintenance. 

Secondly, be a respectful camper and always practice “Leave No Trace.” 

RV parks will often cite that free campsites are being trashed. This is their backward way of closing down boondocking sites.

Don’t help them with this cause. Always leave a campsite better than you found it.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Popular Boondocking Site Closed, Citing “Gov’t Has Their Own Rules” – Truck & RV Electronics

Thursday 21st of January 2021

[…] The bad news that we hear is that RV Park owners are lobbying to close free campsites. […]


Tuesday 5th of January 2021

This is my first response to such nonsense. I’d happily pay an annual subscription for an app that would give me an updated list of every park with a current owner who is attempting this angle. I would avoid their park/s and inform my fellow campers of who they are. I like putting money in the pockets of people who provide a service to me and actually care if they accomplish said service. If a park owner is actually lobbying to stop these kind of overnight stops, rest assured the have zero care for you or me. They want money and control. Once upon a time this kind of strong arm behavior would have been seen as criminal. And no excuse for the Walmart’s or other stores who don’t get the law involved when people abuse the “overnight” stay and effectively move in. The stores and parking are private property and have zoning and usage permits. There are locations that see a huge amount of overnight parking (and subsequent revenue) due to their proximity to highways. They also have cameras and security like every other major shopping store. Hire an extra person to monitor the overnighters with all the extra revenue. It will keep order, create a job and give the store a reputation as a safe and clean stop for drivers.

Carl Johnson

Monday 4th of January 2021

I been reading all the comments on this issue. Just start a list on here of RV parks to avoid. Over priced. Dirty. Over crowded. A-wipe owners etc. Should help a lot of Rvers and if they find THEIR business listed they may change enough to get business back


Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Because you want more money for your business you think our freedom to boondock should be taking away. We pay taxes to boondock on govt land. It's people like you that suck the life out of people trying to survive. I hate staying in a park there is no room no privacy. For the most part every place I boondock is pretty clean. The animals shit everywhere but you dont see them getting rid of the animals. So sad you think you can take our freedom to live the way we want away. Not every one can afford those ridiculous park fees. You had expectations on your park that's on you. As an Rver I more than ever now dont want to fund and rv park it's always about money. You think people arent there because there boondocking..NO it's because it cost to much to stay in parks. People dont buy rvs to stay in a park being packed in like it is in the city with crowding. You should pick another career and a way to make money and stop trying to tell others how they should live to line your pockets with our money.


Friday 1st of January 2021

Banning because of homeless people. A bandaid to the problem. This didn't get rid of homeless people, did it? Of course this isn't just Walmarts problem so maybe you want them in your backyard. No I know this would be a NIMBY problem. It seems the haves just want the not haves to conveniently, poof, disappear. Well, with Covid we're going to have a lot more homeless and someone has to deal with it. But cities that close overnight stays because of homeless people are deluding themselves. The homeless aren't going to disappear. As far as trash, with your thinking nearly every public campground would have to close. I hate to say it but it seems that humans have devolved to litter bugs. The one that always gets me for stupidity is throwing cans and bottles in fire pits. They don't burn stupid! I retired 15 years ago and have camped thousands of times, now full time in my RV. The only campgrounds I have ever found to be completely clean are the ones with campground host, who clean up after the litter bugs. Just as I had to clean up areas when a National Park Ranger in Yosemite.

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