Popular Boondocking Site Closed, Citing “Gov’t Has Their Own Rules”
And so it begins. Less than one month into 2021, another boondocking (free camping) site has reported that it is closed.
This time it’s a popular spot east of the Mississippi.
Closing these locations has been a common theme since more RVers have hit the road over the last 12 months. In response to less air travel and hotel stays, camping is growing in popularity.
But, boondocking is suffering the consequences.
We’ll share the exact spot and what the government officials say it the reasoning.
Let’s dive in.
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is when you camp for free, usually on national forest or BLM land.
You’ll have no hookups, but you won’t have to pay anything either. This means, in most cases, you’ll need to provide your own power, water and waste management.
Pro Tip: Here’s an in-depth look at the safety of boondocking.
What Boondocking Site Was Closed?
Let’s be clear; many people will call this an overnight parking site. However, we call it boondocking or free-camping, because it’s not like traditional overnight parking (i.e. Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro).
The site that closed is the Natchez Visitors Center in Natchez, Mississippi.
It was rated 3.5/5 star on Free Campsites Net.
One of the most unique aspects of this now closed free campsite is that they offered free water, power, and sewer connection. This visitor center also overlooks the Mississippi River and is only a mile from the heart of downtown
We camped at this spot in 2018.
In fact, it made our list of the 2O best free campsites in the USA.
Why Was This Boondocking Site Closed?
We spoke with Anna Byrne, Visitor Center Manager, through email correspondance.
She said, “The building has been given to The National Park Service. Gov’t has their own rules.”
While this sounds like a pass-the-buck explanation, it does make sense. The National Park Service almost never allows free overnight parking on its property.
Byrne continues, “They will be making several changes to the building so maybe one day in the future the rules may bend. Also, we were having lots of trouble with our water and electric lines. They are 23 yrs. old. We do not have security any longer either.”
Here’s the Good News
While it’s never good to hear of closed camping sites, this example is better than most.
The most recent banned sites have all been a result of misuse of land. This means campers have trashed the area.
At Natchez, there was no report of campings abusing the property. We’ll call that a small silver lining.
Here’s the Bad News
As campers, we need to be stewards of the land and follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
The bad news that we hear is that RV Park owners are lobbying to close free campsites.
The trend hasn’t taken off in the US yet, but we’ve seen park owners talk about it first hand.
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We need to form a lobbying group that pushes for increased funding for BLM, National Forests and Parks to handle boondocking, adding dumpster bins at many of the sites and increased oversight. What frustrates me is the focus on few bad RVers trashing the sites, but what about corporations misusing the very same land, possibly doing far more damage to them environmentally — they do it on a scale much larger than a few RVers, methinks. Not that I am dismissing that concern. I try to clean up and make the site I occupy better after I leave. But to be frank, in so many locations, lack of dumpster bins has made it more challenging. I am currently staying at Snyder Hill BLM site west of Tucson, and I couldn’t find dumpster bins. So what do I do? I pull over at a public bus stop and load trash in their trash cans, and I FEEL GUILTY about this. Frustrating. There are little things our government agencies can do to help make things easier for us to keep the sites clean.
Quick tip: there’s a public park a mile or two from Snyder Hill with dumpsters.
Ugh. That’s a bummer as Jeanne and I had the Natchez Visitors Center on our trip plan for two nights in late April. 🙁 Thanks for posting up the news, though, since we can now find another place to stay around there on our travels North.
Problem is, if you take garbage to a another (park-bus stop) and unload it theree, you could be cited for illegality dumping…..
It’s so sad to see another area closing, but I get that some of them have closed because of ungrateful people. I once stayed at an area “managed” by BLM and found piles of trash everywhere. So, I packed my little trailer that housed my ATV and packed out a significant amount of trash over several days to the local disposal place. Please, people, help us to keep our campsites and area around them clean and free.
You can still go about 60 miles up the Natchez Trace to the free campground at Rocky Springs. It’s not as convenient for visiting Natchez, but it is a nice campground.
Erika & Jeanne, We recently stayed a the AmeriStar Casino RV Park, it was easy to get in and out of, full hook ups and only $18 with Good Sam’s, keep in mind this was the week before Christmas and it was almost completely empty. So In April it may be a little more.
Visit steampunk coffee house in Natchez!
Great Coffee, expresso and all kinds of crazy coffee drinks.
Well,ll,ll, you’ve got a choice, Officer. Would you rather I get a little shut eye and go down the road in the morning, or would you like us to get out on the road sleepy, and get a call to come and scrape all the teeth, hair, and eyeballs off the road and do all the associated paperwork?
I KNOW how much you love filling out all those reports and explaining things to managers and news reporters….