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5 Reasons to Avoid Boondocking

If you’ve spent any amount of time watching RV-life YouTube videos or following the hashtags on Instagram, you’ve probably heard of boondocking. 

Boondocking is a popular way to RV camp for free while traveling the country. 

But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? In our opinion, “heck yes.” However, if you try boondocking without all the proper resources and research…you may be in for a few unfortunate surprises!

Read on to learn why you might want to avoid boondocking.

What Is Boondocking?

In short, boondocking is camping for free on public lands without hookups or amenities.

Boondockers have to: 

  • Supply their power 
  • Take all their trash out with them 
  • Conserve fresh water supply
  • Store black and gray water until they leave

As a boondocker, you have to be totally self-sufficient. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

5 Reasons to Avoid Boondocking

Boondocking is popular, but it isn’t for everyone. Here are 5 reasons you might want to avoid this popular RVing camping style. 

No Hookups or Amenities

As stated above, boondocking is dry camping or camping without hookups. While some boondocking campsites will have a water spigot to use or a dumpster onsite, don’t count on it.

The majority of boondocking sites have absolutely nothing. No electricity, no water, no trash disposal, no dump station. 

For many RVers, this is a no-go! Camping long-term without electricity is only fun if you have other ways of creating it. 

Remote, Hard To Access Campsites

Many boondocking campsites are located out in the middle of nowhere. Boondocking sites are usually on public or national forest land. 

In order to access these sites, you’ll have to travel down unmaintained national forest roads. National forest roads in the US can be very hard for RVers to travel. Some roads are so terrible that they require 4×4 vehicles. And, some roads have a washboard the entire way, making for a very stressful and slow drive. 

Because of this, you may want to avoid boondocking altogether. For many, like us, this is also a great reason to try boondocking. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the boonies are for you or not!

You Need a Solar Setup

Since you have no electricity hookups when boondocking, you need an additional power source. 

The best power source for off-grid camping is a solar setup, and solar setups can be very costly. Putting together a solar system can also be very confusing! 

While generators can provide temporary power to run your appliances or recharge your house batteries, they are loud and use gasoline. 

Long-term boondocking just isn’t feasible without a good solar setup. 

Sometimes You’re Totally Alone

Being totally alone is the reason many boondockers choose this style of camping. But, if you feel safer with other people around, you should probably avoid boondocking. 

Due to the remote nature of many boondocking campsites, you may not see another human soul for miles and miles. If that freaks you out, stick to the campgrounds!

Stay Limits

All public lands have stay limits. Stay limits are usually 14 days, but they can be shorter depending on the managing authority. 

Stay limits are put in place to prevent visitors from setting up permanent encampments in the area and to prevent further damaging of the natural resources. Rangers frequently patrol popular boondocking areas to enforce these stay limits. 

If you want to visit somewhere for more than 2 weeks at a time, you may have better luck finding a campground. 

Boondocking Isn’t For Everyone

From lack of amenities to total isolation, boondocking definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 

But, if being off-grid and away from people in some of the most remote wilderness in the US sounds like heaven to you, you’re in luck. 

We’ve published a lot of articles about our favorite boondocking spots in the USA. However, in the spirit of this article, here are the 5 worst boondocking experiences we’ve had.

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 who 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:

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  1. Dan says:

    One thing that I have been wondering about is where you dump your grey and black tanks if you boondock. Are there dumping stations in different locations and if so how do you find them? We want to bring our RV to our son’s place in Georgia in December and set up like if you were boondocking, but don’t know what we will do when we leave.

  2. Jimbo says:

    If your black and grey water are in a portable container, use any toilet. Otherwise, look up RV dump sites in the Internet. Some RV parks will allow dumping for a fee.

  3. Crystal Cortez says:

    If you are staying at a house you can dumb your gray and black water directly into the houses main sewer connect system all homes have them, plumbers frequently access them.

  4. Crystal Cortez says:

    These are literally all of the reasons why we bought an RV. Stay in a hotel if you want amenities.

  5. Tim Woody says:

    There are many places to dump. In some states rest areas have dumps. Also many travel plazas such as flying j, pilot and others have a dump station with although there is usually a charge. Some campgrounds, both commercial and public will also let you dump for a fee. There are also some camping world stores that have dump facilities.

  6. Dan says:

    Great information – very useful. We will not be able to get our RV close enough to my son’s house to connect there. We will be putting in on the lower part of his property near the barn. So – alternative – eternal places such as offered here are excellent suggestions. I appreciate so much the responses.

  7. Robert Woods says:

    Most of your thoughts are correct. We are full timers and because of covid we boondocks about 160 days this year. It is a different way of thinking and planning. There are resources. For every thing. Number one is. Google. Google will find everything you need. Just ask it. Also. The smaller your unit the easier it is. Our unit was nice but our new one is more challenging. We seen the Russos in Yellowstone a while back their unit is great and they do really well. I’m not a blogger but if you cross my path I will share my experiences.

  8. Robert Riegler says:

    Right On Kyle! Best news I’ve seen in months! Less Boondockers the better. These last few months have been crazy finding brand new RV’s with folks who are clueless to the realities of off grid liv’in wayyyy off payment in places they have zero business going to. Life has realities far from YouTube living. We long for Winter and “the thinning of the herd”.

  9. James sawdey says:

    Go to Quartzsite Arizona they are Boondocking there thousands of people do it every year

  10. Mary Butt says:

    In northern Michigan there are atv/snowmobile trails from the east coast to the west coast that run through a lot of state land. We are allowed to camp there as dry camping. And there is a lot of “communities” scattered along the trails. We would take our trailer and 5th wheel out for a couple of weeks, go home to dump, refill water, shower (so much better than the river bath) and a cleaning more through than while camping. There were ATVs off all types and frequently horses. (Had to remind people about atv – horse manners). But it was fun. A river for rafting, trailers for daredevil atv, nightly bonfires.

  11. Cardo Fourtyseven says:

    This is not boondocking! Boondocking is a night stay at a business as you travel a long distance. Examples—-Walmart parking lot, Cabelas parking lot, Cracker Barrel parking lot.

  12. Joseph Boone says:

    Love your articles. I just bought a 4×4 ambo camper- totally self sufficient. Can’t wait for retirement to start enjoying it!

  13. Rob Burns says:

    Generators use gas? Really. Did you also know that RVs and trucks that pull trailers get to the place to put gas in their generator by using gas? Dolt

  14. Don says:

    I’ll take boondocking over staying in a campground any day. I can’t stand generators and being squeezed in, loud music and tvs, etc. I have zero problem with any of those 5 reasons. I’ll boondock in caravans with people I know or by myself. I can stay in Ltva’s for 7 months for $180. The other 5 months I go boondock in places I’ve never been and moochdock in friends driveways.

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  21. Bonnie L says:

    We stayed in campgrounds where we only had electric or water and electric. To me that’s partial boondocking. Our furnace in our fifth wheel, in AK still worked when the electric went out, we were really surprised.
    We stayed in an area with no amenities and we had bottles of water, but also slept in our truck because it was already 11 pm. To me boondocking is really hard unless you have a good solar source, strong batteries, and water, water, water.

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  25. Bill Jones says:

    we boondocked last weekend for the first time I learned that the dealership forgot to tell me that the receptacles did not work or microwave I new the air conditioner wouldn’t work so took a fan no way to run it. The lights and frig worked so long of the short had to leave and borrow a generator lesson learned

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, looking forward to seeing your informative logs.

  27. Josh says:

    We are members of GoodSam so we can dump on Camping World grounds for free. There’s only two of us and we try to use public restrooms as often as possible. We have two 7 gallons jugs to complement our 43gals tank, and I have an Ecoflow Delta Pro that can power us at night quietly for three to four days if AC is not used at night. I have two portable 400w solar panels that will charge it in 4 to 5hrs. Our fridge is dual power and we can run 14days on our on board propane tank. And the main reason to boondock is: wife is Chinese and very frugal.