Monday, July 8, 2013

Boondocking Paradise

Being outfitted to camp without hook-ups for long periods of time makes us work hard at finding spots to camp for free. We spent most of the last year in Michigan, Canada, and the northeast and southeast parts of the country. It was really hard finding good places to camp on public lands. We managed to find good spots in some national forests (Hiawatha, Oconee, Ocala) and even on some private property (Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Inn at Little Washington), but for the most part we were stuck at campgrounds. While campgrounds sound like fun to a lot of people, they really aren't that great to us. There's usually too much noise, too many campfires, too many barking dogs, too many people, and too many dollars paid for few to no facilities.

Now that we're finally back in the west, we can't believe how easy it is to find great places to camp. Where we used to search for days to find one decent spot we now routinely find multiple spots within a few hours. It's like life is one big Easter egg hunt now. We haven't hooked up to an electric outlet in six weeks and may not for the rest of the summer. Finding free places to dump our tanks and fill our water tanks is also easy.

Even this roadside picnic area in Texas gave us great views and a quiet evening before moving on the next day. Even if staying over one night isn't really boondocking, you can't even find places like this on the east coast where you can spend a pleasant night.

In Nevada, basically the entire state is a boondocking opportunity. While we were in Great Basin National Park, we found free sites all over the place in BLM, National Forest and even in the National Park property.

This spot next to a stream and a grove of silver aspens worked well for us for two and a half weeks.

There was more hiking for us and the dogs than we could cover in a year. We went hiking on one of the most popular trails in the park on Saturday over Memorial Day Weekend and didn't see another person.

We also had a nice dinner view in the backyard.

One of the many sites we found for boondocking near Great Basin in Nevada had some abandoned pavement in the middle of a BLM sagebrush desert at the foot of the mountains. This spot would handle just about any size rig or a group.

In Oregon we stayed mostly in the southeastern part of the state. There were ample boondocking spots all around Crater Lake and Klamath Falls. We'll definitely be back to finish some hiking we didn't get to at Crater Lake.

One place we lingered for a while was a nice little spot right next to the Williamson River.

Idaho offers so many places to stop for a night or multiple days that I'm not sure why anyone would use a campground here unless they absolutely had to. Here are a few examples.

Although part of the reason to boondock is to find those out of the way places where you're all alone (especially at night), we're finding spots where we could easily camp with other people. We'll eventually be looking for kindred spirits people who like to camp off-grid, do some fishing, go on day hikes, grill local products for dinner and sit around a campfire at night.


  1. John, if you guys get down towards CO stop in and visit!!

    1. CO is definitely on the agenda for next summer. We just missed you guys at Camp New Horizons in April. Hope you're enjoying a fire-free CO summer!

  2. John and Susan, I finally looked through your entire blog and caught up with your posted adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and really admire the way you two roll. We are definitely learning from the information you share on your blog. Gari and I have learned very much in the first three months in our coach. We are looking forward to pulling out in January and heading immediately south then west. We share your sentiments on campgrounds and are fortunate enough to be on private property while we complete our tour on Virginia's eastern shore. We are anxious to develop our off grid living skills!
    Steve C.

    1. I expect you'll want to get south ASAP in January. If you decide to check out the Ocala National Forest in FL we know some good spots there. Let us know when you make it out west next year. Have fun!

  3. Late to the game here, but I wonder what time of year you hit crater lake. It opens in June but we plan to be passing by in April. We're the boo docking locations close to the lake? We're they part of the campground?

  4. We were more interested in fishing, so we were boondocked on the Williams River. We drove up to Crater Lake for a day trip (about 30 minutes away). In a warm year like this year, you should be OK up at Crater Lake in late April, but there will probably still be some snow up there causing certain parts to still be closed.