My father and I almost always boondock in our trailer since that’s our favorite way to camp, and I have collected some tips on how to find the best spots that you will never forget.
How do you find a great boondocking RV camp spot? Like this:
- Google maps is your friend
- Shade is great, but sunshine is good too
- Get away from people
- Don’t be afraid to off road a bit
- You can always move
- Make it unforgettable
Boondocking is so awesome, and you want to get the most out of every moment. Here is how you can find the most unforgettable boondock of your life:
Tip #1: Google Maps is Your Friend
I love my father, and I have always relied on his absolute skill on Google Earth. My Dad is an avid hunter, and he uses Google Earth to find great camping spots for our trailer as well as new places to hunt.
You can download layers that allow you to know what places are private land or BLM land, and therefore you can know where you can and cannot park your RV for a couple of days.
Take the time to really hash out Plan A, B, and C. The more spots you can add to the list, the better chance that one of them will be awesome.
A great way to find a spot on google earth is to look for trailers in that area. If you see a trailer there on the map, chances are they are there for a reason.
There might be the perfect little camping area already set up in the woods for roasting weenies over the fire, or some other amenity that you have yet to discover.
You can do a lot more on google maps than people realize. You can even plan hikes, save pictures on the map exactly where you took them, and mark important places that you want to check out. Save these spots on your GPS and go find them. Thank me later.
My dad always said that using google earth felt like he was cheating because of how easy it makes your life as a camper/hunter.
It may take a minute to figure out but once you do it is your best friend.
Tip #2. Shade is Great, but Sunshine is Good too
Depending on the time of year and local climate, this is a really important tip.
Sometimes you park your RV in the shade thinking to avoid the sun, which is a great plan. The shade is great if you want to prevent yourself from getting baked during the day.
Plus, trees are awesome to use as a windbreak. There is nothing worse then howling wind at night keeping you up.
I will say however that sometimes having the sun shining on your RV isn’t always a bad thing. I personally like the sun heating up the RV in the morning, otherwise, it can be really hard to get up. The sun is a great alarm clock
What makes a trip unforgettable is what you do while you are out there, and if you are sleeping through the morning, you are missing out on all of that awesome camping breakfast food.
Coming from a really heavy sleeper that always sleeps in later than everybody else on camping trips, you will miss it more than you realize.
There is nothing wrong with having the sun on your RV, but there is also nothing wrong with being in the shade. It is a personal preference, but sometimes people don’t realize that both have a few subtle drawbacks.
If napping is a major concern for parking in the sun, then I really suggest you get a hammock that you can put up in the shade of some trees so that you can grab a nap really easy.
Tip #3. Activity-Centered
This is a really obvious one, but I would like to point out that it is what you make it.
Some kids really do well in the forest, and that is all they need to want to go out there and play. The idea of romping around the woods is adventure enough to pull them away from their smartphones and tablets for a few seconds. Some kids need a little more coaxing.
I always loved the camping spots that were in close relation to something I wanted to do. Whether that be a great hunting spot, fishing hole, or just big sand dunes, I like different activities.
My favorite spot to camp is definitely the Great Sand Dunes National Park for just that reason. There is a river that flows at the base of the sand dunes, as well as plenty of the dunes themselves to explore and play frisbee on.
My Dad always wanted to save money, so we never actually paid for the designated camping spots there and instead just boondocked.
Boondocking is not as comfortable as a spot with full hookups and Cable TV, but hey, is that really the purpose of an RV?
You probably have this thing so that you can see the world, not spend all day staring at the walls of your really expensive box on wheels.
Find a place that the entire family can agree is awesome, and pick a spot there.
Tip #4. Get Away from P
You might be a social butterfly and have a very strong desire to meet new people, but I sure don’t. There is something about big campgrounds that I loath, and I am not sure what it is.
Maybe it is the wandering drunks or the noise of barking dogs, but I will always prefer to be a little closer to nature and a little further from people.
In my opinion, boondocking’s biggest advantage is that you can go find a really secluded spot in the woods where nobody will bother you and make it your home for a few days.
There is nothing better than waking up to birds chirping and a gentle breeze in the morning, not the chattering of people in a hurry to be somewhere.
Find a spot that gives you lots of elbow room to do whatever you want. Of course, you should be responsible for your safety but I mean find a place where you can live a little.
A place that doesn’t have quiet hours or leash requirements. Find a place where you can bond with nature for a bit.
When you are off the beaten path, it is really up to you to keep that area clean. Nobody is going to know it was you if you trash the place.
Embrace the old Boy Scouts of America motto and “Leave No Trace”. If you are out there experiencing what nature has to offer, then make sure to clean up after yourself.
If not for others then for you. You will not want to come back if there is broken glass bottles and other trash laying around everywhere. Be kind and treat these boondocking spots like your home or better preferably.
Tip #5. Don’t be Afraid to Off-Road a Bit
If you bought the right RV, you should be able to pull of a little off roading.
What I mean by this isn’t just pulling off the road a little ways, I mean driving through an empty field and parking wherever the heck you want. This is why RV’s are awesome. Go off the beaten path a little.
Of course, you should know your limits and don’t take your 40 foot RV into a mud-filled 4×4 path, but I bet your rig can handle more than you expect.
All of the best Boon-dock spots are not going to be right off the road. You might need to spend some time in google maps checking out terrain that your RV can handle and then decide where to park.
Take it really slow, and have a spotter if you are nervous. A person outside the RV walking in front of you can spot things in the grass that the driver cannot. Watch out for holes, rocks, or other debris that could damage your beautiful piece of work that is your RV, trailer, or towing vehicle.
Trust me, it is worth it.
Tip #6. You Can Always Move
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you made a mistake.
You really can’t know how great a spot is going to be until you actually stay a night there. Don’t beat yourself up if the first place you chose is completely uninhabitable for one reason or another.
There is no way that you could know everything wrong or right about an RV camping spot. Don’t feel bad about moving your whole family on day two if the spot isn’t right.
The beauty of boondocking in an RV is that you can move fairly easy unless you have a lot of stuff that you set up like mosquito tents or whatever.
I have always been a fan of keeping camp really mobile so that you don’t have to worry all that much about moving like this.
I want moving camp to be as easy as turning a key and pushing down on the gas, but since that is feasible for all the amenities that modern campers want I can settle for the classic RV or trailer experience.
In any case, don’t be afraid to try new places because you can always move.
The goal here is to test as many spots as possible to see what fits your family best. Once you find that family favorite, you can come back as much as you like as long as you keep it secret.
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen people make is to tell other people about their favorite spots to go on specific weekends like labor day weekend or fourth of July weekend. Those spots fill quickly!
There is one specific spot up at Lake Guernsey in Wyoming that is never available to my family anymore because we shared it with too many people. Every time we go camping there, it is taken by people we know. Be careful who you trust is all I’m saying.
Tip #7. Make it U
This tip may seem silly to put right after I rant about moving around so whimsically, but I still mean it wholeheartedly. Camping spots are what you make of them. They are only special if you make them special.
I know some kids that have the same camping experience when they go somewhere new then they would have had camping in their driveway. Not because they don’t go outside, but because the experience of sleeping in an RV is so cool that it doesn’t matter.
You can really make any spot special if you try hard enough. You won’t ever be afraid to try somewhere new if you don’t need to be somewhere special to have fun.
RV’s are so versatile that you can basically park anywhere. You don’t absolutely have to park in the woods or even camp at all. You can park in a Walmart parking lot if it’s close enough to something your family is interested in.
Don’t be afraid to camp where you shouldn’t. There are endless possibilities with an RV, and you should try as many as you can.
It Probably Will be Unforgettable A
Honestly, no matter where you go in your RV with the people you love is going to be unforgettable. You don’t really need to stress too much.
The campouts that are the most unforgettable are always the ones that had the most things go wrong, yet you make the best of it.
I remember one year I went to Lake Powell, and everything went wrong. We got lost, hailed on in July, had a boat break down, and people got injured. I will never forget that trip because it was so dang funny how much went wrong.
Don’t let the worries of making things perfect to take away how awesome camping in an RV is. If you find yourself spending hours trying to find a spot, just forget about it and go somewhere.
Find the nearest BLM land and just park. Make it unforgettable buy just going often. Go as many weekends as possible to new places and one of them will stick I promise. Just figure out what fits your family best.
How long can you boondock? With access to a stream or another water source, people can stay for somewhere around a week depending on the size of the black water tank in your RV and the amount of food that is brought along.
Is boondocking legal? Some cities do not allow it within city limits, but national forests and Bureau of land management land allow or even encourage boondocking. There is no cost associated with most places where you can legally boondock.