One thing to consider when boondocking with your RV is appropriate roads for your particular rig; a 4×4 truck camper, or a 4×4 truck towing a micro-lite trailer can go deeper off the beaten path than a Class A, B or C motorhome. Keep boondocking safety on the top of your list.
It is highly recommended, to check out any boondocking area by car, before you take a motorhome in. This is especially true in mountainous or wooded areas. You must make sure your rig can make it in and out safely.
I would recommend staying at an RV park, and exploring the surrounding areas for good boondocking spots, before you drive down an unfamiliar dirt road. What would be cheaper? A few days at an RV park, or having your damaged rig towed out of the backwoods?
One way to start looking, get out an old fashioned paper map, and look for any National Forests, or lakes; if you find some potential locations, get in your car, and check it out in person.
Below is a list of useful websites for finding free boondocking spots:
- You can visit the Bureau of Land Management website, although most of the land available for camping is west of the Rockies: http://blm.gov
- The U.S. Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us
- Also http://freecampsites.net
- and http://campendium.com
- Army Corp of Engineer lakes: http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm
Don Wright’s Free Campgrounds is a great paperback to keep on board.
You will want to do some deeper research on any potential boondocking areas you find on the above websites; not everything you see on the internet is true! I have been to many a freecampsites.net location, only to find it was barely suitable for a Jeep and a tent! If you can’t go to the locations in person, just research each location with Google or Bing. Also look on You Tube to see if anyone has shot a video of that place. Google Earth can also be an invaluable tool, to help you not only find great free camping locations, but more importantly, to avoid getting stuck.
One valuable tool for boondocking is a GPS unit; in remote areas, a smartphone with navigation apps may not work. Take your GPS with you when scouting out boondocking locations, and take notes of the GPS coordinates. I mark mine down on a post it notes, and stick them onto my Rand McNally Road Atlas, and also, write them down in a notebook.
Another thing to consider while boondocking is the ability to keep in touch; test your potential camping locations for cell service. Campendium.com often has user reports regarding cell service. You can also look at online cell tower maps to find the locations of your carrier’s towers. You can find cell tower maps on CellReception.com. Keep in mind, areas with a lot of rocky cliffs and valleys will have reduced cell reception, and the closer you are to a tower, the better the reception. You can also improve your cell reception in remote areas with a cell booster with an external antenna. It’s a good idea to mark the towers you find on a map.
If you’re traveling, and especially, if you like to go off-grid in your RV, you often won’t have cellphone service, or an internet connection. That is a simple fact. In order to optimize your chances of getting cell service while on the road, and while off-grid, most fulltime RVers go with Verizon or AT&T, because they have the widest coverage, as well as the strongest signals. Check your area coverage maps for all the cell providers in your area, but if you plan on traveling West of the Rockies, or in more remote areas Back East, I’d strongly recommend Verizon or AT&T.