The term boondocking could be classified as a truly RV lingo. Each RV user has a different meaning for the term. For some RV-ers it means free camping site. To some, boondocking translates to an overnight RV parking at Target or at any legitimate truck stop. It could also mean RV camping at a site where there is no RV hookup.
Boondocking is defined as dispersed camping at a remote location. It basically means RV camping in open national parks and public lands that have no amenities for camping more so, RV camping. In a way, boondocking is not for newbie RV-ers.This type of camping is for the more advanced and seasoned camper as “dispersed camping” readily implies camping in remote and undeveloped campsites.
A “boondocker” has a sense of adventure and exploration. He could probably light a campfire by rubbing two sticks together!
Where to Boondock
In the United States, boondocking is generally allowed on federal public lands that are within a 300-feet radius of an established road, except where it is explicitly not allowed. An established road does not necessarily mean asphalt or cemented roadway. It could pertain to a dirt road that is wide enough to accommodate an RV.
The liberty afforded boondockers as to where they can “disperse” camp does not give them the right to cut down trees and shrubs so as to build an access path to the RV campsite. It is alright though to utilize previously used campsites and new RV campsites for that matter as long as accessing the new area will not incur damage or destruction to the foliage around the site.
As a rule, you can boondock at a particular federal public land for 14 straight days. If you need to extend your stay, you would have to move on the 15th day to an area at least 25 miles away from the previous campsite. This rule applies to majority of USFS and BLM administered lands. However, the INYO National Forest of California permits boondockers a 42-day continuous stay at a particular camping ground. There are areas that are restricted for a 3-day stay only while there are areas where you can RV camp for months on ends for minimal fees.
Note though that US National Parks do not permit boondocking or even overnight RV parking. However, most national parks have designated campgrounds for both regular and RV campers. If you are out for boondocking it is best to do some research work on restricted areas for camping.
Consider boondocking opportunities in State Parks and state-owned land. You have to get permits and pay nominal fees for boondocking in state lands. There are also private lands such as ranches and farms where you can boondock for a fee.
The thrill of RV camping boondocking-style is to find unusual areas to RV camp. If you see a spot that you find as a great place to boondock, look for the owner and ask. No harm in asking, right? A note of caution. Try to choose a campsite that is at least 200 feet from a water source.