boondocking - free dry camping - homemade truck camper - awesome sunset
12 Mar / 2013

Learn How To Boondock Off The Grid And Save Big Bucks

So exactly how do you boondock, anyway?

At the end of this article, I'll point you to a number of articles from long-time experienced boondockers, which I've found most helpful. If you have a background in survivalism, living off the grid, and you have a bit of "street smarts," boondocking will be right up your alley. If you're more coming from the perspective of a vacationer looking to save some money, there are plenty of good sites with helpful tips for managing your resources and staying safe.

Boondocking introduces a lot of concerns that we're usually not used to thinking about. Many of them naturally revolve around issues of safety and survival. Besides scaling back on our first-world "conveniences" offered by unlimited electricity and water, we also have new security issues of having our entire lifestyle packaged into a tiny moving room on wheels with frequent chances to be stranded in questionable areas or in the middle of nowhere. An advantage is that as long as we're in it, we can always just drive our little house away. But it's more complicated.

It's very weird to be faced with the issue of "I may not be allowed to park my house here overnight." Trying to "stealth camp" in urban areas always runs the risk that a copper will come knocking on your window at 4am. So a lot of the advice you'll find on the web is about finding good places to get some sleep. Walmart used to be a good standby, but that's less the case now, as some no longer allow it. Casinos are still pretty friendly to RVers staying from 1 to 3 nights, but you should check in advance.

But once you're equipped, the real joy is to get out of town, into some National Forest land, and enjoy being able to just pull over anywhere and sleep under the stars. Under dispersed camping rules, you can typically camp up to 14 days in one place before moving on. Is your RV equipped to spend two weeks completely off the grid?

Some nice sites about Boondocking:

Love Your RV - Boondocking Basics - Public database of GPS coordinates to boondocking locations.

CheapRVLiving - Great articles on the boondocking lifestyle.

Camping and Boondocking on Public Lands - A whole blog dedicated to boondocking.

This Site! - A collection of interesting hacks to help you get off the grid for cheap, especially geared towards dry camping in a vehicle, many of them from the backpacking world. 

UPDATE: Over the past months full-timing in the Southwest USA in my home-built off-grid truck camper, I've personally gotten A TON of great leads on But over time I've noticed that the sites listed tend towards the "standard" sites that anyone can find, if you just go to the local forest ranger's office. What you won't tend to find listed there are THE BEST Free Camping Sites in an area, simply because regulars aren't likely to advertise their favorite boondocking camps for the whole internet!

If you're interested in a list of personal Top Free Campsites in AZ, NM, TX, UT, CA, and NV -- including favorite destinations like the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Sedona -- you'll want to check out this collection of Free Campsite guides from Frugal Shunpikers:

books - free campsites sedona zion grand canyon

As a free bonus for purchasing any of their guides, you'll receive a free copy of their excellent Basic Boondocking Guide that contains 30 pages of really awesome Dry Camping Tips.

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