Boondocking Defined as related to Camping

There are some great descriptions on the internet of Boondocking that include things like the origin of the term and the various meanings of it.  This post won’t go that deep, it will only explore the meaning for us campers.

Boondocking is considered by most RVers to be free camping.  This doesn’t really seem to nail it down for me.   You can actually camp in developed camping areas for free if you time it right.  Many campgrounds allow camping in the “off season” and don’t provide electrical or water hookups when you camp for free in those locations, but I wouldn’t call it boondocking.  You could also spend a night in a Walmart parking lot for free and I would certainly not call that boondocking.

There’s another term used to describe camping without connections,   “dry camping”.  I’ve camped in some really nice campgrounds that charge for their sites but have no electrical or water hookups, and sometimes don’t even have water available in the campground.  Those aren’t boondocking either. The picture below is from Devil’s Canyon Campground in Utah.  Campsites are $10 and with the Golden Age Pass we paid $5 a night to camp there.  They had excellent secluded camp sites with concrete pads, stone fire pits, stands for your portable stoves and nice picnic tables. No electricity or water at campsites.  Water was available to refill tanks.


I suppose the best example of what I would call boondocking is the undeveloped areas such as those provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These areas are considered public lands and as a US citizen, I’m an owner. Most of these areas  are concentrated in the western US and allow campers anywhere absent a posting otherwise. No hookups, no pads, no fire pits, and no roads in many cases.  With my fifth wheel parked in one of these locations, that, my friends is what I call boondocking.

Here are some posts from other sites with more info on Boondocking.

Author: Dan Thomure

Retired Technical worker in the Financial Services Industry.

2 thoughts on “Boondocking Defined as related to Camping”

  1. We just got done what I call boondocking on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma owned by a childhood friend of mine–no water, sewer, or electrical hookups, totally self-sufficient and self-contained for the week we stayed. I pretty much agree with your view of the term. We made up our own for a Wal-Mart overnight stay called “sleep-docking.” Either way, I love the fact that we can sustain ourselves for short periods of time wherever we may park. Nice post. Safe travels. Dawn


    1. I’ve avoided the Walmart lots so far. I use and app on my ipad called Allstays to find something, anything but Walmart. I don’t mind paying and am lucky enough to be able to afford it so far. Thanks for the nice comment.

      We are planning a trip through Glacier National Park going up to Banff and Lake Louise area. Can’t wait.

      Liked by 1 person

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