One of many great things about traveling in this country of ours is that there are so many beautiful national parks and government-run land that offer camping in magnificent, scenic environments. Whether your taste calls for beaches, flatlands, mountains or lakes, there is a camping area that will meet your desires.
RV travel has always been very popular, but in recent years the number of RV enthusiasts has grown exponentially. It just keeps getting more and more appealing to those who appreciate convenient travel in complete comfort. So popular, in fact, that the National Park Service has reported that, for the third year in a row, there were record-breaking numbers of visitors to the parks in 2016, totaling approximately 325 million travelers. The Grand Canyon National Park was host to just under 6 million people, and Yellowstone National Park saw 4.3 million people … all in the first 11 months of 2016! Those numbers are indicative of the rest of the national parks, as well.
While it’s a good thing that more and more people are appreciating the beautiful parks and government-owned land in America, it does equate to more congestion, which could lead to frustration for those who didn’t reserve a spot in the parks’ campgrounds early. This, however, is not a problem for those who are traveling in a Cruise America recreational vehicle. Each of our units is completely self-sustainable, so there is virtually no limit to the number of places you can park your motorhome.
It’s called boondocking; otherwise referred to as “dry,” “wild,” “off-the-cord” or “dispersed” camping, which simply means that you utilize the built-in conveniences in your RV, rather than hooking up to the electrical and water supplies typically provided by established RV parks or designated campgrounds.
Some of the areas that welcome this wild form of camping at no charge, or minimal fees, are managed by:
United States Forest Service (USFS)
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)
Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)
Bureau of Reclamation
Dry camping in these areas is not only legal, but encouraged (as long as you stay in the dispersed camping areas). As a general rule, camping boondock-style is permitted anywhere on federal public lands within a specified distance of any established road, unless otherwise restricted. This means that the list of possibilities is enormous.
Boondockers are encouraged to set up camp in previously used campsites, or areas that will not be damaged by your RV. Remember that the less of a carbon footprint you leave, the more nature can offer to you, and those arriving behind you.
There have been recent updates to the US Forest Service dispersed camping rules, and each forest may have different requirements, so as a safety, check with your specific destination to find out what their guidelines are. The USFS offers complimentary Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) that indicate just where dispersed camping is restricted, and which roads are open for travel. In addition to public lands, there are many private landowners that don’t mind RVers parking on their property; sometimes for a fee, but sometimes it’s free. Nevertheless, you must ALWAYS get permission before making an assumption.
One of the advantages to camping in one of our Cruise America class C motorhomes is that it’s not large and cumbersome, and can navigate most backwoods areas with ease. When you have a large 5th wheel or class A motorhome, boondocking is a little more difficult, but with practice, you can get the hang of it.
There are campground locater websites that are designated to help you find ideal areas to boondock, such as Campendium.com, Boondocking.org, boondockerswelcome.com and TheGoodLuckDuck.com. To find pages and pages of helpful information, just type in the words “boondock camping sites” and you’ll be amazed at the number of helpful resources that pop up.
If you see that some of the parks and campgrounds in our nation are filled up, don’t let that discourage you. Cut the cord and do some boondocking; it’s fun and easy when you’re in an RV, and there is NEVER a lack of space! You may encounter some full RV parks, but don’t ever let that discourage you from setting out on your RV adventure and having fun … possibly MORE fun when you boondock!
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