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Boondocking is considered the ultimate camping adventure by many RVers. It’s camping “off the grid” on public land, without any amenities, hookups, or dump stations. Some people call it “drydocking” or “independent camping.” Either way, it’s just you, your RV, and the wide-open splendor of nature. If you boondock in a parking lot, make sure it is just for one night at a time.)

Boondocking is unique from camping at a campground, and it comes with its rules of etiquette. If you take your RV boondocking, make sure you know the code of behavior hand. Here, are the most important rules of etiquette to follow when you’re camping on public land.


(1) Use Existing Roads & Camping Spots


If it’s your first time boondocking in your RV, you might be tempted to set up camp at the first spot with a gorgeous view. Your RV has an impact on the environment, and it’s important to drive only on roads and camp at designated camping spots. Not only is this good manners, it’s policy at most wildlife, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and national forest offices. Some places rigorously enforce it, and offenders are asked to leave.

Most camping spots are pretty obvious. You should see a fire ring at a cleared area, and the ground will be firm enough to park on.

Be aware of additional camping rules, which may designate how far you must be from other campers and roads.


(2) Leave No Trace


This should go for all campers, whether you’re boondocking or at a campground. Leave your campsite clean when you pack up and move on. Boondocking is to enjoy nature at its finest. The campers who don’t pick up after themselves slowly destroy that experience for others.

Remember dumping black water when you’re dry docking is an absolute NO NO. There are no dumping stations and dumping black water tank on the ground at a site introduces harmful biohazards into the environment. Some areas will allow you to dump gray water, butcheck with the agency first and be sure to follow their restrictions.


(3) Pay Attention To Stay Limits


Most public lands have stay limits—usually two weeks. Once your time is up you need to move on to another location at least 25 miles away. Not everyone follows this policy,  when campers fudge on the rules, the authorities become more restrictive. Rangers can get aggressive on this issue, and some public lands will eliminate camping spots altogether.


(4) Don’t Crowd Your Neighbor


The reason most RVers choose to boondock is to get away from civilization. They want to stretch out and enjoy the land. Be sure to honor that when you’re pulling in.

How close is too close? That will depend on how much space is available. Provide as much room as you can. Sometimes, you just won’t have much space between RVs. If that’s the case, then:, you can’t do anything about it. Whenever you can provide the space, do so.


(5) Watch Your Pets and Noise


Boondockers like their space, but they’re serious about having peace and quiet. Make sure you’re careful not to intrude in these ways:

Noise. Try not to use your generator during times when it will disturb others. Be considerate during quiet hours. Be aware of how sound carries in your area—especially along lakes and on desert land.

Pets. Keep your dogs on a leash or in a Kennel and be sure they don’t bark at all hours of the day and night. Clean up after your pet.

Lights. Turn off your porch light and other outdoor lights when you aren’t using them. Boondocking allows for an opportunity to enjoy the night sky without light pollution. There are many RVers that choose to camp on public lands for that reason.

Blacktop Boondocking

Many WalMart stores allow blacktop boondocking, but not all do. The Walmart Overnight Parking Locator mobile “app”, so you can find the closest blacktop boondocking location.

Blacktop boondocking has rules of etiquette you should follow. Road trip America recommends these guidelines:

  1. Get permission from the store manager.
  2. Only stay only one night. It’s not a campground.
  3. Purchase dinner, fuel, or other items you need. By doing this you make it easier for the store to continue allowing overnight camping.
  4. Park away from other vehicles, along the sides of the parking lot.
  5. Don’t get chairs and barbeque out, and don’t put out your awning. Avoid using your slideouts if possible.


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