by Nadyne Huber
Originally posted on 2/6/21
Boondocking for us means spending the night with no hookups. We have boondocked in the mountains and in the desert on public lands. We've also boondocked in Walmart parking lots (aka: Wal-docking) or Cracker Barrel parking lots (aka: Cracker-docking). It's important to call ahead and confirm you can stay overnight in these parking lots prior to arriving. Most truck stops, casinos, Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops also allow overnight stays but they can be very noisy. It's important to know that putting out all your slides, your awning, patio chairs or a grill while in a vendor parking lot is poor guest behavior.
We've used our Boondockers Welcome membership to find a location to boondock for 1-5 nights. Boondockers Welcome is a membership you utilize to find host locations, most often in someone's driveway or yard, online. Many times these hosts have water and/or electricity available, for an additional charge. We always leave a small gift with our host to thank them for their hospitality. We've enjoyed all our stays with Boondockers Welcome hosts.
There's another service called Harvest Hosts. This membership service allows boondocking at wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and more around North America. These stays are always unique and fun for the campers. It's always good form to purchase something at the host location while you are there. This is easy since these locations have so much to offer.
There are many great phone apps for finding other boondocking areas such as on BLM land, on COE land and in dispersed camping areas. BLM land is "Bureau of Land Management" and is primarily in the western US. COE land is "Corp of Engineers" property. Either of these usually have a small use fee and can have time limits.
We've also found some city and county parks in the US that offer free overnight stays, many for 1-3 nights, and some offer water and power!
Our favorite is "mooch-docking". This is when we park at a friend's or family member's home. The bonus is getting a quality visit with them while staying in our own home!
I use apps on my phone to locate overnight boondocking places when we're traveling. My personal favorite is Overnight RV Parking. This has an annual fee but it's well worth it. A few others that we use are RV Parky, Overnight Parking Finder and Campendium.
We carry 52 gallons of fresh water on the road and can boondock without additional water for up to 4 days. At that point we need to replenish our on-board water supply. We can each have 1 'navy' shower in that 4 day period and would need to dump the gray tank after the showers. We can go 8 days before we have to dump our black tank. It's important to know how big your tanks are, when you must dump them before they're full and how long before you must replenish. I have an app on my phone called RV Dumpsites for those times we need to dump while boondocking. Many rest stops in the US have a dumpsite available as well. I use a phone app called iExit which lets me view all the rest stops and what services are available in upcoming exits.
As for power while boondocking, we have lithium batteries and a gas powered, 4000 watt inverter generator. This means we can have power when we boondock for just about anything, including air conditioning. Most small generators are not real noisy these days and almost wherever you boondock they are probably allowed. It's important to check with the location or host to ensure a generator is ok to use while there. Note that big rig trucks often run their generators overnight -- they are quite loud and put out significant fumes, so you may want to ensure you aren't located too close to one.