7 Tips On Boondocking Etiquette -> Rights, Wrongs & Plain Common Sense

My previous post raised a bunch of interesting questions about boondocking etiquette which, even more interestingly, has actually been a post I’ve wanted to write for a while. Either all you blog readers are now psychically mind-bonded to me or it’s just a coincidence, but either way the timing is purrrfect. Now I should start by saying that although many of the public lands do have use-rules, there are really not too many firm & fast laws on the “etiquette” side of boondocking. Most boondockers you talk to just use common sense and good judgement, and that really goes a looong way to making things work for everyone (wouldn’t the modern world be better if we all lived like that?). So, don’t take my blog post as “gospel”, but rather a combination of the rules which do exist plus a good dash of neighborly love & respect for nature. Here ya go….

1/ Use Existing Roads & Camping Spots

Typical boondocking site. You'll see clear-out spaces and fire-rings like this all around.
A very obvious previously-used boondocking site

Probably the #1 rule I can think of regarding boondocking is to use existing roads and existing camping spots. If you ask around at any Wildlife, BLM or National Forest office they will all tell you exactly the same thing. We all want to enjoy the wilds, but ultimately the goal is to have as little impact as possible and the best way to do that is to stay on designated roads and park in an area that’s clearly been used before. Personally I consider it a total no-no to drive into pristine country and smash around vegetation to “create” a spot to camp. Some places (e.g. Quartzsite) are so barren/rocky and have so many previously-used spots you can camp just about anywhere, but other areas are fragile & less-used. In those areas you really risk permanently damaging the very nature you’ve come to see.

Previously-used spots are pretty obvious and will typically have a cleared-out area and often a fire-ring or other such structure to identify them. Park in the cleared-out area, use the existing fire-ring** & of course make sure the ground is firm enough to carry your weight (ideally before you drive in there).

Always use existing roads
Always use existing roads

Some public lands will also have additional rules, typically listed as “dispersed camping” rules. For example many Forest Service areas have specific rules on how far away you can camp from developed roads (from one vehicle length up to 300 feet, depending on the forest) and even which roads you can use (identified by MVUM = Motor Vehicle Use Maps). Also most areas require that you maintain a certain distance (typically at least 100 feet) from water sources. Every National Forest & Wildlife Area is a little different, so it’s always good practice to check with the local public lands office to get these details before you go. If you want the natural beauty you see now to be there for yourself & others in the future, respect the land you’re camping on!

**Campfires are also regulated by the local public land authority. Most boondocking spots allow campfires (some require a permit), but some do not & when fire risk is high almost all public land will shut them down completely. It’s easy enough to call and check before you go.

2/ Pack It In, Pack It Out

RVing on public lands is really not much different from backpacking. We’re transient visitors so whatever you bring in to your site, you should bring back out again. Dumping black tanks & leaving trash at your site is an absolute no-no. It’s easy enough to use trash bags for stuff, and typically it’s time to move on when the tanks are full anyway. I usually like to leave our campsites looking as good (if not better) than when we find them. I’ll always pick-up any trash we find & even carry a little rake to smooth the area out if we rough up too much dirt. If you practice a policy of “leave no trace” you’ll encourage others to do the same and keep the area pristine for everyone who comes after you.

3/ Pay Attention To Stay Limits

Most public land has a 14-day stay limit
Most public land has a 14-day stay limit

Most of the public lands around the US have stay limits, typically 14-days within any 28-day period and that’s usually the length of stay we plan when we’re travelling around. Once the 14-days are up, most of the public lands require you to move at least 25 miles away. There are some areas that are more restrictive and there are notable exceptions on the longer-term too. For example the BLM-managed LTVA (Long Term Visitor Areas) legally allow boondockers to stay for 6 months for a fee ($180 for the winter fee in CA/AZ covers 7 BLM areas, $300 for the summer fee in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains covers 4 BLM campgrounds). These areas also offer some basic support such as dump & trash. Also certain “well-known” boondocking spots such as The Slabs and our previous spot in Borrego are actually on uncontrolled land and have no particular stay limit. The rest however, almost always have stay limits.

You’ll meet folks who will “push the limits” and wait for a ranger to come by and tell them to leave and honestly, many places no-one will ever bother you. But over the long term I (personally) feel this leads to negative effects. For example in the past few years the Prescott & Coconino National Forests (around Flagstaff, AZ) have severely limited the areas you can camp & implemented pretty strict rules in large part because people were “squatting” the forests for long periods. This has led to some semi-aggressive ranger encounters, plus many of the camping spots which used to be available to boondockers in those forests are now totally gone. I can’t tell you what to do, but I think staying as much as possible within the stay limits helps keep these resources open and available for everyone.

4/ Keep A Respectful Distance From Your Neighbor

Now this is really not an official rule anywhere, but it’s considered good basic boondocking etiquette to park a respectful distance from your neighbor. What does “respectful” mean??! Well, it really depends on how much space there is, how many rigs are out there etc. In the wide open desert a few hundred feet of separation is not at all unusual. If you’re camping at Quartzsite during the big RV show amongst thousands of RV’s that may drop to only 20 (Quartzsite BLM actually has a 15-foot minimum rule). In a dense forest it may just mean choosing the next open site. No matter what, most boondockers will try to put as much space as they can between them and the next guy and that’s just good neighborly manners. The biggest no-no you can do is part right next to another boondocker (unless invited to do so) especially if there is space to be elsewhere. Most folks are out here to get away, so give them the space to do so.

Very nicely spaced RVs, all respectfully distanced from each other
Very nicely spaced RVs, all respectfully distanced from each other

5/ Be Neighborly About Pets & Noise

It may sound great to you, but it might ruin it for everyone else...
It may sound great to you, but it might ruin it for everyone else…

We’re getting into more “common sense” stuff here, but I always like to be neighborly about my pets & the noise we make. The vast majority of boondockers keep their pets off-leash and many public lands are even OK with this (e.g. certain areas only require “voice control”). Whether or not it’s strictly legal this is just what you’ll find when you go out camping in the wilds. I honestly don’t have much of a problem with this unless your pet is aggressive and/or not able to be controlled. That’s where I think common sense takes over & you just gotta keep them contained. I loooove dogs & meeting other pet-owners, but Polly gets frightened when packs of dogs run barking & uncontrolled towards her and the last thing I want is another dog attacking me on my peaceful walk around camp. Dog training is easy, and if not, a small portable fence or leash is even easier.

Also most dispersed camping spots have absolutely no rules on generator noise or music. If you’re on your own out there I say go for it and boogie out at top volume to ABBA all day long if you feel like it, but if you’re camping around others I think it makes sense to try and be respectful. Before we had our solar we would always limit generator noise to mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and we’ve never been the types to blast music outside. You’ll find folks who do it of course, but I think it’s nicer to be respectful so we can all enjoy the nature we came out here to see.

6/ Be Sociable, Be Private…

Campfire night!
A bunch of social boondockers at a campfire

Most boondockers are a pretty social bunch who enjoy their privacy. Got that? Yeah, it sounds like a total contradiction, but it actually describes alot of the folks you’ll meet out here. We’ve always made a ton of friends out boondocking. It’s not at all unusual to pass by a rig in the wilds and be invited for a chat, for example. But lots of these folks also like their privacy too. Plus you’ll find particular boondockers who really just want to be left alone.

Goodness gracious, how do you walk such a tightrope?

Well, common sense prevails yet again. If your neighbor waves & talks to you on your walk & invites you over for happy hour and campfire then he’s the social type. If your neighbor ignores you then he’s probably the loner type. Within a few days in a boondocking area you’ll know who’s who….really you will. I’m a pretty social gal so I’ll usually get to know almost everyone in our area, but I’m always aware of their preferences. We generally don’t “drop in” on folks unless we know they’re the types who like drop ins, and even then we’ll only usually do it if we see them hanging outside.

7/ Share The Land

Using caution tape to block off your site is not really appropriate. Photo Credit: Aluminarium
Using caution tape to block off your site is not really appropriate. Photo Credit: Aluminarium

Public land is there for all of us to share. It’s yours, but it’s not yours yours if you get what I mean. If you’re a regular boondocker the spot you had last year might not be available this year, or you might get a neighbor who parks a little closer than you’d like. Unless you’ve paid for the deed and own the property there’s really not much you can legally do about it. So, you either talk to your neighbor, pull up stakes & move or deal with it. The very nature of public land means that anyone can go there whether you like it or not. I’ve seen boondockers get “possessive” over a piece of land and even go so far as to put up barriers & “no trespassing” signs. I personally think that’s taking things too far. If someone is bothering me (e.g. with noise) I’ll go talk to them about it, but ultimately we’ve got the wheels to move if it doesn’t work out.

That’s about it folks. Apart from the stay limits & specific public land rules, most of this stuff is just plain common sense. Be respectful, share the space, leave it pristine for others to enjoy and we can all be happy boondockers for many, many years to come….:) Anything I missed?

Good Links From Other Bloggers:

Click HERE To Shop Amazon.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the product links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. That said, I only ever recommend products or services I personally use and love! Wheelingit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. says

    A huge THANKS. Nina, as more and more “boomers” take up this lifestyle and boondocking becomes more popular “etiquette” as you have described it will become all them more critical. It only takes a few abuses to cause the loss of use you describe.

    • libertatemamo says

      Totally agree Rick. It’s always the few who potentially ruin it for the many. If we can all be respectful of the land and each other, these valuable (& free!) resources will stay open and available to all.

  2. Bill Klein says

    I’m new to RVing and you’ve really got me interested in boondocking. I can see the generator (or solar) keeps you in electricity but what do you do about water supply and emptying the grey & black tanks?

  3. Diane says

    Yay! The email came with pictures this time. Must have fixed the problem. Nice.

    I so enjoy your blog and photos. Finally got my motorhome and am off on my first little trip next week. 4 days at Yucaipa Regional Park, by myself, (very close to home) with hookups and a pull through spot. Nervous to drive the Class A 25ft Georgie Boy Landau – a little beast to you two, but monster bus to newbie me. Excited as well! Boondocking will happen in time…

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m still struggling w/ pics (had to manually implant them in this post) so not sure what to do long-term about that.

      Good luck on your first solo trip to Yucaipa Park!! I’m sure you’ll do great.


    • Luna says

      Happy to read about your maiden voyage (go you!) and thinking good thoughts for you. Sounds like you have set yourself up for success (nearby, hookups, pull-through) but an idea for later: Go to a parking lot and set up cones (or cardboard boxes or something) and practice “rubber docking” (what we call it on boats) to give yourself an easy/harmless way to make mistakes. Or, borrow Nina’s rig and then when you go back to yours it will seem petite 😉 😀

      • Diane says

        Now there’s an idea! Nina can I borrow the beast so my baby doesn’t seem so scary? LOL. Thanks for the parking lot idea. I can risk so e cardboard boxes.

        • libertatemamo says

          Those cardboard boxes are a great idea. I originally learned to drive at Quartzsite (where we are now) in the desert since there really wasn’t anything I could hit out here. Practiced backing up and turning here too, using rocks as reference points!

          “The Beast” is an exclusive gal…I could lend her to you, but she might never forgive me….:)


  4. Mark says

    Nina, great article! I agree with Rick’s comments and starting in July will be one of those “boomers” out looking for places to boondock!

  5. says

    Nice post Nina, I will pass it along. I know it will be very helpful for folks just getting into boondocking. The dog one resonated with me as our little beagle is also frightened by dogs that run at her. Being a beagle she is usually on a leash which makes her fell at a disadvantage. Just the other day a big labradoodle thing charged a hundred years from its rig growling and showing teeth and the owner called it back but it totally ignored him, not an ounce of control. Lucky I’m pretty tall and was carrying my walking stick so the dog thought better of it once it got really close.

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks Ray. I know what you mean about the charging dogs. We had 2 large dogs “charge” us while we were out walking at our last boondocking spot. Scared the wits out of me! Thankfully they ended up being friendly in the end, but the initial charge & approach was very uncomfortable, and their owner wasn’t able to control them at all. Always amazes me that people think this is OK.

  6. says

    Great Post of common sense we should all have.

    Been thinking about getting back into boondocking again since I read about you dancing. Old Man Fantasies Gone Wild.

  7. says

    Caution tape? Seriously? Who does that? I’m pretty sure I’d drive right through it and claim I hadn’t seen a thing. Or stop by the nearest ranger station. oy.

    • libertatemamo says

      I did think the caution tape was taking things a bit far. I know the story behind why it happened. Basically the guy got surrounded by a bunch of RVers who weren’t being very respectful, so he got fed-up and put up the tape. But…I still feel it wasn’t the right approach.

  8. Rob & Jessica says

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a well thought out article. My wife and I are in the mid stages of cutting the cord and we follow all your posts. We are currently preparing a vintage bus for ultimate long term boondocking and I’m documenting the whole process on our blog where we have posted a link to your blog as part of our inspiration. Thank you again for all you do to keep us sane as we are still stuck for the moment. Rob and Jessica all50before50.com

  9. Michael says

    Thanks for sharing Nina. You’re right about it being mostly common sense though. I think the one issue we’ve had in the past is what some people feel is reasonable noise/music level. But that’s not limited to camping.

    I have a suggestion for you on another subject, if you haven’t already covered it. Does living in such close quarters, and spending so much time together, create any problems between you and yours? Did you and Paul go through an adjustment phase when you first started living full time in the Beast?


    • libertatemamo says

      You know the adjustment period was something we never went through. Now, much of that may be linked to the fact that we lived together & worked in the same group in the same company every day for 12 years. In fact we spent pretty much 24/7 with each other and never found it to be an issue. So, when we moved into the rig spending all our time together felt totally natural. I know other couples have more trouble adjusting and need to arrange their time & space so they get regular “alone” time.

      I covered this very briefly in an older post here:
      Hanging Out & Day-To-Day Life In The RV


      • William says

        Yup. For the first 2 years only kiddie scissors with the rounded edges. No steak knives, only butter knives. Guns are OK, but no ammo – or ammo is OK, no guns.

        And above all, no Cookie Monster shirts.

      • Michael says

        Thanks Nina. I checked out your older post, all good stuff. You and Paul seem to have the perfect relationship for full timing. Probably one of the reasons why I enjoy your blog so much, no drama. My wife and I still work and have different schedules so we have lots of alone time. We both seem to enjoy that so that’s why I asked. I would still love to head out on a journey like yours. And I’m sure when the time is right, we will. Until then I’ll keep checkin’ up on yours. Safe travels, and thanks so much for sharing.


        • libertatemamo says

          I think for two “loners” there is definitely a bigger/tougher adjustment period, but if you’re both motivated on the lifestyle it can be done and there are ways to keep that sense of individuality. For example, having your own particular space in the RV, taking individual sightseeing and/or hiking trips. It also helps tremendously if both of you have hobbies to take on the road, whatever they are (photography, blogging, online forums, sewing, archeology, investing etc.). And there’s no requirement to be together 24/7 even if the space is small. For example, even though Paul and I do incredibly well together I will sometimes take a hike with just the pooch, or go photographing on my own.


  10. Doug says

    The caution tape reminded me of the guy I saw last summer who parked and immediately set up a “perimeter” of a dozen orange cones around his motorhome. In the middle of a Walmart parking lot!

    • libertatemamo says

      Now that is strange…and not really acceptable in my book. If the guy was in trouble (say, he broke-down or something like that & was waiting for an emergency tow) it *might* make sense, but just for the sake of it? No…

      • Doug says

        The back story was, he claimed he was once boxed in by other Walmart customers (in cars), and had to wait hours before he could get out. The cones do solve that problem—but at the same time, they make him look like he owns the whole parking lot.

        I know that proper Walmart etiquette is a whole ‘nother subject, but it dovetails nicely with the basic common sense premise that unless you own or rent your spot, it’s not yours yours.

        • libertatemamo says

          Hmmm..in that case he probably parked too close to the store entrance. For Walmart my rule of thumb is to park at the far back (well away from cars). It’s just common courtesy & makes sure you don’t impede traffic. Again, like you said…common sense stuff.

          In fact here’s my blog post on the whole Walmart (and other “freebie”) parking thing:
          Free Overnight RV Parking = Finding “Freebies”


  11. says

    I just found your site and it is amazing. We were able to retire at 47 and we’ve been fulltiming for a year and a half now. Boondocking is about all that we do. Campgrounds are way overrated. Reading your blog makes me feel guilty about how lazy we are with our blog! We’re in Quartzsite now (for the first time) and will be heading down to Yuma next, so your recent posts have been really valuable for us. We’ll check out Mittry Lake for you. Also, thanks for the tips on dental in Mexico. We thought we’d try it out for the first time with a simple cleaning while we’re in Yuma. Happy trails!

    • libertatemamo says

      Welcome to the blog! I’ve heard Mittry Lake is quite nice. It’s got a 7-day stay limit (as far as I remember), but is in a pretty location. Do let us know how your experience there turns out.


  12. Lisa Young says

    Thanks.Great write up. Let’s hope some people take notice. We were just out at Clark Lake (just pulled in the day before you left) and saw both the saw horses and caution tape. We were a bit surprised and hope this doesn’t become a trend there. There are always a few in every crowd but for the most part boondockers are wonderful, friendly, respectful people. Thanks again.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, that’s where the pic was taken by our friends. I know why the guys did it (one got very fed up with RVs surrounding him and the other had to deal with 3 big rigs who were smashing up the desert and trying to “create” a site that didn’t exist) but I still can’t really agree with it. The other rigs may have been in the wrong, but it’s not private land, after all.


  13. Jil mohr says

    Nice post…i was wondering how “boondocking” at Walmart would fit in..that was one reason I was curious about the clean and wax job there…i do think “back top” dry camping is a bit different…

    We really liked Mittry Lake when we were there years ago…but I heard it was getting more crowded….

    And like you and Paul..Tom and I had absolutely no issues or adjustment period once we started fultiming….

  14. Rowanoca says

    Awesome post, Nina. I’ve been camping, backpacking, hiking, and RVing for 35 years, seldom in commercial camp sites, and I agree completely with your post points. I’ve never found it possible for me to find any respect for the types of people who fail to exorcise such simple common sense, as I’ve also seen areas blocked off to all users do the abuses of the few.

    In point 7, Share the Land: in some areas it is a violation to put up the ribbons, signs, temporary fences, or anything that may restrict in inhibit the use of the area by other visitors/users. As an example, if someone were to do that in a National Forest area that has a rule against it, a Forest Ranger could order it be removed, at a minimum. More seriously, the Forest Ranger could order it removed, issue a citation, and order the offender to leave. Not like to happen often, but just saying…

    Lots of room for us all to enjoy. Let’s all preserve it for each other. :-)

    • libertatemamo says

      Very good point Rowanda. Many public lands have specific rules against man-made structures. I’ve even been to spots that prohibited fire rings (e.g. Las Cienegas Wildlife Area in AZ). We keep things simple and don’t add stuff to the landscape that wasn’t there to begin with.


  15. says

    How I wish there were more opportunities to boondock in the east. The west has such wonderful places. This is a great post Nina especially for the “it’s all about me” types. It’s all about sharing and consideration. Loud neighbors/loud and aggressive dogs are the two things that will make me pack up and leave no matter where I am. Just too inconsiderate and I know I won’t be able to hold my tongue.

    • libertatemamo says

      It’s true…not much boondocking out East. The % of public land is just so much lower than out west. We’ve boondocked a few places in TX and scouted out a few more in FL, but they are few and far between.


  16. Deb says

    We are new to RVing and love it. It has been a steep learning curve but we expected that. Thanks to blogs like yours, has made it easy.
    I love your blogs. I have learned a lot from reading your blog and enjoyed the pictures. Oh by the way we are parked across from you.

    • libertatemamo says

      Hmmm..you must be one of the 2 rigs we can see in the distance? Glad you’re enjoying the area. We head out tomorrow so you guys should be all alone here.


    • libertatemamo says

      Ah…see that’s where one man’s (or in this case woman’s) dream music is another man’s nightmare. Exactly the reason I don’t like to blast music outdoors with neighbors around.


      P.S. ABBA rocks :)

  17. Chuck says

    Do you typically scout out the roads and campsites in your car prior to taking the Beast off the paved road. I’ve done some tent camping in some of the national forest in Florida and I would never consider taking something the size of the beast down most of those roads because of the sugar sand or the muddy areas that cross the road. Reading the link that you provided on the Odyssey, sounds like they had to dig themselves out of the sand on one of their ventures. Have you ever been stuck?

    Enjoy your blog!

    • libertatemamo says

      Yes, we always scout ahead unless I personally know someone (with our sized-rig) who has recently done the drive. I prefer to unhook and scout in the CRV. Then, when I’m comfortable with the road and the site we bring in “the beast”. We’ve never been stuck (touch wood) and hope never to be.

  18. says

    Hi, Nina. We’re boon docking for the second time and loving it. I know Hector sent you a message recently. We’d love to have you, Paul and Polly over for happy hour one evening. We’re in Dome Rock until the 24th or so…not sure yet. We’re totally flexible, let us know if you’re available. My e-mail address is brendavlopez@msn.com.

  19. Jeff and Cheryl says

    1) Tom Petty Rocks, ABBA rocks after 3 or 4 glasses of wine. :)
    2) Like you and Paul we spent most of our waking hours together when we were working.So, not much change when moving into the MoHo for months at a time.
    Keep up the great writing, I love it.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, spending a lot of time together before the move to full timing definitely makes the transition easier. Most couples work it out over time, but the closer you are to your spouse the easier that change becomes. Nothing like an RV space to bring you together!


    • Pat H. says

      As the person who started the discussion as to whether ABBA “rocks” I would like to thank you for putting it into proper perspective. So let’s pop multiple corks and “get down”.
      Pat H

  20. Russ G says

    Recently I was on the phone with someone at the Bishop CA area BLM. I think it was Bishop. She told me the 14 day stay limit was an annual aggregate total. In other words, boondockers are limited to a total of 14 days per annum in the district as opposed to 14 days per visit or per spot although you could spend your 14 days allotted in one spot, in one visit. That’s what I understood her to mean, anyway.

    • libertatemamo says

      You’re absolutely right. Bishop BLM is particular that way, and this is one of those circumstances where checking the individual office gives you the right rules. The reason Bishop BLM is so restrictive is, once again, a result of overuse/abuse. It’s a massive climbers destination and they had the problem of climbers “squatting” the land all summer. So, they restricted the 14 days to a calendar year and implemented a $300 LTVA pass. You’ll find the rangers are quite active at implementing the stay limits there too.

      Most other BLM has the 14 days within any 28 day period rule, but there can be particular differences. Some public land even has 7 day limit.


  21. says

    Thanks for another great post Nina. When we head out west again we plan to make boondocking a greater part of our lives. Thanks again for showing us the ropes! :)

  22. Mark, Dawn and Fleeby says

    Great, thoughtful post, Nina. We really enjoy and share your “notes from the road.”

    Mark, Dawn and Fleeby

  23. says

    Hello wheelinit! Been readin rvsue and crew from the begginin and finally caught up to the present. Yall are in there a lot but I have been focused on catching up and not reading comments or checking links. Just saw your comment on a very recent post so I clicked your link and WOW JUST WOW!!!! What a resource yall are for rving plus very well written blog and subject matter. I l ok ve in NC and am disabled but wanting to go rving again. Tried it last spr ok ng and loved it but after 5 weeks I was in Kingsville Tx and had a diabetic ulcer come on a toe and had to turn around and come home. I have a truck that runs off reclaime veggie oil from redtaurants

  24. says

    Hey my tablet locks up if I post a long one, does so on Sues blog too. Anyway I am healed up now after some surgery and rehab. No I didnt lose my leg then, I lost it in 2005. So glad to meet you and I will be departing on my next attempt on March 1st 2014. I started a simple blog but have recieved no comments yet, I am not very digital yet, hey I am a cowboy/ horseman……if its got a beat I can dance to it, if its got a wheel I can drive it, and if its got hair I can ride it !!!! LOL But I wish someone would reply to my blog so I can find out if its working right. I havent figured out pics and other refinements yet. Ride in beauty, Bill

    • libertatemamo says

      Well welcome to the blog & lovely to hear from you! Pretty amazing that you’ve got a truck that runs off veggie oil! Checked your blog and looks all fine to me, but didn’t see any pics of your set-up in there. I’m sure tons of folks would be interested in that. Good luck w/ your travels!!


  25. Smitty says

    Great post Nina. I know you balance substance with length of the blog, as too large and it becomes encyclopedic in size:)! You asked for anything missed, and while probably not missed but just not down to the level of detail to avoid the Mega Blog size, a few things popped up on:

    1) It is bad form, and unless allowed within the specific area you are boondocking, illegal. To pick up firewood. I have a personal rule that I feel it is OK to pick up wood left at empty fire rings, even if it is not the ring that we are using. Key things, leave it where it lays in it’s natural state, unless legal (as it is in some areas, to help thin things out).

    2) On outside noise. I very much enjoy starting the day with a campfire and sunrise. And, I’m a HiFi junky and some days will add tunes to this mix too. Unless we’re away from everyone, I use a set of Cans… I have Meridian F80 ‘boom box’ with headphone jack, and though Bluetooth is available for headphones, I prefer the fidelity of my wired headphones. Key thing, is you can enjoy outside high fidelity tunes without impacting your mate or your neighbors. (Kahlua in the coffee optional:)!)

    3) And for those that don’t know it. A rule of all proper Boondockers, is the nightly outside BIG SCREEN viewing of Mama Mia. And yes, of course the noise regulations are lifted during this time – so in the power of ABBA, crank it up!

    Nina – Thanks again for the informative post!

    • libertatemamo says

      You’re absolutely spot on about the blog post length. I actually had to stop myself from writing ‘coz it got so long!

      Cheers for the additional tips. All good stuff.


  26. says

    Nice post. I’ve done a similar one in the past for fly fishing on my blog. Most folks seem to get it but some just don’t for whatever reason. It’s annoying and usually the best policy is to either suck it up or move on.

    I’m quite surprised at how close those RV parked to you. Maybe because I live in the stick where the houses are that far apart but that seems a bit close considering how expansive the area around you looks. I suppose it’s a little like parking at Wal-Mart. You park out at the edges of the lot by yourself and you’ll likely come out to find your car surrounded by cars. Some kind of left over herding mentality in our DNA or something.

    In any case, beautiful place and great pictures. as always.

    • libertatemamo says

      The other RV’s were probably a few hundred feet away. I guess it was “close” considering there were lots of other places to park, but within the context they parked with a good separation. Plus they were all really quiet neighbors (always a bonus).


  27. Paul says

    In point #2 you refer to not dumping the black tank. I would hope not!!! What about the gray, though? I assume that would also be illegal, but not as high a fine. I also suspect that some boondockers do it. I don’t see a problem with an outdoor shower, sans soap, but anything chemical would be verboten. Having lived in CA, I’ve seen articles about re-purposing household gray water as a water conservation measure, but I can’t condone dumping it on public land. I’ve never figured out why the black tank and gray tank are almost always the same size.

    • libertatemamo says

      The grey tank is somewhat more of a “grey” matter. Some public lands actually don’t mind you dumping grey (e.g. when we were in a NF campground by the Lizard Head Wilderness in CO a few years back they told us that dumping grey on the land (rather than in their dump) was actually preferred, I guess because of limited dump capacity), but the vast majority of places it is not condoned, and most public lands request that you do not do it. As with everything asking the local office is an easy way to find out the local rules.

      You are right that many boondockers tend to do it anyway. We try to repurpose our grey as much as possible (e.g. Using grey in the black to flush) and that allows us to stretch our tanks rather than having to dump.


      • Smitty says

        Grey to Black, or shades of waste!

        In two RV’s, we have tapped into the grey tank and added a pump to move grey waste into the black tank.

        Our current rig has 60 gal each grey/black. With the throne being the only feed to the black. By adding the tap into the grey (between 1/4 – 1/3 from the bottom) and a standard inexpensive water pump (with an additional inline filter between the tap and the pump) and the black tank tap in this coach was into vent pipe as it exits the black tank (in our Bonder we tapped into the top of the tank) – we now have about a 90-100 gallon grey tank capacity.

        Sorry if this is not very clear, but many have done this mod, we just copied it:)!

        And as mentioned by Nina, we still try to recycle our grey for other purposes. (I’ll put the campfire out with grey water, if appropriate for that area.).

        And in some areas, the honey wagon will make rounds:)! Like on the beach at Pismo… Water too.


        • libertatemamo says

          Great little mod Smitty! We’ve met a few people who’ve done similar things esp. with regards to discharging some of their grey into the black. Thanks for sharing.


      • Paul says

        Since our bath is actually a tub/shower, I considered stoppering the tub during showers and using an electric pump to drain the water into the black tank by way of the toilet, but decided it was too much hassle. We only boondock when it is unavoidable. I like the idea of modifying a rig to divert gray water to the black tank, though.

  28. John says

    Great post as always. Jen and I are at the 2 year mark for retirement. (55) for me and (46) for her. We have done a lot of boondocking at a friends pond in the country just to get the feel for it. Have the solar but probably need a couple more panels and an extra battery installed. I think our biggest challenge is going to be water rationing. Love your posts, have fun and maybe we will see you in the desert some day.

    • libertatemamo says

      Water tends to be one of the biggest limitations in the boonies. The better you can ration, the longer you can last before moving on. It’ll take a bit of doing at first, but within no time you’ll be an expert!


  29. Anna Williamson says

    Hej Nina,
    I have been following your blog for a while now and absolutely love your style of writing and all the useful information you post. As a fellow Scandinavian (originally from Lund, Sweden but currently living in Canada), avid camper (part time at the moment but dreaming of full timing it) and multi pet household (two cats and two dogs that follow along on our camping trips) I cannot help but feel somewhat connected to you :) I love learning about all your adventures and sincerely hope that one day we will cross paths. Safe travels! PS. Abba rocks!!!

    • libertatemamo says

      How lovely to “meet” you on the blog. We definitely have alot of common points!! Thanks for following along on our adventures.


      • Anna Williamson says

        Hej igen!
        So much good information! I am curious what the boondocking etiquette is regarding disposal of animal waste. That garbage could get smelly in a hurry! :)

        • libertatemamo says

          You can pack it in a bag and put that inside another bag. We actually keep a collapsable bin outside our RV and just put all the bags out there. Then, when we go into town we bring that along and dispose of it. Another option is to bury the waste.


  30. Karen says

    Here’s something that was missing (for me, at least): If you don’t have a toad and have to leave mid-stay to go get water/propane/gasoline, how do you mark your site as “occupied” without going the excessively possessive route of caution tape and cones? Does one person have to stay behind reading in the porch chairs?? Or leave behind a sign saying “we’re coming back”?

    • libertatemamo says

      A lot of people will leave out chairs and a mat, for example. Most folks will understand that’s from an “occupied” site. A little sign would probably be fine too.


  31. Aj and Beth says

    So much to learn….You answered all my questions about Boondocking…Especially like the topic of being social or not. I am more social than my wife and usually and walking the dog meeting all sorts of folks in the campground. Now if we boondock someday I now can tell if folks want to talk or not. I think boondocking will be a perfect mix for us…I like to talk and wife likes to keep to herself. LOL!
    Thanks much,
    AJ and Beth

    • libertatemamo says

      We’re kind of the same mix, albeit the other way around. I’m very social, while Paul prefers more alone time. Boondocking works out great that way. I’ll usually walk around and get to know the folks who are open to meeting, while Paul enjoys hanging at the site.


  32. says

    I really enjoyed your post…good common sense!
    Most Rv’ers are great …recently I have had to “turn the key” more so then ever before..:-D.!!!
    Maybe I am just gettin’ old!

  33. says

    Great read, great information as always! In 40+ years boondocking since a child I only recall one bad experience. About 5 years ago a rowdy family camped less than 50 feet away from us. We asked them nicely to move since they could have gone a 1/4 mile and not had anyone near them, they weren’t too nice about it. They raced ATVs through their camp and then around ours when they were packing up. They left for 1-3 hours at a time with a smoldering campfire, we had to drown it after they packed up & left. There was another camper on a short hill above them and they chose to target practice into a log below the other site. Every time we’ve been at that site the rangers always came by to chat and along with gathering license plate numbers but, never saw them that weekend. I did get a picture of cars, license plates and faces just in case we needed it. Luckily we’ve never seen another group like that again! Just dawned on me that my Friends, Food & Firewater post was at that same site (creatures of habit).

    • libertatemamo says

      Sorry to say our only bad experience has been around ATV’s too. I’m sure there are good ATV folks out there, but there seem to be a large number of them who simply drive anywhere and have little regard for the land, noise or neighbors. For that reason the *only* boondocking areas we regularly avoid are areas for ATVers. We look for peace & quiet so it’s just not the kind of camping we like to do.


  34. Gary says

    I read with interest the post about the guy putting out cones in the Walmart parking lot. I too think that was a little out there, but I can also see the other side. I have often said. “You could park square in the middle of the Great Salt Flats and within minutes there would be a large SUV parked six inches from your door.” I say that by way of a joke but sometimes it is not far from the truth. For the greater part, RVers have so far had a lot more class than that.

    • libertatemamo says

      You know I’ve always wanted to visit the big UT Sand Flats. I know it may be nostalgic of me, but I’m just fascinated by that crazy, dry environment. It’s on our list!! I’ll remember about the parking tho’ :)


  35. says

    Great post! We are excited to up our battery capability and boondock more. Especially out here in the west! Thanks for the great blog. We are excited to follow along!

  36. Tabby says

    I carry cones and put them around my own area to keep people from walking under my awning and looking into my trailer when I am not dressed, that annoys me. But I don’t cordon off any more space than my parking slab and picnic table when at a actual Forest Service campground. Once when I was out in the everybody-owns-it wilderness, I cordoned off when we had family bringing in their rigs the next day, and someone chose to park in the same clearing close to us when we were on top of a mountain that was MILES and MILES square with hundreds, if not thousands, of empty clearings. I kept some space on both sides of our rig for my family to park in. When they arrived with 15 vehicles with pop-ups and tons of grandkids, dogs, horses and ATVs, the ‘neighbor’ chose to pack up his coach and leave the clearing. If he had bothered to leave his coach running, wander over and say ‘hi!’ before setting up all his camping, I would have said, “Welcome! Just so you know, we are expecting 100+ people here tomorrow for a family reunion with dogs, horses and AVTs. We’d love to have you join us for campfire songs and the talent show.” That would have let him decide whether he wanted to drive on to the next clearing or we would have made a new friend. Etiquette may be different out in the forest wilderness; you don’t park in the same clearing as someone who is already there, unless all the clearings are full, and then you ask the people who were there first if there is enough room; and they usually say yes if they can, and usually turns out someone in the group knows them anyway (6 degrees of Kevin Bacon). We can’t afford camping sites in a campground for 100+ people family reunion, so out in wilderness, a big clearing has to do. Now we use cones to block off area that our family needs, since we get in a Thursday and they arrive Fridays. I guess it’s the old “Is it OK to save seats in a theater’ debate.

  37. Janet says

    I’ma woman in my late 50’s who would like to try boondocking but I feel it might be somewhat unsafe for an older woman alone. Curious as to your thoughts on this.


A Comment For Your Thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *