Do You Practice These Six Rules of Boondocking Courtesy?

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February 21, 2009


  1. Dennis

    Believe I’ll join the Fred and Larry camp. Boondocking may not be for everyone, but it should be fun for those that try it. Electricity, re: generator, shouldn’t be that big a deal…
    It kinda reminds me of my home State. Doesn’t matter what it is, if I don’t like it, we’ll pass a law against it! Thus Motorcycle helmet laws. seatbelt laws, and six rules for boondocking. Probably be a felony next year…

  2. Bob and Others,

    The last time I went boondocking, I was in AZ BLM land and managed to find an area that no one else for five miles in any direction was parked in. I was so far off the beaten track, that I was sure I had found shangri-la! WRONG! Next morning I had 21 “neighbors” with three of them surrounding me like I was in a commercial campground.

    IF I ever buy a piece of land, I’ll make sure I don’t do what most people do and plant the dwelling unit on the property line, but rather smack dab in the middle of the property.

    What I can’t understand about people is if you see someone parked far away from everyone else–leave them be. Go find your own place to park. It should be obvious that they like (want) to be ALONE. They don’t need (or want) your company, fumes, noise, dust, smoke, values (or lack of)–they just want some alone time. Sure, there are times when I do value and enjoy others company, but you DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to come invade my space if I’m out in the middle of nowhere all by myself (or even with a friend or two) and there isn’t anyone else around.

    PS: I’ve known Bob for several years and if I see his rig out in the “middle of nowhere”, I make it a point to park a long way away–cause I value his desires–besides he was there FIRST!

  3. Steve

    Respect others space. I get real angry when people just walk right through my campsite and think nothing about it.

  4. Truman

    as the parks and the camping places get more crowed every year i dont care where you go you are going to find people not like your self just trying to get away from it all no matter what and not every body has the same view of camping or getting away from it all as you do but most people that go camping are trying to have a good time of it Truman

  5. hockeyguy

    The ablility to read others minds is beyond my capability. I have camped at a lock on the Trent waterway system that was only accessible from water. There were a few others there also and we were a little boisterous after 10 pm at night in the summer and were justifibly asked to quiet down. We did .

    Since we all do not do the exact same thing at the exact same time tolerance is required but if you are finding it difficult you certainly are within your rights to ask for some consideration.

    My trailer at my park has some units down at the rivers edge and if anyone wants to go fishing in the morning you have to start your motor right near their site. I try to start and then move off as soon as possible usually within 1 or 2 minutes.

  6. I would also add to the “Noise” rule to not run your diesel for a half hour at 6am in the morning while you are getting ready to leave. If it’s cold out, a few minutes is OK with me. But to leave it running for no other reason than to “let it warm up” for a while is not all that courteous to others who would enjoy a few extra hours of sleep.

  7. greg

    The main reason I boondock is so I dont have to follow any rules or regulations. Remember the song he said “Rules and regulations who needs them” I never camp where I can see or smell anyone. This way I can do what I want when I want. Greg

  8. Fred

    I am reminded of my experiences and my desire for “getting away from it all.” Two really simple points come to mind; 1) Actually be a caring and dipllomatic neighbor by sincerly applying the Golden Rule. 2) If there is someone there already, put your territorial space between them and you and camp at the end so you still have one side to yourself.

    One time during the off-season in Nova Scotia, the non-hookup, low usage park we went to was pretty big and had lots of empty spaces. The Park Host even guided me to a site that was quite private. The next morning we woke up to loud talking and teens playing around just one campsite over from ours. It was a youth group, and their adult chaperone was a BIG Australian man talking in a BIG Australian voice normally used only in the BIG Ausrtalin Out-Back. He put Steve Irwin to shame.

    We started charging our batteries that morning during normal generator time, and the man BOLDLY charged over our way and “told” us we had to turn it off because we were diturbing their peace and quiet. I won’t get into the solution.

    I’ve never solved the scenario of being the first camper at a nice peaceful-looking site, only to have it fill up all around me by the end of the day. Any clues?

    Once while walking our little poodle-mix (on her leash), she was attacked out on the road by a camper’s big dog that wasn’t tied up. The result was congestive heart failure and she died at home a couple of weeks later.

    Her death was so slow and painful, we would not get another dog for 7 years. That’s Bonnie’s picture as my avatar.


  9. Good points above. However, it would also be proper for a “neighbor” to approach you and ask if his running a generator for an extended period due to battery or solar problems would be acceptable. Also, when boondocking with more than one rig, don’t park your rig between anyone else and the fire.

  10. I live in Alabama. There are problems with boondocking here that some others don’t have to deal with. First, the opportunities to boondock here are very limited. For this reason, solar panels are an expense we would probably forgo. For about five months out of the year it is very difficuly to sleep nights without air conditioning due to heat and humidity thus the generator becomes a necessity at night. On the occasions when we do need to camp without hookups we are among others who are also running generators at football tailgates.

    If I lived in the West where BLM camping areas were plentiful I probably would invest in solar energy. But , for my part I will have to stick with my Honda inverter to recharge the batteries during the day on my short visits West. If I’m too close to someone else it’s because they chose to be close to me and not the other way around. I will always do my best to be a good neighbor and camper.

    P.S. I don’t currently have a pet.

  11. Larry – I am guessing that you are not the type that bothers other campers. I’m sure that when you were backpacking you didn’t pitch your tent right next to someone else when there were other options. I’m sure you don’t let your dog wander into others’ campsites to do their business, or allow it to bark continuously. You also probably know when and if you are bothering your neighbors and do something about it. There are others who are not as aware of how their actions affect their neighbors. In a campground, you may have no choice but to tolerate your neighbors,but when boondocking–which this blog is about–you will find people that like their space and privacy and solitude, and it is not difficult or an infringement on your camping enjoyment to find your own private space that will not infringe on your neighbors’ enjoyment of their camping experience. And it goes without saying, that these rules apply to one’s own camping activities, as well as a guideline to others.

  12. Larry

    I’ve always struggled to determine where my rights end and others begin and vice-versa. Most of my life has been spent backpacking under the leave no trace guidelines and I always apply that same principle with our motohome. We’ve retired and my wife is not into sleeping in a tent anymore so we’ve made the sizable investment in our unit. Rest assured that we’ll not be disturbing anyone boondocking on a regular basis but may try it on a rare occasion. I guess my question is why are you not in a tent? Can I leave an outside light on? Should I sit down with you and people close to me and compile a list of your desires? Will you be considerate of my running my generator on occasion without “banishing” me to a site as far away as possible? Do you need to approve my dog? I’m sorry if this sounds offensive but I deserve as much courtesy as any other camper.

  13. James says “We are far to quick to complain about things that bother us but never consider that we might bother others. We should not expect others to conform to our life style.”
    The six rules I point out would obviously apply to our own actions as well. IfI move in to a boondocking site and find that I have located next to people that stay up late talking around a campfire whose smoke blows in my windows (I like mine open), then it is up to me to move. They were there first and if their actions infringe on my camping experience I am the one that moves, not them. But the other scenario is, don’t move next to someone and then expect to live your lifestyle in such a way that diminishes their camping experience. Move further away, where you won’t bother anyone, or to where you recognize like-minded campers (large pile of firewood, ATV, boombox on the picnic table). It’s not that difficult, and it’s courteous–without either requiring anyone to adhere to your lifestyle or you to theirs. I don’t quarrel with your main point–toleration–but it is preferable to avoid problems and annoyances than to have to tolerate them.

  14. James

    We are far to quick to complain about things that bother us but never consider that we might bother others. We should not expect others to conform to our life style.Some people do not like to go to bed and rise with the sun and thats why they have a generator and use their money camping and not buying solar panels that are for the most part not effecient.What kind of campier dont like to smell wood burning and I can not control the smoke but you can control your windows.If you get up at sun rise a little atv noise should not bother you.We are all different and like different things but lets tolerate each other and we all can have fun and keep on camping and love each other and try not to bother each othet.Just my openion.

  15. Andrew Poe

    I agree with your list and comments on Boondocking courtesy but would add another.

    If you have an ATV or other motorized toy such as a motorcycle please idle it out when leaving camping areas and not see how high a decibel rating you can make, how much dust you can create or how fast you can go. Also be careful and aware of others walking along paths or roads. Children are children and do not always look before crossing paths/roads or stepping out from behind a parked RV or vehicle. Same goes for us old-timers who do not hear of see as well as we once did.

  16. Vegasdan

    Bob, thanks for this blog with a lot of common sense and good neighbor advice. I hope every one takes it to heart.

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