By Bob Difley
In last week’s blog, Part IX How to find boondocking campsites, I offered some tips on how to find campsites on public lands. Once you find a suitable campsite, it becomes your responsibility to follow certain unwritten rules of boondocking. I’m sure you’ve seen some trashy campers in your travels, practicing behavior that gives a bad name to RVers, boondocking, and the RV lifestyle.
Most rules are just plain commonsense, which you wonder sometimes whether that gene was left out of some people’s gene pool. But anyway, here they are, and feel free to add your own in the comments section.
- Pick a campsite away from others. Many boondockers value their solitude and privacy, and prefer not to have neighbors close enough to hear their generator, TV, and conversations, or to be lit up by unwanted porch lights. That is why they are not in campgrounds.
- Upon arrival, walk the site with a bag and pick up any man-made trash left behind by previous campers. It won’t take you long, will infuriate you, but will bring the point home–anything that will not burn to ashes, carry it out. And it will make your campsite that much more enjoyable.
- Find ways to hang things other than driving nails into trees. There are plenty of ideas for clothes drying hangers or racks or poles that clamp onto your picnic table to hang a lamp. Slide in hooks for your awning rail can be used to hang lights, a bird feeder, trash bag, etc.
- Keep your campsite neat. Put things away when not in use. Nobody want to see all your possessions strewn around your campsite like a yard sale in progress.
- Pick up only downed and dead wood for a campfire. Chopping limbs off trees or uprooting bushes to burn is something only clueless teenagers would do.
- Think safety when building a campfire, especially this season when parts of the country, like Texas, are as dry as the desert in July. Scrape all debris several feet away from your fire and keep your fire small. Build a rock ring or dig a depression to contain fire. And when you leave, return the fire site to its natural state.
- If you plan on dumping the gray water from dishwashing and rinsing, be sure to wipe all food bits off cooking and eating utensils with a paper towel first. Always use biodegradable soaps. Dump gray water on thirsty plants or bury in a hole (and cover it with dirt) well away from your campsite. Food bits draw unwanted smells and critters.
- Alter your site as little as possible. Walk your site looking for trash, even if you think you haven’t left anything behind. Often paper blows away unnoticed, so make your reconnaissance a wide circle around your campsite. When you leave, your site should appear as if no one had been there, just the way you would like to find your next boondocking site.
- Remember that the way others–hikers, off-road wanderers, officials–see your site is the way all RVers are seen. Set a good example, that of a responsible, environmentally-aware, and conservation-minded steward of the land. It’s good for all of us. And thank you for doing so.
Check out my website for more RVing tips, destinations, and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.