The Zen of Boondocking Part XIV – Camping along scenic byways

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May 7, 2011

By Bob Difley
National Scenic Byways, a program administered in part by the National Forest Service (FS), describes routes through some of the most scenic lands in the country, many through national forests where you can find FS campgrounds and scattered boondocking campsites along your route. You can find the nation’s byways on the America’s Byways website and order a free brochure listing all the byways.

Some states also have scenic roads or byways that are not yet listed as “national” scenic byways. You can find these, and often more complete information on the state’s national scenic byways, at the individual state’s byways web page. Type the state name followed by scenic byways in the search box for your state.

What fun it is to dawdle along these scenic roadways with no need to travel the entire route between RV resortss on either end, or even further away. When you’ve perfected your boondocking skills, you can find multiple dry-camping/boondocking camping possibilities along the byway enabling you to slow down to fully appreciate the area and to spend a few extra days enjoying the beauty of the byway and the nesty campsites or campgrounds you find along the way. Watch for marked FS roads or obtain a list of dispersed camping possibilities and primitive campgrounds from the byway, FS office, or online at sites like Forest Service Camping.

National forests also surround many of our National Parks, where you can find FS campgrounds and boondocking sites outside the crowded national parks. You can often find a campsite in FS campgrounds on weekends when the NP campgrounds are full. As a base camp, they also make perfect sense. From here you can explore into the park during the day and return to a nice, quiet, un-crowded campsite after a day of exploration. And many of the scenic byways loop through or around national parks, adding to your enjoyment.

Once you become comfortable with finding FS campgrounds and with boondocking, you can make your RV travel schedule more open ended, taking advantage of opportunities as they unfold, staying longer in newly discovered campgrounds and campsites, and exploring scenic areas and hiking trails that you hadn’t known about before, confident that you can always find a campsite wherever you happen to be at the end of the day.

Check out my website for more RVing tips, destinations.

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  7. Go to the Scenic Byways website at and click on the state/area of the map on the right for the scenic byways for that area. When you then click on an individual byway in the menu that pops up you will be taken to its page, where on the left you will see a link to “Photos” that you can then click to see photos of that byway.

  8. Love this. Could you provide and post some more photos of the scenic byways?

  9. Bob:
    We like the side roads, rather than the interstate roads: cheaper fuel, wonderful history lessons, and small town characters to meet, just a few reasons.

    I thought we were full-timing to see our wonderful natural sites, but when my head hits the pillow at night; it’s the people we meet. That’s the icing on the cake.

    Happy Camping,
    Fred b.

  10. Ross

    My wife and I sure look forward to reading your articles. As I am still a working stiff, when I get up in the morning, I put the coffee on, then pull up your articles, and read. I am one of those followers of yours that is bad about not making any comments.
    I decided it was my responsibility to let you know I am here, and really enjoy your writtings.
    Ross & April
    Fresno, Ca

  11. Well, Tom, I didn’t say you could camp on EVERY scenic byway. I would bet there are some Historic Site byways that would frown on you camping in the middle of a Civil War battlefield. Thanks for the Vegas strip one.

    And Butterbean, thanks.

  12. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Bob,

    Thank you, for another imformative chapter on ‘boondocking’…

    Smooth roads & balmy breezes!!!!!!!

  13. Tom Smith

    The only National Scenic byway that you can view during both the day and night is the Las Vegas Strip.

    But don’t plan on camping on the Strip as metro Police will probably have your RV towed for blocking traffic.