By Bob Difley
In last Saturday’s post I pondered why only about one in four RVers boondock and received a lot of informative comments. At the top of the comments was the concern for safety, with responses like boondocking was a “real unknown” and a preference for the “security of a campground” and “safety of others.” Other comments included “we try not to park alone,” and that there is “safety in numbers,” a fear of “people messing around outside”,and “someone would jump on me.”
Non-safety comments included one who said I “love my comforts” and another that didn’t want to be concerned about “keeping batteries charged.” Another said they camp a lot in Texas where it was hot and they needed their A/C. Concerns from previous blogs included a fear of getting lost, of the unknown, and of having no one else around.
There were also many comments from those who boondock regularly and would continue to do so. But it surprised me that safety was the biggest factor keeping RVers from boondocking. I don’t have any hard data or recent studies that indicate that there is a greater danger being alone on public lands than in campgrounds, but anecdotally I have never talked to anybody or heard instances where someone was attacked or burglarized while boondocking.
Most boondockers, including from the commenters on last Saturday’s post, say they have never experienced a problem or felt unsafe. I have never, in sixteen years of fulltiming and boondocking, had a problem or felt threatened. However, I have left boondocking campsites because of what I thought could have been problems, but all but one of those because of large partying groups nearby (I fear groups of drinking/partying 20-somethings far more). In the other case I pulled into and immediately out of a dispersed area because I didn’t like the look of some of the campers there–they looked more like homeless squatters than campers).
So maybe this is the better starting point for those unaccustomed to camping alone. There are all kinds of boondocking campsites, from the hundreds of thousands that flock into Quartzsite each winter to the isolated spot along an old logging road deep inside a national forest. Though seasoned boondockers may prefer the latter, there are very nice boondocking areas called “dispersed camping areas” that the forest service and BLM designate for boondocking. They are less isolated, and you can often choose a spot near other campers or further away, whatever suits you. Some, like the Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) designated by the BLM have an onsite host. That is true even at Quartzsite.
So for beginning boondockers, a visit to the FS or BLM office to identify the local dispersed camping areas would be a good move. Then you could camp as close or as far away from others as you like. And there is another perk. Most boondockers are not unfriendly, though they prefer not to have neighbors too close, and are usually open to questions about the boondocking lifestyle enabling you to expand your knowledge on how to boondock and suggestions of where to go.
You might find that having more personal space than in a campground and being out in nature suits you just fine. Try it, and you can expand your boondocking pursuits at your own speed from there.
Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and 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.