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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boondocking is getting easier

Every year it seems that boondocking gets easier. I don't mean the technique, necessarily, though new useful gadgets and accessories continue to be introduced and sites like Great RV Accessories highlight many new products that help make boondocking efficient and fun.

Internet blogs--like this one--provide lots of help and tips for new boondockers, and websites listing boondocking sites help find them as well, but specifically I am referring to the methods we employ to find true boondocking campsites--those out in the boonies, away from civilization, off the beaten path.

Unfortunately, there are no New York phonebook-sized boondocking campsite directories in existence, or Web based listings of all the boondocking sites in North America--there are just too many. Were such a boondocking campsite guide to exist, we could simply go to a map, locate the nearest campsite, and drive there. Much like you would with a Trailer Life or Woodall's Campground Directory.

The way it has gotten easier to find good boondocking campsites, is having the ability to create our own private list, kind of a personal Boondocking Campsite Directory. In the long-ago dark ages (when I started boondocking) we had to keep notebooks to record all the suitable boondocking campsites we either stumbled upon, were told about by another boondocker, or searched for by driving scores of forest service or BLM back roads.

The problem with that was that you had to be a pretty good organizer to not only be able to find these sites when you needed them--sometimes years later--but to also be diligent in recording, categorizing, and entering these locations in your directory. So, as you might guess, we became slackers, and didn't take the time to gather and record all this information, especially when we didn't know if we would ever be back to the area again.

And then a  newly popular tool for finding and keeping this information became easier, GPS. No longer was it such a tedious endeavor to record manually a lot of information. We could simply push buttons to record the coordinates of every good site we came across--a matter of seconds--whether or not we intended to use the site at the time--and the directory was updated.

Programs like Microsoft's 2011 Streets & Trips with GPS Locator now enable us to record campsite data along saved routes, whether driven or planned. Now we can easily record all the potential sites we find, rate them, categorize them by scenic beauty, ease of access, distance from highway, etc.

In addition, blogs and forums enable boondockers across the country to connect and exchange boondocking site locations with each other when planning trips or entering new areas. Soon everybody will be able to find the best boondocking sites as easily as if having a printed directory. But I still like wandering those backroads, enjoying the thrill of discovery of new boondocking sites. Some of the old ways still work.

Check out Bob Difley's Boondocking and Snowbird Guide eBooks at

1 comment:

  1. And don't forget the ability to zoom in on likely areas and sites with satellite maps such as Google or Bing. I've found that in many areas where the resolution has been improved, I can pick out clearings and possible roads, log the coordinates, and used the "terrain" depiction to (crudely) evaluate elevation and slope.

    Of course there is no substitute for using a pair of boots on the ground and Mark One eyeballs for a final evaluation of prospective sites. And going out on a "reconnaissance patrol" sans RV from your current campsite or your home (if you are lucky enough to live in places like Spokane, Washington), can be a lot of fun too!

    Tom Hargreaves