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Monday, June 11, 2012

What is Boondocking?

Are you new to RVing? Do you keep hearing the term “boondocking” being used by other “in the know” RVers, but aren’t really sure of what it means? It means different things to different people. I will share my opinion at the end of the post and I hope others will share too.

The Boondocks Without a Doubt
Let’s take a look at the origin of the root word “boondocks” and see what the experts in the English language have to say about it.

Webster defines it as:\

Main Entry: boon·docks
Pronunciation: 'bün-ˌdäks Function: noun plural Etymology: Tagalog bundok mountain Date: 1930 1 : rough country filled with dense brush
2 : a rural area : sticks

From Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia:

The term boondocks refers to a remote, usually brushy rural area; or to a remote city or town that is considered unsophisticated. The expression was introduced to English by American military personnel serving in the Philippines during the early years of the 20th century. It derives from the Tagalog word "bundok", meaning "mountain". The term has evolved into American slang used to refer to the countryside or any implicitly isolated rural/wilderness area, regardless of topography or vegetation.
(Emphasis added)

Finally, the thesaurus in my computer (programmed by experts I assume) gives the following alternatives for the word boondocks; wilds, rough country, backwoods, wasteland.

Now for a look at how others define boondocking: defines it as, “RV boondocking means RVing without electric, water, sewer, or telephone hookups. Boondockers use the utilities the RV provides, rather than hooking up to external utilities.” says,
“Boondocking is not really a good term, but has somehow come into common use. Dry Camping (parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) is more accurate. Independent Parking is the preferred term. It means that you are prepared to dry camp but make use of amenities when they're available. Being prepared to live independently is what it's all about, then you're free to do what you want to do.” states, “Boondocks used to be a place you didn't want to go - "don't go too far or you'll end up in the boondocks!" Boondocking, otherwise known as dry camping, typically involves parking up in a place with limited amenities. RVers may sometimes find themselves having to boondock in parking lots or public lands, especially in remote areas or long stretches of interstate where getting to a campground or RV park may take you too far off course.” outlines boondocking as,
“What is Boondocking? The RV community adopted the word to use it to describe
remote camping in rural areas. So if you were going fishing in your truck
camper to a remote National or State Park, when you got there you were
camping in the boondocks. Since you had no hook-ups, but were self-
sufficient, you were boondocking. Then some people noticed that while
they were driving for several days to get to the boondocks, they could
save some money by staying overnight in the parking lot of a WalMart.
Since they had no hook-ups and were self-sufficient, they said they were
boondocking. After awhile people saw that they could save a lot of money
by not staying in RV parks and so they started planning their trips around
WalMart stores, staying in their parking lots most nights of their trip.“ definition is,
“The term "boondocking" means different things to different people. Free camping, overnight RV parking at places such as Wal-Mart or truck stops, and any time RV hookups are not available (dry camping) have been referred to as boondocking. defines boondocking as remote location dispersed camping. With this in mind, you might call boondocking advanced RV camping. This type of camping isn't for everyone. Dispersed camping in remote areas requires research, exploration, and a sense of adventure to find great campsites.”

Not Boondocking by my Definition

Given the definitions the first four websites use to describe boondocking; anywhere but a full hookup space in a RV park could qualify as boondocking. In my mind only the last website defines boondocking correctly when it defines boondocking as, “remote location dispersed camping.”

I don’t believe dry camping in a developed campground within a local, state, national park or forest qualifies as boondocking, neither does staying the night in a Wal-Mart or a Cabela’s parking lot.

 Am I completely mistaken?

What are you thoughts?


  1. Nope, you got it exactly right. Boondocking is dispersed camping out in the boonies.

  2. I'm with you. Boondocking implies dispersed camping in undeveloped areas outside of a designated campsite or campground. However I am not going to get my dander up if someone uses the term differently.

    I may get upset if I am in my favorite boondocking site deep in the national forest far from any main road and someone follows my tracks setting up camp right next to me. If I can see or hear a neighbor it no longer qualifies as boondocking. No matter how much you may like the spot if someone else is there first give him space and move on to another site.

    1. Agreed, "neighbors" need to be at least a few hundred yards away.

  3. You are absolutely correct. Boondocking is dispersed camping out in the wilderness, sticks, desert, etc., whereas dry camping would be at a forest service campground or any campground without hookups. I agree that Walmart and truck stops is not boon docking, but we call that "free overnight" camping. Another term I've used in place of boon docking is dispersed camping which is what the national forest and BLM sites refer to boon docking sites as.

  4. I've heard the term "blacktop boondocking" used to describe the Walmart parking lot experience.

    The picture in your article is definitely not boondocking by any definition. However, when a severe weather advisory is in place, I and others look for truck stops where we can snuggle our rig between two semis to ride out the storm. Maybe we need a new word for that.

  5. I boondock and dry camp both, almost never have full hook up camping in an actual developed campground experience.

    When parked in a lot like Walmart of Flying J, or packed together wall to wall at a dog show with no hook ups, primitive camp sites of USFS or DNR that is dry camping.

    When parked out in the middle of a lovely wilderness area with nothing but my other half, my dogs and our RV, that is Boondocking :)

  6. With you all the way. Boondocking is in the boonies. Everything else without hookups is dry camping. We spend months every winter boondocking in the southwest.

  7. Boon-docking is dry camping away from home, homes, town and development. Setting up camp in an undeveloped location. It makes no difference if you have company next door or 2 miles way. It's the proximity away from town not other people that makes it boon-docking.

  8. I just have s problem with people in a glorified noble home calling it camping. You might want to just stay in a motel. If you really want to go camping. Put it on your back and go