Here we sit right outside of Joshua Tree National Park, boondocking on BLM Land for FREE. The views are gorgeous, the sunset and starry night sky are beautiful, and the RV sites are spread apart. It is so quiet out here! A nice change of pace from the more crowded (yet usually still pretty peaceful) campgrounds we normally stay at. Boondocking is a funny word, especially if you haven’t heard it before! It is also known as dry camping and wild camping in the RV community, and is essentially parking in a spot where you don’t have hookups (electric plug-in, and water spicket).
You can stay on BLM land for up to 14 days in most places, so essentially, if you really wanted to, you could technically travel around the US staying only on BLM land, but it wouldn’t be too easy for us at least. BLM land can be hard to find, but is definitely easier with a few good resources, and it isn’t too common in the eastern states. It can also can be a little hard to get to, particularly if you have a large RV like us. For us, not knowing what type of road it is going to take to get to the BLM land is something that can keep us from trying all of the time, so we go a lot on good recommendations and reviews. I talk a little more about some of the ways we find it in this video.
I am sure for those of you who don’t know much about RV’s (such as us last year), are wondering how you can stay in an RV with no electricity, no water, and no cooking, and the answer is…that would be very unpleasant. Fortunately, we don’t need to do that.
There are two ways that an RV can be powered when not hooked up to an electrical source. The first is by using a generator that runs off of fuel. One of the things that we love about having a motorhome is that we have a great generator on board, and we only have to touch a button inside to turn it on. This generator runs from the gas in our motorhome engine, and powers our appliances, charges electronics, and runs our A/C. Another way to power your RV when not hooked up is by solar. Solar can be complicated and you would really have to have a whole lot of solar to ever possibly power an A/C, but you can use it to keep the lights on without draining your battery, and to charge electronics.
When we are boondocking, we have access to our microwave, we have a furnace and water heater that runs off of propane, and a fridge that runs off of propane too, so as long as we have propane, we cook just fine. We also love using the Instant Pot while RVing. (A quicker version of the crock-pot, or a pressure cooker and crock pot combined.)
Another plus to an RV is that you have a fresh water tank that you can fill up and use for as long as you can stretch it. How long you can stretch it will depend on if you are doing dishes, how long and often you shower and wash your hands, and how many people are in your RV. Still yet, you can take a quick hot shower in the RV easily while boondocking.
It’s a somewhat complicated thing to think about and start to learn how to do, yet pretty easy to get the hang of once you do it! It just requires a bit more thought and careful planning. We will be doing this more as we head into areas in these states where there is more BLM land and less of the Thousand Trails campgrounds that we like to stay at. So far we have really liked the sites we have boondocked at. There is something special about it and it feels more like camping than it does to be in a campground. Still, there are pluses and minuses to both. Ideally we like to stay in a BLM spot no longer than 7 days, and head to a campground after that to refresh our resources and have hookups for as long as possible for the convenience factor. We did dry camp once at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta for 9 nights on the same tank of water, because we have pretty large tanks, and we were extra careful since we were staying so long. That is our record so far!
Wish us luck as we head into a season of more boondocking and less campground spots (aka more adventures and shorter showers)