Boondocking For Newbies Part IV – Enjoying Your Time In The Boonies
Whoo hooo! If you’ve followed Part I, Part II and Part III of this series you’re parked right now in your very first boondocking site and ready to reap all the joys of boondocking. To make your experience as rich as possible I have a few final tips for you. This is the very last installment of this series.
So, let’s get cracking with Part IV – Enjoying Your Time In The Boonies
Monitor Those Batteries
Hopefully you followed Part II of this series and you learned how to monitor those RV batteries before you got to your site. So, now all you need to do is put that put that great knowledge into practice. Keep an eye on how low your battery voltage is going, and have a plan to re-charge those batteries when they hit 50%. Be aware of big energy “suckers” (e.g. microwaves, electrical heaters, hair dryers) and use those things sparingly. Turn stuff off when you’re not using it (lights etc.) and plan to spend more time outside where the sun is free and energy is what you bring with you.
Practice Water Conservation
Next to battery monitoring, one of the biggest barriers newbies face is learning to conserve water. Regular folk use an insane amount of water. It’s estimated that the average westernized person uses ~123 gallons (466 liters) of water/day at home (per The World Almanac), most of which goes towards flushing the toilet, long showers and washing dishes. That’s an astounding amount of water and you wouldn’t last a SINGLE day as a dry-camp RVer with that usage!! Our fresh water tank is 100 gallons and between the two of us we typically last 2-3 weeks (fairly easily) on that amount with extended stays to 4 weeks (with ultra-conservation). That breaks down to ~2-3 gallons/person/day which, with some practice, is easily achievable.
The key is to conservation is to reduce your biggest usages which are usually bathing, washing dishes and toilet flushing. Just these three areas alone will help substantially extend your stay in the boonies:
- Bathing -> Practice “navy showers” (wet down your body quickly, turn off the shower, then soap & lather without running water, then final quick rinse) or take a “cat bath” with a wash-cloth & bowl of warm water. For folks with longer hair going “no poo” can really help reduce the number of times a week you need to wash your hair.
- Dishes -> Wipe before you clean and don’t let the tap run while you wash (= wipe, sponge, rinse). You can also soak all your dishes and use that same water to clean everything at the end of the day. Another option, which eliminates dishes altogether, is to use paper plates.
- Toilet -> Reduce paper usage (consider using disposable baby wipes which you throw away in the trash) and only flush #2 (follow the age-old saying -> “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”).
Just these 3 things alone will reduce your water usage A TON, and if you supplement your drinking water with external jugs you’ll last even longer. I have a ton of additional tips which I’ve written about in a previous post, so instead of re-writing the whole thing I’ll just refer you there: Going “Water Green” = Conserving Water On The Road
4 Tips To Going “No-‘Poo” -> The Shampoo Free Movement
Be A Good Neighbor
If you followed Part III of this series you will have respectfully parked your RV with a good amount of separation between you and the next guy. However many boondocking areas will have neighbors even if they’re over 1/2 mile away, so you still need to think about how sound travels (which can be very far in the boonies) as well as good neighborly etiquette. Most folks are out in the boonies for some peace and quiet, so try to be considerate of that.
- Generator Noise -> Running a generator can be noisy, so think about the times of day you’re running it so that it doesn’t ruin the experience for others. Very early morning, very late at night and sunset are the worst times IMHO since those are the times people are either sleeping or trying to relax. Also no one wants to be listening to generator racket all day long, so limit generator use to only what you need (e.g. a few hours for recharging batteries) and turn it off when you’re done.
- Music -> In a similar vein think about the other noise you’re making. You may think Black Sabbath is the best music in the world, but your heavy metal jam is likely creating massive headaches for your neighbors. If you play music, keep it to a reasonable level or keep it inside where you can rock out naked if you wish.
- Pets & Pet Noise -> You’ll find a lot of loose dogs on public land whether legal or not and, in general, I don’t have too much of a problem with it. The only time it bothers me is if your dog is very vocal (e.g. constantly barking) and/or cannot be controlled. The last thing I want is some crazy dog attacking me on my afternoon walk, so if your dog isn’t trained to stay close do everyone a favor and put them on leash.
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Anyone who’s ever backpacked understands the concept of pack it in, pack it out. It means whatever you bring into the site, you should plan on packing out. This includes ALL your trash and what’s in your tanks.
- Trash -> We have a collapsible trash can that we use to store our daily trash. Every day we bag up the day’s worth and we will either store the bin outside (if we’re in an area with no discernible wildlife) or (more often) inside one of our downstairs bins or inside our car. Then, we get rid of the trash in town at a dumpster, trash bin or rubbish transfer station. Keep in mind that certain spots (e.g. areas with bears) require you to lock-up your trash, so be aware of these things before you go.
- Grey Tanks -> In an RV the grey tank takes all the water run-off from your sinks and shower, so it fills up as you wash dishes and yourselves. In some boondocking spots it is legal to leave gray water on the desert floor IF it is only from dish washing or taking showers, IF you are sufficiently far away (typically at least 200 feet) from a natural water source, and IF only environmentally safe products have been used (e.g. Campsuds are a great environmentally-friendly biodegradable soap). See this example of camping regulations from Hollister Field Office BLM. However this is not always the case, so you must specifically ask about this beforehand if this is what you plan to do! When we’re in areas where grey water can legally be left we use a cheap ~$2 plastic dishpan/bin that fits into our sink and is used to collect our dish water. Then, at the end of the each day we “water the cactus” with the contents. The rest of our grey water we leave in our tanks and take out of the area.
- Black Tanks -> The black tank fills from your RV toilet so it’s the tank that fills whenever you pee or poo. It is NEVER considered OK to dump black tanks, so don’t even think of doing this. Can you imagine arriving at a boondocking site smelling of piss and poo….aaand what this does to the surrounding nature?? I know some folks occasionally pee outside, but dumping the mass of multi-day stuff that’s in your tanks is unthinkable. So, when your blank tank is full (it’ll typically warn you by “burping”) plan to get out of your site and find a dump station (e.g. using sanidumps.com) where you can get rid of the stuff in a sanitary and proper way.
What’s Our Biggest Tank Limit? In “the beast” we have a 100 gallon water tank, a 60 gallon grey and a 40 gallon black. When we first started boondocking our grey tank was our biggest limit, but through experience (with conservation etc.) our black tank is now our limiting factor. Water is easy to extend (especially if you supplement with external drinking water), grey tanks are easy to extend (by cutting down/changing how you wash/bathe), but you simply cannot limit how much you need to “go”. Most folks will put around 1.5-2 gallons of “stuff” in their black tank each day. This means a 40-gallon tank will typically last 2 people around 2 weeks. You can definitely extend this by how much paper you use (I’ve become a HUGE fan of baby wipes) and how often your flush, but once that tank is full plan to leave your site. Since most boondocking sites have 14-day stay limits (see below), this timeframe matches up well with moving on.
RV Tank Sensors & The GEO Method
Respect Stay Limits
Most public land boondocking has 14-day stay limits, but there are exceptions. There are places you can legally stay much longer (e.g. the LTVA’s in AZ/CA where you can stay the entire winter season for $180 pass) and there are places that have much shorter limits (e.g. 3-7 days). Many folks “push” the limits, but in my opinion it’s not a great practice since it tends to lead to stricter restrictions when/if it gets out of hand (which it often does).
As an example this happened a few years back** in the Coconino & Prescott National Forests north of Pheonix, AZ. A few, select boondockers were spending months on end in the forests (way beyond the stay limits), so the rangers started to get tough and even went so far as to start harassing boondockers in the area. It became a very uncomfortable & rather nasty situation, and now many of the roads & areas which used to be open to boondockers up there are completely closed off.
I don’t think a few days here and there are a big problem, but as much as possible I strongly encourage all boondockers to respect the stay limits. It just helps to keep the area relaxed, open and accessible for everyone in the future.
**Another incident just happened within the past few weeks near Bouse, AZ. Someone complained about the ever-present RVs so BLM rangers swooped in and cited/fined a bunch of campers for exceeding the 14 day-limit. Hopefully this won’t limit where/how campers can stay in the future, but it’s never a good thing.
Leave The Site Nicer Than You Found It
Sadly, there are alot of “trashy” boondockers out there who think it’s OK to leave a site with trash and glass. In my mind this is a total no-no. Once you’re done with your site, clean it up, collect all the trash and plan to leave it nicer than you found it. We always take along extra trash bags for a final “clean-up” and we keep a cheap collapsible rake to tidy up the ground around our site. Leaving your site in good condition is simply good boondocking karma and will come back to you in the form of many additional years of great boondocking locations.
7 Tips On Boondocking Etiquette -> Rights, Wrongs & Plain Common Sense
Go Dump Your Tanks & Re-Fill Your Water
Once you’re done with your boondocking stay find a sanitary and legal place to dump your tanks. Many regular RV parks (both private and public) will allow non-guests to dump tanks and re-fill water for a fee (typically between $5-$20). Many gas stations also offer this service (same fee). We find most of our dump locations on sanidumps.com (they also have an App), but if I can’t find anything convenient there I’ll just call the nearest RV park and ask if I can dump there (I’ve never been told no).
If you’re planning to fill-up your water tank and you use that same tank for drinking be sure to ask if the dump you’re using offers potable or drinking water (some dumps only offer untreated well-water ), or if the park/station provides another water tap that is. For those who are particular about their water many cities, especially in the southwest (where water can be extremely hard) offer salt-free or RO “water stations” to refill water (typically $0.05-$0.25 per gallon). Some RVers will also use water softeners and/or install extensive water filtration systems on their rigs. We’ve always drunk the water directly from our tanks and only have a basic water filter on our main line.
YOU DID IT!!! At this point you’ve completed your first boondocking experience and you are ready for your next one. Hopefully it was just as awesome as you imagined and gives you the impetus to try more. You probably also learned a lot of stuff which will help you next time around. So, call yourself a pro and start planning the next trip. Enjoy!!SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Diana and Jim says
Thank you, Nina! This series was not only informative, but extremely well written (as always)! We can’t wait to give boondocking a try!
Glad you enjoyed it! Good luck with your first boondock!
Bob Martel says
Great advice, Nina! 🙂
Bob Burton says
Again I want to thank you for sharing your experience of boondocking. It has so helpful with all the tips. Much for us to look forward to do once we get to Arizona next week. Thanks again!
Mike Davidson says
What a great series! I will bookmark them for future reference. May I suggest putting all four into an ebook? I would certainly buy it! Thanks again for all the time and energy you two put into your blog!
I’ve actually been thinking about doing exactly that Mike. I have a bunch more info I could add to the eBook version too. I’m going to think about it!
On the noise side of things – and as someone who loves playing absurdly loud music in the desert – I always go for a walk after turning on my speakers, checking to see how far the sound carries and if anyone nearby might be able to hear it.
My take: Don’t be afraid to turn up the volume, just be sure that it doesn’t intrude on anyone else’s quiet. Low frequencies carry far, but at some point they do fade away to nothing.
Good tip Yair. I hadn’t thought of checking out the noise carry, but it makes perfect sense. If you’re not bothering anyone why not get nekkid, rock out and enjoy the wilds 🙂
You can pump up the jam as long as either of you gets nekkid…
Our Grey and Black tanks are the same size as yours. And yes, Black has become our time control for longer Boondocking stays… Great tips on limiting Grey/Black.
I also like the collapsible trash cans, as even double bagging trash is sometimes not enough.
One tip on tank preservation, is to have happy hour at your neighbors – and use their facilities!!!! (Of course, bring a beverage – or two – to share!)
Good series, many thanks!
If I’m at happy hour and not within reach of my rig I’ll usually try to find a quiet place to “go” in the desert. I always feel bad about adding to someone else’s tank LOL.
Mike M says
Thanks for the insights and knowledge. Our planned getaway from S&B is this summer. We plan on jumping in with both feet. Water conservation may be our downfall. I did some current calculations and we are using 49+ gal/person/day in our duplex S&B. Just two of us. Have to start training the DW :-). I also think an Amazon ebook would sell like hot-cakes, especially if you supplamented it with a few of your “boondock” recipes.
I like jumping in…kind of what we did when we started RVing. You learn a lot, you make mistakes but it’s also a ton of fun. Sounds like my eBook idea might have some support. I’ll have to get myself in the right mindset to tackle it!
Thanks Nina for all the good information!
I am going to try the Campsuds. We are now installing solar on the motorhome. Can’t wait.
We’ve been boondocking 20 years but love learning about new stuff.
If I like to listen to my music loud I have headphones no one else cares how loud it is then. What did you say??
I only wash dishes once a day like silverware and use paper cups, plates. Wash, rinse and wipe out pans every meal.
We do camp in bear country a lot so we store the garbage in our cargo trailer until we can haul it off. Its a new rule they started last summer.. here in our Deerlodge National Forest. And we have to put outdoor cooking devices away too.
Looking forward to all your posts.
Excellent tips! Thanks so much for sharing! I love to hear about ideas from other long-term boondockers. I always learn something new!
I so love your blogs and such great information. Always look forward to your information and I do appreciate all your information. Thanks so much.
Great series. Can’t imagine how much time you spent working on it!
We’ve been surprised by the small tank size on some Class As. Our C has a 30 gallon black tank, would have thought yours would be larger than 40. Guess for most people staying at full hookup RV parks that isn’t an issue.
The series did end up taking waaaay more time than I imagined (why do I get these hair brained ideas?). Interesting that your black is 30..really not much smaller than ours. You would think these big rigs had bigger tanks, but like you said most folks who buy them prefer hookups, so the tanks make little difference.
Lisa W says
Thank you, Nina. Extremely informative and well written series. We plan on putting it to good use as soon as we get on the road, hopefully 1 April.
Sue B says
Great information and hints about boondocking.
Great read as always !
John and Pam Wright says
Another well done article for boondocking:)
Chuck & Debbie says
Great write up for all 4 in the series. You do write very well, simply, to the point, and keep the reader interested. We will be going into the Everglades this weekend (off grid) and using some of our tested methods and applying some of your common sense tips also. Plus a special Valentines dinner Saturday night from Debbie! Woo Hoo! How do you get flowers delivered in the desert? Haven’t figured that one out…
Outstanding!! Enjoy your trip out there. I can’t really help you on the flowers, but I know out West we simply ditch the traditional roses and go all cactus…natural and just as sexy LOL:
Maybe you can find some heart-shaped sawgrass?
Great post Nina (and Paul, I’m sure you made major contributions). I totally agree with everything, and I have to say – baby wipes rule!
I’ve become a surprising fan. Looks like the big manufactures have caught onto this fashion and are now making “adult wipes” too. Only difference is the adult versions are more expensive! So, I go to the baby section for mine.
Another great post, Nina. I’d have to agree to each point.
I’d also agree with all the other commenters that if you put all of your boondocking info into an ebook and/or downloadable PDF, you’d likely sell a fair number of them. It never fails to amaze me how so many people are completely unaware, some even scared, to get off the grid, with RVs or a tent. Unbelievable but true.
Funny story…Paul was actually quite wary of the big outdoors when I met him. He grew up in downtown Miami and wasn’t really keen on being out in the wilderness. Took a fair few backpacking trips before I converted him, and of course now he loves it as much as me. Fear can be a very limiting thing.
Nice story, and so true on the limiting factor. It is fun to introduce an inexperienced person to the wilds of the world at times. Observing the reactions to the whole new experience suddenly happening in their world is priceless…and fun.
Greg Close says
Another exceptional piece from a couple of true experts; can’t thank you enough. Even if we’ve boondocked a few times, this kind of information is extremely useful. See you down the road (with refreshments in hand)! 🙂
We’re still learning ourselves to be honest. Just the comments on this post alone show how much knowledge there is out there. I love getting new tips!
Bear Tracks Blog says
Excellent conservation tips. These are exactly the things we do, too! We’ve never put paper in our toilet. We know exactly how much water it takes for a navy shower. 30 seconds to warm up the water and get wet, and 90 seconds to rinse. We keep a plastic tub in our kitchen sink which collects water used for rinsing dishes throughout the day. We burn our paper trash in our evening campfire, then use the tub of water at the end of the day to douse the fire. That way I don’t have to worry about hurting any plants. I love thinking of different ways to conserve. It’s fun! I must admit that we have relaxed on our energy conservation now that we have 1280 watts of solar panels. I love that, too!
Great tips! Of course being former boaters, you guys are super-pro boondockers and probably have many more cool tips to share! I also often throw our dish water in the fire pit.
Steven Malcolm says
Put us on the list for the soon to be announced boondocking e-book. Especially if it has recipes. Maybe you could do it with a funding program…the way the Technomads did their RV internet handbook?
It’s a thought. Not sure I have the energy for a whole funding program (plus I’m a wee bit intimidated by the entire deal), but I’m going to try and work something over the next month or so.
Go easy on the baby wipes, they can cause dermatitis where you really don’t want it. Here is a link to an article detailing the offending chemicals.
I only use them for #2, and I do make sure I buy the non-scented types. Cheers for the warning tho. It’s best not to over-use these things.
Travel with Kevin and Ruth says
Just have a few additions…
One, men can easily go pee outside, and when that option is available, it can extend your black tank limitations by a couple of days at least.
Two, it’s not only baby wipes that can be thrown in the trash. Used toilet paper can be as well. We use regular toilet paper, and put it in small trash bin that sits by the toilet. We never put any paper in the tank. No, there is never any smell.
Three, that used dish water that you’re saving and throwing outdoors should also be used sparingly to flush the toilet. And, if (like us) you have a model of toilet that doesn’t clean the bowl so well, we keep a spray bottle of water by the toilet so that we just have to give it a couple of directed squirts in the right location in order to get things cleaned up.
All excellent tips! I know many folks who don’t throw any paper in the toilet and I think it’s a really nifty extension tool. Cheers for the other ideas too.
Lora Terry-Steele says
Dear Wise ones,
I have been so happy to find your Blog! Since we are preparing for our fulltime RVing adventure in the very near future. All the information you are sharing on Boondocking is great! We plan to sell our Dbl wide mobile and venture out! Yea!! All of your Blog posts have been incredibly helpful. We are learning so much from you.
Thank you! 🙂
Lora and Mike
Awesome! Congrats on the upcoming adventure and good luck with all your plans!
Hi allen here love your web sight do you guys no who a person who can really tell you how big of a camping trailer i can pull with a 2013 chev 1500 silverado 4×4 extra cab 5.3 and a 243 rear end some trailer dealers say i can pull a 6000 pound dry weight but i dont no about that hope this makes sence oh also my owners manual says my max is 9000 pounds dont want to goof up my truck though thanks allen
I think this site will answer all your questions:
If you want a forum, then either iRV2.com or RV.net will have plenty of knowledgable folks who can answer the question.
Great series for newbies like us! Gotta ask though: one spends six-figures on a fabulous Class A, parks it in the boonies where oftimes no one else is around, and then drives off in the day to go exploring leaving everything they own unprotected from anyone with a pry bar and bad intent. It seems like a scenario for disaster. The question is, “does it happen often?” I know you spoke of getting a “feel” of an area but where I grew up, that scenario would have been like a new store opening every daywith expensive, pawnable goods for the easy pickens.
Honestly no. I’ve really not heard of this happening often. In places with many boondockers, they tend to look out for each other, and in really remote places you’ll rarely see anyone at all. Waaaaaay more crime is committed in big cities than in the boonies, mostly because there is waaaay more opportunity here. Why would a criminal bother wasting gas driving around in the boonies for a few laptops? I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s a relatively rare thing. I’ve always felt way safer out in the boonies then in any big city.
Oh and by the way the only time we’ve ever had anything stolen from our RV was in a private, gated park in a big city. Same thing happened to our buddies (another private park in another city).
Hi Nina and Paul
I wholeheartedly second the ebook!
Let us know when its ready! Hint hint!
Great series… you are a natural writer!
Thanks! It’s great to have such hearty encouragement 🙂
Terry M. says
Thank you. I love your web site and the information is great. I hope to meet you guys someday during our travels. Thank again!
Karen @ Sock Monkey Trekkers from NM says
Great boondocking series! We have a solar shower bag that works great for boondocking and doesn’t use any energy except the sun for hot water. Highly recommend. I read your prior blog about poo free. I’ve kinda gone a little nuts over being free. I am now making deodorant, shampoo, cream rinse, hair gel and hair spray. All thanks to you! Helped my roscea and is much cheaper and easier. Thank you again!
Oh awesome!!!! I’m so happy you’ve been inspired to make your own. We’re still making our own deodorant, and I use coconut oil for my skin, but I’m interested in making more creams.
Good tip on the solar shower. I used to have one when we car camped back in the day and loved it.
I know lots of you campers will be going “well, duh!” but it may be worth mentioning that when we are traveling and camping, especially boondocking, we are very careful to clean our shoes, mats, steps, and the inside of the trailer, to leave everything that is native to that area behind. Sometimes we are making a long hop, and it is easy to carry a non-native, troublesome vegetation to an area where it doesn’t belong.
Great post, Nina!
Always a good thing to mention, even if it may seem obvious to some. We make sure we never carry firewood across states either. Things (e.g. Bugs) can travel in the wood that become an invasive problem in other areas. Most places have rules that specifically address this, but not everyone reads them.
Jodee Gravel says
All the 14 day limit signs should have a box with this post in brochures for all entering the area! Thanks for a great final chapter – feeling much more prepared now 🙂
If all the desert boondocking areas are overcrowded next season.. it’s YOUR FAULT 🙂 At least they’ll all be well prepared to be resourceful and respectful boondockers.
Thank you for continuing to provide excellent and valuable resources for others.
LOL…that may be true…and maybe I’ll be kicking myself in the butt too 🙂
Another great article. Thanks for taking the time to outline it so well.
From my rafting / backpacking experience, here is some information that (I feel) can be extrapolated to absolute minimum tank capacities if you are interested:
– Potable water needs for a average, large, group tend to be between 0.5 and 0.75 gallons / user day (depending on the ambient temp and how much beer folks drink….). Usually, at 0.75 gallons / user day I wind up dumping a little water but would rather do this (when rafting) than make (purify) more. Of course, all washing (bodies and dishes) water comes from the river so obviously a source of non-potable water would be needed to do this when RV boondocking.
– No grey tank needed. In desert environments (i.e.; Colorado river), we pee and dump waste water right in the river. In forested environments (i.e.; Rogue river), we pee in river or away from camp (so area doesn’t smell after many groups have stayed there) and dump wash water in the river (so as to not attract bears / bugs to camp sites) or disperse it 100 feet from the river. In all cases, dish washing water is strained to remove food particles. (BTW, this is all per river management protocols)
– Solid waste (including TP) is one pint (2 cups) / user day (for an average group of diverse people….). This, of course, is packed out.
I don’t necessary advocate these methods for RV’ers with their monster tanks. Just trying to share what I have found to be the minimums for rafting (or backpacking).
I have to say I’m astonished that river rules allow you to pee/wash in the river. The standard “leave no trace” rules for backpacking are to keep all human waste at least 100 feet from campsites, trails or waterways. Same goes for wash water -> I was *always* taught to carry it away from streams of lakes.
The forest service publishes those same rules:
As does “leave no trace”
I guess river boating must have different rules.
Thank you for the great information.
A good neighbor- ATVs and noise, pollution. Even though the noise is not constant, it’s too much noise, and carries too far.
I definitely have issue with noise in the boonies. It’s part of the reason we rarely (if ever) boondock near ATV areas.
Sandy Avera says
Love your writing style. Have learned alot from your stories. Hope to be going on the road in the near future. Have had this dream since 2001. Keep up the writing, love it!
Here’s hoping your dream becomes a reality for you! I’m happy to be part of keeping it alive!
I’m usually not one to gush over someone or something, but I really appreciate these informative posts. As a hopeful future fulltimer, it answers a lot of questions and good reading for any newbie boondocker. I also like how you link to related past posts; good segues as I’ve only been reading your blog over the past year.
Though one question still remains. In your post “10 things I wish I’d known before fulltime RV’g”, you’d rethink the size (and type?) of your rig. Have you concluded what you’d get with what you know now?
If you’re ever in Colorado, dinner’s on me. 🙂
Ideally I think we would have chosen around 35-foot Class A. That seems to be my “ideal” for mix between size/space and comfort. I know it doesn’t seem like a big difference compared to our 40-footer, but we actually measure 42-feet end-to-end and 7 foot ends up being a lot! Plus the 35-footer would be lighter.
Roads Less Traveled says
Wonderful, wonderful posts, Nina, and just what first-time boondockers need to know to feel confident and comfortable trying out boondocking. This series you’ve written has completely knocked me out!!
Thanks so much Emily. Fine praise from boondocking experts such as yourselves!
Fabulous series Nina. I think you have outdone yourself this time. Thanks bunches! 🙂
Nina McCabe says
Just found your wonderful blog! Got some info for boondockers: The Magdalena Chamber of Commerce is hosting two multi-day star parties this year in the Cibola National Forest just outside Magdalena, NM. Knowledgable astronomers from VLA and Magdalena Ridge Observatories will guide the viewing. Overnight RV dry parking is free at dark sky site with star party ticket. RV parking in town too. April 17th and 18th, 2015 is geared towards the beginner and intermediate levels($10 per day per adult, $15 for two days, children 17 and under are free). The party October 14-17, 2015 is geared toward intermediate and advanced amateurs. Exact driving directions and map are on the tickets. Space is limited. More info and to Register online http://www.enchantedskies.org OR Call Judy at 505-515-5780. Thanks-Hope to meet some of you there! http://www.magdalena-nm.com
Nina from Magdalena
Star Parties are awesome. Thanks for letting us know.
Mike Wyant says
Great series on boondocking! My biggest fear about boondocking are finding great, safe spots; you definitely helped to alleviate those fears! DW and I plan on fulltiming when our 3rd son leaves the nest(2-3 years max).have you ever considered a composting toilet? The Wynns use one and apparently love it.it would be great to do away with the black tank entirely.
I’m not a fan of composting toilets mostly because of the pee factor. I like that the fact that the poo composts, but you have to manually throw away the pee every 3 days or so and that’s the part that would bother me. I do not like the idea of sloshing around a bucket of pee (getting it in/out of the rig), throwing it into the boonies and/or having to find someway to throw it away in a campground. The only way I’d use a composting toilet would be if we could pipe the pee into the black tank, at which point I might as well just use the black tank for everything. So, composting toilets are not for us. I know the Wynn’s love theirs and I know many other folks who do too, but for me the pee factor makes it a no-go.
Shelly M says
Love the series. Hubby and I are planning to set off full-timing next year and are studying everything we can find.
Two quick questions – 1) trash – we compost appropriate food scraps and coffee grounds at home by simply burying them in the garden – within a week they are part of the soil – is this ever OK on public land? 2) In many of your site photos you appear to be right on the road – is passerby traffic and getting “dusted” ever an issue? Thanks again for your always entertaining and educational blog!
The composting question is an interesting one. I’m not 100% sure, but my gut response would be that it’s not appropriate. Most of the ecosystems on public land are fragile so putting anything in the ground that isn’t meant to be there naturally could pose a problem. Plus some states have very specific rules about composting (e.g. Oregon comes to mind) so I can’t imagine any way public lands would allow it. Many public facilities (e.g. State parks, cities) offer recycling areas, but the public land areas, especially those without facilities are aways “pack it in, pack it out”. I guess it would be possible/acceptable to compost within your own rig (portable composter?), but I haven’t looked into it.
As for dirt/dust. The roads we camp next to are usually just BLM trails out in the desert. Very, very little traffic. If you camp in a popular ATV area you can definitely expect dust, and when the desert winds blow up you can expect the same thing, but otherwise most of these trails are very lightly used. Also, we don’t go too far off-trail mostly because we’re too heavy, but also because BLM and forest rules ask you to respect the existing nature by choosing campsites that have been used before, and not creating new tracks in the wilderness.
Hi Nina…One thing we do is keep a couple of clean gallon milk jugs in the shower and sink area. I guess we are sissies, but we like hot water for bathing and dish washing. So by filling the jugs with cold, to be hot water, we save about a half gallon per shower. Jan uses the water to clean something else or I put it back in the fresh tank when we reach a gallon. Not a giant savings but it all matters. Like others have said and I have said many times….thank you for doing so a great job. We now have 400 watts on the roof and are loving it.
David & Kathy C. says
Stated our boondocking Bookmark. Thanks for the info. You guys are the best. Trailblazers you guys are.
Thanks for great ideas. Have had class A’s for over 30 years and rarely find anyone dry camping in a large RV. From the comments, I see, you have provided encouragement for us to go further off the main road.
Ed & Sandy
It’s not easy to boondock in a larger RV, but it is possible. I’d still love to own a smaller rig. It would enable us to get much further “out there”.
Good series! Thanks for all the wisdom. It is encouraging to know that boondocking is possible with a big rig. We are long time RV’rs, but new motorhomers. Have a 12 yr old (new to us) Class A DP that is just under 36ft, and we love at it’s not any longer, for all the reasons you mention above. It’s also built like a tank, and is much better made than many of the new ones. While lacking in a lot of the latest electronics, it has old-school reliability, which means more to us. Without boondocking yet, we have already enjoyed the independence that large tanks, and a rig that will haul them down the road, allows you to have. Even in full-hookup sites, you don’t always have to completely connect everything every night. This is a wonderful time saver when you are in travel mode, and terrific practice for water conservation when we go boondocking down the road. Hope to add modest solar at some point in the near future, as we are electrically dependent. Sign me up as another impatient customer for your book. I’ll probably buy additional copies for other RVing family members. Keep up the good blogs!
David and Kathy says
Water, the spliting of gallons.
What I mean normally we just drink water right out of the freshwater tank via a Multi Pure filtration System, I should mention that the water is filtered before it goes into freshwater tank. But here in Arizona / California the water has a lot of minerals in it which gives it a different taste. We have a TDS meter which measures, parts per million, and it can vary widely but you really don’t want to go over a 1000 PPM. So what we do is we have been mixing store bought purified water with the water in the tank in the one gallon jugs for drinking . So essentially we stretch each gallon into 2. We need water, water is is good.
Dave and Kathy
Reed and Elaine says
Read through your Boondocking posts. Agree with everything you have written. Scouting ahead is critical. We have always left rig and gone ahead with our 4×4 pickup to check things out if uncertain. Turnaround is critical. Have scouted a miles or two in on mountain bike on numerous ocassions.
Yup we ALWAYS scout, without fail. Even if we’re going somewhere we know well. Soft spots, unexpected dips and all those things can change from year to year. With our “beastly” size we don’t take any chances.
Thank you so much for all this info. We’re newbies (close to retiring) with a new 5th wheel unit so reading and researching as much as possible. At home I recycle, have a green waste bin & dry garbage. Our city composts green waste so it’s convenient. I’m trying to look at how to set up for rv’g especially dry-camping. Recyclables – got it; I sort the dry garbage into burnable and not (where burning is ok & it’s cardboard & paper mainly – no plastics) & love your use of a collapsible garbage bin although my intent is to have a larger recycling & smaller garbage. Not always possible depending on where you are. Anyway, trying out different ways each time we head out for a small trip. We use environmentally friendly soaps (low suds) but I like the idea of the no-‘poo 🙂 Finally, my uncle/friend uses your method of baby wipes and I guess the only issue I have with that is more garbage and certainly garbage that’s not sortable. But it’s a balance, isn’t it, because of less paper in the black water tank. So, I’m wrestling with that idea but not totally onboard. Having said that – first time our black water is full and we have to leave a fav spot, I might change my mind 🙂 Wouldn’t good compostable toilet paper be better here – where it breaks down quickly?
Ok, enough for now – thanks again for all your info – have much more to read 😀 Will hook up on your social media pages to keep in the loop and much appreciation for all the info you share. ttfn
We have been camping for years, both at RV parks and dry camping. Your information was well thought out and very useful. You have great tips, and it was well written. I will be retiring very shortly and joining my husband with the joys of retirement. We plan to hit the road in our 5th wheel for extended trips & love reading your reviews on campsites, parks, and tid bits. I look forward to “Boon-docking” longer than 8 days which has been our limit due to work.