Boondocking Etiquette

Boondocking is a fun type of camping where RVers ditch the hookups in lieu of beautiful, free campsites that often offer a unique sense of peace and solitude. Now that you have learned the boondocking basics, it’s time to learn a few rules associated with boondocking. Some of these rules are clearly stated, while others remain unspoken, yet equally important. Since there is no one to directly enforce the rules and regulations of boondocking, it is up to individual campers to know and respect them. Follow along with these seven important considerations of boondocking etiquette so that you can be prepared before camping in the wild.

Credit: Go RVing

1. Practice quietness
When campers go off to boondock on public lands, they often do so to find a sense of peace and quiet. While there is no camp host to make sure that campers are remaining quiet and respectful, it is still generally customary to follow certain quiet hours. This means you should try to keep a respectful volume from the hours of 9pm until at least 7am the next day. During this time, you should avoid running generators, playing loud music, allowing dogs to bark, and anything else that could disturb other campers. This allows the camping areas to remain quiet and peaceful for the enjoyment of everyone.

2. Keep your distance
When choosing your boondocking campsite, it is best to choose a site that is a good distance from other campers. Many RVers choose to boondock in lieu of a crowded campground because they want some space for themselves. Unless the boondocking area you are visiting is very crowded, you should try to choose a campsite that allows others to maintain their own designated space. Never assume that other campers want nearby neighbors, especially if they have chosen a site off by themselves.

Credit: Xscapers

3. Keep a clean campsite
When boondocking, it is best to keep a clean campsite. It is totally fine to leave a few items outside, such as camp chairs and tables, hammocks, outdoor decor, etc. However, if things begin to pile up, it can make your campsite a bit of an eyesore. You should never leave garbage or anything else outside that can make your campsite stick out. Be respectful of the land and others around you by keeping a clean campsite for both yourself and anyone else simultaneously using the land.

Credit: Pheribee

4. Pack it in, pack it out
This principle ties into the previous rule but bears repeating. When camping on public lands, it is important to practice “Leave no trace” principles. This means that you leave your campsite better than you found it, with as little impact to the land as possible. You must avoid trampling any plants or brush underfoot and park on dirt or gravel only. Never dump black or gray water, and be sure to clean up after yourself. In addition, be sure to pack out all trash, even items that are biodegradable. After all, you must remember to respect the land, and leave it better than you found it. There have been public lands camping areas that were closed down to the public due to excessive garbage being left behind, and this is certainly possible for any other lands that are repeatedly abused by campers. If you see garbage left behind by other campers, pick it up. Remember that the free use of public lands is a privilege that can be taken away.

Credit: Campendium

5. Practice pet politeness
Many campers bring their pets along with them to enjoy the fun. Boondocking can be a great way to allow your dog to run and stretch their legs. However, you must be sure to keep a close eye on your pets at all times, especially when they are outside. Clean up any waste that they leave behind, and do not allow them to chase or disturb any wildlife they may see. In addition, do not allow them to roam free off leash and disturb other campers. In general, just keep them close to you and in your campsite for both their safety and the safety of others around you.

6. Respect fire bans
There is nothing like enjoying a nice bonfire in the great outdoors. However, fires are banned on many lands and in many national forests in certain seasons throughout the year. Be sure to check local fire bans before lighting a campfire, especially during the drier summer months. If you are unsure of current local bans, call a local ranger or USFS station for more information.

Credit: Roaming Remodelers

7. Don’t overstay
Finally, you must be sure to respect stay limitations. Most public lands allow a maximum of fourteen days of free camping, but some allow as little as three days and others up to twenty-one days. Look for signs posted when entering a new camping area, or check the rules and limitations on the website for your national forest or BLM (Bureau of Lands Management) area. If you are truly unsure, consult a ranger at the local station. Overstaying on public lands is a fineable offense and could result in being removed or even banned from certain areas. Be sure to know the rules and follow them for your own good and the good of all future campers.

Boondocking is very enjoyable for those who know how to find the best sites, conserve utilities, and follow the rules. While this may seem like quite a few regulations, most of these are set to protect the land for future campers and and allow you to continue enjoying beautiful, free campsites year after year. This concludes our series on boondocking. Be sure to check out our other articles to learn all about boondocking before finding your next free campsite.

Do you have a favorite boondocking site? Are there any rules you feel we missed? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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